It’s very much end of the semester “crunch time” around here (last minute meetings, grading essays and web sites, reading assignments, etc.), but I thought I’d note two interesting bits of EMU news:
* There’s this story from WEMU (the local public radio station), “Search for New EMU President Moves Forward.” Despite the headline, the report was really about how the faculty union isn’t happy because the procedure for putting faculty representation on the search committee wasn’t followed. EMU-AAUP Treasurer/soon to be President/Spokesperson Howard Bunsis talks about all this (it’s a radio report, after all). I kind of agree and disagree with Howard on the procedure question. There may have been some problems with how a faculty person was chosen to be on the committee, but it should be acknowledged that a large chunk of the committee heading this search (including the Board of Regents member who is in charge of the search) came to a Faculty Council meeting a couple of weeks ago seeking and receiving a lot of input.
I will say this though: Howard says that the next president of EMU needs to be someone who has some understanding and experience with collective bargaining, and I think that is exactly right. Kirkpatrick et al never understood that, and while I have mixed feelings about the faculty union, the fact of the matter is the union isn’t going away anytime soon, and the faculty union contract has major implications on just about everything that happens in academic affairs.
* Just to add to the mess, there’s this report from the Ann Arbor News,“Times of trouble for EMU: More budget cuts on the horizon as enrollment falls and costs rise.” Essentially, we’re facing more budget cuts. Now, EMU isn’t exactly in a unique state of affairs with this– lots of universities are having financial problems. But EMU has kind of a triple-whammy: we’re facing budget cuts, we’ve had a significant fall-off in enrollment (the article talks about both of these things), and EMU has some “rep” problems. I mean, it isn’t a “flagship” school (in other words, it isn’t U of M, Michigan State, or Wayne State), and we still aren’t completely through all the mess having to do with the infamous house and the past president. Which, in my opinion, is why enrollments are down: our problems got a lot of press around here, and I am certain that a lot of students (and parents) read the stories and saw the TV reports and decided to go elsewhere.
Omnipresent Bunsis is quoted in this report as saying that EMU isn’t in the financial trouble that they’re claiming, that there’s plenty of money in reserves, etc., etc. The EMU financial wonks response (more or less) is there isn’t that much money in reserves, we’re poor, and it’s those darn faculty salaries that are breaking us. In other words, same-old, same-old.