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Lincoln faculty members wonder what policy means

Lincoln faculty members wonder what policy means

April 28th, 2017 by Bob Watson in News

In this Aug. 25, 2016 file photo, Lincoln University faculty meet on campus in Martin Luther King Hall.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

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Lincoln University faculty members want more information about last week's Curators announcement there won't be new tenure designations, promotions or sabbaticals in the near future.

The Faculty Senate voted Thursday for its executive committee to send the curators a letter asking for clarification of the policy, its financial impact and whether that impact has been studied.

In a separate news release, the LU-Missouri National Education Association chapter argued the policy ultimately will harm Lincoln's students.

"Suspending promotion and tenure will have a negative effect on recruiting and retaining faculty dedicated to the university mission, students, and to affordable liberal arts education," the union group said.

It also noted the faculty concern "the suspension of granting promotion and tenure may be used as a basis to terminate qualified and dedicated faculty."

When he announced the policy change at last week's meeting, Curators President Marvin Teer said, "I'm sure that they will play a significant role in the future, and we will be happy to revisit and entertain those requests and those suggestions."

Debra Greene, LU's interim provost and Academic Affairs vice president, told the Senate that Lincoln doesn't have an official hiring freeze, but "you would not believe the number of hoops that any request for hiring has to go through. There's a committee beyond me with several people on it, who are asking, 'Is it really necessary?'"

The LU Faculty Senate elected new officers for the 2017-18 school year — with none of the current officers seeking re-election.

Math teacher Stephanie Clark succeeds Bryan Salmons as the Faculty Senate chair; other officers are Bradley Kuykendall, vice chair; Christine Boston, secretary; and Carlos Cunha, parliamentarian.

"It's an exciting time to solve a lot of problems," Clark said after her election to the Senate's top position. "I feel that (some) of the main issues are faculty morale, faculty security and the support, school-wide, for the mission of the school — faculty and students together."

Clark has been part of the group asking the MNEA to represent Lincoln's faculty in contract negotiations with the administration.

However, she said, that work is separate from the Faculty Senate chair's job.

"The LU-MNEA group will be focused on the collective bargaining," she explained. "And the Faculty Senate is the area to improve upon the concerns of the faculty in a school-wide system."

Salmons told the News Tribune his tenure has been a rocky experience.

"So much of the last two years has been contention, especially between the faculty and the administration," he explained, "and unresolved problems and, in some ways, problems that have only gotten worse."

On Thursday, he repeated what he told the curators last week: one of the high points of his chairmanship was the faculty agreeing on a definition of who was eligible to attend and vote in Faculty Senate meetings.

"We had a situation where a lot of people were extremely upset and felt insulted," he said. "We were able to put it in the executive committee, come up with a solution — and everybody signed off on it."

The Senate approved recommendations to add a psychology course and a computer science ethics and technology course to LU's general education requirements.