Issue: Financial Exigency and the Future of Wells College
We, the faculty of Wells College, are deeply concerned about the financial and educational well-being of Wells College and about our exclusion from meaningful participation in the difficult decisions that lie before us. The faculty has consistently been denied access to critical information that would enable us to make any meaningful proposals for change. Morale and function among faculty, staff and students have rapidly deteriorated this year. As faculty members, we are especially concerned about the continuing strength of our academic program.
The Faculty therefore wishes the members of the Board of Trustees to hear and understand our concerns as outlined below:
WHEREAS, at an open meeting for faculty and staff on March 16th, 2010 President Lisa Marsh Ryerson stated that across the board reorganization of the college would take place for the 2010 fiscal year in conjunction with meetings across all levels and consultation with senior staff; and
WHEREAS, schedules for decisions and notifications continue to be announced and then postponed without acknowledgement or explanation; and
WHEREAS, while the faculty is responsible for maintaining the strength of the curriculum, the President has announced that there will be faculty and program cuts, yet the faculty has not been involved in substantive discussions about changes that will have a serious impact on the health of the overall academic program; and
WHEREAS, in the minutes of the Representative Council of the Wells College Collegiate Cabinet meeting on May 3, 2010, the President said in response to a question on financial exigency "we do in spirit want to make sure that we are working with the faculty leaders to make decisions," and that "the faculty have not come together in putting together a plan that they would like to see endorsed," when in fact the faculty has been excluded from discussion and has not been directed to put together such a plan; and
WHEREAS, the President has not responded to repeated requests for information regarding the budget, endowment, debt, selling of properties, and the specifics of her vision for the future of Wells College; and
WHEREAS, the President has neither consulted nor collaborated in any substantive way with the faculty, staff, and students at large to develop solutions to existing financial constraints and structural budget gaps; and
WHEREAS, the President stated that the College is in a state of financial exigency at the Advisory Committee Open Meeting on April 8, 2010, and that at that same meeting the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Leslie Miller-Bernal affirmed that the College is in a state of financial exigency; and
WHEREAS, when questioned further at that same meeting, the President stated that the College had been in financial exigency for years; and
WHEREAS, multiple faculty and staff have been hired without being duly informed of this extreme condition; strategic proposals have been discussed and decided upon without appropriate scrutiny in the light of an exigent state, and cuts to existing faculty and staff are proposed at the same time plans are made to hire for newly created positions; and
WHEREAS, staff and students also protest their same lack of participation and voice in creating a vision that is sustainable for the College and state that their recommendations and concerns have likewise been ignored by the President; therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be given to all members of the Wells College Board of Trustees so that they be made aware of the widespread concern of faculty, staff, and students regarding the leadership and future of Wells College; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the faculty of Wells College opposes the present lack of substantive shared decision-making and transparency, and demands participation in meaningful discussion concerning the budget and the impact of proposed faculty and departmental cuts on the health and sustainability of Wells College.