Final notes from ASCEU Expectations

Posted Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 12:00am

"Where mediocrity is the norm, it is not long before mediocrity becomes the ideal." ~C.S. Lewis

Whereas, the Associated Students College of Eastern Utah (ASCEU) Leadership, hereafter referred to as Leadership: have been elected or chosen, in accordance to the ASCEU constitution, to represent fee-paying students attending CEU.

Whereas, enrollment at the CEU, hereafter referred to as college; has been in decline for five years with fall semester 2005 enrollment falling by nearly 200 full-time students.

Whereas, the Board of Regents have directed the Commissioner of Higher Education to present a plan by June 30, 2006, to the Regents, regarding the future of the college.

Whereas, Leadership desires to be proactive on behalf of college alumni and current students to ensure that the college is not adopted by a sister institution or that the mission of the college is not adversely affected.

Whereas, Leadership has over the past two years, in forums and through various venues, presented problems and solutions to the college administration, which if thoroughly addressed, would curtail and most likely reverse the decline in student enrollment and alleviate the need for the Regents to consider alternative solutions to make the college a viable institution.

Whereas, administrators, faculty, staff, students and the citizens of Southeastern Utah have a vested interest in and concern for not only the survival of the college but to see radical progress in reversing the decline in the student enrollment of this institution.

Whereas, the decline of the college is not due entirely to the financial stress of the past decade but can be attributed to the fact that the college is largely unknown outside the local region. That no public relations campaign exists to make the college more known. That the college has a special niche that could make it a one of a kind product due to the local environment of national parks, natural resources, archeological and paleontological sites.

Whereas, the college has eliminated programs that have been magnets for students in the past such as the national-champion debate program, with no similar programs coming forth to fill the loss. That once dynamic program that students felt proud to participate in, such as music, band, dance, athletics, have accepted that mediocrity is acceptable for this college. That few members of the faculty have the desire to build quality programs with national reputations, let alone maintain office hours, participate in or attend student extra-curricular activities outside their own disciplines, or mentor students through clubs. That if more members of the faculty had the drive and innovation, as exemplified by the automotive department, and a few others, the college would not have an enrollment problem.

Whereas, the college food services, not so long ago, provided a product that student, faculty, staff and the community purchased willingly and with far less complaints. That many faculty, staff, and community patrons of food services no longer patronize the facility due to quality, service and pricing. That food service is no longer a positive when selling the college to prospective students, but a negative.

Whereas, revised policies and procedures, such as the Student Conduct Code, Athletic Drug Testing and Sexual Assault, have been languishing with the assistant attorney general for months without comment or resolution.

Therefore, Leadership proposes to the college administration that immediate action is pursued to address these issues and proposes the following:

That administration secures a private public relations firm to address the issue of name branding for the college. That the college be open to new ideas such as a change in mascot, school colors, etc, in order to make the branding concept work. That the college identifies a public relations officer and provides this officer with the authority to fulfill the branding campaign developed by the public relations firm; that this campaign includes the Pre-Historic Museum.

- PR: Where do we stand? Do we need funding to pursue a PR firm to help with branding? Is it possible to get a full-time position in PR? Is it official that Todd Olsen is to take on these responsibilities?

REPORT: The webmaster position has been offered and accepted. Some early retirement monies are coming available and the plan is to redirect those resources toward a PR plan. With some upcoming realignment of staff, we will be able to target who is in charge, where we need to go and then do it. Kim Booth has his SLCC contact as well that will be willing to help with the process.

That administration considers introducing and expanding extra mural sports such as men's volleyball, soccer, tennis, golf, etc, and that the drill team, eliminated this academic year, is reconstituted in the 2006- 2007 academic year.

- It is our understanding that the only club sport operating right now is golf. What happened to the soccer initiative to try and push soccer to a varsity sport state wide? Is this a priority for athletics or where does intramural/extramural athletics lie?

REPORT: Is ASCEU still funding intramurals? The president reported that there has been interest in men's & women's soccer, softball, lacrosse and women's golf. The president was going to check with Dave Paur and get an update on these issues. The key will be getting enough schools on board to keep travel reasonable for tournament play.

That administration require faculty to maintain office hours, participate as advisors to clubs where appropriate, and re-build programs that have been in decline. That failure to do so, regardless of tenure, will affect future employment contracts. That faculty is required to recruit talented students for theatre, band, choir, dance, etc. That mediocrity is no longer acceptable!

- The Faculty Senate appointed an Ad Hoc committee to look into the Statement of Expectations as well. They reported to the Task Force on Wednesday, 22 March 2006. They covered the topics of PR, athletics, faculty office hours, adding programs to attract students, athletics not accept mediocrity, food service and residential life. Their results will be discussed.

- The faculty seem to think that if they have a template for hours that would be posted outside their office doors, this would solve the problem.

- Does it or can it exist in job descriptions that they are required to participate as advisers? Are the faculty required to recruit or is it just an understanding that they will, outside of those programs that must recruit to have functioning programs?

REPORT: What are the professional ethics for faculty?

1) Planning new programs: Many faculty members are interested in updating programs or developing new programs, but we have not had the opportunity to participate in any formal campus-wide planning sessions on this issue. Pres. Thomas suggested that the academic VP and deans facilitate a faculty discussion on "long-term planning," related to the development of viable new academic programs for the college. Olsen's office could provide data from student interest surveys, so that we could have a better idea of potential new programs that would be successful and attract students.

2) Faculty office hours & accessibility: In addition to having faculty schedules posted on office doors (the secretaries would post the schedules, using a template), we would appoint someone from ASCEU to serve as an "ombudsman" or "student advocate." This person would hear student concerns about faculty, and pass those concerns on to the deans. If students are unhappy with a faculty member, it is critical that those concerns are documented and routed to the administrator who can remedy the situation. We could also ask The Eagle to print articles informing the students about the student advocates, and what to do if they have a problem with an instructor.

3) Faculty advisors to student clubs: Several faculty members have said that they would be interested in sponsoring student clubs, but they have never been asked to do so. Faculty members would likely respond to specific invitations from students. We need to find ways to facilitate better communication between the students and the faculty.

4) During the Opening Week activities prior to the beginning of classes in August, we could have a workshop on professional ethics for faculty and staff.

Do the students need to change their approach - invite faculty and staff to be advisors and to attend the events and not just expect that they should be there? Maybe there could be an interests survey sent to the faculty and staff to see where their interest lie and then use that for clubs and invitations to the activities.

That staff should be customer friendly and trained on an annual basis on customer friendly techniques by the Human Resource Office. That staff is held accountable by supervisors for poor performance, just as the faculty should not accept mediocrity; the staff should be the epitome of good public servants and relations.

- Jay Stephens is instituting a customer service training program for the campus. The Library has purchased the program and it will soon be available in sessions during the day on campus.

- A revision of the employee evaluation process is taking place as well and will soon begin with the Administration. This includes a revision of the job descriptions campus wide. The hope is that this will be completed by Fall Semester 2007.

REPORT: The goal is to have the customer service training completed by the end of summer. There is a plan to have sessions during the faculty welcome back week and have the faculty go through the training as well.

Five sessions have been held to date and the overall response has been very positive. Among other areas on campus, Stephens reports that he has met with all bookstore, 1/2 of food service and the library staffs, about 70-80 employees in all.

With the evaluation process there needs to be the attitude of making sure that the buck stops where it needs to stop. Those who make the decisions need to make the decisions. They should be held accountable and not have their decisions overturned by others.

That administration not accepts mediocrity in any department, including athletics. Failure to have a winning season, year after year, due to lack of money or for whatever excuse is given, is not acceptable.

- What is the view of winning as it pertains to coaching and continuation of employment? This has to be an administrative call. What is the view?

REPORT: There needs to be some realignment, particularly in athletics and remove some of the double hats people are wearing so that there are clearer lines when decisions are made.

That administration secures an outside professional consultant to evaluate the auxiliary services at the college, particularly food services. That in so doing, administration commits to changes recommended by the consultant, even if it requires radically changing personnel, meal plans, catering services, residential life, etc.

- Stephens held employment with BYU food services in the past and secured a contact there to come and observe our service. Contact was made on 24 February 2006 and this has been offered to Jonathan Bergthold and Dan Allen but as of Tuesday, 28 March 2006, no contact has been made. Since that time, President Thomas has also contacted UVSC people who are willing to take a look. Who needs to see that this happens?

- Olsen met with Bergthold and Allen on 27 February. Many items were discussed and they seemed willing to seek solutions, but the underlying feeling is that they never receive complaints and run a great program. According to them, they travel the state at least once a year and visit food service and residential life programs at other Utah institutions and the comments they receive are always good, only that they do not charge enough for rent and food. Allen mentioned that his employees have been through the "pickle" customer service training but they would gladly do it again.

- Olsen took a tour of the residence halls, Sessions and Aaron Jones. There are some issues with maintenance that should be addressed, but it was not as bad as was anticipated.

- There have been additional concerns brought up just this past week from ASCEU and staff in their dealings with food services.

REPORT: The President was to see that Brad King followed up with Dean Wright at BYU. The President also mentioned that Ken Matthews was to be here from UVSC on April 5 & 6th and had been given the charge to look specifically at food quality.

The consultants from UVSC made their visit and provided a written report. Bergthold has been to UVSC for the first of several planned training sessions. The elements discussed in the written report from UVSC are being followed up by King.

Booth has met with all the auxiliaries to begin the process of gathering data that will help not only in customer satisfaction, but will be a great help with the accreditation process in these areas.

There is a desire to maybe return to a system where we partner with Universities and give opportunities to interns in graduate programs the chance to oversee and work in the real world of student relations, food service and residential life.

That administration request that the Utah State Attorney General appoint an attorney to the college who will follow through with institutional requests for review of policies and procedures in a timely manner. Should the AG not appoint a new attorney, that the administration move forward in good faith to adopt these new policies and procedures. That the president appoints a chair for the Athletic Drug Testing Committee so this group can move forward with drug testing this semester.

- We have had conflicting reports on these issues regarding our attorney and policies. We do know that the Athletic Drug Testing Committee has been approved and is functioning at this time.

- There may need to be a total overhaul of the Policy and Procedures Manual as part of this entire process. There are so many policies that are out of date. If an overhaul were to take place, do we accept the new policies that have evolved, or update the old policies and then work to change them?

Be it resolved that this resolution be adopted by the Leadership of the Associated Students of CEU to be presented to President Thomas and all others with an interest in the future success of CEU.

REPORT: The idea was presented to the President about the overall feeling that the campus needs an Ombuds Office, or Campus Advocate to intervene in these situations. The President agreed and said that this could be included in the reallocations of the early retirement dollars and the realignments that will be taking place soon.

The subject of the CEU/SEUCAT options was discussed. The President reported that this was a function of the Commissioner's Office and that the committee was on line. He has not heard of an exact timeline but there was the idea that it would be completed by June 30th.

The President reported that there never was an issue of SEUCAT taking over CEU. Also, after the December 2005 meeting between some faculty, community members and the Commissioner's Office, there is no real desire to see us become a part of USU.

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