Faculty Senate discusses Illinois debt, adds SA representative

By Matt Liparota

“Welcome to another wonderful year at Faculty Senate.”

With these words Wednesday afternoon, Faculty Senate President Alan Rosenbaum opened another year for the legislative body and urged its members – which counts one voting member for each university department – to represent the wishes of their constituents.

“It is my hope that we will function…as a Senate and represent our departments,” Rosenbaum said.

The university is again facing budgetary issues this academic year, Rosenbaum said. As of Wednesday, the state still owes NIU $42 million in promised monies for Fiscal Year 2011. However, so far the state is current on this year’s payments.

“So far the state has been paying some of the FY12 bills even though they still haven’t paid everything for FY11,” Rosenbaum said.

The university has been “lucky” that it has not been forced to implement furlough days or faculty layoffs, said Rosenbaum.

However, there is still a lot to worry about, Rosenbaum said, citing possible changes to retirement. He also said that the Illinois Board of Higher Education isn’t funding salary increases for faculty.

“It doesn’t mean there won’t be [a salary increase],” Rosenbaum said. “It just means it’s less likely.”

Rosenbaum urged faculty to offer feedback to the IBHE.

He also updated the assembled senate on the progress of the proposed plus/minus grading system.

Last year, the Senate approved the implementation of a plus/minus grading system, citing overwhelming faculty support for such a change. After approving this measure, it was brought before the Admissions Policies and Academic Standards Committee. APASC voted “to do nothing” about the Senate’s resolution, Rosenbaum said, essentially leaving it dead in the water.

APASC did not feel that the Senate’s poll of faculty was accurate, Rosenbaum said, and conducted its own poll which determined that most faculty were opposed to the system. Rosenbaum said that APASC’s poll “was not a very accurate one.” As a result, the Faculty Senate and APASC will create a joint committee to look into the issue.

Rosenbaum stressed that faculty members continued to poll their departments on the issue to ensure the wishes of the faculty continue to be accurately represented.

New to the Senate this year is the addition of a member of the Student Association on an “experimental basis,” Rosenbaum said, who will act as a liaison between the Faculty Senate and the student body.

“Personally, I was not very aware of how evolved the SA is,” Rosenbaum said of the SA’s efforts to represent the needs of the student body.

SA Senate Speaker Austin Quick will serve as the student representative.

Quick stressed his desire to collaborate with the faculty, both to better serve students and to ensure that faculty is aware of student concerns.

“We want you to know what’s going on with us before reading about it in the Northern Star,” Quick said.

Quick also addressed the proposed plus/minus system. SA polls regarding the issue have found that the majority of students are opposed to the idea, Quick said.