Faculty funding changes leave some upset

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With the development funding changing for DePauw University's faculty, some members are not pleased. In an all-faculty meeting on Sept. 8, Jeff Kenney, faculty development coordinator, addressed the changes and then opened the floor for questions and comments.

“I’m not here to really talk necessarily about the motivation behind them, I’m here to help clarify them,” he started. The faculty had been informed of the changes via a memo from Vice President for Academic Affairs Larry Stimpert, and more information is available to them online.

Kenney said that the Internal Grant Committee (ICF), formerly the (FEC), and the secretarial staff in academic affairs had been dealing with questions and anger since the memo.

One change is that the old fund for conferences and workshops is now under a new label, the Presentation, Performance, and Exhibition Fund (PPEF). Four thousand five hundred dollars are available in the three-year allocation fund, though if faculty wants to use it they have to “present” at the workshop or conferences. Kenney described presenting as being “actively engaged at the event.”

The PPEF cannot be used just to attend conferences. There is also now no additional funding for presenting.

To obtain money, faculty needs to fill out online forms two weeks in advance, and it is a first-come-first-serve system. Faculty can get up to fours days of support for their conferences.

Financial backing for faculty on sabbatical has also changed significantly. The Sabbatical Supplemental Fund is gone, however $500 for domestic travel and $750 for international is still available. Some members of the faculty are not happy with this funding adjustment. Said Professor Istvan Csicsery-Ronay of the English department, “I don’t quite understand the rationale for why there’s no set aside for supplementary sabbatical funds.”

Faculty can draw on their Fisher Professional Development Grant up to the full amount of $2,000 for their sabbatical if they so desire. It can be also used for workshops, research projects or off-campus workshops that are not connected to a conference. They can also use up to $600 per year from the Fisher for a conference where they will not be presenting.

Csicsery-Ronay worried that too many areas are under the Fisher umbrella, limiting the amount of money available.

“There are new policies, and no one really knows how much this is going to impact the Fisher,” said Kenney.  He noted, however, that not everyone was using it before, just as not everyone was taking advantage of the Sabbatical Supplemental Fund.

Kenney stressed at the meeting that the faculty’s concerns are being heard. “We’re anxious and happy to hear your proposals and your counter proposals and your complaints and your suggestions and why some of these changes hit you or hit groups of people especially hard, knowing that this is not a finished thing,” he said. “These policies are somewhat in motion.” He said that he couldn’t promise they will get better.

Stimpert said, “We need to know how it is that we can support your work and if you feel as though we’ve done anything that’s going to prevent you from being able to do your best work, you need to talk to us so that we can see how within our existing funding we can support you and help you.”