Iowa State University nameplate

Inside Iowa State
Gold bar
September 14, 2001

Pope: Budget cuts could hold silver lining

by Linda Charles
Non-tenure track faculty, an organizational review of the university and the budget will be among the challenges facing the Faculty Senate during the coming year, says its new president, Christie Pope.

Pope, an associate professor of history, said she hopes the senate will approve a non-tenure track faculty proposal in September.

"We have a lot more temporary instructors this fall because they are cheaper," Pope said. "The budget cuts had to be absorbed and so we did not fill many faculty positions. But the courses still have to be taught."

Christie Pope
2001-02 Faculty Senate president Christie
Pope. Photo by Bob Elbert.
The cap hurdle
Last spring, the senate began debate on a policy that would provide temporary faculty longer employment opportunities. The proposed policy would allow a temporary faculty member, with approval of appropriate faculty, to be appointed to a continuing position of "senior" lecturer or clinician. Currently, full-time temporary faculty may be employed only for five years.

While overall, the proposal seemed to be well-received by the senate, a section that limits the percentage of temporary faculty in departments and the university overall met with resistance. The version last considered by the senate called for caps at 25 percent for departments and 15 percent for the university.

However, the senate could not agree on how to define the percentages. Some advocated basing the percentages on the number of courses in a department, others on the number of student credit hours. The task force preparing the proposal worked over the summer to define the percentages and will present it at the senate meeting Sept. 18.

"The campus varies so much," Pope said, "that it's difficult to find a formula that fits all the different needs."

Part of the process
Many of the issues facing the senate during the coming year will involve a Board of Regents, State of Iowa, organizational review of the university. The regents have hired a consulting firm, MGT of America, Tallahassee, Fla., to identify areas for study.

In addition, president Gregory Geoffroy has appointed a task force to look for ways to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the university and recommend strategies for dealing with any further budget challenges.

"Our main issues will revolve around the recommendations that come from the consulting firm," Pope said. "And I don't think it would surprise the faculty or administration if the Legislature wants another (budget) reversion. I think further cuts are expected next year.

"We have lost lots of faculty positions," Pope added. "But I've been pleased that the president understands the seriousness of the loss of faculty. We have a commitment from him to restore the positions we lost and eventually increase our faculty. He wants a No. 1 institution and he understands we have to have faculty."

Even the budget cut may not be all bad, Pope said. "A silver lining in the budget cut might be that it forces us to look carefully at everything and we might discover ways to improve the university. The challenge for the senate is to be a part of that process."

On the agenda
Other issues that may face the senate during the coming year include:
  • Shared governance. "Our initial discussions with President Geoffroy have been gratifying. He has a faculty-friendly administration and we expect to work very cooperatively," Pope said. For example, Geoffroy has given Faculty Senate representatives "a seat at the table" with administrators, deans and vice presidents when initial budget discussions are held. In the past, the provost has consulted with the senate executive board to keep it informed of what's under consideration.
  • Review of the Office of Student Affairs and its vice president. The review is under way, with the committee already gathering input from various constituents of the office, Pope said. The committee hopes to conclude interviews in September and present its report at the end of December.
  • Committee on Women and Minorities. Pope hopes this senate committee, which she initially proposed, will look at the proportions of women faculty and minorities. One of Pope's "pet projects" is to encourage more women and minorities to serve on the senate.
  • University club. With the probable closing of the Cardinal Room in the Memorial Union, Pope said now may be a time to revisit the question of a university club on campus. Some have speculated that such a club could be located in the Cardinal Room, providing an upscale dining atmosphere where the campus community could meet and bring visitors. However, funding is likely to be a problem, Pope said.
  • Greater visibility. "Many faculty think the senate has no impact on them. But the Faculty Senate has grown in stature and importance. And with shared governance, we do have considerable influence on issues that affect the faculty and university," Pope said. She will have an abbreviated agenda sent to all faculty members so they are aware of what the senate will discuss. Another innovation will be to ask the general faculty to e-mail questions to the provost before the meeting so he can respond during the meeting. Meeting minutes, including the provost's answers to the questions, will be posted on the Faculty Senate Web site.

... Becoming the Best
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
Copyright © 1995-2001, Iowa State University. All rights reserved.