Staton discusses proposed changes to Faculty Handbook

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At the House Meeting on Sun. Nov. 15, President Bob Staton discussed the possible changes to the Faculty Handbook that had become a widely talked-about subject all last week. Staton’s purpose for speaking at the House Meeting on this subject was to share this information, not to debate it, and to also discuss what to do to help PC go forward.

Staton began his presentation discussing the tagline that has been showing up on banners placed on light posts around campus recently; the message is “Be Inspired for Life.” The hope is “to build an inspired future of PC,” Staton said, quoting the college’s founder, William Plumer Jacob, whose words culminated in the tagline now being promoted around campus.

For Staton, the goal for PC is to grow—to grow enrollment, to continue the success of the pharmacy school, to broaden and enhance the academic programs that show more student interest, to raise the visibility of and interest in PC, and to grow the revenue for the school. The growth of revenue proved to be an important topic, as Staton mentioned that having more revenue would allow the school to invest more in its faculty and in creating possible new academic programs that interest students.

Alongside talks about the Neville construction and the plan for a Health Sciences School, Staton at the end of his discussion brought up the proposed changes to the Faculty Handbook. These changes would enable the Board of Trustees “to do something” about the academic programs that might not be in high demand. This “do something” means the Board has the ability to decide to get rid of a program if it has very few or no students in it.

The proposed changes were first discussed briefly at a Board of Trustees meeting on Thurs. Nov. 5, and faculty were to look over the proposed changes and discuss them further and ask questions at the following Tuesday faculty forum. At this forum, many faculty members expressed great concern and high emotions over these proposed changes. In response to this, the Board of Trustees agreed to delay the changes until further discussion has been made. A committee has been created for Senior Faculty Council members to meet with five chairmen of the Board of Trustees on Thursday of this week for discussion.

“We’re all in this together,” Staton said, expressing great trust in the members of the committee to do what is best for the college. “Both [the Board of Trustees and the Senior Faculty Council] really care about PC,” he continued. Staton looks forward to meeting on Thursday as a chance to begin the process of moving PC forward.

After Staton finished sharing this information with the students in HP amphitheater, he opened the floor for questions. One student brought up two conflicting stories he had heard from administrators regarding the question of tenure. Staton was quick to say that there is no plan to get rid of tenure, and that the purpose of his talk at the House Meeting was to inform the student body of the situation.

“I want you to be informed and aware,” Staton said. “Is this an issue to be resolved? Yes.” He was not surprised at the tension that has arisen over the tenure question, but he determined that the question does not need to become overblown. Ultimately the decision regarding the proposed changes rests in Staton’s hands, and he stated that the tenure question is “not a done deal” at this point.

Another student asked what preempted the proposed changes and the push for growth. Staton responded by pointing out that the Board of Trustees felt that if academic programs lacked significant student interest, then it did not seem financially wise to continue with the program. Furthermore, he said that “we need to get focused on core academic programs” and that in order to do so “we would be better off putting resources into those programs.”

Staton encouraged students that if they knew of any tension between faculty, administration and the board, that they were free to talk to any of the professors on the Senior Faculty Council. Members of the Senior Faculty Council are Anita Gustafson (chair), Latha Gearhart, Booker Ingram, Jim Wetzel, Karen Buckland, Jerry Slice, David Eagerton, and Nancy Pedigo. Likewise, students can talk about this issue with any members of Student Government Association, Academic Affairs Committee, and Student Life and College Relations Committee. Students are also encouraged to attend these meetings or become a part of the committees.

Staton will continue to keep students updated as the discussion continues and encourages awareness of this issue.