A New Beginning in Shared Governance at Marquette University

An Open Letter to the Marquette Community by the MU Chapter of AAUP   
February 17, 2021

On February 15, 2021, the University Academic Senate voted 20 to 7, with five abstentions, for a new beginning in shared governance at Marquette University. Many UAS representatives stated that there was overwhelming support from the faculty who contacted them for the shared governance resolution. The Marquette AAUP Chapter, which initiated the resolution, expresses its thanks and appreciation to all UAS and Faculty Council representatives and faculty who participated in bringing this initial effort to a successful conclusion. We remain optimistic that senior University leadership will work constructively with faculty to carry out the action items included in the resolution. We see the discussion and process of revising and amending the resolution we offered as a desire by the Marquette community to come together in the best interest of Marquette’s Jesuit mission and academic excellence.

Many of the issues included in the shared governance resolution will take some time for University Academic Senate and Faculty Council to address with senior University leadership. In the meantime, immediate action is required by faculty to send a message to decision makers that decisions based solely on budget considerations, without a full evaluation of the impacts on academic excellence and a transformative education in the Catholic, Jesuit tradition, must not go forward.

The Provost announced at Monday’s UAS meeting that the 240 fewer course sections to be offered in Fall 2021 will result in substantial numbers of Non-Tenure Track (NTT) faculty not having their contracts renewed, perhaps as soon as next week. These significant reductions in course offerings, and the impact they will have on class sizes and student educational experiences, are not supported by the data and recommendations of the administration’s own Teaching Working Group.  They are simply the collateral damage of budget targets that need further scrutiny and explanation.

Yet, there has been no discussion of (1) how COVID-19 recovery funds in excess of $6 million will be used and (2) whether the “strategic initiatives fund” that senior University leadership contends was mandated by the Board of Trustees will be suspended or reduced. President Lovell indicated he would discuss deferring the implementation of this fund with the Board of Trustees, who meet next week. Such amounts would allow the University to retain experienced faculty who have contributed to the University’s No. 18 ranking for Best Undergraduate Teaching, and keep us in the top 100 overall ranking, at least until such time as the University more fully understands how the impacts of COVID-19 will influence future enrollments and financial concerns.

We strongly urge each and every faculty member, whether or not an AAUP member, to reach out to senior University leadership right now to object to such NTT staff reductions until there has been a full explanation as to why such actions need to be taken now, when the dollars necessary to avoid this action will be available. The recent actions in reducing staff in the Office of International Education by one-third, without any evaluation in advance as to how such a reduction would affect academic programs, evidences the need for faculty to act now.

In the meantime, the Marquette AAUP Chapter will continue to work to assure that faculty expertise and experience becomes an integral part of decision making that impacts academic programs at Marquette. We cannot succeed without your help.

The Marquette AAUP Chapter Executive Committee

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