Faculty Voices are Heard

While students have been very vocal in expressing their discontent in the form of protest and indignant spray painting in the dead of night, many faculty members have not had the same freedom to speak out against upper administration. This hesitancy to critique administrators stems mainly from fear of their programs being stifled or cut or simply of losing their jobs. In a university that is supposedly people centered, why should the people upon whose backs the university rests have to fear retaliation for speaking up for themselves?

However, faculty have taken more diplomatic routes of protest in the form of a letter of concern, followed by a Resolution of No Confidence in the President written by the Academic Council, and have just taken a vote in which 93.4% of participants expressed no confidence in the president. While it seems as though administration has responded somewhat to the omnipresent distress of its students, some faculty may feel as though their concerns still have gone largely unaddressed. Despite the specific outline of faculty concerns that was meticulously put together by the Academic Council, upper administration along with the Board of Regents have taken care to diminish or blatantly ignore the glaring issues presented in the resolution.

For example, in a letter addressed to the Pacific community from the Board of Regents, Chairman Kevin Huber says with regard to the protest and resolution of no confidence, “The Board of Regents strongly and unequivocally supports President Eibeck and the university administration. The president has led with tremendous success and remains committed to ensuring our students receive a superior education and our university has a robust future.” He later says, “Actions to undermine the president and university administration only serve to divide our university community and damage our reputation.”

Some find it frustrating that instead of addressing the concerns brought up in the resolution of no confidence, Huber instead discouraged such critiques of administration by characterizing them as a show of disloyalty that could reflect badly on the school. Many believe that, in reality, such critiques are made only out of concern for the longevity of the university and believe it to be in the best interest of the regents to listen to such concerns instead of dismissing them.

For example, Professor and Chair of Religious Studies Alan Lenzi describes how the Eibeck Administration has generally come to view faculty as more of a roadblock due to the major concerns that faculty have brought up in contrast to the plan presented by administration. “Faculty are idealists, I think, in many cases. Nothing will be right until it is perfect. And nothing can ever be perfect. The Enlightenment motto rings true with faculty, I think, namely: Criticize everything. So Administration sees us as an obstacle. That’s my observation. And we really, truly are, but in a good way usually. There is a dialectic at work between the pragmatists (admin) and the idealists (faculty). We need both. Of late, however, faculty have become more of an obstacle because we suspect things have gone off the rails. We’re holding the administration accountable in a way that is much more uncomfortable than merely inconvenient, as is often the case” he says.

Some find it a bit troublesome that the concerns of faculty are viewed as an obstacle to overcome, rather than as useful ideas that are respected and could be used for the betterment of the university.

For example, Professor and Legal Scholars Director Cynthia Ostberg says, “I do think that transparency, communication, the board working with the students and the faculty regularly at every regent meeting, that there is an exchange for half an hour [are all necessary]. Not creating an ad-hoc committee with two faculty members on it and maybe one student and the rest are administrators, that’s not going to shore up the problem. It’s continuous dialogue, it’s continuous working together that’s going to fix it.”

As shown by the letter of no confidence, student protests, and the withdrawal of donations to the university, it is necessary that we listen to the voices of individuals within the faculty who we know and trust so well. This story is written in solidarity with the outspoken faculty leaders within the Academic Council and to let our trusted professors know that although attempts to stifle their voices may be made, their students are here to ensure that they are heard. Just because you do not pay $46,000 each year to the university does not mean that your opinions do not matter.

The amount of respect with which opinions are received should not be reduced to the value of the money that you bring to the table, as Pacific is a nonprofit institution. However, if this is how opinions are viewed by the Eibeck Administration, then let it be known that those of the students are among the most valuable of all at roughly $300 million, and we refuse to let those of our professors go unacknowledged. The goal of this story is not to pit administrators and regents against faculty and students but rather to encourage administration and regents to not only listen to faculty, but also to view their concerns as an asset rather than an obstacle.

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Scarlett Green

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