WATC affiliation document presented to faculty senate

Faculty senate wasn’t quite sure what they were being asked. If they were being asked for input, they said, the time for that had passed.

“It seems awfully late to have it,” Jay Price, a senator from the history department, said. “This procedure should have happened last year.”

Monday, Rick Muma, vice president for strategic enrollment management, presented a draft of a change of control document for the affiliation between Wichita State and Wichita Area Technical College, which is required by the Higher Learning Commission, the accreditors of the university.

Faculty members weren’t sure if the document was being presented as something their input would be considered for, if it was a done deal, or if it was simply a “stand-in for faculty support.”

Muma said the reason for sharing the draft with faculty senate was to receive feedback.

The affiliation had already been presented to the Kansas Board of Regents and the Kansas Legislature, but it wasn’t until Monday that Faculty Senate was formally asked to endorse the affiliation with WATC.

George Dehner, a senator from the history department, questioned why the proposal was brought before the state legislature in January but had not been presented to the faculty senate until Monday.

“We should not have been the last people involved in this decision,” Dehner said. “We should have been amongst the first.”

“It seems to be we are beyond the point of providing guidance,” Bob Ross, a senator from the marketing department, said. Ross said he wasn’t trying to “derail” or “make a stand” against the affiliation, but was only seeking to clarify the intent of presenting the draft to faculty senate at this point in the process.

Talks of a merger with WATC started February of last year, when a committee was formed to assess the potential obstacles of the merger. The plan changed from making WATC a new college of applied sciences and technology, to integrating it as an affiliated institution known as WSU Campus of Applied Science and Technology.

Muma said the draft was being presented to the faculty senate for “feedback,” to “strengthen it” and “to answer some of [their] questions” before being submitted May 1 to the Higher Learning Commission.

“Our understanding from all of this is that faculty had input all along the way,” Muma said. “There were members of the senate invited to help shape this document. It will be up to you whether you choose to endorse it or not or however you want to do that.”