Faculty Senate discusses budgeting and evaluations at monthly meeting

Kyle Clark

The Georgia Southern Faculty Senate held their monthly meeting to discuss issues such as budget redirection and changes to policy on March 7.

The first action item of the night was in regards to the Tenure & Promotion Transitional Policy. Helen Bland of the Faculty Welfare Committee presented this change to the senate.

The primary focus of this item revolved around evaluation expectations for faculty. Faculty members who were hired before consolidation with Armstrong will be held to evaluation standards and expectations they were held to prior to commencement. New university wide standards will be created and implemented at a later date.

This item was approved with no votes against it by the senate.

Due to an incident involving the fire alarms going off on the Armstrong campus, the senate adjusted their agenda slightly in terms of ordering so that all action items were voted on once Armstrong’s senators returned.

In that time Rob Whitaker, vice president of business and finance, gave a presentation on the budget redirection the university will be undertaking in response to decreasing enrollment and credit hours since 2012.

In total since 2012 the university has lost over 40,000 credit hours and student headcount has been steadily trending downwards according to his presentation.

These trends are present on all GS campuses, not just the Statesboro campus.

“We’re one university and we have one university problem to solve,” Whittaker said.

The university is asking for colleges to redirect 10% of their budget in ways that least effect students. This money will be used to help address both salary issues and be used to attempt to bolster enrollment and retention.

The senate then returned to discussing the action items of the night.

Bland also presented the motion to update the language of section 317 of the Faculty Handbook, pertaining to course evaluations. Although the senate brought up no issues with the edits made to the section, concerns were raised about a lack of summer evaluations and being able to properly respond to evaluations.

Due to both of these issues, the motion failed to pass through the senate.

Assistant Provost Candace Griffith then presented the motion to update section 218 of the Faculty Handbook. These edits pertaining to textbook policy were mainly minor edits to keep GS policy in line with that of board policy.

Although the motion passed 31-7, concerns were raised in regards to faculty being heavily encouraged to have low or no cost course materials that cost less than $40.

The final action item was the tabled motion in regards to announcements of deceased faculty or staff members. This motion was once again tabled for the next meeting at the behest of the Faculty Welfare Committee.

President Shelley Nickel gave her report focusing on her time here at GS seeing as how this will be her final month as interim president until Kyle Marrero assumes the position. One major talking point was how after consolidation GS has had a regional economic impact of over $1 billion.

Provost Carl Reiber delivered his report which mainly focused on engagement efforts and strategic planning. He also mentioned work at the momentum summit and the potential of converting the current “momentum year” system for new students into a “momentum approach” that carries on beyond the first year at GS.

“This was the beginning, the very, very beginning,” Reiber said.

The meeting ended with further discussion on the budgeting, leading to discussion of the cancellation of certain job searches for non essential roles. Discussion was tabled to be brought back up at the next meeting due to time having run out on both the original meeting and the extension.

The next Faculty Senate meeting will be held April 3 in the Nessmith Lane Ballroom. More updates will be provided as they become available.

Kyle Clark, The George-Anne Assistant News Editor, ganewsed@georgiasouthern.edu