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ISU Faculty Chairman speaks to AAUP

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Posted: Sunday, June 12, 2011 1:30 am

    This article is the text of Idaho State University Provisional Faculty Senate Chairman Phil Cole’s speech delivered Saturday to the American Association of University Professors in Washington, D.C.:

    On behalf of the faculty of Idaho State University and as the duly-elected chair of the Provisional Faculty Senate of Idaho State University, I am profoundly grateful to the American Association of University Professors  — both its staff and members — for their professional concern, for their fair-minded investigation, and for their due diligence in upholding time-honored academic principles and fundamental standards of academic governance across our nation. It is my view that the May 2011 AAUP report entitled College and University Governance: Idaho State University gives an accurate account of the collapse of shared governance at ISU.

    The faculty’s duly elected senate, councils, and bylaws were dissolved following a faculty-wide vote of no confidence in the President. Two months later the ISU administration was directed by the State Board to restore some form of elected governance.  Following this, the ISU faculty mostly re-voted in their colleagues from the disbanded body. The provisional faculty senate met once during final exam week, 36 hours before the end of the semester, to elect officers and conduct other business, such as vote on a provisional constitution. The Administration responded by declaring the provisional senate to be nonoperational.  Presumably, the provisional senate will be allowed to become functional sometime next fall.

    In the meantime faculty grievance procedures have been suspended. The provisional faculty senate leadership has been sternly warned against emailing the faculty at large.  On the first day after spring semester when most faculty went off contract, the central administration inexplicably dissolved the Office of the Ombudsman. About a week later this office was reinstated, again without any explanation.

At this time, faculty at ISU have no duly-elected university-wide faculty representatives who are recognized by central administration, no bylaws,  no seat at central administration meetings, no agreed-upon grievance procedures, and no right to communicate electronically with colleagues at large. The councils that reported to the faculty senate have either been disbanded or now report directly to a vice president.

    I fully recognize that sanction is a severe action designed to apply to egregious deficiencies in university governance. It is appropriately rare. Only four of the over 3400 not-for-profit colleges and universities in the United States are sanctioned, not one of them is a four-year public doctoral-granting university like Idaho State University.

    The issue of sanction at ISU, is of course, much larger than the well being of one state university in southeast Idaho. It is about how we marshal intellectual expertise to educate students.  It is about how we create new knowledge. In the words of Peter Wood, President of the National Association of Scholars, a university has a four-fold mission:  pursuit of truth, transmission of ethics, cultivation of character, and preparation for professional life. Removing professors from meaningful oversight of the curriculum and scholarship can only be detrimental to the quality of student learning. And educating students is the business of a university.

    Are students products or are they humans representing the future of our society? Is the purpose of research to bring in extramural money or is the purpose of extramural money to do research and educate students? ISU faculty fully understand curriculum, teaching, and research, but our expertise has been silenced.

    Through the recent troubles at Idaho State University, I have come to realize now more than ever that the faculty at ISU are hard-working, talented, and professional people. Our students have great promise in becoming the next generation of leaders in business, education, and government.

    It is my hope that the actions of the AAUP today, despite their distressing nature, will help to set Idaho State University on the proper path for fully realizing its potential.

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Welcome to the discussion.

8 comments:

  • AndreaL posted at 11:54 am on Tue, Jun 14, 2011.

    AndreaL Posts: 5

    I agree with Joker28..petty academic squabble and has no business being forced down throats of the entire population of south east Idaho. Come on Walmart treats their employees horribly, and for that matter so do the majority of the companies in this town. I don't see them being demonized on the front page of the paper, no instead it's kudos for providing minimum wage jobs, that a single person can't live on much less a family.
    Right now I have no sympathy for a bunch of people who make at least 3 times what the average income in this town is and then complain about their freedoms. My neighbor would like to the freedom to spend more then 2 hours a day with her kids between 10 shifts at the nursing home and still be able to pay her mortgage!

     
  • John Barleycorn posted at 11:07 pm on Mon, Jun 13, 2011.

    John Barleycorn Posts: 22

    Joker28 - What is even more interesting to note is that the author of that online New York Times column is a personal friend of Provost Gary A. Olson. In fact, Olson wrote an entire book about him -- "Justifying Belief: Stanley Fish and the Work of Rhetoric". But of course, I'm sure Stanley Fish did not write that column to try to help his friend rehabilitate his career.

     
  • Joker28 posted at 9:59 pm on Mon, Jun 13, 2011.

    Joker28 Posts: 99

    The New York Times had an interesting online column about the matter. What's more interesting is that the author is a professor who has taught at schools such as Cal (Berkely), Duke, and John Hopkins.

    "It may appear to you, as it does to me, that what is going on at Idaho State is just a petty academic squabble, but to the guardians of faculty prerogatives what is going on at Idaho State is a holy war waged by the forces of good and evil. In fact it is a garden-variety struggle over power between an administration that insists on administrating and a faculty that insists not only on doing its job without being monitored, but on its (God-given?) right to monitor everyone else’s job."

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/06/faculty-governance-in-idaho/

    We get it - both sides had their feelings hurt. Bottom line: get over it already. Move on. You either want to move ISU forward or you don't.

     
  • jcole33 posted at 11:09 am on Mon, Jun 13, 2011.

    jcole33 Posts: 74

    @ AndeaL. You are right about us worrying about our lousy economy. Unfortunately for those of us that are also students at ISU we now have to worry about the quality of our education. Thanks to Vailas and those he has surrounded himself with we are in danger of losing the means by which we can pull ourselves up and out of difficult economic situations.

    Furthermore, if you were to look into how major universities are run you will see this administration is clearly in the wrong on how it is handling the faculty. However the faculty chooses to fight back is now up to them.

     
  • AndreaL posted at 8:44 am on Mon, Jun 13, 2011.

    AndreaL Posts: 5

    My god, his essay sounds like a national presidential address. When did Idaho State University become it's own country? Will the faculty be declaring war on Libya and taxing neighborhood residents? Perhaps they should succeed altogether from Idaho and the USA. They seem to have forgotten that the university is part of the Idaho State Government system and support by our tax dollars not their lofty ideals.
    While they stand on their podiums decrying how their academic freedom and faculty representation has been taken away, I and the rest of Pocatello will ponder how we are going to afford food and gas, as we mop the grimy floors at our 2nd jobs we were forced to take by the lousy economy.

     
  • John Barleycorn posted at 6:58 pm on Sun, Jun 12, 2011.

    John Barleycorn Posts: 22

    Maybe we should consider changing the locks on the President's house, and blocking the door off with police tape. Associate VP Laura Woodworth-Ney might be able to recommend a good locksmith, given her experience doing this to the Faculty Senate office.

     
  • messegee posted at 3:57 pm on Sun, Jun 12, 2011.

    messegee Posts: 20

    @Quenton:according to Vailas ISU is "his university" (direct quote from the student senate meeting he spoke at) so therefore he is responsible for any and every problem that occurs at ISU. He wants ownership, fine. But ownership includes EVERYTHING, not just the fun, see how great I am because we got a higher rating stuff. He needs to man up and accept responsibility of this mess. If he was a good administrator none of this would have happened.

     
  • Quenton posted at 12:12 pm on Sun, Jun 12, 2011.

    Quenton Posts: 40

    Wonderful, Cole is "profoundly grateful" for something that tarnishes ISU's image, hurts faculty recruitment, sours relations between all parties, means little else and will do nothing for the actual constituents of ISU, the students.

    Can't you grown men and women work this out through the appropriate channels? Enough banter, Vailas is authoritarian, Levine is juvenile, the faculty senate loves a good no confidence vote, Cole is a media hound.... whatever, it seems all are to blame and I don't see this as something for which we should be "profoundly grateful".

     

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