By Kyeland Jackson —
U of L’s A&S faculty assembly will demand a greater role in governance via two resolutions, citing consequences reaped from the former central administration and the $48 million budget shortfall.
The first resolution demands faculty involvement, asking a special faculty committee be created and placed in a role closely helping govern U of L. The second resolution, addressed to Arts and Sciences Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard, voices the faculty’s disdain for budget cutting propositions, asking furloughs, layoffs, closures and mergers for academic programs not be considered to address the budget shortfall.
Both resolutions, penned by American Association of Professors President Avery Kolers and Vice President Susan Jarosi, were approved, but with dissent. Political science professor Jasmine Farrier questioned the impact of the resolution which demands a faculty committee to participate in governance be created and the university increase transparency by supplying financial documents instead of presenting them. Farrier said faculty cannot make concrete demands of the administration, and power lies with Enid Trucios-Haynes – the faculty representative on the board of trustees.
“There is no record of any vote that would be substantive, in my experience, in the faculty senate. That’s a fact,” Farrier said.
Farrier challenged faculty to put teeth in the resolution, suggesting to aim it towards the faculty senate or changing its resolutions.
Other senators worried the resolution failed to capture the gravity of budget situation; a dismal budget could look bad to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, U of L’s accrediting body, and Moody’s debt rating service. Moody’s changed U of L’s debt rating in 2016, citing weak investment returns and unabated investments.
“The house may be on fire and the president may think he owns it, but I live here and I don’t want it to burn down around my ears,” associate English professor Beth Willey said. “We are facing a serious threat by SACS to add this as another problem with accreditation if we don’t get our finances in order.”
Faculty approved the two resolutions with more than 40 votes supporting them. The resolutions will now be revised and submitted to the central administration and Kempf-Leonard.
U of L scrambled for money after news $48 million is needed to balance next year’s budget spread. The foundation’s questionable spending forced Interim President Greg Postel and U of L’s Board of Trustees to curtail its money while a forensic audit investigates ULF’s finances. The university further compensated via budget cuts and a partial hiring freeze. Acting Provost Dale Billingsley said the university-wide hiring freeze ended, but said hiring freeze authority was given to deans to use as they see fit for their colleges.