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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Faculty Senate talks market-based compensation, all things academic programs

Mia Hennen
Provost Shirley Lefever speaks to the Faculty Senate on Aug. 28.

With a loaded agenda that created “robust” conversation, as Faculty Senate President Jolynn Dowling called it, the Faculty Senate discussed topics relating to market-based compensation and the Kansas Board of Regents’ academic program review with administration and approved two new academic programs at their Oct. 23 meeting.

Market-based compensation update

Vicki Whisenhant, the executive director of human resources at Wichita State, presented Human Resources’ plans for this fiscal year in regards to market-based compensation and tracking staff turnover.

According to Whisenhant, the university has invested approximately $10 million over two years toward meeting the median for faculty and staff salary across the country, but because “the market is moving at the same rate the university is funding,” their salary rates are stagnant.

“We haven’t been able to close that gap yet,” Whisenhant said. “So we’ve got some strategies in place to help us understand better what that gap is, and the market is always a moving target.”

Over the past three years, staff salaries have remained close to the same distance from the market’s median.

From fiscal year 23 to fiscal year 24, non-tenure and tenure track faculty saw a large move toward the “lagging” end of the market average.

When broken down by division, academic affairs is allocated the majority of the money pool for salary, but the finance and administration division and the division of the president are the only two divisions moving toward the national average.

The division of the president is the only division that has increased over the past three years, with the other three divisions either seeing stable decreases or volatility in their move to market average.

Chase Billingham, an at-large senator, said that Wisenhant was “speaking about these things as if they just happened” rather than presenting them as purposeful decisions made by administration.

Whisenhant also introduced a new way to evaluate staff salaries by collecting work history through a survey. 

“(Staff will) tell us what they think their total years of work experience is,” Whisenhant said. “And then they’ll provide a little bit of data to reinforce that. Think of it as a mini-resume.”

Whisenhant said that the data would be analyzed through a “consulting partner,” and if anything doesn’t match up, it would go back to the employee’s supervisor to make “the final call.”

For faculty, instead of using prior work experience, the university will continue to use their rank to determine salary.

Jeff Pulaski, an at-large senator, said that work experience could be a useful metric to use for faculty as well.

“My faculty that have been in my school the longest are the furthest behind the 80% of the median,” Pulaski said. “I have faculty that are at 72% of the median (and) tenured for a long time. I have faculty that are untenured … that are at a 100% of the median.”

KBOR program review update

University Provost Shirley Lefever spoke to the Faculty Senate about the five programs flagged for review in the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) academic program review.

These five flagged majors, listed below, are all housed in the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Science: 

  • Women’s, Ethnicity, and Intersectional Studies 
  • Geology 
  • Philosophy 
  • Physics 
  • Forensic Science

Programs needed to meet two or more of the following criteria: student demand, degree production, regional employment and graduate salary on average after five years. 

On documents released to the Faculty Senate by Lefever and KBOR, all five programs have check marks under at least two of the criteria, but during the meeting, Lefever said that programs had to meet “more than two” of the criteria.

In an email to The Sunflower, Lefever confirmed that programs had to meet more than two of the criteria.

Lefever said that she and Ashlie Jack, associate vice president for institutional effectiveness, would meet with Andrew Hippisley, dean of the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and each of the program’s faculty to figure out their next steps.

She anticipates that all five programs will be put under an action plan that will be developed with both dean and faculty input. Lefever does not know the specifics of what action plans will look like at this time.

Susan Castro, a senator from philosophy, asked Lefever and the body if administration and other faculty could help flagged programs think about action plans “more broadly” than creating minors and certificates.

During informal statements, Nick Solomey, a senator from physics, sarcastically introduced an equivalent program review for university athletic programs.

New majors move through Faculty Senate

The Faculty Senate approved two new programs: an Associate of Science (AS) degree and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Hospitality.

Both degrees were approved via voice vote. While there were no nays when approving the AS degree, there was one resounding no for the BBA in Hospitality from Mike Ross, a senator from applied studies.

Prior to the vote, Ross spoke about the overlap with an existing program in the College of Applied Studies: the Bachelor of Organizational Leadership and Learning in Hospitality Management.

Gery Markova, the chair of the Management Department in the Barton School of Business, said that she met with the Dean of Applied Studies and Jack prior to building the program to discuss how the two programs could coexist on campus.

Markova said that she expects there to be some course collaboration between the programs. Beyond that, she said that the full extent of their collaboration is unclear.

“We can probably have a course exchange,” Markova said. “They can take our classes, and our students would be allowed to take their classes, something along those lines.”

Both programs will move on for approval from KBOR.

Stock the Shocker Support Locker competition

Dowling officially kicked off the Stock the Shocker Support Locker competition between the Faculty and Staff Senates that will take place between Oct. 23 – Nov. 10 with the announcement of official drop-off spots for donations.

Below is a list of confirmed donation spots, with more to be added:

The Faculty Senate will reconvene on Nov. 13 in Woolsey 110A. The general faculty meeting is currently scheduled for Nov. 27.

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About the Contributors
Trinity Ramm
Trinity Ramm, Managing Editor
Trinity Ramm is the managing editor and former sports editor for The Sunflower. This is her second year on staff. Ramm is a senior English Lit major and a sociology minor with a certificate in film studies. In her limited spare time, she can be found at the movie theater, browsing some obscure film database or crocheting. Ramm uses she/her pronouns.
Mia Hennen
Mia Hennen, Editor in Chief
Mia Hennen is the current editor in chief for The Sunflower. Before becoming editor, Hennen was the news/managing editor. They are a junior at Wichita State majoring in English and minoring in communications and Spanish, hoping to pursue any career involving writing or editing.

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