Faculty Senate President's Column - October 2011

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost at mid-semester at FHSU. Homecoming has passed, and with it the Hays rite of passage that is Oktoberfest. October is my favorite month – the NASCAR season is still going, college football has begun, and the summer’s heat has faded. And it’s been replaced, of course, with the pressure to get midterm grades recorded and keep your head above water with grading and other class-related responsibilities.

The FHSU Faculty Senate is hard at work on some internal efforts, as well. Working with Provost Larry Gould, we have expressed support for a new Faculty Development Speaker’s Series. I’m looking forward to Senate’s participation in this effort to build more opportunities for next generation faculty to succeed. We are also about ready to send out our Faculty Climate Survey, and I anxiously await the results when they come in – the survey will tell a lot about the state of our faculty. I look forward to sharing that information with you in the hopes the Legislature and Regents will understand the value our college faculty bring to the state and protect that vital resource vigorously.

I made the faculty survey as a priority for my presidency because I have seen faculty morale suffer for years. The combination of ever-expanding expectations and ever-decreasing support from the state has put a burden on faculty that has crushed job satisfaction and motivation for many faculty, at FHSU and elsewhere. With a half-percent enrollment increase and nearly 200,000 students in Kansas higher education institutions this fall, the need for a well-supported college faculty has never been greater. The question that must be asked when considering how to support higher education is: how overloaded do we want the people who will educate the Kansas workforce to be? How can we grow our way out of a recession without well-trained and educated students? And how can we prepare those students without faculty who have the tools to excel at their jobs? I look most forward to seeing how that necessary reconciliation happens over the coming legislative session.