The UW-Whitewater faculty have been “marginalized” in the search for a new chancellor and have not been given a chance to adequately provide input, according to an open letter shared Wednesday by the faculty senate chairman.
David Simmons shared the letter that states the process “ignored” faculty advice and was “unnecessarily rushed.” He is an associate professor, head of the Philosophy & Religious Studies Department and chair of the body representing faculty.
The UW System on Tuesday named four finalists to take the position previously held by Beverly Kopper. The finalists are appearing at forums on the campuses in Whitewater and Janesville over the next week.
Kopper resigned Dec. 31 after an investigation showed her husband, Alan “Pete” Hill, sexually harassed female employees and students. She knew the Board of Regents “would like different leadership” and the UW System later said President Ray Cross “counseled Chancellor Kopper to resign.”
The system in January named an 11-member search and screen committee made up from five members of the UW-Whitewater community, five members of the Board of Regents and a nonvoting Rock County representative.
The letter Simmons shared on Twitter is called, “Open Letter to the Faculty of the UW-System in Regard to RPD 6-4 and its Implementation at UW-W.” RPD 6-4 is the regents’ policy for selecting chancellors and other top administrative officials.
Simmons said the letter was a product of several faculty leaders wanting to explain their frustrations. He said other campuses across the system are watching how the policy is being implemented.
Tracey Klein, a regent and chairwoman of the search and screen committee, responded in a statement saying the process found “four quality candidates” through “strong shared governance chemistry.”
She said the committee, which included two faculty members, one staff member, one community member and one student, selected the finalist candidates unanimously. She called that “impressive,” and thanked the committee for its commitment.
The faculty senate March 12 voted to publicly release an open letter outlining its concerns. Simmons said the letter was written at about that time before being updated and released last week.
The implementation of the policy approved in 2015 “effectively eliminated meaningful input from the Faculty as a governance body,” the letter states.
The letter argues the policy is “flawed,” in part, because of its “troubling” transfer of authority on selecting finalists from a local group to the search committee.
The search process did not take faculty teaching schedules into account when planning open forums, according to the letter. As one example, May 7—one of the days for chancellor finalists to visit campus—is the final faculty senate meeting.
Klein in the statement said the schedule was created several weeks ago and shared with shared governance groups to review.
The faculty senate throughout the semester has tried to address their concerns with the system, but the letter says the responses have been inadequate or nonexistent.
The faculty senate wanted more time to select its representatives for the committee, but Cross, according to the letter, said they wanted more time to vet candidates.
The senate also wanted colleges not covered under the current faculty representatives to be included, even as nonvoting members, as well as more agendas and minutes from committee meetings, the letter states.
Finally, and given the body’s previous concerns, the senate on April 23 passed a resolution asking for a one-hour listening session with each finalist. No extra meeting time was added, according to the letter.
“The preceding tells a sad story of the diminishment of faculty representation, and indeed, with it, a diminishment of attention to academics,” the letter states.
“The faculty have been marginalized, and our voice and expertise ignored.”
On May 17, the special regent committee will interview the chancellor finalists. After, they will recommend one candidate to the full Board of Regents, which must approve the appointment.