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Slu Report on Biondi

Slu Report on Biondi

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Published by Chad Garrison

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Published by: Chad Garrison on Dec 12, 2012
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12/13/2012

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
FacultyEvidenceandCommunicationsCommittees
ReporttotheBoardofTrusteesOntheStateofSaintLouisUniversity
December10,2012
 
 Aboveall,trustintheslowworkofGod….Weareimpatientofbeingonthewaytosomethingunknown,somethingnew.
TeilharddeChardin
 
 
2
ReporttotheBoardofTrusteesOntheStateofSaintLouisUniversity
December2012
EXECUTIVESUMMARY
1.
 
Introduction:
Thisreport,drawingonthecontributionsofmanyfacultymembers,setsouttounderstandthecurrentstateoftheinstitutionandtheconditionsthatunderlietherecentunprecedentedvotesofnoconfidenceinthePresidentandtheVicePresidentofAcademicAffairs.
2.
 
Whatthevotesofnoconfidencereveal:

Byacademictradition,thevotesarecallsfortheremovaloftheofficialsinvolved.ThosebytheSenatewerenottheactionsofafewbutofofficialrepresentativesofthe900+facultyservingineveryschoolandcollegeoftheUniversity(excepttheMadridcampus,whichsentaletterofsupport).BeforethevoteonthePresident,senatorsreportedunitbyunitonthewidespreadfacultysupportforsuchadecisivemeasure.
3.
 
NeedforimmediateactionbytheBoard:

SurveysofacademicchairsinArtsandSciencesshowanalarmingnumberoffaculty—manyofthemjuniorbutothersestablished,withsubstantialgrantfunding—whoareseekingemploymentelsewherebecauseofthecurrentcrisis.BoardactionshowingseriousengagementinresolvingthecrisisatthetopmayhelptostaveoffdeparturesthatwillsettheUniversitybackinqualityandprominenceformanyyears.
4.
 
MishandlingofUniversityfinances:
UnderstandingtherecentproblemsoftheUniversityrequiresunderstandingitsfinances.Inkeyindicatorssuchasgrowthoftheendowment,alumnigiving,andgrantfunding,theUniversityhasdeclinedsothatitlagsbehindmanyofitsofficialpeerinstitutions.
5.
 
Precipitousdropinnationalrankings
:
Inconsequenceofdecliningfundingforacademicprograms,SLUhasfalleninrankingscomparedwithpeeruniversities.
Atatimewhentheadministrationhasstressedthegoalofmovingintothetop50universitiesinthenation,SLU’srankingshaveinfactdroppedmorethanthoseofanyotherinstitutioninthetop100.
6.
 
Failuretoadequatelysupportacademics:
LargelybecausePresidentBiondistressesrealestatedevelopmentattheexpenseofacademics,fundingforstudents,faculty,andprogramshassuffered.
Manydepartmentaloperatingbudgetshavenotincreasedfor13years,thelibraryischronicallyunderfunded,facultysalariesareatuncompetitivelevels—andthisdespitehealthyoperatingsurplusesfortheUniversity.Ourrecentdramaticdeclineinnationalrankingswillbereversedonlybyspendingmoreonacademicsratherthanrealestatedevelopmentandbyreturningdecisionsaboutacademicprogramingtothefaculty.
7.
 
Impactsonstudents:
Incomparisonwithourpeerinstitutions,weareextremelyhighinnetcosttostudentsandbelowaverageinfundingforacademics.Notsurprisingly,studentsstruggletopaytheirbills,leadingtolowgraduationrates.Recentlydiscoveredstrategicplansindicateapushtostresson-linecoursesandlargelecturesoverthesmalldiscussionclassesthatparentsexpectofanexpensiveJesuiteducation.Arepressiveclimateoncampus,attacksonrespectedfacultyleaders,andconcernsaboutadropinthevalueofaSLUdegreehavealsohadseriousimpactsonstudents.
8.
 
President’slackoffulldisclosuretotheBoard:
ThePresidenthasmaintainedawallbetweenTrustees,facultyandstudentsthathaspreventedcommunicationaboutproblemsthathavebeendevelopingforyears.
WithrespecttotheUniversity’sfinances,rankings,alumnigiving,andotheracademicindicators,thepresentationthatthePresidentsenttofacultyandtheBoardonOctober30stressesdatacarefullyselectedtobefavorableandignoresorminimizesinformationthat
 
3
indicatesseriousproblems
.
Iftypical,thepresentationisanindicationthattheBoardhasnotbeenkeptappropriatelyinformed.
9.
 
UnprofessionalconductbythePresident:
Inrecentappearancesbeforeseveralfacultygroupsandrepresentativesofthestaff,thePresidenthasnamedprominentmembersofthefaculty,callingthemliarsandsuggestingthattheSenaterejectedDr.Patankarandhisproposalsoutofracialorreligiousbias.
10.
 
Impropercentralizationandacultureofsecrecy:
TheadministrationhasdepartedfrombestpracticesattopAmericanuniversitiesbynotdisclosingthebylawsoftheBoardofTrustees.Ithasalsoattemptedtocentralizeevaluationandrewardsforfacultyratherthanentrustingsuchmeasurestochairsanddeanswhoknowtheirdisciplinesbest.Moregenerally,ithaspaidlipservicetoconsultationwhiledevelopingplansinsecret,withoutthesharedgovernanceusualatmajorresearchinstitutions.Acaseinpointistherecentcutintheacquisitionsbudgetforthelibrary.
11.
 
Inappropriatehandlingofbuildingprojects:
DecisionstomovetheSchoolofPublicHealthand,morerecently,theLawSchoolwereundertakenwithoutproperlyconsultingthefaculty.ThisandotherprecipitousactionscontributedtotheangryandpublicresignationlastsummeroftheDeanoftheLawSchool.ConstantacquisitionofpropertyandconstructionofinessentialprojectssuchastheHotelIgnacioarenotappropriatewhenSLU’sacademicmissionisnotbeingappropriatelyfunded.
12.
 
Faultsinstrategicplanning:
AlthougharecentlydiscoveredUniversityStrategicPlanwasneverapprovedbythefaculty,versionsofitseemtohavebeenapprovedbytheTrusteesandpresentedinsecrecytotheUniversity’saccreditationbody,theHigherLearningCommission.TheplancontainsinembryotheproposalsofDr.Patankaronfacultyanddepartmentalevaluationthathaverecentlycausedsuchcontroversy.ItalsolaysoutpotentiallyharmfulplanstochangethenatureofaSLUeducationtofavorlargelecturesandon-linecourses.
13.
 
Violationsofrequiredproceduresandcontracts:
Dr.Patankar’sproposalshaveoftenbeendevelopedwithoutreferencetothecontractualagreementscontainedinthe
FacultyManual 
.HismanyviolationsofrequiredprocedurealsoincludeestablishmentofdoctoralprogramsthathefavoredwithoutthenecessaryapprovaloftheBoardofGraduateStudies.
14.
 
DysfunctionintheOfficeofAcademicAffairs:
Emphasisonplanningratherthanadministration,alongwiththeimpositionofburdensomereportingandapprovalprocessescentralizedinthehandsoftheVicePresident,haveledtounprecedenteddelaysinprocessingvitalpaperworkattheUniversity.TheimportantandpointlesslystallednewLatinoStudiesProgramisacaseinpoint.
15.
 
ConclusionontheUniversitymission:
Inalteringtherelationshipbetweentheupperadministrationandthefacultyandstudentsfromoneoftrustandsupporttooneofdisrespect,retribution,andsuppression,theUniversityhasdepartedfromtheJesuittraditionthatisthesourceofmuchofitsgreatnessandhopeforthefuture.
SOURCESOFDATA
NumericaldatainthisreportcamefromtheDepartmentofEducation’sNationalCenterforEducationDataSystem,
U.S.NewsandWorldReport,The
ChronicleofHigherEducation,TheSaintLouisBusiness Journal,
andtheSaintLouisUniversity
Factbook 
.

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