Faculty Senate Discussion

Presidential Search

Filed under Presidential Search by beth56 on August 16, 2012 | 3 Comments

This site is provided for you to offer your thoughts and recommendations as we move through the presidential search process.  Please feel free to list your comments here.  What you have to say is important and I can assure you that the search committee is reviewing information posted here on a regular basis.

Please note that comments are invited here as a fact-finding process, and that debate of issues that might come before the Senate are reserved for public meetings. Accordingly, independent statements are encouraged, but not replies to other comments. Since comments are routed through the Faculty Senate office, there may be a brief delay before your comment is posted.

Cheri Brodeur
Faculty Senate Chair

3 Responses to “Presidential Search”

  1. The president should unequivocally support the following key aspects of a public university’s mission:

    (a) Core liberal arts, sciences and humanities education for all students

    (b) Faculty and students who conduct basic, fundamental research driven by deep and sustained curiosity – as distinct from translational research that follows a clear path towards specific economic goals.

    (c) Integration of teaching and research.
    Conducting basic, fundamental research is essential in the long term for effective transmission of knowledge at all levels. It is also crucial for developing in the student a disposition for lifelong questioning and learning.

    (d) Academic freedom (without which a university is no more than a factory, lacking the energy of curiosity, inspiration and motivation)

    (e) Campus as a place to continuously reflect, learn and experiment with building a vibrant, progressive, democratic society and environment in which every individual’s full potential can be realized

    (f) Transparency and Inclusiveness – encouraging service and participation in decision making by all members of the university community.

    (g) Leveling the playing field by providing maximum possible access to a demanding educational experience of substantial intrinsic value. This should be contrasted with dumbing down standards, and confusing quality of education with superficial fame/visibility or with keeping up with fashionable trends or with acquisition of expensive facilities for their own sake.

  2. Faculty Focus Discussion, 8/24/12
    Responses: Kevin R. Orr, Professor, College of Fine Arts

    • What are the unique qualities and notable strengths of UF?

    The most significantly unique quality of UF is its sheer range and diversity of disciplines offered on a single campus. That one location provides such a wealth of nationally recognized offerings, not only within the STEM disciplines, but equally so within the full spectrum of the arts and humanities, places UF among the truly unique educational institutions in the world. The sustainability of this unparalleled diverse campus environment must be a primary focus of future leadership.

    • What are UF’s opportunities and impacts in academics, research and service for the future?

    Difficult economic times present both challenges and opportunities. In spite of obvious fiscal and political challenges that necessitate leaner budgets and difficult decisions, such moves must not come at the expense of the curricular and research riches UF possesses. We mustn’t allow such times to jeopardize our basic identity. A University is, by design, distinctly and fundamentally different from a trade or tech school. We urge the committee to remain sensitive of the unique UF ‘community’ when vetting candidates for our next presidency.

    • Based on these inquiries, what qualities and experience are needed for UF’s next leader?

    UF’s next leader should be one with significant academic leadership experience, driven to oversee and foster the advancement of all of UF’s colleges. The faculty in my college, the College of Fine Arts, recognizes and accepts that different colleges will be funded in different ways and at different levels. For this reason, we need a president who is mindful that colleges vary widely in funding access—that not all colleges are revenue-generating, and furthermore that access to grant subsidies varies widely by discipline. We urge the committee to seek a president who champions the extraordinary riches a vibrant College of Fine Arts brings to both UF and to the Gainesville community, to say nothing of it’s recognized presence within the profession, and thus meaningfully invests in it. We need an inspiring leader who favors creative managing of budget challenges. The depth and diversity of the student experience at the University of Florida is unmatched, cherished by all past and present Gators, and must be stalwartly defended.

  3. groisser says:

    The next president should be an academic, with significant experience in teaching and research in an academic field. S/He should be committed to preserving and strengthening traditional academic values, to articulating the importance of these to the state and nation, and to obtaining funding for the university to continue conducting basic (not just applications-oriented) research. S/He should be committed to *reversing* the trends towards fewer tenured faculty, more contingent faculty, larger classes, less face-to-face contact between students and faculty, and more online teaching. Why pay for an online UF class when Harvard or MIT offers a free, higher-quality version of the online class? UF needs high-quality faculty, in greater numbers than we have now, teaching smaller classes, not figuring out how to teach larger ones. The next president needs to be more focused on improving the quality of the education UF offers, more aware that this quality has been in decline for several years, and less focused on marketing the less-than-stellar product we now deliver. Anyone who thinks that the overall quality of the education UF delivers has not declined in this era of ever-growing classes, ever-increasing workloads for faculty, stagnant faculty salaries coupled with losses of benefits, and plummeting faculty morale, has his/her head in the sand.
    The next president should be committed to *not* running UF as if it were a corporation. The corporate model is a bad model for education and research, placing too little weight on long-term effects, and too much distance—both economically and in terms of goals—between administrators and faculty. A university president should believe that long-term planning is good, and “strategic dynamism” bad.
    The next president should be committed enough to university life that s/he is willing to live in the president’s house. A necessary presidential quality is a willingness to be among students and faculty, immersing him/herself in the life of the university.
    The next president must come from outside UF. Cronyism is rampant among UF’s current administration. Only new leadership has any chance of giving faculty a ray of hope for the future of UF.
    The next president should be offered a much lower salary than President Machen’s, and no performance bonuses. For a university, the corporate compensation structure for executives is *bad*, overemphasizing short-term outcomes, and killing morale among faculty and staff. The BOT has supported obscene salaries for UF administrators. “We need to offer enough to attract high-quality candidates” is a principle far truer at the faculty level than at the presidential level. UF could have retained many fine faculty who left for greener pastures had it applied this principle where it was most greatly needed. UF will continue to decline if it applies this principle only to administrators and their friends. There is a large pool of skilled, qualified academics around the country who could do a president’s job well, willingly, without the become-an-instant-millionaire incentive.
    Good, relevant articles:
    College Costs Too Much Because Faculty Lack Power, http://chronicle.com/article/College-Costs-Too-Much-Because/133357/?cid=wb&utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

    Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education, http://www.thenation.com/article/160410/faulty-towers-crisis-higher-education?page=0,0#

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