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Poll to reveal faculty opinion

A poll created to gauge concern amongst faculty over UA upper administration's handling of the UA transformation is making the rounds this week.


Created and circulated by the Faculty Center — the office of faculty governance — the poll includes several questions concerning the state of the university. But it is the final questions of the poll that reflect faculty members' frustration over the transformation process, asking respondents what level of confidence they have in President Robert Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay.

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It is still unclear exactly what tangible effects the poll may actually have, said Faculty Chair and nutritional sciences professor Wanda Howell.


If too few faculty members respond to the poll, it may not be taken as a serious and legitimate call for change, she said.


The Faculty Center is hoping for at least 500 participants, ideally spread out evenly among all the colleges.


The poll, which began at 5 p.m. Sept. 18 and runs to 5 p.m. Friday, was created as a response to the faculty forum on Sept. 9. Almost all the faculty present at the forum — about 70 — said they were in favor of a poll to quantify the faculty's confidence in Shelton and Hay.


""They wanted to know if the faculty could have a voice,"" Howell said. ""We're giving the faculty what they want.""



Poll efforts face challenges


Faculty sources said there were several problems with the poll, the most widespread being the incomplete status of the All-Faculty Listserv, which was used to distribute the poll.


At least two out of 10 faculty members in the communications department did not receive the poll, said Chris Segrin, head of the department.


About half of the faculty at the UA School of Journalism did not receive the initial e-mail version of the poll, said school director Jacqueline Sharkey.


Shortly after the poll went live Friday evening, the Faculty Center began working to distribute the poll to all available voting faculty members, instead of just the members listed on the incomplete faculty listserv.


When the Faculty Center tried to obtain the All-Heads Listserv from the Provost's Office, an office staff member refused the request. The Center eventually obtained the listserv from a department head, Howell said.


The poll has also been experiencing technical difficulties, including the non-acceptance of the poll results if a colon appears in the comments sections of the poll.

Faculty members said they were concerned that the difficulties with the poll could cause an unusually low turnout.



Untenured faculty concerned about poll's confidentiality


Untenured faculty have expressed concern that the poll may not be entirely confidential, fear made even more real for some by the appearance of a voting member's college when they click on a link within the poll.


Sharkey has had to assure concerned faculty that their poll answers would be confidential, she said.


Such concerns are ""a reflection of how fearful people are to express their views about what is happening at the university,"" Sharkey said.


Howell and Sharkey said that faculty leadership worked hard over the weekend to counter the poll's difficulties.


All faculty sources and Howell stressed the importance of fixing the poll's problems so that the maximum number of faculty can vote.


The fact that the relationship between the faculty and the upper administration has even led to circumstances that require a poll of competency is a reflection of the sad state the UA finds itself in, Sharkey said.


""This poll is extremely important, maybe the most important faculty poll taken in the history of the university,"" she said. ""This situation is really sad, but it is the reality at the UA right now.""


Phone calls and e-mails sent to the President's Office and Provost's Office were returned in the form of an e-mail from Stephen MacCarthy, vice president for external relations.


""It is absolutely understandable that people on campus would be unhappy about $100 million in cuts. We are experiencing an economic crisis in the country and state that hasn't been seen since the Great Depression,"" MacCarthy said in the e-mail. ""But the anger and frustration that many are directing toward the administration because of those cuts might be better aimed at the legislators who are responsible for slashing the University's budget.""


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