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April 10, 2014 Volume 35, No. 26

217 top university faculty receive midterm raises

Update on executive searches

Midterm raises for select faculty is part of the MU Strategic Operating Plan's (MUSOP) goal to enhance its academic stature as measured by the metrics important to the Association of American Universities (AAU). The four metrics identify faculty who receive federal funds for research, have earned membership in national academies, have been honored with awards and fellowships, and whose work is cited in top academic journals.

MU awarded midterm raises this semester to 217 faculty who have excelled in the AAU metrics, Interim Provost Ken Dean told Faculty Council April 3. Dean placed a cap on the raises of $15,000 or 10 percent of salary, whichever was less. The midyear raises cost is $1.37 million plus benefits costs, he said.

MU is also moving forward in its strategic plan to hire over five years 20 senior faculty members — professors who administrators say might help improve MU’s AAU ranking and the university’s quality of teaching and research.

But some Faculty Council members argued that the emphasis should be on attaining promising junior faculty. “Through strategic hiring of junior faculty, you can move those AAU metrics,” said William Wiebold, professor of plant sciences. 

Dean said that promising junior faculty would also be recruited. “It is not an either/or situation,” he said. 

Though MU has decided to improve its research profile, “this does not mean we are forsaking or abandoning our other missions,” Dean elaborated in an email following the meeting. And in fact, the MU Strategic Operating Plan (MUSOP) includes improving the student experience through, it says in the plan, “attractive scholarships and other financial aid, as well as highly respected academic programs.”

Strategic faculty funding will come from state funds and reallocation of 2 percent of MU’s base operating budget for four years beginning fiscal 2015, Dean said in the email. 

A few council members voiced concern about the strategy. 

John Lory, associate professor of plant sciences for MU Extension, said his position, like that of many other faculty, does not impact AAU metrics. Yet his extension work is important within MU’s mission as a land-grant university. He asked Faculty Council for a “knock-down frank discussion” on the topic.

Asked by email about layoff possibilities due to the reallocations in 2015, Dean said that deans and directors would be the decision-makers. “Over the past five years there have been 30 to 50 layoffs per year,” he said.

Dean also gave an update to Faculty Council on executive searches. The 15-member provost search committee has been selected and will be chaired by Judy Wall, Curators Professor of Biochemistry and Joint Curators Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Eight faculty and a dean are part of the committee. 

A search committee has formed for the position of vice chancellor for marketing and communications, formerly titled assistant to the chancellor for University Affairs, held most recently by Chris Koukola, who retired Jan. 31. The firm Heyman Associates will assist in the search. The position comes with additional responsibilities, one of which relates to licensing, Dean said. The search might be completed this summer.

Finally, Dan Hooley, a professor of classical studies, gave an update to council from the ad hoc committee charged to examine the library mold issue. Last October, MU Libraries was notified that 600,000 titles stored in Subtera Underground Warehousing were damaged by mold.

Hooley made the following points:

  • estimated cost of restoring each book was $2, down from $3 estimated earlier this year; 
  • 400,000 books are expected to be saved;
  • a grant application was made to supplement restoration cost; 
  • by Sept. 1, a list of books marked for destruction would go to appropriate faculty. “Faculty can veto anything set for destruction,” Hooley said.

Treatment of the books, journals and documents by a contractor begins April 15, Hooley said. Moving all the materials from Subtera to a new facility begins May 15.