Faculty Council discusses diversity requirement, performance funding

Harry Tyrer is the new chairman of Faculty Council.

Faculty Council reopened its discussion on a proposed diversity course requirement and talked about the possibility of performance funding in Missouri in its first meeting of the year.

The Sept. 8 meeting was the faculty’s first under new chairman Harry Tyrer.

Tyrer said he and former chairwoman Leona Rubin had met with various student groups and administrators regarding diversity enhancement at MU. He said he felt students were in support of a diversity requirement but did not want to have to navigate additional graduation requirement.

“My takeaway from the meeting is that students are interested in having some diversity experience as a part of their education,” he said. “They are not so much fixed on the course as they are on the experience.”

Rubin presented information on performance funding given by Gov. Jay Nixon. Although the state has no plans to reduce base funding to MU, it might begin to allocate additional funding on the basis of metrics such as graduation rates and the number of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Similar changes to higher education funding have been controversial after being implemented in states such as Texas and Massachusetts.

A number of faculty members raised concerns about the process.

“We don’t mind accountability, but we just see so many issues with it,” Rubin said. “One of the major concerns with performance funding is grade inflation.”

The council also discussed the possibility that the new funding system would reduce the emphasis on research at MU.

“The experience of having an undergraduate work on your scholarship is important for their education,” Rubin said. “There’s nothing that motivates a kid more than having one-on-one time with faculty members.”

Faculty members suggested the possibility of creating an undergraduate research credit to ensure the university continued to offer such opportunities to students.

Rubin said both the provost and Missouri legislators were opposed to the implementation of performance funding.

Diversity Enhancement committee chairwoman Candace Galen reported on the council’s ongoing efforts to add domestic partnership benefits.

Galen said the deans of both MU and UM-Kansas City sent letters to the UM System Board of Curators voicing their support for adding these benefits.

The council plans to establish personal contacts with members of the board that it sees as allies in the fight for these benefits.

“Basically, tell them that we are losing good people because we don’t have these benefits,” Tyrer said.

Faculty Affairs Committee Chairman Clyde Bentley announced he had formed a task force to re-examine faculty tenure rules. The council also questioned why MU loses 35 percent of faculty members before they reach the point in their careers where they receive tenure.

“When you look at the figures for tenure, you have to throw in the quality of your hiring process,” Bentley said. “If you hire right, you should have 100 percent staying.”

Faculty Council’s next meeting will be held Sept. 22.

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