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Faculty / Staff Conversation - Session 3

Dominant themes

  • Flexibility: Give faculty flexibility to do their jobs and do them well.  We can and want to do them; trust us to.
  • Support: Give faculty support for whatever comes our way.  Whatever it is, we can handle it with the right kind of support (resources, time, incentive).
  • Survival: Faculty want to get out of the “survival mode” we’ve been in and do our work.  We’re tired of been closed off, less collaborative, and less collegial than we prefer to be and have been in past.
  • Stability in the plan: GO with the strategic plan once it’s decided; don’t abandon or break it; don’t change tracks; give it a chance to be developed and perfected.
  • Stability in the people: So much change-over and so many interim positions have decreased their credibility and fostered an unstable work environment. Return to permanent positions asap.
  • Stability in faculty process: Especially in the RTP process, some faculty are experiencing or anticipate experiencing difficult circumstances because of the lack of stability and consistency in documents and leadership over the last several years. 
  • Trust: Much has been lost; devote constant, careful attention to developing it again.
    • Be aware that any unit on campus that perceives itself as not represented on 2020 Commission will likely have increased concerns about results from the 2020 Commission.
    • Faculty want to know who is really leading; who genuinely involves faculty in decision-making; and what promises will be kept or forgotten.

Strengths

  • Western has some great teachers.
  • QEP.
  • Faculty Commons.
  • Registrar.
  • Student orientation.
  • Faculty Senate headed in a good direction.
  • Collegiality – the kind we used to have and want back.
  • Geographic location/region – it’s where we are; take advantage of it!

Vision

  • Western graduates solidly prepared students in writing, speaking, and critical thinking with global experience/perspective.
  • Solid graduates beget solid graduates.
  • Market environmental advantages of this region, the need for health care expansion, and as a regional university that thinks globally.

Priorities

  • Give faculty the professional development they need to teach whoever comprises our student body.
  • Give faculty incentives according to what each faculty member values as an incentive—for instance, time, money, or credit that “counts.”
  • Remove disincentives at any level (departmental, TPR process, for instance) for teaching.
  • Continue to develop international programs going both directions—Western students studying abroad and international students coming here to study.
  • If class size is going up, provide more lecture halls.
  • As economy and employment remain strained, more than ever we need to prepare students to be solid college graduates.
  • Be engagement-focused.
  • Increase capacity for faculty to produce peer-reviewed publications and associated royalties.

Not Our Vision

  • Being all things to all people.
  • Being an R1 institution – even though at R1s it is completely clear what faculty’s priorities should be, we did not come to Western to be part of an R1 institution.  

Weaknesses

  • Too many Western graduates are not meeting the vision we have for them as capable in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.
  • Advising
    • Banner does not give current info.
    • Students do not follow advisors’ advice with no consequence.
  • Grant procedures unnecessarily difficult.
  • Human Resources assistance for faculty approaching retirement.

Student Bod(ies)

  • Faculty anticipate an increasingly diverse student population.
  • We are concerned about Early College students’ preparation to live in a university environment (we frankly don’t like programs that give college credit to high school students).
  • We anticipate more “career changers” - nontraditional students.  That’s fine.

Size and location of our campus

  • We need ways to remedy increasing disconnectedness among faculty at different campuses and, soon, across the highway.
  • Don’t aim to become a “bigger” university (especially student enrollment) just to be “bigger.” Focus on retention and graduation, instead.
  • Don’t spread too far/thin economic development efforts.
  • Class schedule: More flexibility in how/when/duration of classes.  It’s difficult to teach critical thinking in 50 minutes three times a week.
  • Faculty: How to balance faculty longevity and faculty value.

Community/Region

  • How is our “region” defined/determined geographically?  So close to GA & SC, could they have in-state tuition status?  In NC, concentrate more on western counties.
  • Get the infrastructure money.
 

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