May 28, 2023

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Faculty Morale

The headline stated, “Faculty group says morale among KU professors at all-time low; low pay, ‘bloated’ administration, concealed carry among factors.”

This should serve as a powerful wake-up call for those who in recent years have pooh-poohed claims there are serious problems on Mt. Oread. Some of these issues include:

A gradual decline in enthusiasm about the university; a lack of leadership; the faculty morale situation; the lack of support and/or recognition by state legislators of the role and importance of KU as the state’s “flagship institution”; the need for proper fiscal support; an ineffective Board of Regents in telling the higher education story; the $300 million Memorial Stadium renovation being described as the top priority of the university; and the awkward aftermath and bumpy road created during the recent search for a new chancellor with new chancellor Dr. Doug Girod and Provost and chancellor candidate Neeli Bendapudi, both having loyal supporters.

This malaise is not an all-of-a-sudden situation or issue as it could be likened to a slow ticking time bomb that started about the last four or five years of the Hemenway chancellorship, through the Gray-Little years and now with a new, untested chancellor. This unrest has been prevalent on and off the campus among faculty, alumni and friends.

The claim last week by some KU professors about an all-time low in faculty morale should bring this issue to a head, an issue difficult to shove under the rug. Regents, state legislators and those genuinely interested in KU should be concerned, if not alarmed.

KU is a very good state-aided university but it could be better. Competition among universities is intense as is the battle for greater fiscal support. However, KU enjoys tremendous alumni support and excellent private fiscal help.

Hopefully, the Kansas economy will improve along with the national economy. Hopefully, state legislators, with the encouragement of a new governor, regents and a strong chancellor, will recognize the importance of proper funding for the state’s flagship academic institution.

KU has many outstanding faculty members and conditions on the campus must be improved to keep from losing these talented and nationally recognized men and women to other universities and/or business. Good faculty morale is essential if the university is to grow into an even better institution.

Likewise, sound, visionary leadership generates enthusiasm and support for the school among faculty, students, alumni and friends….even state legislators.

It’s time for all those interested in KU and those regardless of their school affiliations to recognize the importance and role of a strong “flagship” institution for all Kansans.

It’s time to get to work, flip the faculty morale situation and light a new flame of enthusiasm, excitement, leadership and achievements on Mt. Oread.