Editorial: Communication Breakdown

The results of The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Great Colleges to Work For” campus climate survey show that the higher-ups at Youngstown State University are on a different page than faculty and staff — or possibly reading two completely different books.

While most employees approve of their immediate bosses, like department chairs and supervisors, they are not happy with the work of the president, provost and board of trustees.

Nearly a third of respondents said those who run the university do not value, respect or trust the faculty, staff and students beneath them.

YSU Provost Martin Abraham responded to the survey by saying that the university will conduct feedback sessions — since leadership is part of the problem, they can’t provide the solution.

One of the faculty’s perennial complaints is salaries that have remained stagnant, and even declined when accounting for inflation. We understand that the university has been struggling financially with declining state support and, until recently, declining enrollment as well.

We also understand that athletics spends over $10 million more than they bring in, which many faculty find frustrating.

But there is a lot that could be done to increase communication between faculty, staff and administration without spending any money. Including faculty and staff in the decision making process, especially when those decisions directly impact them, is the bare minimum.

In one of the forums held this week to discuss the results of the campus climate survey, a faculty member suggested we adopt an upside-down management style, where the administration works for those below them.

The faculty member invoked the United States government, which is intended to serve the people. University government needs to serve faculty, staff and students.

As students, we come here to get an education. Without faculty, that is not possible. While we have respect for the administration and the difficult decisions they have been forced to make, it is the relationship we build with faculty, and the things we learn from faculty that we take with us when we leave.

Without faculty, the university falls apart. A management structure in which the faculty and staff feel neglected and ignored by their administrators is one that cannot produce a quality educational product to students.

We hope the administration sees the results of the survey as a wake-up call. The open forums are a good first step, but subsequent steps need to happen. And the provost is right, faculty needs to determine what those steps are, but the administration then has to follow them.

The editorial board that writes editorials consists of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, the copy editor, and the news editor. These opinion pieces are written separately from news articles. They draw on the opinions of the entire writing staff and do not reflect the opinions of any individual staff member. The Jambar’s business manager and non-writing staff do not contribute to editorials, and the advisor does not have final approval.

1 comment

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