Opinion: Faculty should have input in program evaluations

Cory Spiers

By the end of the year, Appalachian State University students and faculty will know the results of a program evaluation that will determine the fates of certain academic programs.

Now, the Watauga Democrat is reporting that the university’s faculty senate has voted on a resolution to allow faculty input in the process.

The recommendations of the deans will be sent to Chancellor Kenneth Peacock next month for evaluation, and whether or not faculty will be able to respond is ultimately his call.

It seems to me that the faculty’s concerns center around the role that they will have in the process, and whether or not they will receive the level of notice and input they believe the administration is obligated to give them.

The administration should allow the faculty their desired input in this process.

The faculty handbook states that “the basic and most important unit in determining curricula is the academic department.”

This makes sense. After all, faculty do have experience in their field and in working with students, so their voices should be of considerable importance in deciding changes to policy.

Faculty senator Gregory Reck, who introduced the resolution, said he sees this as potentially being part of a recent trend where administration ignores faculty concerns.

He believes this could signal a type of “top-down administration” that could be detrimental to the university.

Indeed, there have been several instances over the past few years of administration seeming to ignore faculty wishes, specifically in the chancellor’s statement of support for Vice Provost Lori Gonzalez, who received a vote of no confidence last semester, according to a March 27 article in The Appalachian.

We have two crucial issues going on: The potential changes to the university in the program evaluation process, as well as the role that the faculty and the administration should play.

Administrators are certainly a crucial part of this school. However, their ultimate purpose should be to facilitate the effective interaction of students and faculty, and this is not possible without allowing faculty input into this crucial process.

Provost Lori Gonzalez said in an email interview that the faculty have “been involved with the program prioritization process from the very beginning,” citing the role of faculty committees throughout the process.

It is good that faculty has been given input into the process thus far, but this does not mean that the faculty and the departments should be barred from responding to changes that are made going forward.

It is possible that administration will give faculty their due and allow input and recommendation.

“Office of Academic Affairs is taking this recommendation into consideration and we will have a decision soon,” Gonzalez said in the email.

Hopefully, this will be a decision that allows greater faculty input.

Opinion: KEVIN GRIFFIN, Opinion writer