Last week, President Tom Rochon took to his public blog to discuss recent college expenses and caution the campus community that the rising cost of attendance may drive away potential students. However, on Nov. 29 the blog spiraled into a forum for faculty discontent and uncertainty about the future.
In response to Rochon’s post, 99 faculty members signed a letter that questioned the need for new initiatives like the China Center, the New York City Center, the new administrative team for advising, new software for ePortfolios and the cost of the college’s new association with Huron Consulting Group — none of these initiatives, they wrote, were a priority for the faculty. Rather the faculty hoped to see funds allocated to improving infrastructure on campus and ensuring faculty have adequate office space. The Faculty Council also raised concerns about salaries and made a request for a 3-percent increment in general merit pay.
To include the college community in financial decisions, Rochon announced the reinstatement of the Tri-Council, which includes students and chairs of the Faculty Council and Staff Council. This is a major step in the right direction and will hopefully produce results that will help the college balance the budget. However, if Rochon hopes to move forward with the lofty goals of IC 20/20, the faculty must be offered a compromise on salary. The administration cannot continue with costly expansions like the New York City and China centers while faculty are asked to tighten their belts. Though these programs are appealing for current and prospective students, the college cannot afford to compromise the quality of education at home. If professors are unhappy in their working environment and are not having their needs met, they cannot be expected to teach at their full ability.
The administration must find a better budget balance and ensure the college’s basic needs are met before taking on costly side projects.