Faculty Senate highlights issues with administration, faculty

U-News Staff

The Faculty Senate meeting on Oct. 21 gave insight into the inner workings of University professors and administration.

The first topic on the agenda examined the recent national university rankings published by U.S. News and World Report. Provost Gail Hackett proposed focusing on the metrics used for the report rather than focusing on the specific rankings.

According to the U.S. News report, UMKC was ranked in the top 75 percent  of schools this year, and ranked well in faculty resources due to small class sizes and a 13:1 faculty-student ratio.

UMKC continues to struggle with graduation and retention rates, but according to Hackett, UMKC has shown improvement in these areas, and has moved up seven points in the last five years. Hackett announced that the University budget has been balanced on paper, and University administration will not be in a position to make further cuts.

The committee members on research integrity proposed creating a sub-committee designed to examine possible deficiencies in the administration from a faculty point of view. The sub-committee would provide an element of transparency on cost/benefit ratios in research and education.

Dr. Susan B. Wilson, vice chancellor of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion, presented a strategic plan for embracing diversity at UMKC. The plan aims to achieve  a diverse and inclusive University environment, according to Dr. Wilson. The plan works in a collaborative mode of assistance by helping to problem solve and provide resources in education and training. The plan will look at other universities to find the most cost effective strategies while encouraging feedback on retention and success and aims to create a dialogue between administrators and staff about these issues.

The Division of Diversity and Inclusion will host a lecture on social justice featuring Rebecca Skloot, best-selling author of “The Immortal Live of Henrietta Lacks,” on Nov. 13.

The final presentation, “Death by a Thousand Cuts,” featured a panel of professors from the College of Arts & Sciences. They expressed concern about the priorities and policies of UMKC’s resources, and presented research based on feedback from other professors in the College of Arts & Sciences. The research showed a loss of 31 faculty members in the last three years, including eight tenured and tenure track positions.

In an anonymous poll, faculty members expressed they felt a lack of support from UMKC’s administration. The presentation stated that spending on research has decreased 13 percent, , tenured and tenure track faculty has declined by nearly 12 percent and due to the recent hiring freeze, departments have found it difficult to hire tenured faculty in these vacant positions.

The presentation showed  that UMKC’s administration has added 30 people to executive, managerial and senior level positions. The panel of A&S professors argued that UMKC should focus on attracting, retaining and developing good faculty to help with retention rates and graduation. Hackett, however, expressed doubts over the validity of some of the research, and asked that it be reviewed.