SavingSLU: Faculty Fires Back At Administration

SLU+community+marched+for+adjunct+professors+in+spring+2017+with+many+of+the+same+grievances+as+discussed+in+the+SavingSLU+movement.+%28Emma+Carmody+%2F+The+University+News%29
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SavingSLU: Faculty Fires Back At Administration

SLU community marched for adjunct professors in spring 2017 with many of the same grievances as discussed in the SavingSLU movement. (Emma Carmody / The University News)

SLU community marched for adjunct professors in spring 2017 with many of the same grievances as discussed in the SavingSLU movement. (Emma Carmody / The University News)

SLU community marched for adjunct professors in spring 2017 with many of the same grievances as discussed in the SavingSLU movement. (Emma Carmody / The University News)

SLU community marched for adjunct professors in spring 2017 with many of the same grievances as discussed in the SavingSLU movement. (Emma Carmody / The University News)

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As displeasure with the administration mounts, a group of faculty members across multiple departments at SLU have banded together to create SavingSLU, a website/blog dedicated to calling out issues with the University. The website was created earlier this year and was announced in an email to all Saint Louis University faculty members on Sept. 8.

 

In the email, the group stated that they were hoping to provide faculty with information “about potential dangers to the best of Saint Louis University.” These alleged dangers included “its strong national reputation, its Jesuit identity, its commitment to provide faculty what they need to flourish and its ability to give all of our students a truly great education,” according to the website.

 

The group’s core members include professors from the Political Science, Economics, Theological Studies, History, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Languages, Literatures and Cultures departments. The website’s main content includes blog posts that detail issues deemed concerning to the direction of SLU, including inappropriate donor influence and the closing of the Latin American Studies Program at SLU, just to name a few.

 

In their faculty email, the SavingSLU group expressed concern about the continued budget cuts in many departments, the reduction of hiring and the increase of dismissals of both faculty and graduate assistantships. Because of this, states the group, there are large gaps in the education offered to students, as well as an increased and unmanageable workload on faculty—often without adequate compensation. On their website, the group also claims that the University leadership has violated mandates laid out in the Faculty Manual.

 

Many professors are worried about the University’s ability to continue offering all of the courses and programs that it currently does. A professor in the languages department, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke with the University News about their concerns that there would be more cuts to departments such as the languages. They specifically mentioned the Chinese program as one that seems at risk of being cut. The SavingSLU organization also singles out the fate of graduate programs as “precarious.” They stated that they were worried the University was only focused on a few programs and were not promoting or supporting other programs sufficiently.

 

The administration claims that the reason STEM fields are receiving more money and attention is because students are overwhelmingly choosing those study fields over others. However, some humanities professors argue that the University does not promote the humanities and social sciences when recruiting new students.

 

In his remarks to the Faculty Senate this month, President Fred Pestello, P.h.D, responded to these claims by saying that the humanities and social sciences “will always be critical to SLU education,” and that the reason for such emphasis on STEM and health sciences is led by student interest. 

 

Pestello commented on the continuing cuts in other departments by saying, “the areas in which we have been trimming have already allowed us to invest in areas that serve our students and our patients… We have also been investing millions of dollars from the Sinquefield Gift in our faculty, who were hired or retained from funds from the gift, and faculty who received research funding.”

 

However, many professors take issue with the Sinquefield Gift as well, and the influence of donors on certain programs in and in the University and its research altogether.

 

Professor David Rapach, the John Simon Endowed Chair in Economics in the Chaifetz School of Business, is a member of the SavingSLU organization. On his personal website, he has written a number of articles expressing concern about donor influence at Saint Louis University, especially concerning the recent donation to the Chaifetz School of Business by Rex Sinquefield. The University News sat down with Professor Rapach, as well as Professor Bonnie Wilson, when the news of the Sinquefield donation broke. Rapach and Wilson argue that the influence that Sinquefield has over decision making in requests for funding and in hiring is a violation of academic norms that undermines SLU’s reputation. 

 

The two are currently working with UnKoch My Campus, which is an organization that works to identify and remove alleged “undue donor influence” in higher education in America. 

 

They are also trying to construct a database titled the Academic Capture Warning System, which will aim to “provide information on organizations and individuals that have engaged in clear violation of well-established academic norms involving financial donations,” according to their website.

 

The group of faculty that makes up SavingSLU is working to inform other faculty members about the issues they claim are detrimental to the SLU community. This University News will continue to spotlight this issue in the weeks to come.