Faculty want change, but not at handbook’s expense

Elin Johnson, Olivia Gomez, and Angel Rosas

This article is the second part in our ongoing series on budget restructuring. For more information, follow us on Twitter @linfieldreview.

The faculty members who have been quoted anonymously have requested they be anonymous for fear of retaliation from the administration.

Faculty had varying opinions about specific actions to take following discussions of budget restructuring that would lead to cuts. By the end of their forum, though, they had agreed to follow the Linfield Faculty Handbook, would not choose among themselves whose positions to remove, and that they want to work with upper administration to make changes on campus.

McMinnville faculty met Wednesday afternoon in Riley 201 for a faculty-only forum, which began at 3 p.m. The cabinet meeting led by Davis in Ice Auditorium at 2 p.m. went over the allotted time period, and at that point, faculty** had to leave to attend their forum.

Wednesday’s faculty forum was not for a vote; it was to poll the opinions of faculty and was therefore not binding. Faculty discussed whether to call for a vote of no confidence in President Davis, a vote that requires a special assembly to take place.

A vote of no confidence in the college president does not constitute immediate or automatic removal. When faculty members make a vote of no confidence, they send a statement to the Board of Trustees that the president is no longer deemed fit for the position.

Archaeology professor Tom Love said he voiced the idea of a vote of no confidence in Provost Susan Agre-Kippenhan as well. He said his suggestion came more out of frustration than as a proposal to vote on. Love said he thinks such a vote would be a bad idea and wouldn’t accomplish the goal of moving forward.

A potential vote of no confidence in Vice President of Finance and Administration Mary Ann Rodriguez was also brought up.

The group also discussed the issue raised by the email the Faculty Executive Committee sent last weekend: whether faculty want to decide for themselves which positions to cut. A retrenchment committee would establish an official mechanism for faculty to select who should be fired.

The idea of having a retrenchment committee has been called “cannibalistic” by some faculty because it would create an environment that “pits faculty against each other.” It also, according to the faculty interviewed after the forum, violates the Faculty Handbook.

Davis maintains that the proposed cuts were simply in discussion and not to be carried out by Dec. 15. Faculty, however, were not under that impression.

The first poll of faculty opinions on retrenchment was based on a written agenda. This poll yielded 12 votes in favor of establishing a retrenchment committee, 67 against, and 9 abstentions.

A second poll, which was said to have been done based on impromptu language arguing in favor of following the Faculty Handbook, yielded a unanimous yes of 83. Faculty reached consensus that they wanted to adhere to the handbook and not be responsible for removing each other’s positions.

Several faculty expressed their frustration with Davis after the forum. One explained the general faculty attitude as an understanding of the budget crisis and desire to help, but agreement that cutting a substantial percentage of faculty now is not the appropriate action to take.

“Some serious negotiations need to occur between office of academic affairs, the provost and faculty,” art professor Brian Winkenweder said.

“Academic leadership has not been serving [faculty] well,” Love agreed. “We’re all frustrated,” he said, that action has not been taken against trends that have been public knowledge for years. According to Love, those issues have not been adequately addressed either.

One solution proposed at the forum involved putting out a three-year budget rather than one, which would extend any potential cuts across multiple years.

Love said the most appealing idea to him and other members of the faculty was to “create an ad hoc committee that would develop a plan to deliver to the admin that will [strategize how to] move us out of the hole.”

“We have to be really careful and we need to talk seriously about how we spend money at this institution,” Winkenweder said.

Three sources confirmed that 30 faculty have received offers of early retirement packages. These were also mentioned at the forum, and called “offensive” multiple times.

According to Love, there was widespread agreement among the faculty at the forum that their focus should be on student needs and meeting their expectations. Winkenweder said he still believes that every individual who works here is student-oriented and committed to providing student-centered education.

One faculty member who wishes to remain anonymous said others at the forum expressed concern for students who protested against faculty cuts “having to fight their battles for them.” The source said faculty felt it is the students who should be the most protected.

Winkenweder emphasized what he felt was confusion and a lack of certainty during the forum. “The worst part of all of this is that there is uncertainty,” he said.

“I’ve never been in a situation where I didn’t know what was going to happen next but I will continue to serve Linfield as I always have.”

Love stressed that everyone must rise to occasion, roll up their sleeves and move forward. “It takes all of us to realize that this is a great school and we have a great future ahead of us if we manage this well.”

**Faculty members are one category of three types of employees at Linfield. They are professors and therefore the only employees who get tenure.

Hourly employees are nonexempt and can work overtime if they exceed 40 hours. These people are primarily cleaning services and the grounds crew.

Staff, in contrast, are exempt employees who get paid to do a job. Half of the staff members are classified as administrative employees.

Temporary workers can fall under any of these three categories; they are just given an end date for their work.

We are continuing to follow this story through January term. Follow us on Twitter @linfieldreview for updates. If you would like to submit a tip, provide information to help us move forward in our coverage, or request an interview, please email [email protected].