I would like to take a few minutes to update you on the work of the
Faculty Senate this past semester.
One of the most significant events of the fall was the retreat held in October between Faculty Senators and the Administration, including President Moulton, Vice-President for Academic Affairs Covey, the deans, and other vice-presidents and administrators. We not only had an opportunity to share differing perspectives, but also realized we agreed fundamentally on many vital issues. It is my hope this will become an annual meeting, both to provide a forum for the exchange of views and to keep faculty and members of the upper administration in close contact.
Board of Trustee Meeting Highlights:
At its August meeting, the Board of Trustees approved formal and detailed guidelines for presidential searches at USA. As soon as the Board's web page is ready, we expect the guidelines to be posted permanently. Representatives of the Faculty Senate, the student body, the alumni, the community, and the administration all participated in studying guidelines that other universities now follow and revised them for USA's particular needs. I am proud that the Senate took a strong stand in December 1998 against arbitrary and secretive appointment procedures, and I am pleased that these guidelines are now in place for the future.
At its December meeting, the Board approved plans to start USA down the path toward establishing a nationally recognized Cancer Institute at USA Knollwood. Due to the ongoing dust-up with the USA Foundation (which reached another momentary crescendo just as the Board was meeting), unfortunately media coverage of the plans for the Cancer Institute was somewhat muted. But I can think of nothing during the last few years that has had the potential to affect teaching and research across so many colleges and schools as this Cancer Institute. It will be very expensive, to be sure; but that risk may be amply rewarded by the service we can provide to our region and by the improved academic standing of the University in the community, state, and nation.
Another issue before the Board is football. Originally it was expected that a market survey might be completed in time for a final Board decision at the December meeting, but that survey will now be delivered sometime in the next few weeks. We expect the Board to make a decision on starting football at its February meeting. Since the feasibility study conducted (without market analysis) in the fall of 1999 stated that USA needed to raise a minimum of $8-10 million to start football, and with other estimates running as high as $15 million, the future health of all University operations depends upon careful and sober scrutiny of the marketing report.
I urge interested faculty members to be on the lookout for news concerning the completed market study, and to communicate your views to the Faculty Senate. A good review of all the issues involved can be had by examining the feasibility study and the work of the Faculty Senate's ad hoc committee on football, chaired by Dr. Richmond Brown. These can
be found at
Although details should await the conclusion of precise planning, you should be aware that I have been working with Dr. Covey and others to investigate what we can do to bring the faculty to a more central place in the graduation ceremony and therefore make it more meaningful for all of us. It will take the cumulative effect of many small steps over many years before we can know if we have succeeded. Ultimate success will also require your telling the Senate whether any changes really help. Please be on the lookout for announcements about changes in the spring
ceremony, and please take advantage of the current graduation regalia sale at the USA bookstore. It's a lot easier to plan for graduation when you can just pull your robe out of the closet the day of the ceremony, rather than deal with the formalities of renting attire each time many weeks in advance.
2001 Faculty Survey:
In March, we will be sending out the annual survey of the faculty. We need to increase the participation rate well above where it has been (44% last year, or 306 out of 699 faculty members). Without higher participation, especially within colleges and divisions whose faculty seek to use the data to argue for change, the survey will be far less effective an instrument for asserting faculty viewpoints.
Past survey data may be viewed at
The Faculty Senate minutes contain summaries of reports given by college, school, and division caucus leaders. Each unit's Senators and deans have begun a very helpful and worthwhile practice of scheduling regular meetings. Reports from the caucus meetings are given at Senate meetings, and I know many caucus leaders also inform their unit's faculty members of the results via e-mail.
You may view the Senate's minutes online at
The Senate has passed the following resolutions since the summer (Details may be found in the Senate minutes at the Web address mentioned in the previous paragraph.):
1. To support the student computer and software access requirements proposed by the Office of Academic Affairs
2. To request that any savings which result from the implementation of the computer and software access requirements be spent to expand the use and availability of educational technologies for USA students and faculty.
3. To adopt a sabbatical policy to modify the current Faculty Service and Development Awards.
4. To urge an increase in graduate stipends.
5. To call for a university committee to study distance learning and associated issues such as faculty workload and intellectual property rights.
6. To support a Mobile Register editorial urging the Attorney General to take action to insure an audit of the USA Foundation, and to instruct the Senate chair to communicate the resolution to the Attorney General (this letter was in fact sent in November; Mr. Pryor has not responded).
In March, our colleges, schools, and divisions will conduct elections for vacant Senate seats. I urge those who have never served to consider submitting their names for consideration. You will meet a wide variety of outstanding faculty members from across the University, and you will gain a much broader perspective of how your unit affects and is affected by the entire University. Along the way there will be opportunities to suggest improvements in academics, salaries and benefits, and the planning and development of the University.
The Senate's ad hoc committee on the University budget (John Strange, Education; and David Garmon, Continuing Education & Special Programs) has held meetings with VP for Financial Affairs Wayne Davis and VP for Academic Affairs Pat Covey. The purpose of the meetings was to report to the Senate on the process by which the academic budget for the University is prepared. The committee will be reporting back to the Senate at its January meeting, and I am pleased to inform you that all parties have agreed to participate in an open University forum on the budget within the next couple of months.
If you've made it this far, I greatly appreciate your clear interest in the Senate, and I invite your comments and suggestions via e-mail at
Best wishes for a great spring semester.
University of South Alabama
Mobile, Alabama 36688-0002