SPECIAL FACULTY SENATE MEETING
Minutes, February 15, 2007
Members: L. Atkinson, G. Boudreaux, B. Butler, K. Cole, P. Downes, M. Harvey, H. Holt, B. Hook,
S. Judson, B. Larson, D. Lisnerski, J. McClain, C. McKenzie, M. Moseley, G. Nallan,
B. Sabo, J. Wood; K. Whatley.
Excused: B. Wilson.
Visitors: ~120 present
I. Call to Order
Dr. Nallan displayed a list of the powers and duties in the Faculty Senate Constitution, referring specifically to these responsibilities:
· p) Participate in institutional development by providing input into the ongoing planning and budgetary process;
· (q) Maintain and promote the welfare of all members of the University community;
· (r) Advise and counsel the administration upon any matters that the administration or the Senate may wish to present and to act upon any matters presented by the administration when action is appropriate.
Nallan said that the recent termination of the UNCA staff member who has served
our students for nearly three decades has angered and saddened many members of
our learning community. This termination
was one of a long series of terminations and, in many of the cases, the person
being terminated was someone whose service we measure in number of decades, whereas
the person doing the terminating was someone whose service we measure in number
of months. The recent termination was,
in his opinion, cruel and unethical.
And, in his opinion, this termination was counter to UNCA’s core values
as articulated in our mission statement and in other documents. In the strongest possible terms he recommends
that the appropriate administrative authorities either reverse the termination
of Maggie Weshner and reinstate her in her role as director of our
Chancellor Ponder thanked everyone for
coming and those who had communicated with her individually. Dr. Ponder addressed some areas that she and
Dr. Nallan disagreed about: Gary decided
to take a position on email in advance of talking with anyone and pledged
himself to do everything in his power to reverse this decision instead of
taking what she thought might be a good neutral role to facilitate the faculty
voice on this topic. When he came to see
her individually he requested – almost warned her – that Maggie Weshner be
reinstated and we disagree about that too.
We discussed whether this topic was so important that it should be
discussed when she was present; he agreed on Monday before last Thursday to
hold the Faculty Senate meeting at a time when she could be present, or to defer
the topic until she could be – and did not do so. We disagree about that. The consultation she did with the Faculty
Senate about a year ago about separating Student Affairs and reorganizing it seemed
to her the right moment for faculty consultation.
Chancellor Ponder said her goal for the meeting and afterward is to help us see if we can, as a University community, learn to disagree better. I am responding individually, either in person or by letter, to each of the people who has talked with me or communicated with me about this. I would like to thank the many of you who communicated and met with me, especially those who met with me and talked with me about your own disagreement.
I would suggest that as we are doing the strategic plan of the University as we start to gather that advice and set priorities, we won’t all agree about what the most important things are. The current group of about two dozen is majority faculty, including all of the members of the Institutional Development Committee (IDC). There may be a way to take that process and to create or recreate a version of the University Planning Council (UPC) as a way to engage on those topics. I suggested when I met with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and others that I think creating a position of Director of Social Equity (that could help both with listening and analysis of some of the employment practices and personnel issues) might be productive, and I would be happy to imagine what other ways there may be for that.
Chancellor Ponder provided an initial framework: About a year ago we discussed as a community and brought in some consultants who helped us decide that combining Academic Affairs and Student Affairs had made those relationships closer. But we did not have someone at the senior staff table who went to sleep every night and got up every morning thinking about students and we needed to do that. In addition we needed to update and create what we were doing. We hired a Vice Chancellor and a Dean of Students and a Director of Campus Life and stretched our student fee money and housing fees in order to do that.
This year we began with an adjustment in philosophy that focused – not primarily on residence hall and behavior and capacity management – but on what students learn and how our professionals may work with them in that way. So the changes in resident life and citizenship education and work on a student code of conduct which is underway are involved there. The reorganization and combination of student health and counseling is exactly in the same vein as other things we are undertaking to create an optimal Student Affairs area. Many public and private institutions combine health and counseling under a single administrator and it essentially eliminates the arbitrary boundary between the emotional and physical health for students. That is what we have been thinking about in Student Affairs. For some of the particulars of how that is conceived and what we are up to, and in hope of anticipating some of your questions (if there are questions in addition to statements that you have), Bill Haggard and Calvin Kelly are here. I will turn it over to Bill Haggard at this point.
I am Bill Haggard, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. As the Chancellor has so eloquently framed what we are trying to do in the area of health and counseling, I am going to speak to questions and concerns about how exactly this is going to work and how this will be different than what already exists.
Dr. Haggard explained that student psychological and medical issues have become more complex over the years. Our students are coming to college, both traditional age and nontraditional students, with more complex issues that cannot be easily compartmentalized into different departments, especially the psychological and the medical. It is a leading edge best practice to combine these two functional areas into one administrative unit for several reasons: to provide a more integrated and more seamless experience for the students’ to have enhanced collaboration and continuity of care between the medical providers and the counselors; and to address some of the administrative concerns with people who are administrators rather than doctors or counseling psychologists. In other words, to bundle some of those administrative tasks together so that those who are trained in the delivery of those services can do that.
This reorganization also involved an employment decision and a personnel action. Those two decisions are very closely intertwined and many of the questions that people have are related to the personnel decision. He noted there were very real and true legal, ethical and moral reasons he cannot share about that personnel decision. There have been many questions. A common question among those who have cared a great deal is – even if there was a reorganization, and even if Maggie was not to be director, why couldn’t Maggie stay on as a counselor? Again, that is a decision he made weighing all of the facts and information he has, including the context that Maggie has served this institution for a long time and is the only director of the Counseling Services that many of you have known. We are moving in a different direction in how those services will be delivered. And that fact, in and of itself, did contribute to the decision. Other than that, it is impossible for me to tell you more, although many of you would like to know more.
There have been questions about exactly what the model is going to look like. As I told the Faculty Senate Executive Committee a couple of weeks ago, I want the existing staff in those areas to experience participation and have ownership in the development of the day-to-day operation and how that will work. There is no plan to outsource counseling services. We have begun evaluating and will be addressing the greater demand at all college and university campuses to provide shorter-term care and to refer longer-term care to other providers in the community. Colleges and universities do not have the luxury of setting up a practice that resembles a private practice where there can be longer-term care because that longer-term care restricts the opportunity for other students to walk in and receive services as soon as they need them. That is one of the things that is being discussed and examined; unfortunately it was interpreted by some to be a plan to outsource, and that is not the case. Also, we will be looking at the administrative functions in the Center to best utilize the current administrative support staff in that area, to maybe centralize some of the administrative functions and services in a more efficient manner. So those are some of the elements of the model and the direction we are moving.
In the interim we are currently a newly combined unit of Health and Counseling. It is one administrative unit today. We will be searching for a new full-time administrative director of that unit. Currently Dr. Calvin Kelly is providing interim direction for that unit.
Questions and comments were taken from the audience.
· Dr. Ted Seitz: You planted a seed in my mind -- what exactly did you say about legal and moral … malfeasance, perhaps?
o Dr. Haggard: What I said was, when it comes to the discussion of personnel actions, there are legal, ethical and moral issues why I cannot discuss those in this type of forum.
· Dr. Seitz: Within the profession we have many processes and methods of dealing with possible ethical dilemmas. What it is that you are saying about Maggie? What are you suggesting about personnel matters?
o Dr. Haggard: I was not suggesting anything in my statement. I was stating what I believe to be true about the discussion of personnel matters. That was not a statement about Maggie Weshner.
· Dr. Seitz: Then there is no redress; there is no review of what it is you’ve decided if these matters cannot be discussed.
o Dr. Haggard: There is a hierarchy that I am accountable to. I report to the Chancellor.
· Dr. Seitz: You are not suggesting an unethical thing though are you?
o Dr. Haggard: Not at all. I was giving reasons for why I cannot speak to personnel matters.
· Ms. Martha Marshall: It sounded as if you were saying initially that Maggie was fired because you were doing a reorganization. Is that correct?
o Dr. Haggard: No – it is the reason why I cannot discuss this.
· Ms. Marshall: So you are saying that Maggie has done something which you cannot discuss because it is a personnel issue.
o Dr. Haggard: I am not saying that. I am saying the personnel issue cannot be discussed.
· Ms. Marshall: You fired Maggie because you are reorganizing, and she has done something that you are not allowed to talk to us about?
o Dr. Haggard: That is not what I am saying. I’m saying that the reorganization and the personnel action were related and were the right thing to do considering all of the facts and the directions that we needed to go at this time.
· Ms. Marshall: And who do the students go to for counseling until you find someone to replace her?
o Dr. Haggard: There are still staff in the center.
· Ms. Marshall: And you guys are really convinced that you are the ones who know what is best for the students and that is all you can tell us?
o Dr. Haggard: I am the administrator held accountable for that, yes.
Melissa Burchard: Dr. Haggard, you said
that the fact that Maggie has been here a long time and is the only director of
o Dr. Haggard: No. If I may clarify – that was in response to the question people have asked as to why not maintain Maggie as a counselor present in the Center.
· Dr. Burchard; It is the same question. She’s been here too long, so we are not going to keep her even as counselor, even though her record seems to show that she is a very good counselor. She is very good at what she does, but we can’t keep her because we are moving in a new direction that is going to be better for students.
o Dr. Haggard: I did not say that Maggie has been here too long. I did not say that.
Burchard: You said that the fact that
Maggie has been the only
Calvin Kelly: Can I clarify that Bill? I’m Calvin Kelly, Director for Campus
Life. The “we” Bill was referring to
were not faculty and staff, it was more about the
Burchard: No, it doesn’t. He said “we” to this whole group here. I take a “we” to mean this whole group
here. Is that what you meant Dr. Haggard
– just the
o Dr. Haggard: That there are extremely strong loyalties to Maggie and it would be more difficult for all involved if there were a new leader present with the former leader present in the same setting.
· Ms. Dot Sulock: I have three questions. 1- How long have you been here? 2- How long has Dr. Kelly been here? 3- You are saying extreme loyalties to Maggie is a disadvantage but it would seem to me that extreme loyalties to someone shows they are a very excellent person.
o Dr. Haggard: I’ve been here 7 months.
o Dr. Kelly: I’ve been here 14 months.
· Ms. Sulock: And, how is having extreme loyalties to someone bad for that person? It shows that the person is very competent and wonderful, that the staff has extreme loyalties to her.
Haggard: It would be similar to a model
of a new president of the
o Dr. Haggard: No -- absolutely not.
· Ms. Marilyn Lonon. I’m Marilyn Lonon – I retired in December. I would submit that based on my research, in the last 15 months 25 people that I know about have been fired, retired under duress, moved to another position under duress, left for another job (it might have been a better job but they wouldn’t have been looking if they had felt like they were safe here and valued) – nearly 450 years of experience in 15 months. Is it a pattern?
· Dr. Burchard: Dr. Haggard, did Maggie have a chance to consider the new move and to give any input as to whether she would be willing to cooperate with the new program?
o Dr. Haggard: I cannot and will not speak to the conversations that occurred that were part of the personnel action.
· Mr. Mike Honeycutt: I’m confused, given the proximity of Counseling and Health Services in Weizenblatt. That relationship has been there for years. In fact, in the past they all reported to Dr. Keith Ray and they now all report to Dr. Kelly. I don’t understand how funding yet another high paid administrator is going to change that situation. Can you speak to that?
o Dr. Haggard: Yes, you are right. There has been communication between those two units in the past and there has been some coordination of care. But I believe that we have the opportunity to enhance that coordination of care, to put into place some more consistent, better practice.
· Mr. Honeycutt: Any examples of what that might entail? I don’t understand how they can be any closer.
o Dr. Haggard: Well, better communication or coordination of care on certain cases for instance.
Burchard: You are implying that the
o Dr. Haggard: I am not implying that. I am implying that there is always room for improvement and better practice. An institution in higher education is a place where there should constantly be a review of best practice and always an attempt to be on the leading edge of delivery of the best services and best practices.
· Dr. Bill Sabo: Do you figure there is a relationship between a student’s academic experiences embodied by the curriculum and a student’s other experiences at UNCA – something we could lump together under student life?
o Dr. Haggard: Yes.
· Dr. Sabo: You’ve talked about a plan of changing the services, that there is always room for improvement, we always need to update. These changing services that you are referring to – I assume they have something to do with Student Life. These plans, these ideas, where are they?
o Dr. Haggard: What do you mean where are the plans and the ideas?
· Dr. Sabo: The Chancellor stressed at the beginning, as she has a number of times, the importance of the strategic planning process. I think all my colleagues accept this. We all think that it is significant and important to have a vision and to know where you are headed, particularly the policies that you are going to adopt to achieve the desired outcomes embodied in that mission and vision. My concern, and I think the concern of a number of Senators, is what these plans are. You’ve said that it is always important to improve, to judge. I’ve found it impossible to make decisions about whether actions are good or bad until we know what the plans are. You said that the two decisions were “closely intertwined” – that it was a personnel and a policy decision. But I have no clue yet what the policy is and how it fits in the big picture.
The first we heard about it was last Thursday – one week ago – when the President of the Student Government told us what this plan was. When I asked you what the plan was at the end of January you said we will be embarking on conversations on this in the next couple of weeks. Assuming the student body president was correct – that you had in fact informed him of the plan – referral is the new pattern. We may have inferred that it was outsourcing but we were led to that conclusion. Between that first meeting and this next meeting a plan was developed and established. As far as I know there was no consultation with anyone. The Chancellor referred earlier to the consultant’s report. I’d like to see that consultant’s report. The reason I am bringing these points up is quite simply this, I disagree with the Chancellor’s goal. She said “my goal is to disagree better.” I prefer discussions where disagreements merge and we find a common ground.
You’ve admitted that the faculty does have a responsibility here. According to the Senate Constitution and according to the Faculty Assembly’s guidelines on shared governance, this is an area where the faculty has appropriate interest. An appropriate interest precludes giving us a fait accompli and then hiding behind some vague explanation. The explanation that we got at the end of January was that it was reorganization. Now that is being supplemented. I am still looking for the reorganization plan. I still don’t know what the goal is. We are not in a position as an institution to do the things you say we need to do – to judge, to move ahead – unless we know what the plan is, unless we understand the consistency between the plan and the vision. That is at the core of this difficulty.
don’t think anyone here would argue that you have discretion to implement
things that you think need to be done.
However, that discretion is not unlimited – it is limited by the plans, the
vision, and the values of the University that have been discussed and around
which agreement has been reached. I
don’t think we can survive as an institution unless we agree on this. To make decisions, we need to assess whether
the institution is proceeding in the intended direction. We cannot do that if we don’t know what the
plans are. We cannot do that if we do
not know what the standards are. And we
cannot do that unless people like yourself are willing to explain your exercise
of discretion. That is what I am so
William Bruce: I am a professor in psychology
and along with Dr. Seitz and Dr. Himelein, am a licensed psychologist in
The second point is that having known Dr. Weshner for all the years that she has been here, she is nothing if not flexible. She is very flexible and she likes new things. I can’t really think that if a new direction is underway involving a connection of biological and medical health and emotional health that she wouldn’t be supportive of that and would be flexible enough to work within that model without undermining it. For my money, that was a missed call if that was part of your decision to think she would somehow undermine it.
The third one is – It is very out of keeping with our community tradition to so abruptly terminate a person who has given good service all those years. (applause) I don’t think anyone has questioned her skill as a counselor and her interest in the other human beings that are part of the campus. The Tucker Cooke email letter about how she pulled him back from a really dangerous predicament personally is probably just the tip of an iceberg. She has been a valuable member of our community and she has done well in her most essential function. I felt sick about all this, especially when I thought of a single mother with two adopted kids.
· Dr. Don Lisnerski: There are a number of different issues being discussed here. One of the issues is a planning process that is still taking place – a strategic planning process – which a lot of us are waiting to be finalized so things can move forward. The reorganization, as well as a number of other reorganizations that have taken place, are based on a plan that does not exist. It is not just this reorganization. Another issue is the treatment of long-term employees that seems to be based on reorganizations that are based on plans that have not been finalized.
One of the crucial issues that needs to be ironed out is the administration’s view of faculty input. Where is the role of faculty input in the decision-making process? Is there a role for the faculty? If so, what is the perception of that role? That needs to be discussed with administration. Decisions are being made, reorganizations take place, and we are informed after the fact. This continues from the previous administration. The fact that you do have a reorganization plan – what role have faculty had in that, if any? There are at least four major issues, some of which you can speak to and some you can’t. These are issues that need to be addressed – and faculty input is one. We are here because we believe faculty should have input and we need to have input because it affects students.
§ Dr. Haggard: I hear that and I hear it clearly. I also agree with that. I know that the follow up question will be why didn’t I do it within this case. And again, the complex nature of this particular situation was because it also involved a personnel action. Typically you don’t consult a community about a personnel action. I am very interested in working with you to figure out the ways to have a better connection between the faculty and what we do in Student Affairs.
Saucier: It is interesting that it is
being brought up about the inflexibility about Maggie. The irony is she is one of the ones who told
the consultants that it would be a good idea to combine those departments. It is interesting that there is a theme that
she would not be open to that change. As
a member of the
§ Dr. Haggard: That is a concern for any organization when there is a change of long-term leadership. That was the context of my comment. I did not ever say the word “inflexibility.”
· Dr. Brian Hook: But you do realize the balancing that you are playing here – that it is both a specific decision that can’t be discussed with respect to a particular person but it is a concern that would exist in any organization. Do you see you are playing both ends against the middle? You’ve cited personnel over and over again. We understand that. However, there is nothing in Maggie’s file – and she was not given a reason that had anything to do with a personnel matter. There may be things that you know but you apparently didn’t share them with her. They don’t appear in her folder; she asked several Senate members to read it. In this particular response, you don’t address Maggie’s ability to fit into the situation. You say it would be a concern in any organization. We are not talking about any organization. We are talking about ours – Maggie – this situation here. Not any generic situation. And you are citing that to not answer a specific question.
o Dr. Haggard: I understand what you are saying.
· Dr. Hook: Could you respond to it?
o Dr. Haggard: I am not going to make any further comments on the personnel decision that I made.
· Ms. Kim Kessaris: I want to comment on what this feels like. I’m an alum who graduated in 1994. I’ve spent the last 17 years of my life involved in this institution – the past nine years working here as an EPA non-faculty member. We are talking about the termination of long-term staff. I am one of those people. For the last two or three weeks I’ve been living pretty much in fear, feeling very uncomfortable when I am on campus, very unhappy being here. A lot of the staff I talk to are terrified, talking about “my kid’s health insurance, my mortgage.” We are afraid. How are we supposed to be doing our jobs? I can’t concentrate. I love what I am doing. I am very passionate about what I do and I think I do a good job. But I get the feeling that it really doesn’t matter. I can come into work tomorrow and someone can say we are restructuring and we don’t really care what you think – goodbye! I’m really upset and I’m really angry. (applause)
· Dr. Ann Weber: How many of you have been here as long as Maggie? (A few people raise their hands.) There is a history here. I am a social psychologist, so I am not going to address or discuss the aspects of terminating a counselor’s position in the middle of therapy for clients. I think that a lot of us are aiming questions at you (Dr. Haggard) because you are standing in the center of the room and we’ve got to aim some place. A lot of us are worried about the very same thing – which is trust – and lack of it. It isn’t so much that maybe there are bad reasons why Maggie was terminated or there aren’t enough good reasons – but we don’t know what they are, so we feel stupid. But we are academics and we don’t like to feel stupid.
Also, this isn’t an organization – this is an academic community. We don’t run like a business. We relate to each other in the same ways that people relate to each other in all other aspects of everyday life – which is, we make some assumptions and we want to communicate. Then we find out we were wrong about something and we find out we can’t make plans about our careers. I didn’t even know there was going to be a restructuring. I didn’t even know you were here! I’ve never even seen you before today!
What I want to bring out is the elephant in the room which is – a lot of us are feeling a great deal of mistrust and concern about a community that we want to love. And that we have loved. And that community is made of people. I know there will be policies, but I don’t see how policies and people can merely be intertwined. My personal value system starts with the people and where we are trying to take the people. That is a big part of why a lot of us are so concerned and why we are here. (applause)
· Dr. Seitz: I am going to set aside the possibility you are planting an idea that Maggie raped some student. Let’s set that professional ethics question to one side – because I hope that you would appeal, then, to her professional organizations to manage that.
My name is Ted Seitz and I’ve been around here since 1973 – William Highsmith hired me. Talk about taking a liberal arts value system over into the creation of a community of persons – that was a man who knew how to do it. I have one real major source of pride in my work here over the 19 years I was chairman of psychology, and that is what William and I managed to recruit in great faculty – tremendous persons – in our departmental faculty. That is my one source of major pride – not my publications, not anything else about my work here.
We are recruiting for faculty constantly, and you are concerned about that you say. If a possible faculty member was interviewing here right now and sat in on this meeting – would they choose this school over a different school to accept our offer? Listening to Maggie’s case – what would they make of that? Listening to what you have said – that you cannot say about Maggie – how would they trust our administration? The faculty here are stuck with an administration. But if you don’t see personnel matters in a better light than this we can’t recruit good faculty or staff. And the faculty’s life depends on the staff here and it always has. That is why there is so much concern and upset over this staff issue. Recruitment of new faculty – what are you contributing to it?
o Dr. Haggard: is that a direct question to me?
· Dr. Seitz: I don’t think any of our present faculty would accept a position here if they sat in and listened to this meeting.
Karin Peterson – I teach in the sociology department. I’ve been here seven years. In my tenure letter two years ago I said UNCA
is my home. It is our home, and yes, we
are strident about our home. And I am
tired of being told that I am a strident friend of Maggie’s. This is not just about Maggie – this is about
our home. I have two questions. Maggie almost got to serve her 30 years.
My second question is – who is responsible? Who is responsible if a student, after Maggie leaves, is in crisis and does something to harm him or herself or another student? Who is responsible, and who is calling that parent and saying, “I’m sorry. We were restructuring and it just wasn’t worth it to keep her for three more months so that your student didn’t have to figure out how to reveal a whole slew of history one more time to a new therapist?” That trust did not happen over night. And I want to know who is responsible and who is calling that parent and saying, “I’m sorry this happened to your kid – we couldn’t keep Maggie for two more months.”
o Dr. Haggard: In response to your first question, an employee’s term of employment is public and Maggie is on active pay status until December 31, 2007.
· Dr. Peterson: That is not the same thing as honoring her in a 30 year retirement. How did we celebrate Tucker Cooke? We don’t get to celebrate Maggie.
o Dr. Haggard: I hear you. The second question I will defer to Dr. Kelly who has responsibility over that unit right now.
o Dr. Kelly: I know this doesn’t answer directly your question but we are in the process of hiring an interim person to fill in so that there is no gap in service.
· Dr. Burchard: I have to respond to that. You can’t be serious!
o Dr. Kelly: Very much so.
· Dr. Burchard: You can’t be serious that whoever the decision-makers were in this particular case – you can’t really mean that you thought it wise to terminate the long-term wonderful staff person in the beginning of a semester before you had the plans in place for the restructuring, before you have had any transparency with this community, and before you’ve got someone to put into place to make sure that our students are served in the ethical and professional way that they need to be. You are telling us that your concern is all about the services to the students and that’s why we need to restructure. Well here’s a really important case in point – the students are going to suffer through this move. That is not an improvement. Now, maybe we do need to restructure but this is a bad way of going about it. And given the goals that you have stated – the improvement of student services – you cannot possibly, honestly believe that this was wise.
o Dr. Haggard: I do believe that this was wise or I would not have made the decision. Also I would like to say that there are three highly competent staff members who are still on staff and I trust their work with the students they will be seeing.
· Dr. Marcia Ghidina: Three staff are staying through May, in addition to the interim you are hiring. Is that right?
o Dr. Haggard: Correct.
· Dr. Ghidina: On the basis of the restructuring, you mentioned that it is always good to improve – that every staff in the office can improve. Do you also believe that student satisfaction in student related offices is an important basis of evaluation?
o Dr. Haggard: Yes.
Ghidina: The last senior satisfaction
survey ranked Health Services and the
o Dr. Haggard: One, because I don’t think student satisfaction is the only measure. And student satisfaction on that particular senior survey is based on one question, one item. I think most of the researchers in this room would agree that that has its limitations. And I was looking at much more information than just that.
· Dr. Ghidina: Does that include the consultant’s report you looked at in restructuring?
o Dr. Haggard: It includes all the information that was available to me.
· Dr. Ghidina: Is the consultant’s report one of the things you looked at?
o Dr. Haggard: There is a consultant’s report from 2002 that I looked at.
· Dr. Ghidina: I believe in this discussion, at one point, the most recent consultant’s report you have suggested creating your position was much more recent. I wonder if that report talked about merging these offices.
o Dr. Haggard: I have not personally seen that report.
· Ms. Lonon: I believe when those consultants were here that report was going to be verbal only. Is that not true? There is no written report for that?
o Chancellor Ponder: That is correct.
· Dr. Ghidina: Why is the report only verbal and not written if it was fairly important for the restructuring of Student Affairs?
o Dr. Haggard: I was not here when that report was ordered so I can’t answer that question.
o Chancellor Ponder: Calvin, talk a little bit more about how the transition for student-client is being handled so that is clear. Maggie’s clients and the University’s clients are the same thing, and to do that while we are in an academic semester – talk about how that will be handled.
Kelly: One of the things we have done is
that Maggie Weshner has made an attempt to contact all of her clients. In that effort, we are asking the clients to
come in to go through the termination process with her so that we can
adequately address their needs and their concerns. And we are also asking them throughout this
process, if they need to transition to another counselor, that they do so. If there is a need for further services, they
actually transition to another counselor that is currently working in the
· Ms. Sulock: I want to read the names: Cindy Branton, Freda Cooper, Mike Honeycutt, Marilyn Lonon, Jolene Moody, Maggi Saucier, Carol Schramm, Becky Sensabaugh, John Sexton, Judy Waycaster, Lloyd Weinberg, Maggie Weshner, Nancy Williams – these were competent friends of mine. UNCA has always been a special school where most faculty and staff work creatively beyond expectations, with joy, motivated by love of UNCA as well as love of students, love of education, and love of each other. Not all schools are like that. In some schools the faculty and staff just get by, uninspired by the institution. The incomprehensible loss of our talented colleagues is destroying our joy, camaraderie, and will adversely affect UNCA and its mission. (applause)
· Ms. Kelley Wolfe: If our students are going to be referred to another counselor, does their clock start over? They are allowed only so many sessions. Since they have already established a relationship with Maggie, they will have to re-establish another. Do they get that extra time?
Kelly: We do have a 12 session time
limit which is above average for most college campuses across the country. One of the things that the
· Dr. Weber: I would just like to ask in general and I don’t know where to direct this question – Now what? And did this matter? Now that we have had this meeting, does anything change? Does anything get considered? Does it get passed to a board? Does it get written in a report, stuck in a file, and put on a shelf? I would really like to leave here today with a sense of what next? What next in terms of process or what next in terms whatever can be directed?
· Dr. Bruce: Perhaps the Chancellor can respond to that. What do you think we ought to do next?
Ponder: Thank you. I think that what we ought to do next is
imagine how to go forward in a way that will do what
· Dr. Melissa Himelein: Since we disagree clearly about the termination, would a compromise position for the well-being of our students be to extend Maggie’s tenure through May? It is a more reasonable rhythm with the semester. It would give students a better period of time in which to make this transition. As I made my concerns clear to you all and to Tom Lawton, that would help the University avoid a legal liability it clearly retains at this point as to any harm done to students who were clients of Maggie’s in the next few months. The bottom line of ethical standard is, “Above all, do no harm.” As I’ve asked you before, I have a very hard time seeing how harm to our students is minimized in Maggie’s absence. It seems to me that harm to our students is minimized with her presence. If we could allow her to stay through May, we would be embracing many of the opinions in this room as best as we can and then perhaps we could offer her that celebration that so many of us would very much like to give her.
· Dr. Nallan: That was the gist of the second sentence of the Senate of the Senate Resolution passed one week ago which I hand-delivered to the Chancellor on Monday.
o Dr. Haggard: Dr. Kelly has been working with the staff on the transition issues related to Maggie’s clients and in the best interests of the students we did, as you know, extend that period of time from two weeks to four weeks, but I will not be extending that time any further.
· Dr. Alice Weldon: Melissa Himelein’s suggestion seems to me to really get at the heart of what is going on. If the people involved in this decision, Chancellor Ponder, Dr. Haggard, Dr. Kelly and whoever else is involved were able to show the staff and the faculty and the rest of the administration – to show all of us – that yes indeed you have heard. It’s not that we are dictating; the other parts of this institution are dictating personnel decision. But you’ve heard about the fear and the lack of trust and the morale. What better way to make a very strong statement that yes, we hear you, and yes, we do want to work together.
o Chancellor Ponder: Let me make a couple of suggestions if I might. I wonder if we might, recognizing the transfer and transition for Maggie’s clients, ask Calvin, without name or reference to students, to summarize the transition plan and share that with anybody that wants to see it – so there is a sense, for those of you who are professionally or otherwise concerned, that student well-being and making those transitions (since they need to happen) are actually accomplished during the academic year. That is one piece. In terms of the climate of fear and trust issues – trust and communication are actually relational values and so require not just the good intent of the Chancellor but also a strong desire to engage meaningfully. It was my intention by declaring my goal for this meeting to invite that and to suggest some specific ways in which we might do that better. So, to that extent I would suggest that I have heard you.
Louis Toms: I am with the Office of
Sponsored Scholarships and Programs. For
the record, what I am about to state are my perceptions of the current
environment at the University. Because
of my connection with the
· Dr. Jane Hartsfield: This is my first year here as a faculty member. I don’t know any of these people who have been let go. But this comes down to, would I want to be treated the way it seems like we are treating them? I want to relate to you an experience I had. This is my second or third career. I started my career with IBM – big corporate monster. I put in eleven years there and I was part of a restructuring at IBM, which basically meant they offered me the option to find another job somewhere within the company if I wanted. But I was given months to make that transition out of my job and to find another job. It was tough – even though I was a good employee and had months to make the transition. It was a tough thing to be on the receiving end, and I can’t imagine being asked to do that with just a couple of weeks. I only had eleven years in and at that point if you cut me I would bleed blue – I was so loyal to IBM. But I can tell you – and this is the impersonal corporate monster – it was not a caring family campus that I believe UNCA is. The end result to IBM of a lot of this restructuring was two-fold – they lost a lot of assets in terms of the people and the experience those people had, and they lost the sense of loyalty to that company. People now work there for a year or two then move on to a better offer. They use it as a training ground. It is not a place you go to anymore to do your career and to really invest yourself in. I just want to be sure that UNC-Asheville continues to be the place in which I accepted a job offer a year ago.
Merritt Moseley: I would like to speak
to the broader issues raised here. I
Peg Downes: The conversation is going to
continue and I don’t think the Maggie issue is settled. I did hear what everybody said. I heard the Chancellor reflect what
· Ms. Janet Ferguson: I also have concerns about the student welfare and the restructuring. When you say that students are going to get shorter term care and therefore we will be able to see more of them – is that a quantity versus quality situation? It is very important to define what you mean by shorter term care. Are we talking one appointment? Are we talking three appointments? Counseling is not something that is usually cut and dried in one or two sessions – “Okay, you’re cured. Thank you for coming in.” It is much more delicate than that. If longer term clients are going to be referred to the larger community, the larger counseling community is a system that is already burdened. New Vistas in town closed not long ago. In some of the agencies, students seeking services might well incur a cost. And it is a population that we know does not have a lot of money to spare to see counselors and things like this. Also, almost everyone knows that students are at peak age for risk of suicide. Their counseling and their care is paramount and we really need to speak to their welfare. It is also true that students that seek counseling when they are in college – their problems are specific to and endemic to college life and it is usually treated on a college campus and contained within that area. If they seek treatment in the larger community they actually go into the system and that record is kept throughout their lives. We are talking about a short-term college experience and the records staying therein as opposed to actually being entered into a system and it becoming part of a permanent record for the rest of their lives. This deserves consideration, and since we don’t know much about the restructuring it needs to be thought about and addressed.
· Dr. Ghidina: I would like to call attention again to the Faculty Senate Resolution passed last week to keep Maggie Weshner here as a counselor until May. That seems like a win-win situation. It is definitely a win for the students in not having to transition to a new counselor. It is a win for expressing some respect for a long-term employee. It is a win for the campus. It is a win for the staff because they may feel a little more cared for and heard. It is a win for all of us because it is another reflection of hearing and listening and flexibility on both sides. This was a unanimous Faculty Senate resolution.
· Dr. Duane Davis: I want to reiterate where we began. You had the opportunity to reverse that decision and you still have that opportunity. It is hard to admit sometimes that a mistake has been made. But I have not heard an explanation today, a compelling reason, or any justification for the direction that administration took in this case.
The larger issue for me is the way that staff members continue to be treated. The pattern continues. The people who do such hard work, that we depend on to do our jobs as teachers, I’m here to support them. I need to hear a lot more reasons for why this harm was done to this individual and her career. Hearing from experts in the field, from colleagues in the department, the harm that is going to be done to students (in the name of an ill-defined, abstract plan), the possibility of hiring an interim replacement: I don’t hear it. You have the chance to admit that a mistake has been made, to set an example that would create the trust that you say you want. I hope you will avail yourself to that opportunity. (applause)
· Dr. Bill Haas: I’ve seen Chancellors and Vice Chancellors in Academic Affairs come and go. The tenure now is about five to seven years. I understand that. It is not a problem.
The problem I have is that when I have a student who stands up in class last semester and announces that they are psychotic and hearing voices, I called Maggie. When I had my book order screwed up this semester – before I used to call John and John would magically get it done. I could go on for all these other people that got it done, and I didn’t call the Chancellor’s office. It’s wonderful when Chancellors build new buildings and increase endowment. But if what they do is shake up mid-management and staff members that I rely on – and then they go on to their new job – that is a problem for me. Build buildings, build our endowment – but don’t take away people that I have relied upon. I go along with my colleagues – this is a half-assed explanation. Let’s get down to it – you want to have a seamless situation. I happen to know that Maggie used to walk upstairs to see the medical folks and the medical folks would walk down and see Maggie. I knew that Maggie and the medical folks would actually have social occasions together. That sounds pretty seamless to me. It wasn’t like they were at opposite ends of the campus. If you need to have one administrator over both departments and since the doc isn’t going to be it – the doc is keeping his job, why can’t Maggie keep her job? Find somebody to make sure the two things integrate. But right now, we don’t have Maggie. When I’ve got that student that announces they are hearing voices in class and all my other students are looking around and I don’t know if this student is dangerous or not, then I don’t have a resource. It is a mistake, period. And it was a mistake with many other people, period. And as I told you before in another meeting – when you get a curmudgeon like me who comes out of the woodwork – someone who never comes and talks at Faculty Senate meetings – someone who never writes emails – you’re starting to piss people off. Sorry for not being eloquent. I just think what has happened is wrong. (applause)
· Dr. Shirley Browning: I’m not arguing for keeping anyone here who has been the subject of the conversation today. I know Maggie – I saw her come. She and I have had a personal and a professional relationship at one point in time and I appreciate that. I am not going to question the restructuring issue in terms of its detail. We have Chancellors and Vice Chancellors to serve us, and to serve the staff, and to serve the students. We don’t serve you. I’ve been an Associate Vice Chancellor and I know what happens when people get grumpy.
What am I concerned about? I’m concerned about the atmosphere. I’m concerned about the issues that Professor Sabo raised, that Professor Moseley raised, and some other people have raised. This is not about who is right or wrong. There has to be some hierarchy and on this campus, at least locally, it stops at the Chancellor’s desk ultimately, unless you want to go to the Trustees or to the system president.
One thing that has kept me here for almost four decades is that sense of community. I have experienced both sides of what is going on. And I am very distressed. This has been my life – not just my professional life, it has been the bulk of my life. I have enjoyed it here; it has been good to me and I have grown somewhat as a result of it. As I get closer to retirement I’m going to depart like Professor Seitz. I’d like to think back very positively about this place, as a place to say to potential students, to parents of those students, to potential employees – it’s a good organization. There will be disagreements, there will be agreements, but you can work together. At the end of the day you can still work together. Now I’m beginning to wonder about that. I’ve heard lots of words but no substance. If we are going to reach our potential, the Chancellor is going to lead us to be an even better institution than we have been and are at present. We can’t treat each other badly. I’ve turned people down for tenure; it’s not fun. I’ve seen people get positive results – I’ve seen people get negative results. It happens in any organization, but it is how you go about it. If you don’t go about it with a little style, a little grace, and a little humility, then you’ve destroyed a community. So I am asking those who are in charge of this system and this campus -- let’s make sure that when I retire that I feel good about this place. And when everyone else retires they feel good about the place even though they don’t agree with everything that has happened. If we are going to live the liberal arts in the classroom we’d better live it with each other. I don’t see that happening. (applause)
· Dr. Burchard: The Chancellor said that this is the University’s community and that we have to learn to disagree better. I think that is right. The way I talk about that is learning to fight without breaking the relationship. And I think we do need to do a better job of learning to fight without breaking a relationship. But that is moving ahead. I do think we need to move ahead but, before I move ahead, I still want answers. And I don’t think we’ve been answered. We have asked many direct questions but we have not gotten many direct answers. It feels to me like that is part of our problem. Stonewalling is what it feels like to me, and that doesn’t encourage communication and trust but rather discourages communication and trust. And if we are a community, that actually means a really important thing. I know I am a moralist but I just want to remind everybody that that means we are a moral community. And that means we have to look to each other for checks on whether our understanding of things is morally adequate or not. The faculty and many staff are here today saying the understanding about this decision was not morally adequate – not just professionally, but not morally adequate. Not in terms of the values that this community has put down on paper and on the web. So, this is exactly the group of people who needs to say, something has gone wrong. And according to our shared values, it ought to be corrected because nobody is above question, and nobody is above the values, and nobody is above correction, and nobody is above reproach in a moral community.
· Ms. Marshall: I am addressing this to the Chancellor. I’m asking you to think very carefully about what people have said today and the things they said to you individually. And I want you to remember that you are building a legacy. I want you to feel confident in whatever decision you make so that five-ten years from now, you will look back on the decision you made and the people here that I hope you respect and you’ll feel very pleased and proud of that decision.
Dr. Nallan adjourned the meeting at 4:55pm.
Respectfully submitted by: Sandra Gravely