WMU-AAUP Remarks to the Board of Trustees on March 25, 2015

Remarks by WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick

Last Thursday, at the Presidential Scholars convocation, President Dunn delivered an inspiring speech about the importance of a liberal arts education as foundational to preparing engaged, knowledgeable individuals for productive citizenship. He advocated passionately for the arts, humanities, and social sciences, along with the science and technology fields that have been getting most of the attention lately, as critical to the professional success of our graduates and central to preparing them for meaningful, productive lives. He made a strong case for what universities are for and why our work here is so important.

Over the weekend, I had more time to think about the president’s remarks, because although I agreed wholeheartedly with the compelling case he made, something about it was not sitting right with me. I realized that the disconnect I was feeling was cognitive dissonance: The vision President Dunn set out in his speech simply is not reflected in my real-life experiences with actual institutional policies and priorities.

Two months ago, the faculty voted no-confidence in the leadership of Provost Tim Greene, revealing widespread and unequivocal dissatisfaction. He and President Dunn were both formally notified of the results of the faculty’s January 30 voice vote and subsequent electronic vote. The response to these letters, dated February 9 and sent on behalf of the faculty, has been a resounding silence from the university’s senior leadership. Their statements to the media are dismissive of the vote and misrepresent the sources of the faculty’s dissatisfaction.

In a recent article in the Western Herald, Provost Greene is quoted as saying that he “fully respect[s] the input the faculty have provided” him and “take[s] it seriously.” As a faculty colleague wrote last week on the Flip the W blog, “What does it look like when the provost doesn’t respect someone’s feedback or take it seriously. Is he silenter? Does he ignore that person harder?”

Much of the material on Flip the W is satirical. But like all good satire, it exposes some hard truths, like our legitimate skepticism in response to administrative insistence that the faculty is being listened to, even as their elected representative gets taken off the board’s agenda and moved into the public comments. Faculty viewpoints are being taken seriously, we read in the Herald and in the Gazette, yet the provost refused to comment on the no-confidence vote when I asked him about it at our most recent monthly meeting.

I appreciate the vision that President Dunn set out in his speech last Thursday night, but in the end, as much as I wanted to — and I really wanted to — I just couldn’t buy it.

Because where is the evidence that the president’s chief academic officer serves that vision? The provost’s actions suggest a very different vision; the pattern of behavior cited by the faculty in the no-confidence vote is powerful evidence of that. And despite the ongoing gender equity fiasco, the tortuous academic program review, the misguided removal of a dean who actually walked the walk when it came to the vision that President Dunn himself communicated so eloquently – despite all of that, there has been zero accountability for any of it, zero corrective action taken by the president, zero consequences.

Because three minutes is not nearly enough time for a substantive conversation about the future and direction of our university, I invite all of you, members of the board, along with President Dunn, to join the faculty at the next WMU-AAUP chapter meeting, on Friday, April 17, at 1:30 p.m., in this room [157 Bernhard Center]. We will follow up with the details. I hope you all will be able to attend. This conversation is too important to try to limit to three minutes.

WMU Board of Trustees to Meet Wednesday, March 25

Wednesday, March 25, at 11 a.m.
Rooms 157-159 of the Bernhard Center

The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees will meet on Wednesday, March 25, at 11 a.m., in rooms 157-159 of the Bernhard Center. The meeting is open to the public.

WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick will address the board on topics of interest and concern to the faculty, including the academic program review and the recent no-confidence vote on the provost. Faculty are invited to attend to show their support for the academic mission of the university and to express their solidarity with support staff, whose members will also address the board.

Board of Trustees meeting photo (Jan. 22, 2015)

WMU Board of Trustees meeting, January 22, 2015 (source: MLive)

Draft of faculty letter to WMU President John Dunn and Board of Trustees

As we reported several weeks ago, the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee approved a motion to draft a letter to President Dunn and the WMU Board of Trustees as a follow-up to the recent faculty vote on the question of confidence in the leadership of Provost Tim Greene.

As you may recall, several members of the Executive Committee volunteered to take the lead on drafting this letter, with the goal of circulating it to the faculty for feedback and re-circulating it again for final approval after revisions are made.

The initial draft is now available and is posted below. It was created through a collaboration of faculty in multiple colleges over several weeks.

WMU-AAUP faculty will soon receive an email invitation to submit feedback, comments, and proposed revisions electronically. Your responses will be considered as the draft is revised, a process that will begin after spring break. The revised version will then be circulated again for your approval.

We recognize that circulating material to the faculty means essentially making that material public. Rather than trying to prevent that, we hope that the draft will be widely read and will encourage dialogue among the faculty and elsewhere on campus. Therefore, we are posting it here on the chapter blog so that it is accessible to you wherever you might be during the upcoming spring break and to anyone else who may be interested.


Draft of faculty letter to WMU President John Dunn and Board of Trustees

Dear President Dunn and Western Michigan University Board of Trustees:

As you are aware, the Board-appointed faculty, as represented by the Western Michigan University chapter of the American Association of University Professors, recently conducted a no-confidence vote regarding Provost Tim Greene. The results of that vote reflect widespread dissatisfaction with Provost Greene’s leadership. The senior administration’s response to this vote has been to dismiss it and to misrepresent the nature of our dissatisfaction. Therefore, we believe that an elaboration of faculty concerns that led to the no-confidence vote is necessary.

  • Lack of Transparency

The no-confidence vote reflects our concerns about the lack of transparency in the provost’s decision-making. A crucial example is the Academic Program Review (APR) now underway. The true purposes of the APR have yet to be articulated to the faculty, although we have already been obliged to provide hundreds of hours of our labor to this initiative. Questions about these extensive additions to faculty workloads and legitimate concerns about where the review process is intended to lead are met with vague talking points and apparent indifference to faculty workloads and morale. In a resolution passed at the WMU-AAUP chapter meeting in October 2013, the faculty noted the lack of transparency regarding the APR process and its goals and called on Provost Greene to “collaborate with the faculty in a transparent and meaningful process to develop a review procedure . . . based on a clear rationale and on mutually agreeable objectives, mechanisms for implementation and assessment, and potential outcomes in which the administration is held accountable as well as faculty.” To date, Provost Greene has not responded to the letter sent by the WMU-AAUP leadership, dated October 24, 2013, to inform him of this resolution.

  • Gender Equity

Provost Greene has also demonstrated indifference to the ongoing problem of salary inequity. It took a censure vote by the faculty in October 2013 before he would move forward, after two years of inaction despite a contractual mandate in 2011, and begin to authorize equity adjustments. While some adjustments were made beginning in November 2013, the process by which those decisions were made was entirely opaque, and significant salary inequity remains. There is no indication that Provost Greene is invested in addressing the cultural problems that led to the inequities in the first place or in trying to correct them. Instead, the administration has chosen to commit significant resources to defending the institution against equity claims brought by faculty and staff. Provost Greene’s handling of this critical issue sends an unmistakable message that the administration cares more about protecting itself than doing what is right.

  • Lack of Respect for Faculty and Shared Governance

The no-confidence vote also reflects our belief that Provost Greene lacks respect for faculty perspectives, interests, and concerns, and for the overall contribution that faculty make to the university’s core academic mission. Western Michigan University exists in order to engage the public in education and research, and the faculty play a primary role in this mission. Disrespect of the faculty therefore has a chilling effect on learning and discovery.

Again we cite Provost Greene’s handling of the APR, beginning with a violation of Article 4 of the Agreement, which requires that the administration notify the WMU-AAUP of any new university-wide committees and obliges the administration to seek chapter nominations for seats that are thereby created. Materials describing the composition of the APR “project management team” made clear that the review is a university-wide endeavor, yet the “team” was convened without notification of the chapter. Only after filing a chapter grievance in November 2013 was the WMU-AAUP able to exercise its contractual right on behalf of the faculty to appoint a representative to the APR “project management team.”

  • Removal of Dean Alex Enyedi

Provost Greene’s decision to remove a competent, highly respected dean from a well-functioning college was made entirely without consultation with faculty and in contravention of recommendations in the 2010 WMU Higher Learning Commission Accreditation Self Study Report, which identifies “a lack of an evaluation system for associate provosts, deans, and associate deans” (HLC Self Study, 1d.2, p. 27). The accreditation reports, central to long-term planning goals of the institution, recommended that Provost Greene develop such evaluation measures. That these evaluation measures have not, to the faculty’s knowledge, been established raises serious questions about Dean Enyedi’s removal and suggests that Provost Greene is not in compliance with important accreditation recommendations that relate directly to the institution’s mission.

  • Pattern of Behavior

While the removal of Dean Enyedi was for many faculty the straw that finally broke the camel’s back when it comes to our lack of confidence in the provost’s leadership, we must be clear: The camel was already on its knees by the time Dean Enyedi was removed, and it is a mistake to characterize the no-confidence vote as being the product of this single issue. When they called for the no-confidence vote at the WMU-AAUP chapter meeting on January 23, 2015, the faculty made clear that their dissatisfaction is the result of a persistent pattern of behavior on the part of Provost Greene: his lack of respect for the faculty, his failure to foster or model transparent decision-making, and his ongoing lack of accountability for serious problems on our campus, many of which – such as ongoing gender inequity – have been exacerbated on his watch. That his removal of Dean Enyedi appears retaliatory has alarmed faculty in all colleges who value transparency, shared governance, and freedom of expression.

The senior administration insists that the dissatisfaction with Provost Greene’s leadership is limited to faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, which misrepresents the facts on the ground and insults the faculty. Do they mean to suggest that the views of CAS faculty are uniquely unworthy of consideration? Such public disparagement of CAS faculty is not only disrespectful and potentially harmful to the reputation of the university, but it is also felt keenly by CAS students and alumni. And it is not only CAS faculty who are disparaged in this administrative narrative. It also ignores the voices of faculty from other colleges, who are therefore effectively silenced.

The students, alumni, faculty, and staff of Western Michigan University need and deserve competent, respectful, visionary leadership. At this time of significantly decreased state support, and when the university is undertaking expensive and risky initiatives, including the new medical and law schools, a strong partnership and cultivation of trust between the faculty and the senior administration are essential. We find these values lacking in Provost Greene’s leadership, and we request that you, President Dunn and members of the WMU Board of Trustees, take seriously this expression of our concern.

Sincerely,

The undersigned members of the Board-appointed faculty of Western Michigan University

Guest post: WMU’s Communication Problems and a Culture of Fear

by Cathryn Bailey, Ph.D.
Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies
and former Associate Dean, WMU College of Arts and Sciences

Cross-posted at FliptheW.

In the years leading up to, and in the wake of, the faculty’s no-confidence vote in the provost, there’s been a lot of talk about a communication problem on campus. It’s a label I’ll accept if we can agree that this isn’t merely a cosmetic flaw to be remedied, say, by town hall meetings where those in charge pretend to listen. I’m more inclined to say we’ve got a fear problem, one that correlates pretty neatly with the institution’s reliance on a rusty, traditional power model, one that’s hierarchical, unidirectional, and has clearly defined rules of engagement. One expression of this is the expectation of managerial compliance the provost openly referred to in his message to CAS faculty and staff a few weeks ago.

According to this model’s dictates, when I’m with a higher up – and we should always be clear about who’s who on the food chain – my role is passive. I am to be talked at, explained to, given advice and schooled. I can ask questions of clarification, but not substantive or fundamental ones, and I must accept whatever is doled out to me in the guise of a response, whether or not it’s relevant, ethical or even makes sense. My primary function is to nod in agreement, thereby providing reassurance to the guy in charge that he is, in fact, in charge. The pervasiveness of this rickety power model helps explain why some of our leaders look so puzzled, irritated, or even visibly angry, when confronted with real questions about such issues as the academic program review, the university’s football program, budget and finance decisions, or gender equity. They seem to see such questioning as at best impertinence and at worst a violation of WMU’s social order.

I know I am not the only one who has noticed that when questions and concerns are presented to some of our leaders, or when they address groups of us, their tone frequently ranges, and can shift instantly, from jocular uncle to disappointed dad to pissed-off coach to irate general. It isn’t just one or two leaders, but, increasingly, this communication style seems to have become part of the WMU administrative ethos. It’s become pretty standard for some of them to bark out talking points and manage questions or concerns rather than actually listen to them and thoughtfully and spontaneously respond. If you haven’t experienced this first hand recently, get yourself invited to a Wednesday afternoon administrative Academic Forum, often a virtual parade of such didactic performances.

Too many of our campus leaders seem to have taken on the terrible burden of believing it’s their job is to know everything and to then fling that knowledge at those below. Their omniscient pretense is further reinforced by vague, dangled secrets and obfuscating references to complicated reports that staff and faculty couldn’t possibly be trusted with or expected to understand. That more of us haven’t been asking tough questions all along has, of course, been vital to maintaining this dynamic. It’s especially demoralizing to look around the room and see an audience nodding in drowsy approval. As if they were part of an actual dialogue.

It’s partly because I think there’s a gendered dynamic associated with this communication style that I find the handling of gender equity – with respect to both faculty and staff – to be so troubling. From where I sit, it looks like the women and men who care about gender equity are, in pretty standard fashion, being intimidated, ignored and shamed into silence. The very dynamic that created the problem they’re taking issue with in the first place – an objectively demonstrable social and material power imbalance – is being relied upon to keep them in line. Here, the woman’s expected role is one of passive acquiescence and polite helpmeet. That so many women have internalized these lessons – yes, we often are afraid and do doubt our own worth – makes this a predictably effective and especially offensive strategy.

What I think is most important about what’s happening now across campus, most visibly in the College of Arts and Sciences but across other colleges as well, is that some individuals and groups are challenging this dynamic. There is increasing recognition that we must insist on being treated like respected collaborators if we are to meet our responsibilities to each other and to the university. And the campus leaders who seek more from us than passive acquiescence – and I hope there still are such leaders at WMU – deserve our honest, robustly engaged partnership, in dialogue and in action.

That I have recently watched my immediate boss lose his job for speaking up suggests that I am not exaggerating WMU’s authoritarian dynamic. That I am contacted daily by individuals from across campus who whisper both their support and their terror speaks painful and embarrassing but also hopeful volumes. Those of us who speak up already know that there may be consequences. We may be vilified as disloyal, or dismissed as impertinent and naive. Women who speak up may also be dismissed as bitchy or hysterical. Certainly, it’s not much of a challenge to construct rationalizations for why we need not listen to those whose views we’ve already decided we care nothing about.

But despite the fear, we must continue to demand and expect more in terms of collaborative dialogue and shared governance. Our commitment and loyalty to higher education, to WMU, to our students, and to one another requires such vigorously engaged participation. Exceptional work is being done all around us by staff, faculty, students and administrative colleagues whose expertise and wisdom are necessary to make this place better. What if WMU colleagues across all levels acknowledged our shared vulnerability and felt empowered to communicate authentically about the real problems that urgently need our attention? What if we were not afraid?

Faculty comments needed on WMU interim sexual misconduct policy

In January, President Dunn announced a new interim sexual misconduct policy and asked for feedback from faculty and staff.

After reviewing the interim policy, linked here, members of the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee have identified a number of concerns about it, including about possible implications for due process and academic freedom. For example, faculty in courses and disciplines that use images that could be perceived as controversial may want to know how “pedagogically appropriate” material, as it is referenced in the interim policy, will be defined and by whom.

Additionally, reporting requirements for faculty who become aware of incidents have raised concerns. The interim policy compels faculty to report information, apparently to include information shared with us in confidence by students who may not wish to report an incident officially but may want only to talk with us or to ask us for other kinds of help.

We have identified these and other concerns, but we are not going to be able to catch everything that could have unintended consequences. Therefore, we strongly encourage all faculty members to read the interim policy in its entirety and to submit feedback (anonymously) through an online survey, linked here, set up by the administration.

In President Dunn’s email to the faculty and staff in January, he wrote that the new sexual misconduct policy will be finalized by the beginning of the Fall 2015 semester. Therefore, we ask that faculty who wish to weigh in on this important issue submit their feedback as soon as possible.

Click here to access the draft policy.

Click here for the survey to submit your comments.

Guest Post: Conversation, Change, and Compromise at Western Michigan University

by Alexander M. Cannon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Music History/Ethnomusicology
Western Michigan University College of Fine Arts

When I started teaching three years ago, I was struck by the energy and drive of my colleagues in the College of Fine Arts. They grounded their teaching, research, grant writing, and committee-driven initiatives in their understanding of the many communities in which they operated. An attention to community, it seemed, helped them react nimbly to change, and I immediately wanted to take part in their plans to improve the college and university. However, the realities of institutional inertia soon set in, where fractures within the university community prevented implementation.

Provost Timothy Greene’s recent decision concerning the contract of Dean Alex Enyedi and the resulting WMU-AAUP “no confidence” vote shed a particular light on the ruptures on campus that prevent flexibility and improvement at WMU. I write, therefore, to refute the claims that the WMU-AAUP vote emerged simply from the Provost’s decision not to renew Dean Enyedi’s contract and that only faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) share concerns for the Provost’s approach to governance. [1] The recent actions of the Provost and the WMU-AAUP serve as a catalyst for conversation about systemic barriers to effective dialogue and governance at WMU, but I worry that this conversation has waned in recent days. As a faculty, we can no longer retreat into our research and teaching but must tackle the fraught realities of shared governance and rebuild a culture of stewardship at WMU. I therefore offer the following comments on leadership, long-term planning and assessment, and sustainability; to conclude, I propose three questions that I hope will guide future conversations in public and private forums.

Leadership

Effective leadership is a matter of charisma — not the charisma used in everyday conversation as a stand-in term for outgoing, popular, and entertaining or the transcendent powers attributed to certain historical figures. I mean the charisma of the engaged leader who identifies present problems, provides the logic for seeing these problems in multifaceted ways, and implements effective solutions to overcoming these problems with the full support of those around the leader. Charisma, therefore, is not leadership through directive; charisma is leadership through continuous engagement with a community.

The leadership style described by Provost Greene in a letter to CAS faculty following the dismissal of Dean Enyedi does not seem to align with this model. Provost Greene writes:

Leadership is fostered in the trust between managers. A senior leader, in this case a provost, must be able to trust that a dean will do what has been agreed upon without fail. Quite simply put, when any manager acts in opposition to a leadership directive, that person would normally expect to no longer be a member of the management team. [2]

Deans are told to implement decisions based on the presumed authority of the provost; are the deans meant to quell individual expression for fear of losing their positions and, ultimately, their abilities to bring positive change? Does this have ramifications on individual expression for me and other faculty members? In addition, trust does not exist a priori to one’s engagement with the leader; trust must be forged and organized as a two-way street. Trusting one’s subordinate to implement policy without requiring the subordinate to trust the “senior manager” to engage and, more importantly, listen to concerns, is troubling.

Long-term Planning and Assessment

Planning is no easy task, and there is much to be lauded about the Western Michigan University Strategic Plan. As indicated in the most recent Strategic Plan Mid-Year Report, there are initiatives underway to improve student retention, student diversity, and student engagement with the local community. [3] It appears, however, that some suggestions for improving certain short-term problems are rather generic and lack diversity. To increase federal research expenditures by faculty, the report suggests increasing “research for community benefit.” [4] How, specifically, is this possible when federal grant money is decreasing? [5] Why do the five suggested projects only involve business and science research? [6] The Mid-Year Report also indicates ways to improve the six-year graduation rate, including “foster University’s reputation” with a specific suggestion to “implement new university homepage and key supporting pages.”[7] Why not tackle both research funding and reputation by encouraging faculty to collaborate across disciplines to generate new projects to be presented at prestigious conferences? Sustained engagement between the Provost’s Office and the faculty will yield many more ways to tackle these issues raised in the strategic plan.

The long term also must be considered seriously. The Mid-Year Report only suggests items for the 2015–2020 strategic plan. [8] We need to look beyond 2020 and consider where the university will be in 2050 or 2060. If the university has a series of long-term goals in mind—as opposed to long-term approaches of being learner centered, discovery driven, and globally engaged—the university can tackle assessment of programs better. I realize that assessment is not popular and very time intensive; however, with clear and established descriptions of why assessments are needed to build the identity and reputation of WMU, faculty will better appreciate the positive outcomes of assessment. Lack of clarity generates opposition and fear; this undermines methods of improving the university environment.

Sustainability

Long-term planning requires a model. WMU has been recognized recently as a leader in environmental sustainability. This appears to be a result, in part, of the fifth WMU strategic goal, namely to “[a]dvance social, economic, and environmental sustainability practices and policies.” [9] I also perceive WMU governance, however, as driven by numbers and rewarding of positive percentages. I therefore encourage the Provost’s Office and others to adopt a wider model of university-level sustainability to re-root WMU in the communities of western Michigan. “Sustainability,” writes Tom Kelly, the Chief Sustainability Officer at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), “is fundamentally about education because it continually presents questions of value and practice by asking what is best and why, for the long run.” [10]

I draw inspiration for sustainability models from two sources: first from the model of the “sustainable learning community” undertaken by UNH and second from current research on musical sustainability. In the UNH model, Kelly advocates sustainability as “a practical ideal that must be worked out on the ground, concretely and in synch with the rhythms of day-to-day life.” [11] Sustainability advances a bottom-up approach with attunement to student, faculty, staff, and community needs. Kelly describes the model in the following terms:

The sustainable learning community model focuses on four key systems that underpin the ability of a community or society to define and pursue quality of life: biodiversity and ecosystems, climate and energy, food and society, and culture and sustainability. These are integrated as educational initiatives focused on institutional practices across what we refer as the core functions of the university: curriculum, operations, research, and engagement (CORE). Together, the four systems and the CORE create the basis for building a global sustainability outlook by supporting educational innovations that cultivate perspectives that we have defined as “Earth system,” “citizen of the world,” “public health practitioner,” and “engaged intellectual.” [12]

The model proposes clear methods to craft the perspectives of members of the community and then outlines clear outcomes for students—they graduate with these perspectives and prepared for specific types of careers.

Western Michigan University does not exist at the intersection of the same kinds of communities as the University of New Hampshire; therefore, adopting UNH’s model verbatim is not the best course of action. Here, I draw from musical sustainability to propose a plan for pursuing a large-scale WMU sustainability model. Ethnomusicologist Jeff Todd Titon draws on theories of how ecosystems sustain themselves and argues that four principles guide sustainable environments. [13] “Diversity” is the first principle and enables the maintenance of a body of knowledge and solutions upon which to draw when new challenges arise. “Limits to growth” is the second and prevents the environment from getting too large and crowding out necessary resources for the entire system to use. Attunement to “interconnectivity” is the third principle and indicates that certain self-correcting mechanisms be established to allow the environment to assimilate new ideas and adapt to change. “Stewardship” is the final principle; good management in a sustainable environment involves a ground-level perspective to “care…for something not owned.” [14]

WMU leadership is well attuned to the necessity of diversity, although more work still needs to be done in that area. Limits to growth, attunement to interconnectivity, and stewardship need to be addressed by the entire university community. Models of sustainability do not mix well with growth; undertaking both sustainability and growth—something WMU seems to pursue now—yields neither. Interconnectivity must be fostered between the different units, and structures, including permanent assessment models, should be put in place to foster this interconnectivity. Finally, leaders of a university do not own the university but are entrusted with the significant responsibility of maintaining the institution for future generations. We must have stewards in our administrative positions.

Conclusions

We need to continue conversations recent events have started. To begin our dialogue, I respectfully implore the Provost’s Office to reconsider its approach to interacting with the university community and to adopt the values meant to guide the university: lead but also learn; direct, but also discover; enforce, but also engage. I also respectfully implore faculty to espouse the same values and play a more active role in shared responsibility for the university. To do so, I suggest that we organize a series of open forums to discuss the following questions:

What is leadership at an institution of higher education?

I call for dialogue about leadership and not for the dismissal of any WMU administrator. Leadership must be built on trust between the leaders and the community. All leaders at WMU—this includes administrators, faculty teaching in classrooms, managers, and student leaders—must craft an atmosphere of stewardship and effective engagement with the concerns of the community.

What is the proper balance of long-term planning and assessment?

Proper balance emerges from sustained communication between the administration, faculty, staff, and students as we determine our collective strategic plans and implement permanent assessment models.

What are the benefits of pursing sustainability, as opposed to growth, as our guiding model?

WMU has the potential to make large-scale sustainability a model to guide the development of programs, the revision of curricula, and the recruitment of successful students. We should not aim to grow at this point; with declining high-school graduation rates in Michigan, we should consider equilibrium a success. This equilibrium should involve stable matriculation rates and improved graduation rates for at least the next ten to fifteen years. When forecasts indicate that high-school graduation rates will increase in Michigan, we can consider a shift to a model that involves proactively tackling growth.

We are here because we give students, the community, and each other the tools to build our collective future. Let us all work together and guide one another to help Western Michigan University reach its true potential.

Respectfully submitted,

Alexander M. Cannon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Music History/Ethnomusicology
WMU College of Fine Arts

 

[1] WMU spokeswoman Cheryl Roland recently claimed that “[a]n overwhelming majority of those who voted [in the “no confidence” vote] were from the College of Arts and Sciences.” (See Julie Mack, “Western Michigan University faculty union issues official ‘no confidence’ vote against Provost Tim Greene,” mlive.com, February 4, 2015). Here Mack subsequently reports that 59.4% of participants in the first ballot and 54.04% in the revised ballot indicated they were in the College of Arts and Sciences; “overwhelming majority” is not applicable in this case and using such language, in essence, silences the opinions of 40% or more of faculty at WMU.

[2] WMU Provost Timothy Greene, letter to faculty and staff of the College of Arts and Sciences, January 29, 2015.

[3] Jody Brylinsky and Brynne Belinger, Western Michigan University Strategic Plan Mid-Year Report, WMU Office of Institutional Effectiveness, January 14, 2015.

[4] Brylinski and Belinger, p. 8.

[5] “NSF study shows decline in federal funding for research and development,” National Science Foundation, January 15, 2014.

[6] In the College of Fine Arts, there are fewer opportunities for large institutional grants, but there are large grants available, such as the National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant. There also are grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities available; therefore, an attunement to a more diverse variety of research awards and grants will help WMU maintain funding for our programs.

[7] Brylinski and Belinger, p. 7.

[8] Brylinski and Belinger, pp. 15-18.

[9] Western Michigan University Strategic Plan 2012–2015.

[10] Tom Kelly, “Sustainability as an Organizing Principle for Higher Education,” in The Sustainable Learning Community: One University’s Journey to the Future, ed. John Aber, Tom Kelly, and Bruce Mallory (Durham, New Hampshire: University of New Hampshire Press, 2009), 1.

[11] Kelly, p. 1.

[12] Kelly, p. 2.

[13] Jeff Todd Titon, “Music and Sustainability: An Ecological Viewpoint,” The World of Music 51.1 (2009): 123–124.

[14] Titon, p. 124.

Results of Faculty Survey of Confidence in Provost’s Leadership

The WMU-AAUP chapter membership has voted “no confidence” in the leadership of Provost Tim Greene by a substantial majority. Quantitative results are enclosed below. Detailed summaries of the qualitative responses will be available in the coming days.

Some prefatory information is necessary for understanding the data.

For all electronic surveys conducted by the WMU-AAUP, a third-party service is contracted to ensure that all faculty information (even about whether any individual faculty member participated) is kept confidential. This means that neither chapter officers nor the chapter staff have access to any individual answers or to information about who participated. Only the aggregated totals are shared with us. We then share these with the faculty.

This is important to go over in light of an error in the survey as it initially appeared last Friday, January 30. For question #4, participants should have been able to select as many answers as they thought applied. The error was that participants were able to select only a single answer for that question. Before that error could be corrected, 80 faculty colleagues had already participated in the survey.

Early on Friday evening, the error was corrected, and participants were then able to select multiple options in response to question #5 if they chose. When the correction was made, the responses of the first 80 participants were saved and, as we learned on Tuesday, a new count was begun.

Unfortunately, however, that correction made it possible for participants who had already responded to the original survey on Friday afternoon to respond a second time, after the error had been corrected.

We do not believe that any faculty members would have voted twice with the intention of having two votes counted, but some may have returned to the survey believing that a second vote would supersede their first. It did not. Any new vote submitted after the correction was made would have been automatically included in the new count.

When we learned on Tuesday that it could have been possible for colleagues in the first group of 80 to complete the survey a second time, we asked our computing services contractor whether there is a way that they could determine the extent of any overlap between the two groups of participants. There is not.

Therefore, although we believe that the number of colleagues who might have responded twice is probably small, we are presenting each data set separately, with one set reflecting the responses of the first 80 participants and the second reflecting the responses of the 278 colleagues who completed the survey after the corrections to question #4 were made.

For each of the data sets, each participant could submit only a single vote. This means that we can stand by each set independently, but we cannot aggregate the two sets.

Thanks to all of you who participated in the survey. Now for the results.

Question 1. Please select the option below that best reflects your feelings about the leadership of WMU Provost Tim Greene:

Results of first set of responses (n = 80):

I have CONFIDENCE in Provost Greene’s leadership:             15 (18.75%)

I have NO CONFIDENCE in Provost Greene’s leadership:       65 (81.25%)

Results of second set of responses (n = 278)

I have CONFIDENCE in Provost Greene’s leadership              66 (23.74%)

I have NO CONFIDENCE in Provost Greene’s leadership        212 (76.26%)

Question 2. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Please indicate your agreement or disagreement with the following statement:

I believe that Provost Greene upholds and defends the core values and academic mission of Western Michigan University.

Results of first set of responses (n = 80; 13 skipped question):

Agree              12        (17.91%)

Disagree          55        (82.09%)

Results of second set of responses (n = 278; 33 skipped question):

 Agree              66        (26.94%)

Disagree          179      (73.06%)

Question 3. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Please indicate your agreement or disagreement with the following statement:

I believe that Provost Greene should continue in his current position.

Results of first set of responses (n = 80; 7 skipped question):

Agree              12        (16.44%)

Disagree          61        (83.56%)

Results of second set of responses (n = 278; 32 skipped question):

Agree              59        (23.98%)

Disagree          187      (76.02%)

Question 4. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Please check the box next to your college or academic unit. If you are affiliated with more than one, please select the home of your primary appointment.

Results of first set of responses (n = 80; 13 skipped question):

College of Arts and Sciences                                                 40 (59.7%)

College of Aviation                                                                  0

Haworth College of Business                                                  2 (2.99%)

College of Education and Human Development                       13 (19.4%)

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences                           3 (4.48%)

College of Fine Arts                                                                  4 (5.97%)

College of Health and Human Services                                     4 (5.97%)

Center for English Language & Culture for Intl Students            0

University Libraries                                                                    1 (1.49%)

Counseling Services                                                                  0

Results of second set of responses (n = 278; 43 skipped question):

College of Arts and Sciences                                      127      (54.04%)

College of Aviation                                                       6          (2.55%)

Haworth College of Business                                      16        (6.81%)

College of Education and Human Development           22        (9.36%)

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences              20        (8.51%)

College of Fine Arts                                                     14        (5.96%)

College of Health and Human Services                       19        (8.09%)

CELCIS                                                                        4          (1.70%)

University Libraries                                                       5          (2.13%)

Counseling Services                                                    2          (0.85%)

Total numbers of faculty in each college or unit at WMU and percentage of WMU-AAUP bargaining unit as a whole (n = 886):

College of Arts and Sciences                                     345      (38.9%)

College of Aviation                                                      20        (2.25%)

Haworth College of Business                                      80        (9.0%)

College of Education and Human Development          111      (12.5%)

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences              90        (10.1%)

College of Fine Arts                                                     81        (9.14%)

College of Health and Human Services                        111      (12.5%)

CELCIS                                                                        15        (1.69%)

University Libraries                                                        22        (2.48%)

Counseling Services                                                     11        (1.24%)

Question 5. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Please check the issue(s) or concern(s) you considered most important in determining your answer to question #1. Select as many as apply.

Results of first set of responses (n = 80; 14 skipped question):

Note: In an error on the original survey, only one of the options below could be checked. This affected the options and responses of the first 80 survey respondents, 19 of whom wrote in additional choices from the options given in the box next to the “other” option. These write-ins have been added to the totals. Several others wrote in issues or concerns that were not included among the options given. A detailed summary of the qualitative data provided in response to this question (and to question #7) is forthcoming.

Gender equity                                    23        (34.84%)

Academic program review                 20        (30.3%)

Shared governance                            20        (30.3%)

Administrative accountability              18        (27.27%)

Transparency in decision making        25        (37.87%)

Respect for faculty                             26        (39.39%)

Support for academic mission            16        (24.24%)

Institutional priorities                           17        (25.75%)

Results of second set of responses (n = 278; 46 skipped question):

In addition to the totals given below, 40 respondents wrote in issues or concerns that were not included among the options given. A detailed summary of the qualitative data provided in response to this question (and to question #7) is forthcoming.

Gender equity                                    135      (58.19%)

Academic program review                 121      (52.16%)

Shared governance                            152      (65.52%)

Administrative accountability              128      (55.17%)

Transparency in decision making       169      (72.84%)

Respect for faculty                             171      (73.71%)

Support for academic mission            111      (47.84%)

Institutional priorities                            120      (51.72%)

Other                                                   40        (17.24%)

 Question 6. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Years of service at WMU?

Results of first set of responses (n = 80; 22 skipped question):

1-5 years:                   3

6-10 years:                 11

11-15 years:               17

16-20 years:               11

21-25 years:               7

26-30 years:               6

31-35 years:               2

36-40 years:               0

41-45 years:               0

46-50 years:               1

51 or more years:       0

other:                         0

 Results of second set of responses (n = 278; 97 skipped question):

1-5 years:                   15

6-10 years:                 27

11-15 years:               44

16-20 years:               43

21-25 years:               22

26-30 years:               8

31-35 years:               12

36-40 years:               6

41-45 years:               1

46-50 years:               2

51 or more years:       0

other:                          1 (comment: “many decades”)

Question 7. (OPTIONAL QUESTION) Please add any comments you would like to share.

First set of responses (n = 80): 24 participants included comments.

Second set of responses (n = 278): 64 participants included comments.

Detailed summary of qualitative responses is forthcoming.

 

Number of survey invitations sent:                             886

Number of faculty opted out of Survey Monkey         67

Number of possible participants:                                819