Stipends a point of contention at recent faculty senate meeting
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At its Jan. 31 meeting, the University of New Orleans’ Faculty Senate addressed a number of topics, from financial matters to admission requirements.
One issue under consideration was the representation of the faculty senate itself.
Senate President Cherie Trumbach explained, “The current state bylaws we are under say the quorum is 25 percent of full-time faculty members. The new bylaws are proposing that we lower that to 20 percent.”
The necessary number of faculty members did not attend the meeting, and lowering the requirements would not take absentee points-of-view into account. In order to account for absentee points-of-view, electronic participation was suggested.
Because UNO is a state school, the state’s budget was also mentioned. “The state is still left with a $304-million budget deficit for the current year. The governor, last week, had announced his plans for a special session that will begin Feb. thirteenth. He did make a statement that indicated he would minimize cuts to higher education,” said University President John Nicklow.
Nicklow also spoke of future partnerships with local entities, including “a lease agreement for the athletic center. And we’d like to lease that to a charter school.”
In order to attract more students, Nicklow addressed tuition proposals, stating the possibility of “eliminating the nonresident fee for fully online programs” as well as “a reduction in the out-of-state tuition [by 40 percent].”
Another initiative to boost enrollment was a proposal to lower the TOEFL score requirement for undergraduates from 79 to 70. The test is an assessment of English skills for international students. The required score varies from institution to institution, with many questioning the accuracy of the test itself.
Alea Cot, assistant provost for international education, noted, “The 79 is a higher score than perhaps we need for a student to be successful. But what our approach is, [is] that if we lower the score, we want to give the students the tools to be successful.”
She was clear that the change would take into account the needs of the student. “When a student comes in with a 70, they will be enrolled in English 1157 as a freshman and this co-curricular course in order to help them with their writing.”
There was also a disagreement over the school’s stipend policy for faculty, specifically the inclusion of stipends in base pay. A few thought that the compensation of endowed
chairs, primarily in the engineering school, was not sufficient.
Professor of Electrical Engineering Edit Bourgeois stated, “I think there is a pretty fierce opposition in the College of Engineering. We have several endowed chairs that were hired years ago as endowed chairs, offered a salary, and part of that salary is coming from the endowment. But the salary that we’re offered should be the salary.”
Nicklow’s responded, “Because they [the stipends] are temporary, they cannot be base pay. I’m not necessarily opposed to the principle, personally.”
The next faculty senate meeting will continue to address some of the aforementioned proposals.