Daily Egyptian

Faculty Senate questions new policy’s effect on accreditation

By Cory Ray, @coryray_DE |Daily Egyptian

A new SIU policy implemented by the Board of Trustees is raising questions about the school’s accreditation and status as a research institution.

The board on Thursday voted to change the policy of who lead administrators of professional schools, such as the School of Medicine, report to. The decision was met with opposition by faculty senate and graduate council representatives, as well as board member Shirley Portwood.

Currently, the dean and provost of the School of Medicine report to SIUC’s chancellor, and the dean of the School of Law reports to the provost. The deans of the dentistry and pharmacy school both report to the SIUE provost. 

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As of Jan. 1, 2016, the dean and provost of the medical school will report to the president of the university in addition to the SIUC chancellor. The dean of the School of Law will also report the SIUC chancellor, while the deans of the dentistry and pharmacy schools will report to the SIUE chancellor. 

The policy change was introduced to the board in summer 2014. SIU President Randy Dunn said it is necessary because he must have involvement with vital functions of the school.

Among concerns raised by the faculty senate and graduate council are school accreditation, research institution status, tenure appointments and tenure denial grievances.

“Nothing takes [the School of Medicine] away from [SIUC] campus, changes grant counting, establishes a separate campus or does anything to remove the role of the School of Medicine from SIUC,” Dunn said.

While Dunn said the change in reporting lines will not cause the School of Medicine to become separated from the SIUC campus, a lack of outlining procedures has some faculty such as Andrea Imre, president of the Faculty Senate, and James MacLean, a Faculty Senate member representing the medical school, worried the four professional schools may become separate entities.

Of the medical school’s operations, 10 percent exists on SIUC campus, Dunn said.

Dunn said there is no risk with reaccreditation because of the policy adjustment, but Imre and MacLean were uncertain.

“The reporting line change might not be just as simple as changing the reporting lines,” MacLean said. “I’m curious, it seems like it would be appropriate for that resolution to … actually have a specific language about what will be changed with that.”

Because the medical and law schools are connected to SIUC, all research grants and money are also tied to the campus.

Joint research by the Faculty Senate and the Graduate Council indicate SIUC, which receives its accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission, could be at risk of separation from the medical and law schools if duties of the host campus are not well-defined or approved by the HLC.

Dunn defended the change, and said it is customary for boards to create policies before instituting procedures.

“Typically when your policy changes at a governance board level, you are not going to get into all of the bits and pieces of everything that may be impacted,” Dunn said. 

Despite the arguments made by Imre and Maclean, all board members except Shirley Portwood voted to approve a reconstruction of reporting lines. 

Portwood argued the policy should not be adopted because current reporting lines within the university system are used by a number of other institutions. 

“It is not clear … what problems will be solved by the change in reporting lines,” Portwood said. “Nor does it indicate how we can improve the university as a whole as an educational institution [or] address the possible unintended consequences at this point.”

Dunn said if procedures were directly and thoroughly defined in a policy by the board, it could potentially take away shared governance with the schools. He said the policy is a balancing act of operational procedures and policy. 

“As we look at what plays out over the course of the next year, we’re not going to do anything that harms those individuals or that lessens the school’s role in Carbondale or anything else,” Dunn said.

Cory Ray can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3326

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