President James P. Clements was joined by the newest members of his executive team Monday at the first Faculty Senate meeting of the spring semester, all stressing the need for cooperative planning across the University as a new strategic plan is being developed.
Clements welcomed Provost Michele Wheatly and Health Sciences Chancellor Chris Colenda, saying he was thrilled that both are now on campus and in place.
Clements reported that it is anticipated that a state-mandated 3.4 percent budget reduction can be covered by federal stimulus funds this year, “so the net result should be an even budget.”
However Clements noted that the reduction “is a reminder of the national economy and the challenges that might be ahead for our state.”
Clements noted nationally, higher education is suffering about a 5 percent cut, although many states are experiencing even greater reductions.
“We’re following the trends very closely,” he said, while promising to work to keep the budget stable.
“We need to keep the momentum going, he said. “As a flagship university, we can’t slow down.”
Wheatly, the most recent addition to the executive team, unveiled an ambitious agenda as she begins her tenure, saying that while strategic planning may be at the top of her list, filling new faculty positions, and making the University a better place to work – especially for women – will also be initial concerns.
“My goal will be to facilitate discussions campus-wide so that WVU becomes an institution of first choice for faculty who want to lead a balanced life,” she said in remarks prepared for her first address.
Wheatly promised to make parental leave for nine-month, tenured faculty a top early project. “I have dedicated much of my administrative career to improving the climate for women, particularly those like me in the (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines,” she said.
“It goes without saying that any forward-thinking institution or business will have a competitive edge if they address the concerns of underrepresented individuals, be they women, minorities or people with disabilities,” she said. “With the changing demographies of the U.S., we need to change arcane structures and climate so that higher education is an inclusive endeavor.
“It makes sound business sense and will lead us to better solutions and a diverse workforce,” she said.
Currently, nine-month faculty do not accrue sick or annual leave, “which presents some interesting challenges when a new child arrives either through birth or adoption,” she said. “This has left nine-month women faculty justifiably concerned about when and how to balance their desire to become parents with their professional responsibilities.”
This is a personal issue for her, she told the senators. “The five years I spent in rank as associate professor, I was either pregnant or nursing, so I can personally identify with the lived experiences of our women faculty colleagues who choose parenthood.”
Wheatly appointed a task force to discuss the issues and review and propose options. The task force will be chaired by C.B. Wilson, associate provost for academic personnel. Other members are: Nigel Clark, president of the Faculty Senate; Amy Hessl, a member of the Senate Welfare Committee; Roberta Brandt from the General Counsel’s office; and Toni Christian, director of benefits in the Department of Human Resources. The committee will consider the addition of other interested faculty members.Wheatly said she would also ask a member of the Staff Council to serve.
Wheatly said her number one agenda item for 2010 will be to work with President Clements and Health Sciences Chancellor Christopher Colenda to figure out “the mechanics of a university-wide strategic planning process that will build upon, but supplant, 2010.”
Secondly, Wheatly said she anticipated she would soon begin allocating new faculty lines “to respond to enrollment pressures” in undergraduate programs. President Clements has said the University will hire 100 new faculty members in the next few years and Wheatly said each academic dean from the general university has prepared a proposal.
Continuing a diversity theme, Wheatly announced that the University’s Office of International Programs is working to integrate international experience into as many academic programs as possible, meeting regularly with Student Government and academic units, looking at approaches to curricula, key regions and partnerships. She said several programs are already producing materials that will allow students and advisors to build international activities into plans of study.
On other issues:
_Searches are under way for the deans at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business and Economics. “Both colleges have centrality of mission for WVU and future economic development of West Virginia,” she said. “These will be critical hires.”
_The request for proposal has been sent for a $33 million renovation for White Hall to provide the Department of Physics with modern instructional and research facilities.
_The Graduate Academy is planning several professional development workshops to assist graduate students as they prepare for their professional careers.
_A task force reviewing the University’s smoking policies has had two meetings and will continue its work in the Spring semester.
Colenda, noting that much of what is happening at the Health Sciences Center mirrors the university at large, said he was making sure that the strategic planning process is aligned with the overall University.
While the HSC’s first responsibility is to provide “an academic culture of high purpose and accomplishment,” it also provides medical services and patient care. “In any strategic plan, we must keep that as one of our core principles,” he said.
He said the HSC will “recommit ourselves and our resources to engagement to community services and transition from being up on the hill to out in the community.”
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