Faculty Council creates committee to boost communication

Members want to respond to negative image with internal, external messaging

Members of the Faculty Council say they're looking for ways of communicating with the public – a public that may have a negative image of them – and have begun by moving to form an ad-hoc committee on communications.

"I do feel as if we are under attack in the state," the council's Philip Joseph told Board of Regents Chair Kyle Hybl during the council's Dec. 2 meeting at 1800 Grant St., Denver. "It's as if university professors are somehow the embodiment of all that's evil."

Faculty Council Chair Mark Malone noted that the council began pursuing the idea of a communications committee during a retreat earlier in the fall. Such an entity "becomes a positive way to carry the message forward, and has the potential to do good for the university," he said.

Hybl noted that the regents also are "working on how we, collectively, get our message out. This university system is one of the greatest in the world."

"When we're able to project the true image of the university, when the electorate gets that message, then we are able to get in a position where we're sustainable," Hybl said.

Later in the meeting, the council unanimously approved a motion to form an ad-hoc communications committee.

"The primary purpose of this committee will be to improve communication of the university both internally and externally," council member David Thompson wrote in the motion. "This committee shall assess the effectiveness of current communications on individual campuses and systemwide and develop recommendations to improve these communications."

The motion indicates that membership of the committee will not be limited to members of the Faculty Council. Representatives of Staff Council, the Intercampus Student Forum and system administration "should" be included.

Joseph and Joe Rosse also told Hybl they are looking to the regents to be advocates of faculty in their dealings with state lawmakers and others in the community.

"Comments during the last election cycle by politicians saying the university needs to find more room for efficiency ... are a slap in the face to people who are working with fewer resources, with fewer colleagues and more students," Rosse said. "That hurts."

Said Joseph, "To have a Board of Regents that defends us against some of the attacks coming from politicians ... would mean a lot."

Council members also told Hybl they'd like to see more recognition of the contributions made by non-tenure track faculty to the university, and would like to see the expansion of the tuition waiver benefit so that it could be used by spouses, partners and children of employees. University administrators are in the process of reviewing a pilot project using the benefit at the Colorado Springs campus; findings from that and a study of peer institutions are expected to be available early in the new calendar year.

In other business at the Dec. 2 meeting, the council:

  • Heard from Dan Wilkerson, vice president and university counsel, on issues raised by the program discontinuance process under way at the CU-Boulder School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Any efforts to extend the notice period for employees potentially losing jobs because of a program discontinuance would not be allowed to overrule state law, which says instructors and senior instructors are employees at will. Such employees are not entitled to any notice of termination. An extension of severance pay available to tenure and tenure-track faculty, based on years of service to the university, would have to be implemented as a regent policy, not as an administrative policy statement.
  • Heard how the university will begin implementing a state-required employee cost savings incentive program (see story).