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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 passes resolution showing support to dismissed Newman University faculty

Jeffrey+Jarman%2C+former+president+of+the+Faculty+Senate%2C+takes+notes+at+the+meeting+on+Nov.+13.
Nithin Reddy Nagapur
Jeffrey Jarman, former president of the Faculty Senate, takes notes at the meeting on Nov. 13.

Chase Billingham introduced a resolution to the Faculty Senate to “show solidarity” with the 10 faculty members at Newman University, who will lose their jobs at the end of the academic year. The resolution was passed via voice vote at the Senate meeting on Nov. 13.

Newman University, a private Catholic university in Wichita, announced on Oct. 25 that they will shut down 10 academic programs at the end of this school year.

The Faculty Senate passed a similar resolution after 33 faculty members were terminated at Emporia State University in the fall of 2022. 

Joseph Urick, an at-large senator from fine arts, questioned what the resolution would ultimately do.

“I have empathy for the Newman faculty … but what I’m reading here is ‘What they did was bad. We don’t like it. Here’s hope that it doesn’t happen to us,’” Urick said. “I’m not seeing an action; what are we voting on?”

Billingham, an at-large senator, said it was important for the Faculty Senate to do what they can for those faculty in their limited role.

“We can adopt resolutions that speak to what we believe in,” Billingham said. “And what we believe in is expressing hope, support and solidarity for our faculty colleagues across the country like we did at Emporia State last year.”

Billingham further explained how speaking out against actions like those at Newman University informs Wichita State’s administration about faculty opinions.

“(The resolution is about) having a voice about how university governance takes into consideration things that are happening, not just at this university, but within the region around us because we do not exist in isolation at this university,” Billingham said.

Richard Muma, university president, and Shirley Lefever, university provost, spoke to the Faculty Senate over Microsoft Teams to try to address their concerns regarding the Newman terminations and Wichita State’s own academic program review.

Academic program review

Muma said that when he was pulled out of the College of Health Professions in 2011, he helped with Wichita State’s first academic program review. Since that time, Muma said that the five programs that were flagged by the Kansas Board of Regents’ program review have been flagged in almost every program review done by the university.

“We’ve been working with all these programs for 13 years, and the people who are associated with these programs are aware of that,” Muma said. 

Muma wanted to make it clear that the administration is not considering program closure for any of the flagged programs. He said that the goal in the Kansas Board of Regents’ (KBOR) review process was to “see some improvement.” Lefever said that she and other administrators are currently working to set up meetings with flagged departments.

A sticking point for senators was how KBOR counted degrees produced by programs. Many believe that double majors should count in some way toward the program’s total count. Muma highlighted the difference between a double major and a dual-degree.

A double major is when a student completes two sets of degree requirements and graduates with a single degree. A dual-degree is when a student works toward two separate credentials.

“I believe that you all need to get educated about all these issues, but we need to start working on (these marked programs), and I strongly encourage the faculty in these departments to engage with us,” Muma said after explaining the difference between a double major and a dual-degree program.

Muma was largely dismissive of the Senate’s concerns, citing the administration’s current focus on the five marked programs and taking action to improve.

“This is the system that the board uses at all institutions, but I don’t want (these concerns) to get in the way of actually making some changes,” Muma said. “It’s low-hanging fruit.”

The Faculty Senate will meet for the last time this semester on Nov. 27 at 3:30 p.m. in Woolsey Hall 110A. This was originally scheduled to be a general faculty meeting, but as there are no action items for the faculty to vote on, this meeting will be a normal Senate meeting.

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About the Contributors
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.
Nithin Reddy Nagapur, Former photographer
Nithin Reddy Nagapur was a photographer for The Sunflower. Nagapur graduated in Fall 2023.

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