Faculty at Western Carolina U Exert Singular Oversight on Koch Center


Here are excerpts from two articles written by Becky Johnson for the Smoky Mountain News [http://www.smokymountainnews.com/], passed on to me by Connor Gibson of UnKoch My Campus:

WCU Faculty Closely Monitoring $2 Million Koch Gift

Faculty members have lauded administration for giving them a seat at the table. That wouldn’t happen at most universities.

“I think it is a sign that faculty voices are appreciated here. It is a compliment for Western,” said Chris Cooper, department head of Political Science and Public Affairs. “At the university at large, I think there is an appreciation of diverse viewpoints and faculty governance. I think we can see that in this process.”


WCU Faculty Set New Precedent for Standing Up to Political Influence of Big Donors

While the committee agreed oversight measures were needed to thwart the center from promoting a single school of thought, the question was how. At the end of the day, that job will fall to an advisory board, so its make-up would be critical.

“It was really about setting up the composition of the ongoing board and ensuring there was a broad constituency in place to maintain the integrity of the center,” Stone said.

Advisory boards are all too often a team of yes men, quick to rubber-stamp their director’s annual report and get on with the chicken salad croissant.

McCord hopes that won’t happen at WCU.

“It is necessary we maintain a vigilant and active engagement with the activities of the center,” McCord said.

To guard against a rubber-stamp advisory board, the faculty committee carefully crafted the board’s composition and how its members will be appointed.

Here’s how the 11-member advisory board will be composed, based on the structure laid out by the faculty task force:
–Five advisory members will come from off-campus, including “members from local and regional communities.”
–Six members must hold faculty rank.
–Of those six, three will be elected by faculty at large through the faculty senate election process.
–Of those six, no more than three can be from the same college.

It was a monumental move to set aside three seats on the advisory board for faculty to be elected at-large, and ensures at least some of the advisory board members can’t be hand-picked by the center’s director.

As for the other eight who are appointed, there are three layers of decision-making that will buffer the director’s influence over who’s on his own advisory board.

The process is laid out this way: the advisory board names a nominating committee, the nominating committee “seeks broad input from the university community” when crafting a list of possible contenders, the faculty senate must be “involved throughout the nomination process” and finally the provost makes the appointments based on the list from the nominating committee.


3 thoughts on “Faculty at Western Carolina U Exert Singular Oversight on Koch Center

  1. Martin – Since you apparently approve of this intrusion upon the academic freedom and departmental autonomy of several economics faculty members, then surely you wouldn’t mind if a group of faculty from other departments insisted upon setting up a syllabus review committee to approve what is taught by the English Department and ensure that students are actually learning about literature, as opposed to pseudoscholarly political ideologies being pushed by people who are wholly unqualified to teach social-scientific subjects.

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