Discussion centered on problems with the budget and changes to personnel policy at the Ohio Wesleyan faculty meeting on March 23.
Provost Chuck Steinmetz expressed concerns about faculty involvement in the budget problems in light of the recent closure of Sweet Briar College in Virginia.
Sweet Briar College, a small, all-women’s liberal arts college near the Blue Ridge Mountains, announced on March 3 that it would be closing in August, citing financial problems, according to The Washington Post.
This announcement came as a shock to both OWU faculty and students.
Steinmetz does not want the same thing to happen at Ohio Wesleyan; he proposed to have a summit in May for him and the faculty to discuss strategies moving forward.
“This has been a difficult year to serve as your provost,” he said. “The faculty needs to take the time to come together as a faculty on the future of OWU.”
Sean Kay, professor of politics and government, and Dan Vogt, professor of chemistry, also brought up concerns that austerity measures the university is taking to fix the budget won’t work. Instead, they could lead to faculty and student dissatisfaction.
President Rock Jones responded by saying that he thinks “austerity does not drive prosperity,” but he still supports the budget.
Other faculty expressed concerns that the Board of Trustees are not doing their jobs and that they are taking hits themselves with no rewards in overall salary. This came after the announcement that there would be a freeze on salary and compensation pools for next year.
Chris Wolverton, professor of botany and microbiology as well as chair of the committee on university governance posed a question to the OWU faculty.
“How can we make OWU one again, instead of fiefdoms, which don’t work,” he said.
Faculty also discussed at length the proposed changes to the personnel policy in the faculty handbook.
After much discussion and many presentations by various professors, the changes were approved with a vote of 65 to 24.