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Coke fund allocation voted down

The UCA Faculty Senate declined a proposal April 8 using a $25,000 fund allocation from Coca-Cola for a $11,000, two-year subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education, matching grants totaling $10,000 for faculty through the Instructional Development Center (IDC), and a $4,000 fall senate retreat.

According to the recommendation from the senate’s executive committee, the Chronicle of Education is “the leading source of news, information and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators.”

Torreyson Library has access to print content through digital access, but does not have access to the web content, which is updated daily. The print content dates back to 1998. By spending $11,000 on a two-year site license, UCA faculty would have unrestricted access through university computers.

According to the proposal, the benefits of this spending would include no need for passwords, logins or user names and the text from each print issue would be posted on Mondays without any delay. Daily web updates, new media extras and a searchable archive would also be included in the subscription.

The matching funds given to the IDC would be awarded to faculty on a competitive basis, determined by the IDC using the center’s guidelines and timelines for proposal development, submission and reporting.

Funds would be awarded through the next academic year. Any leftover funds would be rolled over into the 2015-16 year.

The proposed fall retreat for senators would be held on campus either before or just after the beginning of the next school year with services provided by an external conference facilitator. If approved, senators would spend retreat time setting priorities, organizing standing committees and be updated by UCA administrators and other faculty members.

After the executive recommendation was denied, several faculty senators requested that the next proposal include more specific information about how the money would be spent.

Earlier in the meeting, during a comment session held by Provost Steven Runge, Assistant Tuba and Euphonium Professor and Faculty Senator Christian Carichner asked Runge about concerns brought to him by constituents involving former Executive Assistant to the President Gilbert Baker’s new position within the music department.

Carichner asked what the justification was behind Baker’s $50,000 salary when “the last several assistant professor lines have been significantly lower than that,” where the money was coming from and if that would impact department positions in the future.

Runge said he “conducted a review of the salaries in the department, looked at other professor’s salaries, took into consideration 22 years of prior service as a faculty members, looked at other people who had similar years of service” and determined the salary of $50,000. Runge said the decision was “[his]call” along with the approval of President Tom Courtway. He said there was no negotiation.

Runge said the position was not a “new money position” and would not be added to spreadsheets where administrators look at potential replacements and new positions.

Associate Psychology Professor and faculty senator Brian Bolter asked what the appeals process would be if Baker suddenly didn’t want to take the $50,000 salary.

“For someone to be making $125,000 and then drop to less than 50 percent of their salary— something that’s never been done to an administrator at the university,” Bolter said, adding that Baker did not fill out the appropriate paperwork that Runge had set for that type of situation.

Runge said there is no appeal process, which began a quid pro quo between him and Bolter concerning a “responsibility by the administration to put a contract in place that didn’t happen,”Bolter said, calling the pay cut “arbitrary.”

Runge said there was no documentation as to what Baker’s salary would be upon taking the assistant music professor position, repeating that his decision was based on an overview of what other faculty members in Baker’s category of service earned.

Runge said this was not the first time a salary had been adjusted in this manner during his time at UCA, despite Bolter’s accusations that it was.

Bolter, an agent for the Arkansas Conference American Association of University Professors (AAUP), said the situation was brought to him to look into Baker’s resignation and see what Baker’s “rights and opportunities” are as a tenured faculty member.

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