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GPSC discusses chancellor search, administrative salaries, academic program prioritization update

By Marnie Leonard

The Graduate and Professional Student Council voted to revise a resolution regarding administrative salaries and discussed the search to find a permanent chancellor at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.

The resolution, initially drafted by GPSC member Jon Howard, requests an immediate 10 percent pay cut for all members of administration, trustees, the university system president and deans.

“If you’re making $450,000 plus a year, I think you can afford to take a cut out of the goodness of your heart,” GPSC President Brandon Woudenberg said.

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Vice President for Student Affairs Johnathan Flowers said faculty members have expressed the same concerns about administrative pay being too high, especially given the financial duress the campus is facing.

“They’ve talked about it, but they just haven’t done anything,” Flowers said. “For us to come out and say, ‘Yo, you administrators need to take a hit,’ would be to do what the faculty is unwilling to do.”

The council will vote on the revised resolution at the next meeting April 18, which interim Chancellor Brad Colwell will also attend to answer questions about the university’s financial situation.

Also on the agenda was an update on SIU’s search to find a chancellor after nearly three years without a permanent leader. The final four candidates were announced by the university Monday, and three of the four have ties to the university either as employees or graduates.

The candidates are scheduled to take part in a series of public forums which will take place at 8:45 a.m. on April 11, 19, 25 and 27 in Guyon Auditorium at Morris Library.

Student-only forums will take place on the same dates from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Student Services Building rooms 150 and 160, Flowers said. The morning forums will have pre-determined questions, while the student-only sessions will be unscripted.

GPSC member Lauran Schaefer expressed a concern over a lack of diversity among the four finalists, who are all white men. Flowers, a member of the chancellor search committee, said any issues students may have would be best addressed during the candidate forums.

“I highly recommend you guys go to these open forums and ask all the questions I can’t,” said Flowers, who, as a member of the committee, is bound by a confidentiality agreement.

Academic program prioritization metrics were also discussed. The formula was originally designed by a joint task force formed by interim Provost Susan Ford to evaluate the university’s degree programs. Flowers said the administration is no longer using those metrics.

Woudenberg said the issue was that faculty members in many cases were unwilling to use the metrics.

“They were either dragging their feet or refusing to answer the questions because they felt they would be giving information that could take away their jobs,” Woudenberg said after the meeting.

Instead, Woudenberg said the measures used to evaluate programs will be Illinois Board of Higher Education standards and places where “obvious, low-hanging fruit” type cuts can be identified.

The chancellor’s office will allocate the provost and each college dean a dollar amount on April 10. Woudenberg said the deans would be at liberty to distribute those figures among their colleges.

Flowers said this could leave graduate assistants vulnerable, because any position with an ending contract that has yet to receive a renewal notification could remain unfilled.

“This is an underhanded way of cutting GA budgets and shifting that money elsewhere,” Flowers said. “While GAs aren’t that expensive, a GA can’t chair a thesis committee or engage in certain kinds of service work.”

Another item on the agenda was an incident Flowers said took place over the weekend, in which anti-transgender graffiti was written in chalk outside Lentz Hall.

Flowers said although interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Stettler addressed the problem, the main issue is that the administration has not publicly explained its position regarding President Donald Trump’s rollback of Obama Administration-era guidelines protecting transgender students.

The previous regulation stated that transgender students had a right to use public restrooms that match their gender identity.

In recent years, SIU has been constructing gender-inclusive restrooms across campus in places like the Student Recreation Center and Trueblood Hall. Flowers said students have come to him worried that without federal guidelines, the university would stop these projects.

Woudenberg said Colwell had verbally confirmed that the administration had no intention of backing down from the construction of such restrooms.

Because the council has received no statement from administration since February, Woudenberg said GPSC will draft its own statement if Colwell doesn’t put out a written response by Tuesday.

Staff writer Marnie Leonard can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @marsuzleo.

To stay up to date with all your SIU news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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The student news site of Southern Illinois University