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Academic senators express support for CMED, frustration with administration at meeting Tuesday

Members of the Academic Senate said they are supportive of the College of Medicine but were upset with the manner in which information about the project was presented at their meeting Tuesday.

University President George Ross’s speech prepared A-Senate members to receive an immense amount of information during the meeting and urged senators to keep past events out of decisions for the future.

“I’ve had people say that it will be political theatrics in here. Let’s not do that. Let’s demonstrate to students how we want them to behave and conduct business even when they disagree,” Ross said. “This body has been guiding academic policy for the last five decades, and I want to challenge you to be responsible members of this and carry on that tradition.”

Provost Gary Shapiro’s report addressed concerns voiced in a resolution passed by A-Senate at the Nov. 1, 2011 meeting.

According to the resolution, senators were concerned that “President George Ross and the Board of Trustees have made no public pledge orally or in writing not to fund the College of Medicine by diverting current or future funds from existing colleges or departments, increasing tuition for undergraduate and graduate students or using any other public funds to support the College of Medicine.”

Shapiro addressed each concern in the resolution and said the process behind CMED will not be stopped.

“The College of Medicine is a huge task that still remains before us,” Shapiro said. “Activities involving the College of Medicine have and will continue to move forward. It’s unrealistic to expect things to stop.”

Shapiro also addressed concerns regarding the use of university funds as well as student tuition dollars to fund the project.

“Let’s be realistic, people,” he said. “The College of Medicine has been the recipient of university contributions. This is not unusual. To say we will have a major project such as this one and not spend money on it is unrealistic.”

College of Medicine Founding Dean Ernest Yoder presented a slideshow featuring expenditures of CMED as well as Central Michigan University revenue used for the project.

In both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 fiscal year, $5 million of university funds went toward CMED. In 2012, approximately $4.9 million has been used so far.

Shapiro accounted for the $5 million contributions as money saved from reducing energy costs around campus. Additionally, he said money intended for other colleges and departments will not fund CMED.

“With an increase in undergraduate students coming to CMU due to the College of Medicine, we have estimated approximately $7 million of tuition money coming from those students per year. That being said, $3.8 million of that will go to the general fund, and the rest of that will be distributed among other colleges,” he said. “The College of Medicine doesn’t expect to take money from other colleges for funding.”

Senators repeated their support for CMED, but numerous members said they felt disrespected and forgotten in both the president and provost’s reports.

“I feel like we have been brow-beaten,” said Senator David Smith, professor of religion and philosophy. “We have been told we don’t have a choice or a voice, and we should lay down and go home.”

Senator Laura Frey said she felt insulted with the way information was presented.

“At the beginning of the meeting, we were told ‘You’re going to be told a lot of information, more than you can absorb,’” she said. “I have indeed absorbed all of the information presented today, and it is concerning.”

Senator Maureen Eke, professor of English language and literature, said the process of revealing information is the biggest problem.

“This is a partnership,” she said. “Not something where the administration dictates and the faculty rolls over and plays dead. The main problem has to do with the process and the way everything has been handled. I find it very troubling and I hope we can find a way to go forward and work around the issues at hand.”

After discussion, a vote was taken to determine whether all points in the November resolution had been addressed.

The vote passed with 76 percent of A-Senate members agreeing.

“There has been fear and anxiety about the leadership of this university … we have stumbled, and we have tried to rectify that by sharing an increased amount of info. We cannot go back and change history; we can only start to move forward here,” Ross said.

One Comment

  1. Still Troubled says:

    The fact remains that the Board of Trustees, former president Rao, current president Ross, and other senior university officials violated THE basic principle of faculty-administration relations; namely, that of shared governance.  Shared governance is not a “partnership,” such as Dr. Eke implies, with an equal say by faculty in what direction is taken by the university, much less a veto power by faculty.  But shared governance means that major initiatives will receive consideration from all affected parties ahead of a final decision.  The Board rammed the College of Medicine down the throats of the faculty (indeed of all university stakeholders), as Dr. Smith states, without such consideration.  Trustee Chair Kottomasu could not with a straight face deny what he and Rao did back in 2007 (or thereabouts) to set the College of Medicine inexorably on the path to fruition it has taken.  In so violating THE basic concept of shared governance, letting faculty have a say beforehand, the CMU Trustee and administrative leadership have lost credibility and cannot reasonably expect to regain it with a facile expression of “mea culpa.”

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