Members of the UI Faculty Senate had a sometimes vigorous discussion Tuesday with outgoing UI Provost Wallace Loh about the new strategic plan, which will be presented to the state Board of Regents Thursday.
The plan focuses on student access and enrollment growth and undergraduate student success while maximizing efficiency and effectiveness.
But several Faculty Senate members said there is bound to be tension as teaching expectations increase, which they say will lead to less time to focus on research.
“For those who already bear the brunt of the teaching load, their research will suffer,” Diane Jeske, department executive officer of philosophy, said. “When I listen to this … I feel crushed.”
But Loh said the strategic plan does not provide the answers, but rather is a framework for debating the important issues of where the university is going in the next five years, with a changed financial picture, and how the university will get there. It’s up to the college deans to decide if they want to hire more tenured faculty as enrollment grows, or if they want to hire fewer new faculty and instead spend money on other things, Loh said.
“We are in the new normal as opposed to the old normal of the economy,” Loh said. “The primary bold expectation is that we may have to operate differently in the next five or 10 years than we have in the past 15 years.”
Other faculty leaders said they think the strategic plan should make more of a statement about expecting increased state funding. The goals can’t be accomplished without increased state funding, and the plan should be realistic about that for the public and state leaders, several professors said.
“I think we do now need to be making that case, even if we believe we’ll fail,” history Professor Katherine Tachau said.