The Fort Hays State University Faculty Senate voiced concerns about the leadership of the university with the Board of Regents on Thursday afternoon.
The Regents had requested to meet with the Faculty Senate as part of their regular meetings conducted on the FHSU campus Wednesday and Thursday, said Breeze Richardson, director of communications for the board. They did not, however, expect the open session meeting to turn into an airing of grievances against FHSU President Mirta Martin.
The meeting ended up lasting approximately 20 minutes longer than scheduled as Faculty Senate President Carl Miller and others discussed their concerns.
Miller said there were faculty who would like to talk at the meeting, but feared repercussion if they spoke in public.
There is a lack of trust among the faculty with Martin’s ability to lead the university, Miller said, although he acknowledged it is not unanimous. He cited cronyism, administrative bloat, mismanagement and Martin’s behavior toward people in meetings among the faculty’s concerns.
He told the Regents the Faculty Senate conducted a survey — which did not include all faculty — and said 66 percent of the respondents indicated they would be likely to leave FHSU if they could find another job.
The main point of contention are the issues of enrollment limit for courses, or course caps, and overload courses, classes that faculty teach in addition to the four courses they are contracted to teach each semester. Faculty recieve a percentage of their contracted pay for each overload course they take on.
The Faculty Senate position is that Martin, in the September Faculty Senate meeting, proposed increasing course caps to 50 students and shifting the overload classes to adjunct faculty.
Miller and other Faculty Senate members expressed concerns Martin could not show data for how much money the university would save in this move, and that hiring adjuncts could affect the quality of instruction offered by the university.
In a meeting Oct. 3, the Faculty Senate approved a resolution opposing the increases in caps and reductions of overloads.
Miller told the Regents he has 50 pages of concerns submitted by the faculty who responded to the survey.
“The survey indicates through the comments a broad range of discontent. I think it’s important to note that overwhelmingly the concern is not with their own salaries. The concern was that this is harmful to our students, harmful to our university,” Miller said.
The Regents listened intently and asked questions to clarify some information during Thursday’s meeting, but did not take any action. They then adjourned for a scheduled closed session meeting with Martin on campus and later attended the dedication of the W.R. and Yvonne Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship in the Memorial Union.
Martin, in an interview with The Hays Daily News earlier in the week, said she did not bring a proposal for those changes to the Faculty Senate.
“I had not said any of the things that were said in the resolution,” she said. “To begin, the conversation started as how we were going to address the budget cuts. I was going to address the budget cuts by looking into everything that we had to look into.
“I am public servant, and I am running a public institution. It is part of my moral responsibility to be able to account, to be a good steward of the public tax dollar,” Martin said.
For more on this story, see Sunday’s Hays Daily News.