Time: 3:15 p.m.
Place: HMSU, Dede III
Officers: Chair S. Lamb, Vice Chair V. Sheets, Secretary Sr. A. Anderson
Senators: J. Allen, C. Amlaner, V. Anderson, E. Bermudez, K. Bolinger, J. Buffington,
J. Conant, B. Evans, J. Fine, B. Frank, D. Gravitt, A. Halpern, E. Hampton, J. Harper,
T. Hawkins, P. Hightower, C. Hoffman, N. Hopkins, J. Hughes, R. Johnson, K. Liu,
C. MacDonald, M. Miller, G. Minty, C. Montanez, T. Mulkey, L. O’Laughlin, P. Plummer,
S. Pontius, J. Powers, R. Schneirov, S. Shure, G. Stuart, S. Wolf, D. Worley
Absent: Q. Weng, P. Wheeler
Ex-Officio: Provost Maynard
Visitors: M. Alley, M. Ramsey-Ford
I. Administrative Report
Board of Trustees President, Mike Alley address:
“The timing of the issue we faced last week at the Board of Trustees meeting regarding an adjustment in the President’s salary was truly unfortunate and I am disappointed in the divisive comments and developments which occurred. I believe that the process for consideration of difficult issues such as this worked in a fashion consistent with the design of shared governance ensuring that all parties involved were able to voice their perspectives. The Board of Trustees considered the issue in a serious and deliberate fashion and heard very clearly the concerns of faculty, support staff, and students. The Board of Trustees very much respects these perspectives and took them into consideration as it made its ultimate decision on this matter.
However, the Board of Trustees has made its decision. Dwelling on the issue further and seeking recrimination against the President of the University is unwarranted and clearly unproductive. The President’s refusal to accept a salary adjustment in conjunction with the 2004 comprehensive compensation review and his current gesture of donating his contract adjusted salary increment to the Foundation earmarked for the new student recreation center is magnanimous and clearly illustrates his commitment to Indiana State University. I fail to understand any cause you may have against President Benjamin which would result in your consideration of a “no confidence” vote in his leadership.
Indiana State University is at a serious turning point in defining its future. The entire public post secondary education system in Indiana is currently being scrutinized. Not only is future funding at risk, but the entire future existence of our University is at risk. We must focus our attention on defining the future relevance of our University and distinguishing ourselves in a fashion that makes us an essential component of the future educational landscape in Indiana.
Allowing ourselves to be mired down in internal conflict among faculty, support staff, and administration will most certainly result in our failure to adequately define our future. Our University, along with all of its constituents, will suffer serious consequences. If we remain self-inflictive, I genuinely believe that our relevance will be lost and we risk being consolidated into other institutions or perhaps eliminated altogether. This would be a tragedy for the 80,000 alumni of our University as well as our current students, faculty, support staff, administrators, and the Wabash Valley.
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I believe you realize the difficult decisions we face in the next twelve months are much more challenging and fraught with even more potential conflict than the issue of the President’s compensation. For us to tackle these future challenges, we must remain communicative, sensitive, and positive. We must set aside short-term irritations and consider our longer-term priorities and aspirations.
The future of Indiana State University hinges upon effective leadership from all parties sharing in the responsibilities of institutional governance. We cannot realize our full potential without you. I would like to personally and respectfully request that you withdraw your “no confidence” resolution. Let’s put this issue behind us. You have been heard. We have much work to do and certainly a much greater opportunity to impact this University that we all love. I remain optimistic about our future providing we can work together collaboratively to build excellence.”
II. Chair Report
Senate Chair, S. Lamb, address:
“First, I thank all who were at the Board meeting either physically or in spirit. I especially want to thank Kelly Hall for her remarkable presentation, and the tremendous number of support staff who attended.
Support staff are not tenured. They displayed awesome spirit, tremendous courage.
There are hundreds of staff who earn less than $25,000. Some of them are below the poverty line. This is not moral.
The institution should be embarrassed—this, in the shadow of the home of Eugene Debs.
I also want you to know that support from middle and upper administration, with one notable exception, has been wonderful, wonderful. Again, individual after individual has been awed by the poor symbolic nature of this decision, and equally awed that our President was willing to place the welfare of the institution second to his concerns about personal market parity. He is our leader. He should set the tone. He should represent the best of morality to the community, to the state.
I do want you to know that very little that I said to the Board on Friday was new. The officers of the Faculty Senate had met with the President and pleaded with him to remove his salary adjustment from the agenda. We stated that, regardless of the arguments that might reasonably be presented, this adjustment would tear at the University fabric. We told him of the dire consequences of this action. The officers of the Faculty Senate also had met in a scheduled luncheon with 6 of the Board members with President Benjamin and Provost Maynard present. We advised the Board of the certainty of consequences if this action were taken. We were extremely firm as to the certainty of dire consequences. We told the Board that objection to this decision was nearly universal among all stakeholders.
Boards, however, are often isolated, and often the recipient of rather scripted scenarios designed by the President.
I communicate with the Board about ten minutes every six weeks. It is rare for Board members to call individual faculty. The impression that Board members have, of how a president is doing, usually comes from the president.
There is a flaw in this scenario, but it is a flaw that exists at most academic institutions. It does not have to be.
I think this Board has a greatly different concept of how the President is perceived and is doing, than that which exists on campus. I can not tell you how many times I have heard, from those both in administrative and faculty leadership positions, of their frustration as to the style and leadership of this president, even before the present issue. My impressions are that he does not connect, he intimidates, and he is not open to input. Administrators who have spoken to me describe the President’s style of alternating
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between a micro-management approach, to complete absence of any leadership. Administrators have told me that, when decisions finally do come forward, they come forward without having received their input. The administrator’s role is often undermined.
It is my impression that the board believes that the campus community conceives of this president as an effective leader who, while he had to serve as a difficult agent of change, had earned the admiration of the campus community.
I feel, Trustee Alley, that is not the case. My impressions are that the President has a very difficult time, whether it be because of style or substance, of effectively uniting this campus; he has a difficult time connecting with this campus, he has a difficult time gathering individuals around him who are willing to walk the extra mile because of his leadership.
I do wish that Board members had witnessed the distress in the overflow room in Tilson last Friday. I cannot tell you how the Senate and faculty have struggled to move the University forward. In the last 3 years, I have heard from multiple colleagues that we had to make progress despite this president’s lack of ability to connect.
We have worked in a collaborative fashion on program prioritization, the laptop initiative, programs of distinction, and the promising scholars program. This is our institution. We have struggled to move it forward.
But amazingly enough, this last chapter has been written by the President. How would it be possible to create a more destructive environment? In my mind, this is not leadership.
Trustee Alley, Colleagues all, this institution needs a heart. The institution is united in its search for a heart. This gathering is confirmation that we are interested in the soul of the institution. We must have a caring institution. We must have leadership that consistently demonstrates its concern for all of its family. We must have leadership that demonstrates this core value. An academic institution must not shy away from that message, as difficult, and painful as it is to give.”
Applause and standing ovation.
III. SGA Report
SGA President, A.J. Patton: commended faculty for increase in textbook orders—30% from last year; encouraged faculty to participate in the upcoming “Dial-the-Student” campaign; noted the increase in confirmed admissions; noted the recent Board action to increase the President’s salary and its effect on campus morale—universal sentiment that the timing is wrong; asked faculty to leave the issue out of the classroom and move on after today’s meeting; positive initiatives should be pursued—ISU is a great University.
IV. Support Staff Council President, K. Hall, address:
“Members of the Faculty Senate…thank you for this unprecedented opportunity to speak.
We would like to thank the Faculty, the Senate, and especially Dr. Lamb for the wonderful support they have given the staff during this difficult time for all of us at ISU. We truly feel, for the first time in a long time, that we are one voice. We are no longer a silent group, we are a united front.
We as the staff of ISU are here today to lend our support to the Faculty Senate in making a very difficult decision. A decision that all of us at ISU take to heart and one that will affect each and every one of us. The members of the Council and I have continued to hear from constituents on a daily basis regarding the action that was taken by the Board of Trustees, as I am sure all of you have. The staff is feeling betrayed, angry, hurt, and demoralized by this action.
After careful and thoughtful consideration, we the staff at ISU would like to make the following statements to the Faculty Senate, President Benjamin, the Board of Trustees, and the Indiana State University community:
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We feel the President has been an advocate for staff on several issues facing us and the University in the past and that support has been appreciated;
We appreciated the right to voice our concerns to the Board of Trustees, but we are not in agreement with the final decision of a $25,000 increase to President Benjamin;
We do not begrudge President Benjamin an increase; however, we feel this increase could not come at a more inopportune time;
We feel that over the last few years, the staff, along with students, and faculty have sacrificed and shouldered many burdens to ensure the success of ISU;
We feel the long term effects to the campus and surrounding community as a whole will increase because of the decision of the Board of Trustees;
We feel the morale at ISU is at an all time low because of the decisions of the Board of Trustees and President Benjamin.
What does the future hold? How do we correct the consequences of this decision? I cannot answer these questions, but Trustee Alley stated at the Board of Trustees meeting, it is staff, students, and faculty that should take the lead in making ISU the best university we can.
Trustee Alley, please rest assured that the campus community will do their best to CONTINUE to do its share to move ISU forward with the limited resources now available to us. To try and heal the wounds this decision has caused, we expect the Board of Trustees and President Benjamin to also shoulder their share of the burden as well.
We as the Staff of ISU are willing and able to take that challenge! It is our hope that with the Faculty and students beside us as a united front, that Indiana State University will move forward.
V. Nursing student, Marian Ramsey-Ford, address:
”Trustee Alley, Dr. Lamb, Senators,
I appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments today about my experience as a student trying to work with the administration. I never expected to be in the position of a student activist. When I came back to school, I was happy to drop my civic activities and just become a student. As a business owner, I thought several times that I had seen garage sales better managed than this university, but reminded myself I didn’t want to be involved. But now everyone has become involved. In the many hours, I have spent distributing flyers, I have come to appreciate how diverse this university is, with commuter students, Greek students, older students, and students of all races and cultures. When I was passing out flyers about the merger, I had to explain to students what was happening, and why it mattered to them. But when I passed out flyers about the President’s raise, people came from everywhere, wanting to give their opinions, pass out flyers for me, and find out more information. This issue affects and unites a very diverse student body.
It started so simply. I heard through some people I know through my involvement with campus ministries (not even faculty) that the Provost had said a merger would take place of the Colleges of Health and Human Performance and Nursing. At the same time, I saw the statistics regarding the nursing shortage and nursing education crisis in Indiana. Figuring that the biggest threat to growth at the CON appeared to be internal, I put together a petition for the Pres. It simply explained the need and opportunity for growth of the CON, concern about a merger that was being planned without input from the stakeholders, and a request to be part of the process. After getting 225 signatures, I gathered whatever nursing students were available, and we went to present the petition to the President We were, honestly, surprised to find him in. Although he looked at us like we were some kind of aliens, he invited us to sit down. He remained standing, his nonverbal expression, which is something we’re taught to assess as nurses, was hostile. His first question was “Who sent you?” One of my classmates, appalled at the though that he didn’t think we could come up with a petition
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on our own, declared that we as students had generated this petition. He continued to talk about the budgetary problems of the University and the steps the Provost was taking. We
reminded him, calmly, but assertively, that in business, you normally downsize your least marketable programs first. We disagreed with him on a number of statements regarding the nursing faculty having been consulted, and many of them being in favor. Again, it was a debate, but polite. We asked him to please read, consider and respond to the petition. As I was leaving, he commented on my Georgetown sweatshirt by saying “Nice ISU sweatshirt.” I replied that GU was my alma mater. He said that he hoped ISU was my alma mater. I said that I hoped someday to graduate from ISU’s CON. He said that I would, if I worked hard. I said, “the college of nursing, not the college of allied health sciences.” He said that he couldn’t guarantee that.
I left, believing that we had had a cordial disagreement and exchange of ideas. We proceeded to the Provost’s office in order to make an appt. to get more information on some of the things the President had said. He met with us the following day, talking about a variety of things before standing up and saying that he had another meeting. We managed to get another couple of questions in before leaving. I told him that the President had said he wished we could come up with $3 million for him. I suggested that students are everywhere on the campus, and might have some good suggestions. I suggested he set up an in-house discussion board on the subject. It was at that point that he laughed and said, “someone might suggest I get fired, and I have a mortgage to pay.”
We were being brushed off again like a bunch of pesky flies who had no business asking questions or having opinions. That has been the response we have received to virtually every reasonable request we have made. I mean, how dare you think for yourself on a university campus.
Prior to meeting with the Provost (who was ushering a terse Dean Acree and Dean Timmons from his office as we entered), we had received an e-mail from our then nursing SGA senator, Ashley Krebbs, asking us to act professionally in our meetings. As we later found out, the President had reported to SGA that the nursing students came to his office and “acted like a bunch of monkeys.”
Not only was that not true, such a statement should have been way below a college president. Our marketing talks about ISU as a place where students can become active leaders. That has not been my experience. It is as if students are idiots, who should not be allowed expression or participation unless it is through carefully controlled channels.
I have been in numerous adversary situations in my lifetime, but have never been treated so callously. As a business owner, I have negotiated concessions from a union. Working with rough factory workers and the international reps, the language wasn’t always pretty, but we worked with an underlying understanding that each side was entitled to their own perspective. We spent a lot of time trying to understand each other’s perspective, so everybody could claim ownership of the final agreement, which was going to be something neither of us wanted, but conditions dictated. As a student opposed to US support for El Salvador, I visited Congressional and State Dept. offices, and was greeted in the spirit that I was entitled to my own opinion, and might actually have some information that they didn’t. When Mike Alley dissolved the 5/3 local board that I was on, he did so with respect for the activities of the board, and excellent and astute reasons for centralizing board functions. When I was chairperson of the Indiana Manufacturers Assn., I visited democratic legislators and labor lobbyists none too happy to have me darken their door in the name of business, but I was treated cordially, and allowed to say my piece.
In fact the only situation that I think I can compare with this one is that of dealing with a rep. of the corrupt Guatemalan military at a border crossing. I was with some other friends with whom I had been studying and traveling together in Central America. We arrived at the Guatemalan border on a public bus. The sergeant held our passports, eyeing us suspiciously as he asked irrelevant questions and made rude and lewd comments. Just because he could---he had all the power. And as it turns out, he did have something to
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hide—in the process of climbing the volcanoes and visiting the ruins, we witnessed numerous and violent human rights abuses.
He wasn’t really taking us seriously, he was just having fun, making us miss our bus. A little bit like my cats, who bring a mouse inside to pick up and shake, then let it go so they can chase it, before killing it.
As students, we have been toyed with, dismissed. And as much as I fear ill effects from a merger, I am really more concerned about an environment where students are not respected, or encouraged to develop independent opinions and stand up for them. That is a threat to our reputation as an institution of higher learning, and to a society that receives our graduates. We only asked to be part of the process. True leadership would have encouraged that.”
VI. Resolution of Commitment to Indiana State University Students
Read by B. Frank.
The faculty and staff of Indiana State University are strongly committed to continue providing our students a challenging and supportive educational environment.
The members of the Faculty Senate of Indiana State University, as the duly- elected representatives of the entire faculty, but also representing the interests of those not protected by tenure, therefore resolve to work diligently to protect the students’ interests during this difficult time in our University’s history.
Approved. (Frank, Hoffman 38-0-0)
VII. Resolution of No Confidence in the leadership of President Lloyd W. Benjamin, III.
Forwarded by the Senate officers and read by Vice Chair Sheets:
WHEREAS, Dr. Lloyd W. Benjamin III, President of Indiana State University, has engaged in evasive, deceptive, and inaccurate communications to the Faculty Senate, to the faculty and staff of the University, and to the Board of Trustees; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Benjamin has demonstrated a complete insensitivity, disregard, and disdain for the moral and symbolic significance of his actions and a contempt for the perceptions of the faculty, staff, and students of the University; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Benjamin continues to demonstrate a lack of commitment to Indiana State University, its priorities, and its mission; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Benjamin's actions have severely undermined his credibility across all levels of the University community and among its external supporters, making him an obstacle to further progress on University initiatives at a critical time;
NOW, THEREFORE, the members of the Faculty Senate of Indiana State University, acting as the duly-elected representatives of the entire faculty, but also representing the interests of those not protected by tenure, declare that we have NO CONFIDENCE in
Dr. Lloyd W. Benjamin’s ability to provide effective leadership to the University and,
in the best interests of Indiana State University, request his immediate resignation or termination.
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V. Sheets statement:
Friends, colleagues and Trustee Alley,
Thank you all for being here today. I am especially glad to see Trustee Alley here. For years, the Senate has been hoping to open up a dialogue with the Board, and it hasn’t happened. It is unfortunate to begin under these circumstances, but I
hope that’s what this will be, a new beginning for all of us. It is precisely today’s type of event that more frequent and open dialogue might prevent.
This is not a meeting I wanted to be at; after four years on the Senate, three years on exec, and this last year as an officer, I was so relieved to have our last senate meeting over, figuring the only thing left was the committee on committees; I was looking forward to my quiet “release” into academic life once again. But it was not to be so easy.
The level of outrage on campus over the Board of Trustees meeting last week compelled the Executive Committee to act; the outcomes of our deliberations are before you, for your consideration.
Trustee Alley, I again thank you for being here and for your defense of Dr. Benjamin. I wish that he had instilled that kind of loyalty on campus, but even after six years, he has not. I know that you want us to blame the board for this action, so that we can move on. But, Mr. Chairman, I am not sure we can move on until the voice of the campus has been heard. This is not something the Board did to Dr. Benjamin. He had many opportunities to show leadership in this situation, but did not do so.
Chair Lamb has asked me to speak to the no confidence resolution, to share the reflections of the Executive Committee, so now I will do so.
The resolution is strong, as we feel it should be. It reflects the level of betrayal the campus feels by this president. He obtained a raise for himself when the institution was at its weakest point (enrollments were down, budgets were being slashed, and the capital campaign was ready to begin). Many saw this as an act of selfishness that showed a lack of concern for institutional priorities; the raise he received could hire instructors for eight classes (classes that are already scheduled and have students enrolled but no one to teach them). Moreover, he accepted this raise having been told that it would tear the campus apart. If this were distributed to the lowest paid employees, even if it were only $50 per person, it would have had not only symbolic but practical value; that’s a month of school lunches for an employee with a child). Morally, he should not have accepted it. And he all-but-lied when questioned about it in Faculty Senate while expressing his sorrow that nothing could be done for those making less than $17K. These acts undermine not only his credibility, but the credibility of all the administrators below him. How can a dean tell a chairperson that she cannot hire a secretary, when it would cost less than the president’s raise? He has violated our trust and lost our respect, which are the only real assets that a leader has to effect change. I also understand this raise has negatively impacted fundraising efforts. His is not the behavior of a leader, and I believe that we must say so, particularly since others (i.e., administrators and support staff) cannot. This is not a time for moral equivocation.
Although it was the president’s pay raise that coalesced the campus community, let me be clear that we came to this resolution not merely in response to his pay raise. Each of the substantive points (“whereas 6-8 in the substitute resolution”) could be justified with other examples. For instance, issues of open communication have long been a problem for this president and were cited in the Lack of Confidence resolution of 3½ years ago. And his failure to consider the symbolism of his words and acts is frequently a problem. I heard several people comment on the offensiveness of his
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speech at the faculty awards banquet (where he said that every time a student crosses the stage, I can’t help but think “ka-ching”); one guest was so offended that he talked about writing a letter to the Tribune Star. Dr. Benjamin has been heard to call our students “children of the corn” (and though I know he is referring to their farm background, not everyone would hear it that way). Finally, his lack of commitment to ISU seems obvious: Ignoring his frequent appearance on the “short-list” of jobs at other institutions, we need only look at his lack of basic knowledge about campus
after being here six years, his claiming that “enrollment” is so important he should chair the committee, but then canceling many of the meetings (in part to attend job interviews), and his giving only cursory attention to the First Year Experience “guru” whom ISU contracted with to help improve the freshman experience (and hopefully retention). And this is hardly an exhaustive list.
Let me end by saying, whether every “whereas” can be documented, the heart of the resolution is in the final paragraph. “We have no confidence in this president.” It is a painful conclusion that I know we’ve all been grappling with.
But when it comes down to it, what we must ask ourselves is this: “Does Lloyd Benjamin have our trust and respect?” And “Do we believe he acts in the best interests of ISU?” If your answers are “yes,” you must oppose this resolution; but if your answers are no, then how can you?
Applause and standing ovation.
Motion to substitute. (Harper, Hightower 28-10-0) Secret ballot vote.
WHEREAS, Indiana State University has experienced a substantial loss in State funding, compounded by a loss of student enrollment, resulting in a reduction in the number of faculty and course offerings, and
WHEREAS, these losses have generated pressure to reorganize academic departments and programs to maximize efficient use of the remaining funding, and
WHEREAS, this reduction has produced a hiring freeze, resulting in a loss in the real numbers of faculty, EAP, and support personnel on campus, and
WHEREAS, many of the remaining employees are underpaid, not only relative to market levels but also in absolute levels, some of those with families subsisting below the Health and Human Services published Poverty Level, and
WHEREAS, Dr. Lloyd W. Benjamin III, President of Indiana State University, has spoken about the University’s inability to address these concerns because of budgetary constraints, and has announced to the Faculty Senate on April 20, 2006, that no salary increases would be possible, except for adjustments for additional duties, promotion, etc., and
WHEREAS, Dr. Benjamin has engaged in inaccurate communications to the Faculty Senate, to the faculty and staff of the University; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Benjamin has demonstrated an insensitivity for the symbolic significance of his actions regarding the faculty, staff, and students of the University; and
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WHEREAS, Dr. Benjamin's actions have severely undermined his credibility across all levels of the University community, making him an obstacle to further progress on University initiatives at a critical time;
NOW, THEREFORE, the members of the Faculty Senate of Indiana State University, acting as the duly-elected representatives of the entire faculty, but also representing the interests of those not protected by tenure, declare that we have no confidence in
Dr. Lloyd W. Benjamin's continued ability to provide effective leadership to the University.
Approved as amended. (37-1-0) Secret ballot vote.
Similarity to resolution sent to the Board by the Senate Executive Committee noted—hope this action is more effective in bringing change; lacking a call for resignation or termination; tone is less harsh and more in agreement with support staff experiences; President is tenured; public perception on basis for resolution to be considered; attributes—greater clarity, more palatable tone and specificity; salary not the real issue—confidence in Presidential leadership lacking at this turning point in ISU history with undertaking of crucial initiatives, past performance does not indicate the President is capable of moving the institution forward; exemplars should be inserted; presently not viewed as an asset to the University’s Capital Campaign.
Past Senate Presidents Bell, Carino and Warner recognized. Applause.
Chair Lamb thanked Board President Mike Alley for his attendance.
President Alley expressed his thanks for attending and conveyed that sentiments would be taken seriously. He asked that all work together for the best of ISU and its perpetuity.
The meeting adjourned at 4:41 p.m.