December 8, 2020- The Marquette University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has submitted a resolution for consideration by the University Academic Senate, calling for the suspension of the current Economic Planning process. The resolution will be discussed at the December 14 senate meeting and can be put to a vote as early as January 2021. The resolution has been endorsed by Marquette’s Faculty Council.
The resolution recommends that this process, which has been underway since September 2020, should be suspended and substituted with a more cohesive and discerning process that conforms to principles of shared governance. The Faculty Handbook states that university leadership must exhaust all other financial options before they resort to reductions in faculty. To date, none of the working groups have seen data suggesting that this criterion has been satisfied. Further, none of the working groups been provided an explanation of how their recommendations will be implemented, Marquette’s Board of Trustees have already voted on the 2021-22 budget, which was released to the campus community on December 7.
The AAUP chapter proposed the resolution after seeing broad concern from its members and many campus constituents. In the last three weeks, open letters have been issued by Marquette’s Jesuit community, the Committee on Research, a group of over 50 faculty in STEM, and the Faculty Council. Collectively, the letters voice concern about the impact of the budget process on Marquette’s Jesuit mission, its research capacities, and its vigorous investments in the liberal arts, while also pointing to shortfalls in shared governance.
Doug Smith, President of the Chapter, said: “Poorly designed processes lead to poor outcomes. The Board of Trustees and University administration have long said that faculty have an essential role in deliberations on decisions that affect Marquette’s academic mission. Yet the current process predetermined the amount of the proposed budget reduction and how much of that reduction academic operations must bear. Unless the Academic Senate and the Faculty Council can obtain full information and participate in the entire process, the university’s academic mission will be at risk.”
Chapter Vice-President Sameena Mulla reflected, “Faculty and students have had a challenging semester navigating the difficulties of COVID and have also had to manage ‘listening sessions’ and coffee hours that are announced quite suddenly. While those sessions are well-intentioned and even productive, it is still unclear what role they will play in the final recommendations. Are we just talking or will our input be incorporated? And how? The AAUP guidance on shared governance is clear in stating that communication is not a substitute for shared decision making.”
Chapter Secretary-Treasurer Gerry Canavan notes that the resolution’s revised Economic Planning process might give the university a chance to plan for 2021-2022 with more concrete data about admissions. “With a vaccine roll-out seeming likely, and the numbers that our own admissions office has relayed to faculty about applications this year, particularly in the College of Arts and Sciences and Business Administration, it does seem that our forecasting of a shrinking incoming class requires rethinking. Any actions taken to conduct a more in-depth analysis allow Marquette to be more responsive to the challenges we face.”
Doug Smith, President
Sameena Mulla, Vice-President
Gerry Canavan, Secretary-Treasurer
Sonia Barnes, At-Large Member
Julia Paulk, At-Large Member
Kristen Foster, At-Large Member
Sergio Gonzalez, At-Large Member