Thank you for sharing with me the October 5, 2011 memorandum from the Concerned Members of the Faculty regarding issues that require our attention as we continue to work together to enhance faculty and student life at Howard. The five categories of issues presented in the memorandum (student and staff concerns, faculty compensation, Phased Retirement Program [PRP], governance, and academic renewal) were included in my Fall 2011 University Address, which is now available to the University community on my website. On July 22, 2011, I responded to the issues raised by members of the faculty in their May 3, 2011 meeting with Provost Wyche, former Senior Vice President Higginbotham and me.
The University community, with the leadership and strong support of the faculty, students and staff, has worked hard and collaboratively to take advantage of opportunities and address challenges before us. We agree that additional work needs to be done. I heard the concerns of faculty asking questions following the State of the University address and assure you that we are moving aggressively to resolve the issues.
Our past collaborations have advanced the University and set an historic example of shared governance at Howard: the faculty-led Presidential Commission on Academic Renewal (PCAR) which led to the Board- approved changes to our programs is one example. In addition, the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC), with strong faculty participation,that I established three years ago has consistently submitted recommendations that have been implemented. Simultaneously, we made the sacrifices necessary to reset the University’s finances so we could begin to invest again in our faculty, students, staff, academic programs, and facilities. In this regard, I am most encouraged by the fact that during the next academic year we will begin construction on new academic and residential facilities.
This year in September, we made tremendous progress in faculty compensation. As you know, every full time faculty member received a three percent salary increase made possible by the Faculty Performance Evaluation System (FPES). We will continue to work together to refine FPES, address faculty compensation issues and student financial aid, and respond to concerns about governance and reporting. Although student financial aid allocation from University funds is at an historic high, we must remove any barriers to the timely receipt of the allocated funds.
I am pleased we are taking advantage of enhanced faculty, student, and staff involvement in decision-making. Our work together to initiate the processes that will result in a revised Faculty Handbook and an Ombudsman Office is important and will add to the level of shared governance at the University. Thank you for working with me to initiate the Handbook revision process and impanel the committee that will develop a revised Handbook.
Much work remains to be done. We must continue to make progress on the
implementation of the academic program renewal decisions, making our innovative
renewal initiatives a success. Concurrently, we are in the midst of one
of the most significant projects in the modern history of the University:
implementing our Phased Retirement Program (PRP) as part of our faculty
development initiative, which includes recruitment and retention dimensions.I
appreciate the advice that I received from the faculty as the PRP was
being developed. Eligible faculty members are now fully engaged in the
PRP pre-application process and interacting with the resource persons
that have been made available to them. We took care to make sure that
the integrity of our academic programs, especially where appointment,
promotion and tenure (APT) issues are concerned, will not be compromised
by the PRP initiative. During the PRP phase-out period, full time faculty
who held tenure will be able to serve on APT committees.
I continue to appreciate the opportunities that I have had to meet with the Faculty Senate Council and representatives of the faculty, staff and student to discuss strategies for taking advantage of opportunities and addressing challenges before the University. We also continue to benefit from the faculty’s active involvement in various committees charged with implementing the strategies.
I look forward to my next meeting with the Faculty Senate Council where we can continue our review of the progress that we are making to improve the University.
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