Recently, 64% of faculty voted “no confidence” in the president. Relationships between faculty and administration need to be strengthened moving forward. This is a key tenet of The Better Way Forward.
The faculty are the heart and soul of any healthy university system. With such low faculty confidence in the current president, it seems clear the present possibility for harmony among university professors and the administration is bleak. It also seems clear that the vote would have been even an even higher percentage if some did not fear possible retribution from the current administration. The no-confidence resolution only lacked two votes to meet the 66% threshold needed to trigger mandatory action by the trustees.
Resolutions adopted by the faculty senate should be made public. The administration and trustees should at minimum, have to make public statements on those resolutions. Trustees should discuss these resolutions with transparency, and such resolutions should come up for a publicly recorded roll call vote at the next trustee meeting.
Furthermore, the administration should encourage, recognize, and support innovative teaching methods. The professoriate should be respected through the affirmation of written policy, historical practice, and the accreditation standard that curriculum adoption, change, and evaluation are the primary responsibility of the faculty.
Shared leadership between the administration and university educators should be collaborative, consultative, and collegial. The faculty desire strongly to support HSU’s goal to become a distinctive leader among Christian liberal arts universities in the southwest by 2030. with positive changes that boost moral, this may become possible.
ACTA’s Recommendations Regarding Faculty
In their open letter the to board of trustees, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni writes,
“Best practices require engaging faculty at every step so that they understand the need for the program prioritization. Working closely with faculty also raises the level of confidence and buy- in for the resulting recommendations. We encourage board members to ensure that the recent assessment and prioritization of academic programs, and ongoing revisions to HSU’s general education program, not only adhere to accreditor standards but also reflect best practices.
Hardly anything, moreover, is more vital to a university’s success than faculty morale. Professors lead academic programs, oversee the curriculum, have full control over students’ experience in the classroom, and engage students in mentorship activities outside of class. Maintaining high levels of faculty morale in times of financial pressure is difficult. When institutions of higher learning face daunting challenges, especially budget challenges, university leaders must work to strengthen shared governance. This requires a high level of transparency about the problems facing the institution, persistent communication with stakeholders, and the diligent adherence to established policies and procedures.
Where decisions are not well-explained, or appear to diverge from existing policies, it is not just norms of shared governance and faculty morale that deteriorate. There are also implications for academic freedom because faculty who lack confidence in an administration rarely feel free to engage openly in discussions about the university’s future, even as it concerns their role as the guardians of academic standards and quality. Academic freedom and an engaged professoriate are the lifeblood of a university. As such, we strongly encourage HSU’s leaders—senior administrators and board members—to attend assiduously to cultivating norms of shared governance and raising faculty morale.”