On Nov. 9, the Faculty Senate held their biweekly meeting to discuss notes from the Provost’s Office, listen to the faculty representative report and pose some questions from the previous meeting on Oct. 26.
The meeting began with some updates from Provost Tammy Evetovich. She started with some information about some priorities, set over the summer, by Academic Affairs. These priorities are referred to as “key performance indicators.” Key performance indicators include enrollment retention and completion, Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, priorities with the branch campuses, program array and student engagement and support.
Academic Affairs is now looking for feedback on the work they have planned from different groups on campus, such as the University Budget Commission and the head of Academic Planning Committee.
Evetovich’s next topic was EDA grants that were submitted by faculty members. Some of these include a collaboration with UW-Stout involving hospitality, tourism and management, and a grant headed by Carrie Keller of the Provost office, which involves working with Southwest Health to improve childcare in southwest Wisconsin, which involves Richland Center, Southwest Technical College and the Platteville School District.
Next, Charles Cornett gave the Faculty Representative Report. His main points had to do with the Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, Nov. 4. He stated that he had three main points of interest for this meeting. These include a discussion about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives in the UW System from a panel of four chancellors, the fact that “the needle is moving” in a positive direction (in which the needle refers to demographic differences such as gender and race) and some results from the 2021 Campus Climate Survey.
As for the 2021 Campus Climate Survey, Cornett discussed that across the UW System, student population had dropped from roughly 180,000 students to about 160,000. However, the survey participation rates showed that there are groups that DEI is focusing on that are not participating in the survey.
Another piece of information deemed important was about a meeting that occurred in April of 2017, in which a presentation was given about attainment rates of men and women across UW campuses. The lack of inclusion of the attainment rates of males during this 2017 presentation came to a head at the Board of Regents meeting on Nov. 4, when it was revealed that the proposed “demographic collapse” that was expected to happen around 2026 is no longer expected to happen.
Cornett reports that during the meeting, it was stated that there has not been a decline in high school enrollments, which was previously a factor that was contributing to the proposed collapse. Once the male attainment rates were considered when looking at the overall data, the demographic collapse was seen to be non-existent, contrary to earlier statements.
Currently, the UW System’s underrepresented minorities attainment data is not broken down by gender, which Cornett believes has a large impact on current data for attainment rates and will be a “stark wake-up when they break that down.” However, these faults are now being acknowledged and looked into by the Board of Regents.
Faculty Senate members expressed their concerns about the removal of the demographic collapse as an issue, as the idea of the collapse has had a major effect on how they have been dealing with and planning enrollment initiatives.
The final part of the meeting was time dedicated for follow-up questions from the Faculty Senate members regarding the previous meeting on Oct. 26, about the budget and enrollment presentations. As there was no time for questions immediately following the presentations, the Senate members came prepared for this meeting with a co-written document of questions and data.
One concern many of the faculty members had was about an Academic Planning Committee document, endorsed by the Faculty Senate, that has not been followed up on. One senate member, Anne Farrelly, stated that it “seems like it just sort of disappeared.”
Senate member Amanda Tucker mentioned that the members would like to see the university “build on the work that has already been done,” regarding the APC document. “I sit on APC. I don’t even know what happened to the budget narratives and suggestions that were made.”
Members also had concerns about open communication for the budget and enrollment presentations from the Oct. 26 meeting, as those PowerPoint presentations were only shared to the Faculty Senate members, not all faculty and staff.
Tucker stated, “If budget and enrollment is everybody’s concern … why (is) not everybody having access to it?”
Farrelly comments that by not sharing the presentations, it “gives (the Faculty Senate) the impression of a lack of transparency … You can’t have trust if you don’t have transparency and so, I think a lot of us feel a lack of trust.”
There were also concerns about the decrease in enrollment rates and their role in helping with recruitment. There was a concern raised about the university website and how the departments on campus designed their web pages to have a focus on student recruitment. The pages were then discarded when the website changed to SharePoint.
“It feels like the faculty have been used less and I’m sorry, but faculty sell this university. And so, my question is when enrollment starts dropping, who’s accountable for that?” Farrelly asked.
There were also some concerns about enrollment and budgets for the branch campuses, which were mentioned in the co-written document as well as expressed verbally by branch campus representative Katie Kalish.
These questions, and more, are set to be discussed at the next Faculty Senate meeting on Nov. 23.