Our Listening Sessions, Janus Coffees, and office visits as part of the 2017-2018 school year have been a really beneficial way of connecting with faculty across campus.
We’ve learned a lot about the issues that faculty care about and the challenges that units across campus face.
Several topics came up in our conversations, but the bottom line is that faculty are under stress due to lack of needed faculty lines, lack of resources, lack of stable leadership, and general uncertainty about the future. This stress is not simply a response to the troubling economic times that the University now faces, it’s not just a result of the rushed Academic Program Review Process, and it’s not just because we had to scurry to fit almost all our classes into a four-day schedule without any study of how that would affect students, faculty, or staff.
No, at its root, the stress and anxiety we feel has to do with something far more basic: Respect. Faculty across campus have had their programs under constant assault for years, even before the current crisis, which is not of our making, but the result of years of mismanagement and bad decision making on the part of the University administration and Board of Trustees.
Faculty feel unheard, undervalued, and under-supported. And let’s be very clear about this: faculty working conditions are student learning conditions. So when faculty are unsupported, our students are underserved. When faculty are disrespected, so are our students. They deserve an academic environment in which teaching and research are the central values.
We can and must expect more. Together, we must demand it.