From a faculty member who wishes to stay anonymous
The unilateral decision to execute the “white paper” for the OneWSU system is troubling on multiple levels. While administrative bloat is a trend in higher education (https://academeblog.org/2021/01/28/measures-of-administrative-bloat/), it remains supremely frustrating to not only see this trend magnified at WSU but in a fashion that directly diminishes the faculty voice. The feedback posted on this very same forum from the faculty highlighted the hasty fashion in which the OneWSU system was conceived. Instructional load discrepancies and mismatched research priorities across campuses establish the foundations for conflict when considering faculty for tenure and promotion. As a consequence, TT faculty at regional campuses are scarce and contingent faculty bear the largest burden for instruction. Conveniently for the administrative class, the voice of these valuable faculty members is muted by design. WSU is facing an existential crisis as the strongest, tenured voices retire only to be replaced (if at all) with contingent faculty. To magnify this problem, the system cannot bear the continued addition of administrators with no recent instruction experience and h-indices that would preclude them from tenure and promotion in 2021.
It is unclear what value the OneWSU system provides to the students and the long-term health of the institution when factoring in demographic changes in the college age population. Instead of maximizing the strengths at the university, President Schulz and Provost Chilton have put forth an ill-formed plan with minimal justification and poorly outlined details.
To arrive at a solution that maximizes the mission impact of the university, I challenge the administration to elevate WSU faculty members with an active role in instruction and research to make binding decisions on a path forward. What form might this take? Solutions include placing a rotating full professor on the President’s Executive Advisor, having an educator with voting rights on the Board of Regents, and placing a faculty member on the Provost’s Budget Committee from each campus (Yes, Dr. Barbosa-Leiker is a great addition, but even she will tell you that she cannot fully express the voice of the faculty). There are solutions to the challenges the university faces but stealthy efforts to maintain the status quo are a recipe for ruin.
Anonymous Not-Full Professor
P.S. To preempt the administrative response, targeted cluster hires towards faculty with diverse backgrounds is a hollow attempt at addressing the decades-long neglect towards enriching the faculty. Moreover, by continuing to ignore the voices of the faculty, the administration sends a clear signal to any faculty member, especially those from diverse backgrounds, that the present administration is not interested in to the voice of the diverse and the challenge of the change agent (e.g. Montoya and Jockers). This latter point is also why this letter is anonymous. Finally, yes there are budget challenges, yet hiring more administrators with fantasies of shadowbooked solutions is precisely what the eminent WSU alumnus, Lawrence Peter warned us about.