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.