A periodic update for faculty from President Robert H. "Doc" Foglesong
September 4, 2007
I hope your fall semester is off to a smooth start. It's good to be up and running at full speed again and to see the campus alive with activity. We have a full slate of challenges and opportunities before us during the academic year ahead.
SALARIES, FACULTY POSITIONS INCREASE
As I've relayed before, we did very well in procuring resources to fund our top priorities for FY 2007-08. The average pay raise across the university was 7.06 percent, compared with last year's average of 5.91 percent. That means we have had an increase of about 13 percent over the two-year period—not enough to bring us up to the standard we want that will permit us to continue to attract and retain credible and an energetic faculty, but a good start. This next year, I hope to keep us on the same path.
As a reminder, we also funded 31.5 faculty positions (21.5 tenured) beyond where we were last year. I hope to continue that initiative this year, resources permitting. And let's remember that we were able to increase the investment in our library by providing additional funding for staff and materials. And our commitment to faculty research startup packages also was shored up with additional funds that will hopefully allow us to attract additional respected researchers.
Last year there was discussion that our FutureSTATE 2015 strategic plan was simply a wish list that wouldn't or couldn't be funded. We've moved well forward on the vast majority of our 100-plus initiatives, which I trust addresses that discussion. I'll soon send you a short survey to get your views about how we should invest any additional resources we may get next year. Your input will be valuable as we put together our strategy.
SEARCHES UNDER WAY
After a year in which we filled positions including Vice President for Research, Vice President for Development and Alumni, Dean of the Meridian Campus, Dean of Business and Industry, and numerous department heads, we have now implemented searches for a new Athletic Director, a Vice President for Finance and Administration, Dean of Engineering, Dean of Arts and Sciences, and several department heads.
We also started a search for a Dean for Graduate Studies, but I have stopped that until I better understand how to organize in order to draw the respect I believe we deserve with our graduate program. We have done much to help our graduate program by funding increased Graduate Assistant stipends and providing a supplement for their health insurance. And our graduate enrollment is up significantly because of the changes we have made and your energy in helping us recruit new graduate students. But I want to make sure we do this right, and I'm not convinced that we have reviewed all the options and noted the national trends at highly respected peer schools.
FACULTY CLUB, ALCOHOL-DRUG POLICY NEED INPUT
A couple issues that are hanging out there include the possibility of establishing a faculty club. I first proposed this last summer, but did not get a very warm response—in fact, the response implied that this was too hard to do. I'm back again, asking your opinion. I need your honest input here—we should not pursue this and waste time and resources if it won't be supported. The survey I mentioned above will offer you a chance to have input. I don't want to define what a faculty club should be, but I am very interested in knowing your definition—and whether you are willing to commit to supporting a faculty club.
As an update on food services on the campus, we hope to open the renovated Colvard Union and all its new food service options in November. Hang on. Perry Cafeteria has been revamped and repriced since we lost about $750,000 there over the last couple of years. Very simply, we can't continue to subsidize the prices we had there—we're required to ensure that campus auxiliaries like food services and housing pay for themselves. We can't use E&G funds to operate them, so we price those services to pay for themselves. As an aside, the number of meal tickets sold is up this year for the first time in several years. I would hope to provide a small food service in a faculty club, should you support that idea, but it has to break even.
Another issue that actually surprised me is the confusion about our new Policy on an Alcohol and Drug Free Workspace. On January 9, 2007, our Executive Council met—with all stakeholders represented, including the staff and faculty—and recommended to me that we implement the policy that was presented. That council is the clearinghouse for potential issues, so I don't know why we didn't discover in that meeting that there were objections or, at a minimum, that more time was needed before we had something we could all live with. I trust that nobody will argue against an alcohol- and drug-free workplace, so I'm left with the belief that we should be working together to define a policy that permits us to get to that position at our university, rather than arguing about who knew what and when they knew it.
Help me here. First, if the Executive Council is to be our clearinghouse for establishing cooperation and presenting me with policy we can all live with, I need your input as part of the process—not several months after a policy is recommended. That's in part why we have an Executive Council with all the stakeholders represented. Second, given where we are with the alcohol- and drug-free workplace policy, give me your collective thoughts about how to modify what was recommended last January to ensure that we have, in fact, an alcohol-free and drug-free workplace. We all deserve that.
ENROLLMENT IS UP; FACULTY WILL BENEFIT
As I write this, we don't have our final enrollment numbers, but it is very clear that we will grow. We will have the largest freshman class ever, our graduate enrollment has increased, and the number of returning students is up. That is a healthy situation, but is requiring us to adjust somewhat across the campus, especially in housing and transportation. Increased enrollment will also help us generate revenue that we intend to share with you based on the increased tuition we should achieve as a result. We intend to use the same formula we corporately built last year.
If the enrollment in your department increased and/or your Student Credit Hour production will go up, your department will receive a tuition dividend check that could be significant. If your department's numbers didn't go up, it won't benefit from our growth. As an aside, since our enrollment and SCHs decreased significantly beginning in 2001 and stayed flat or declined until this year, we lost $10.2 million in revenue from tuition and through state funding. That's what leads, in part, to the lack of investment in faculty and departmental funds. Hopefully, we have turned the corner on those days. But it will require us all to continue to recruit and retain quality students so we can afford to recruit and retain quality faculty. There is a direct linkage between enrollment growth and growth in faculty positions.
I get some great ideas from you when we meet in departmental gatherings. Some work and some don't, but keep them coming. This is a great gig—I'm happy to be on the team with you all.
Kevin P. Knudson, associate professor of mathematics, began new duties Aug. 16 as associate director of Shackouls Honors College. He will work with director Nancy McCarley and serve as mentor for the university's Distinguished Scholars Program and coordinator of the Honors Undergraduate Research Program.
Faculty artists will be honored on Thursday, Sept. 6, during the 5:30-7:30 opening reception of the 2007 fall Faculty Art Exhibition in the McComas Hall Gallery. The exhibition runs through Sept. 20. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday.
Jack Blendinger, professor in the Department of Instructional Systems, Leadership, and Workforce Development, is the author of "Write Like a Pro!," a guide for classroom teachers and educational supervisors who seek to become better writers. The volume is a recent release of Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.
Melissa Moore, associate professor of marketing, will be keynote speaker for the annual meeting of the state's professional academic advisors from four-year and two-year institutions. The Oct. 2 gathering is hosted this year by MSU advising programs.