Editorial: Cabrini Middle State Evaluation

By Staff Writer
March 11, 2005

The college’s re-accreditation process will be reaching a climax when the Middle States evaluation team visits the campus the week of March 13. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education Self-Study is a 10-year process that involves the college’s participation in analyzing its effectiveness.

With recent “Loquitur” articles focusing on faculty treatment it is imperative to realize that these issues have been recognized by the college in the self-study it has put itself through. The Middle States Evaluation is a public document that has been worked on by faculty and administration. The following quotes have been taken directly from the Middle States Evaluation.

“Staff turnover of the last several years, including at the Cabinet level, has resulted in challenges in the area of employee morale and concern expressed by some long-term staff members about whether changes are in accord with the core values of the institution. This perception needs attention and consideration of ways to successfully address it, particularly given the imperative to protect employee privacy in personnel matters.”

The statement above is specifically referring to the Cabrini College Personnel Policies Manual, which had seen a substantial revision in the 2002-2003 academic year. There have been multiple incidents at Cabrini that would support this feeling of confusion among faculty and staff.

“There is a perception on the part of some staff that the procedures are inconsistently applied. The human resources office needs to be vigilant to ensure 1) that all policies, particularly those regarding annual evaluations, are followed and 2) that adequate safeguards are in place to prevent turnover at the Cabinet level from resulting in insufficient performance documentation within any unit.”

It is great that the perception problem regarding the handling of personnel matters in terminations will hopefully be addressed and possibly resolved. The interesting aspect to their solution is to see adequate safeguards put in place for Cabinet level positions while nothing is mentioned for faculty or staff.

“For the period July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2004, the director of human resources reports that the average number of employees at the college was 240. The total number of terminations during the year was 63, which represents 26.25 percent of employees. The college is taking steps to stabilize the rate of turnover and to provide various forums for staff to bring their concerns to the attention of the administration.”

The terminations should be noted were spread over multiple reasons. Some of these losses were due to both voluntary and involuntary decisions. Although the terminations ranged from several different factors, the number still speaks for itself.

“A recent survey by Faculty Senate documents continued widespread faculty concern regarding current levels of compensation as well as the process by which faculty can demonstrate both voice and agency in budgetary decisions related to salary and benefits.”

This quote suggests the same feeling earlier in this editorial that faculty and staff have continuously had frustrations over their voice and influence in Cabrini matters. With recent cuts in benefits to faculty and staff their argument appears valid and will need to be addressed by the college.

“As of 2004, 56 percent of the Cabrini full-time faculty has tenure, a decrease from 73.8 percent in 1995. In large part, this is the result of the increase in new hires and retirements.”

These figures support the faculty’s claim that their voice and opinion is being slowly pushed out by the administration. With a very high parttime faculty number and various people on non-tenure contracts, tenure has seen a decline for quite some time.

While the college awaits its completion of the Middle States Evaluation, the community should read or at least browse through the self-study report. This is an important process for the college and its research should be known by those it concerns.

This editorial only discusses a small portion of the entire self-study. For more information about the Middle States Evaluation, the “Loquitur” urges that you please check out the official report at http://www.cabrini.edu/iroa/FinalSelf-Study2005.pdf.

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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