Kudos to SBOE for disbanding ISU Faculty Senate – time for higher ed reform

Erik Makrush Higher Education

Kudos to the State Board of Education for taking the stand to temporarily disband the Faculty Senate at Idaho State University. The Faculty Senate has accused the SBOE of plotting against the faculty and that the vote was pre-planned from the beginning. The truth is that SBOE told both sides to take a time out and come back with a plan to resolve the issues at the April meeting.

In his testimony before the Board of Education, Former President of the ISU Faculty Senate Phil Cole, speaking of the restructuring of the departments, said “What if General Eisenhower had said: ‘Boys take those beaches in Normandy from those entrenched Germans. I don’t really have a plan, but the details can be worked out later.’ Faculty had a vote on the matter, and decisively voted to hold off until there was a real business plan for the restructuring.”

As a Naval Reserve Officer, I can assure you that General Eisenhower (nor any commanding officer) never took a vote from the troops whether they wanted to conduct a military campaign or storm the hills of Normandy. In the military – like in business, the person in charge of the operation makes the necessary decisions to ensure success. Sometimes the decision is tough and not popular. The leader is charged with the responsibility to make these decisions and with the accountability of the actions.

Public higher education institutions around the state are being faced with reality facing the rest of Idahoans – our budgets are constricting, changes are necessary to adapt to the current economic challenges, and the taxpayers are tired of footing the bill for reckless spending. We see this at the K-12 level in public education and now at the college level as well. Colleges and universities in Idaho and across the country are meeting budget restraints and must become accountable to the taxpayers by cutting costs, holding the administrations accountable, and improving the level of education provided to the students.

The faculty of Idaho State University are not charged with the running the administration of the university. Should they want the responsibility or the accountability – they should apply for those openings as they arise. Individual faculty member have a few options at their disposal:

1. They can continue to teach the students and focus on the quality of the education of the students.

2. They can disagree with the administration and seek employment elsewhere. Like in private business if an employee does not agree with the boss, they do not have the ability to take a vote and demand the boss resign. The real world does not work that way.

3. The Faculty Senate can seek positive solutions to the ever-changing economic challenges facing higher education institutions and come prepared to work with the SBOE and ISU Administration to move past this situation.

The reality is that while the faculty members claim they’re not trying to form a union, their past practices have been, in fact, union-like. They’re like the hens running the henhouse. They’re standing in the way of real reforms for the benefit of students. It’s time for the university president and the State Board of Education, rightfully in charge at ISU to retain control of the school and make the tough decisions that need to come to pass.