Faculty Senate debates hours, salary policies

Last week, the members of the faculty senate met in the Herd Faculty Lounge with MC President Dr. Steve Thomas to voice their campus concerns. The meeting’s agenda was rearranged to give Thomas more time to answer the questions and address the concerns of the MC faculty members. The first major concern that was voiced was that the faculty members felt they were not being appreciated or listened to by the deans as much as they would like. To this, Thomas smoothed ruffled feathers by placating their concerns.

Thomas also offered to convene a meeting of administrative and faculty representatives to discuss possible solutions to concerns brought up in the meeting.
The faculty also voiced concerns about the new office hour policy that is being enforced. Faculty members said that it made them feel as if they were high school teachers instead of college professors.

Thomas assured faculty that he was trying to do positive things for MC. He also said that these policies have been on the list for a while, but the deans have just started enforcing them now.

A professor responded by telling Thomas that he feels the deans are making things harder on faculty members.
According to him, faculty is not informed when things on campus are changed and this lack of communication is putting unneeded pressure on faculty.
Various faculty members voiced their opinions regarding the communication issue on campus; one faculty member claimed that they have to read about changes being made at MC through the Midland Reporter-Telegram in order to hear about any changes around campus.

The next topic discussed at the meeting covered the various issues regarding the overflow policy. The overflow policy pertains to teachers who teach more classes than the standard load.According to faculty, the overload policy is being misinterpreted and implemented wrongly.

Some professors said they are being paid less for teaching overload classes that have fewer than 14 students enrolled.
However, this issue is not across the board; only the professors of some low enrollment classes, especially specialty courses, are being paid less than other instructors.

According to faculty members, this issue in payment is making it harder to find adjuncts who are willing to teach classes for professors.
After the faculty members voiced their concerns regarding the overflow policy and the unequal payment for classes with fewer students, Thomas assured faculty members that he will start working on policies and fixing the way that policies are being interpreted.

A professor then said that the things other faculty members were complaining about were just usual routines that departments go through.
She said that teachers feel as if they have to be nice and make things easy on students in order to get their enrollment numbers up.
One faculty member brought it to everyone’s attention that the MC faculty should not beat themselves up over enrollment numbers and withdrawals.
Most withdrawals have nothing to do with the instructor, and are instead a result of things going on in the student’s personal life.

A large part of the reason as to why enrollment numbers are down so much this year is due to the West Texas economy, according to several senate members. Because of the oilboom in the Basin, many students are leaving school to get jobs in the oil field for the high wages that are available in that field, according to MC Dean Rebecca Bell. Many of the job positions in the oil field require little to no college education and pay well.

The final order of business of the meeting that the general public had access to was the decision to allow funding to establish a Green Zone program at MC.
Professor Damon Kennedy announced the plans for the program, which is designed to make military veterans feel welcome on campus.

Dr. Ryan Van Dusen, director of Military & Veterans Programs at Texas Tech University, will be coming on Nov. 17 to train willing members of MC faculty to be veteran-friendly.
The training is completely voluntary, and any faculty member who wants to be veteran-friendly is welcome to go.
The training session is expected to last an hour and a half to two hours and will educate faculty and staff on issues faced by veterans, and help faculty to better understand the challenges that veterans face.

The training is not going to be mandatory for all MC faculty, but faculty members who complete it will receive a sticker to put on their office doors to inform veterans that they have been trained to help veterans with problems specific to military veterans.

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