UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA
December 3, 2007
Dear President Moulton,
The Faculty Senate has always appreciated the willingness of the president and the administration to consult the faculty and incorporate their interests into decisions affecting the institution and our academic programs. However, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, on behalf of the full Senate and the faculty, wishes to express its concerns regarding the recent handling of the issue of football. These concerns have surfaced during Senate meetings and in town hall meetings with the general faculty.
First, we are concerned about the apparent urgency behind the decision. The Faculty Senate report on presidential performance of 2004 gave the president “high marks” for his handling of the football question in 2001. That report specifically credits the president with overseeing “a thorough and transparent investigation of the proposition to initiate football that included input from faculty, students, alumni and community leaders.” That process, as you recall, encompassed a major study by outside consultants, a faculty senate ad hoc committee report, and a detailed feasibility study. By contrast, the current decision seems to be undertaken with considerable haste. For example, the Senate was asked to carry out a survey of faculty to gauge their position on the issue, but requested that the results would be provided within less than a week. The Senate Planning Committee was asked to examine the issue, but the time frame prevented the group from meeting more than once. Even the university Task Force created to explore the football issue seemed to operate at a “fast and furious” pace. Consequently, it is not clear whether substantial and careful research has been done regarding the effects on academic programs or potential donors.
Second, we are concerned that this apparent urgency precluded the effective involvement and consultation with the faculty. Again, in stark contrast to the process employed a few years ago, the faculty was brought into the deliberations at a very late date. We learned of the re-emergence of the issue from the press and were invited to participate without any time to provide meaningful input into the decision.
Third, we are concerned that the combined lack of consultation and the urgency leaves many issues unexplored, potentially leading to oversights. Football has tremendous and complex direct and indirect effects on an institution, and few understand the nuanced impact of such decisions on the academic environment better than the faculty. A successful football program will put strains on academic programs and preparations must be made accordingly.
It is important to emphasize that the straw-poll vote taken by the Senate, and misrepresented in the press, did not express unconditional support for football. This informal, non-binding poll in favor of football rested on the conditions that it be implemented in a fiscally responsible way and would not have an adverse affect on academic programs. This continues to be the general position of the faculty.
None of this means to suggest that the faculty is opposed to football in principle; it does suggest, however, that we support faculty governance and the spirit of consultation, and take to heart the interests of our institution. As this issue continues to play out, we hope the university administration will actively include faculty involvement in every step of the planning process.
The Faculty Senate Executive Committee,
On behalf of the entire 2007/2008 Faculty Senate
University of South Alabama - Faculty Senate - Mobile, AL 36688-0002
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Last date changed: December 4 , 2007