Faculty survey shows substantial unhappiness with University President George Ross

There is a continued dissatisfaction from faculty about the job performance of University President George Ross following the tumultuous 2011-12 academic year.

According to documents obtained by Central Michigan Life, votes tallied by the Faculty Association for Ross' comprehensive review by the Board of Trustees show a general unhappiness with Ross' leadership.

The review was headed by trustees Brian Fannon, John Hurd and Marilyn French Hubbard.

During the review process, leaders through the campus and Mount Pleasant community were interviewed. FA President Laura Frey; Tim Connors, professor of communication and dramatic arts; and Joshua Smith, associate professor of philosophy and religion and FA president-elect, were selected to take part in the interview process on Nov. 13.

A survey was distributed for FA members to fill out in mid-November, asking 37 questions to 617 members about their thoughts on Ross' job performance and nearly every category had a negative answer. A total of 245 FA members responded, for a total of a 39.7 percent response rate.

One question asked members to evaluate Ross' effectiveness on a five-point scale, with five being the best. One-hundred and ninety-one faculty members rated Ross a two or one, while only 47 voted Ross a three or higher.

Another question asked FA members if they favored Ross continuing as University President. In response, 184 of the 236 votes 'disagreed' or 'strongly disagreed' with the statement.

“We're going to let the data speak for itself,” Frey said Tuesday, adding she is glad that trustees allowed the FA to speak.

The survey was emailed to trustees after the evaluation, but Fannon said it will not be part of the nearly 20-page report submitted to the Board of Trustees and the public at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday in the presidential conference room in the Bovee University Center.

“That survey was sent to all the trustees, but it's not part of our report,” he said. “ … We all got the survey and I don't know if the other trustees have read it.”

He said data is still being put together from the more than 60 confidential face-to-face interviews, several phone interviews and several letters.

“We've got a good report we can present to the board and the public,” he said.

Ross came into this academic year saying he hoped to heal several injured relationships that remained following an FA strike and several battles regarding university funding during the 2011-12 academic year.

“We had a little hiccup, maybe a big hiccup, but we’re stronger for it,” Ross said in September about the 2011-12 academic year at Central Michigan University.

But Academic Senate Chairman Jim McDonald said more action has to be taken.

“To just say time will heal all isn't going to do it, as deep as the wounds were,” McDonald said.

Tuesday, Ross said he understands people are upset but hopes continual meetings with faculty will quell some of the anger. He wouldn't comment directly on the FA vote as he hadn't read it, he said.

“I understand that there are still faculty members on this campus that are angry. That's been made clear to me,” he said.

In December 2011, the A-Senate voted no confidence in Ross and Provost Gary Shapiro. McDonald said he is still unhappy with the level of transparency and shared governance on campus.

In the spring, a Shared Governance Committee was formed to help create better decision-making for the university, McDonald was named co-chair of the committee.

“I have tried to find a way to continue to move this campus forward … I will continue to reach out. I believe we are making progress,” Ross said.

But McDonald said he is somewhat unhappy with the small steps, and shared governance hasn't been used as effectively as he had hoped.

McDonald used Shapiro's recent retirement as an example. There were seven faculty spots on the search committee for the new Provost and Ross appointed five of the seven spots, while the other two were appointed by the A-Senate.

“Why not follow through and use shared governance to elect people?” McDonald said.

Ross said he reached out to the deans of the five colleges and the deans hand-picked the five representatives.

There are also issues with the evaluation of deans, something that was discussed during the formation of the shared governance committee.

McDonald said there hasn't been an evaluation of deans in 13 years and that it's needed to tell the board of trustees, Ross and the deans how they are doing.

“It's transparent and it's informative,” he said.

While the wounds are still apparent, McDonald said, he's nervous about what the university is doing about its future.

“A lot of this existed before bargaining even started but now it's lingering,” he said.