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Aug. 29, 2013 Volume 35, No. 2

Shared governance still on minds of Faculty Council members

Council explores Renew Mizzou planning process

The topic of shared governance has preoccupied Faculty Council in recent years. Many council members say they want more voice in administrative decisions that involve curriculum.

On Aug. 22, the first council meeting of the fall semester, council took up the issue again, this time as it pertains to Renew Mizzou, the three-building construction project that will require moving some 600 employees to temporary offices.

Council is investigating whether faculty had input on two administrative decisions: moving instructors and staff out of Jesse, Pickard and Swallow halls, and moving Pickard’s Museum of Art and Archaeology and Swallow’s Museum of Anthropology to Mizzou North, two miles from campus in the old Ellis Fischel Cancer Center building. 

Moving the museums off campus to Mizzou North influences curriculum because the museums can’t readily be used by instructors as teaching aides, said Faculty Council Chair Craig Roberts.

Michael Sykuta, associate professor in the Division of Applied Sciences, was a guest speaker at the meeting. He is one of six faculty on the 23-member panel of the Campus Planning Committee, which “advises the vice chancellor for administrative services on the facility needs of the campus,” according to the MU Standing Committee’s website. The committee meets three times during semesters and also hosts a town hall meeting, Sykuta said. 

Sykuta said the project was never discussed with faculty on the committee. “The decision was made apart from that committee,” he said.

Harry Tyrer, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, responded: “I’m a little bothered that you’re saying that this move, which discomforted a number of people, is out of the purview of your committee.”

Sykuta, however, began to qualify his words. He admitted that he had not attended all the committee meetings over the last year and that the committee was involved in long-term building planning, which might not be relevant to Renew Mizzou. 

At a July 17 public forum sponsored by Faculty Council, Jackie Jones, vice chancellor of administrative services, said the Renew Mizzou project came together relatively quickly when administrators determined that it would be cost-effective to proceed with the building work simultaneously during a specific window of time. Sykuta acknowledged that the Campus Planning Committee wouldn’t address building decisions made in the short-term. “The committee looks at what campus will look like five years from now,” he said.

Council members wondered whether the Campus Planning Committee was the right committee for addressing their questions pertaining to faculty input in the Renew Mizzou project. Some council members suggested other committees that might have had an active role in Renew Mizzou planning, but no consensus was reached on which committees to investigate.