What follows are brief summaries
to the eighteen comment questions that accompanied the 2002 USA Faculty
Senate Survey. The purpose of the comment questions is to elucidate
the numerical statistical data. The complete text of the written commentary
is available at Government Documents in the USA University Library and
any faculty member is welcome to read it. Anybody else who is interested
in the full text needs to consult with the Chair of the USA Faculty
Senate due to the sensitive material contained therein. A few of the
faculty members who filled out the comment sections asked that their
comments not be shared. Their request has been granted and the comments
have been deleted from all copies of the survey so that, other than
playing a role in the summaries that follow, there is no record of them.
Over sixty pages of commentary are being summarized
here. The observations point toward a need for the Administration at
USA and the faculty to make concrete decisions as to the future of this
university and its mission. Is USA primarily a research institution
or a teaching university, or a delicate balance of the two. If the latter
is true then how should this balance be achieved with regard to appropriate
work load assignations, filling lines with tenure-track positions, research
monies, faculty development, expansion of graduate programs, curricular
changes, library acquisitions, construction on campus, . . Although
it is true that additional resources are needed to meet these needs
and that times are tough nationwide given decreasing state allocations,
one can see these comments and the moment as an opportunity to work
together in order to set the priorities which will in fact prove most
beneficial to the university community, to the city of Mobile, and to
the state of Alabama.
A rather strident point of concern among the
faculty regards the recent implementation of the new health insurance
policy. Many are finding it nearly impossible to cope with the dramatic
increase in the cost of prescription medicines which is so high that
it offsets any advantage that the recent raise may have provided. Others
would like to see increased benefits to make up for the generally low
salaries, for example with higher TIAA-CREF matching.
Recently a faculty member who has been teaching
at USA for thirty years made the remark that faculty morale has never
been as low as it is currently is. Putting the past few years into a
historical perspective helps explain why the faculty is discouraged.
The previous administration of the university began to lose its focus
in the past decade. When the new administration took over in July of
1998 foregoing, for the most part, national searches for new leadership,
it sought to bring necessary fiscal responsibility to the institution.
This kind of an approach, even under the best of circumstances, is always
perceived as harsh. To make matters worse, pro-ration hit in AY 2001
-2002 placing the university in an even less advantageous situation
with regard to implementing fiscal responsibility. Although everyone
at this university sacrificed something: the administration put in many
extra hours; the students endured larger classes, it was the faculty
that faced the full brunt of the setbacks. Their sacrifices have come
in the way of higher teaching loads, larger class sizes, lapsed research
agendas, additional adjunct faculty, the institution of new programs
without much consultation, and a reduction in faculty development opportunities.
Furthermore, an alarming level of paranoia is sweeping the faculty in
most colleges whereby the faculty truly feels that it cannot express
its' concerns freely without facing direct or indirect reprimand. Way
too many colleagues have happily found jobs elsewhere and many who have
been here as long as twenty years are suddenly thinking of foregoing
the benefits of the Alabama Teacher Retirement System and moving.
At this juncture the faculty is asking for the
opportunity to actively participate in the governance of the university.
In other words it is asking to be consulted with regard to all major
decisions that affect it directly. The faculty would like to see the
administration develop concrete five and ten year plans with specifics
that would include curriculum needs, staffing needs, space needs, and
the full integration of the university to the Gulf Coast area in every
capacity it has to offer. The faculty must be duly recognized state-wide
and regionally for its' efforts and many successes. As someone stated
in the commentary: "the faculty is the glue that holds this university
The President of the University is successfully
working toward involving the university more integrally with the Mobile
community. Another favorable recent achievement has been the appointment
of a Vice-President for Development and Alumni Affairs. The establishment
of the Research Park is also a potentially exciting venue for intellectual
development and recognition. The faculty is the university's most important
asset in this and all its other goals. In fact, as another respondent
to the survey wrote: "there is no reason why this university shouldn't
be considered the premier institution of higher learning for the Gulf
In conclusion, the written responses and the
statistical data provide an opportunity and an aperture for dialogue
with the ultimate goal of achieving something that everybody who works
for this university deeply wants to be involved with: the Premier Institution
of the Gulf Coast with a First Class Medical School.
Isabel Z. Brown, Chair
USA Faculty Senate 2002-2003
Please express any concerns regarding leadership
of the University of South Alabama that may impact your ability to attain
excellence in your activities at the University:
main concerns in no particular order include:
- excessive teaching loads
- inadequate resources
- disappointment in the changes in the College of Medicine
- people in power whose lengthy tenure has outlived their creative
- people in power whose style is so abusive that it serves to undermine
the very goal they had set out to achieve by killing morale and creating
a hostile working environment
- people in power who have little or no experience in the classroom,
and/or no experience conducting research; hence not good role models
- unwillingness to allow for faculty input at all levels
- tenure-track lines being replaced with adjuncts
- need to fill lines to meet projected growth enrollment of 2% a year
- a lack of commitment to scholarship and research
- a lack of demonstrated leadership in several colleges
- a lack of a comprehensive vision as to the academic mission of this
- irrational tenure decisions
- depiction of the University in the press
- Is the University a business or an institution for higher learning?
|Query 2: Please
express any concerns regarding conditions that may impact your opportunity
to achieve excellence in teaching:
main concerns, in no particular order, include:
- increased teaching loads
- lack of release time
- the lack of bearing that "teaching excellence" has on
- poor pay
- limited nature of e-college - its format is bad
- recent tenure decisions
- no rewards for teaching
- huge class sizes
- no time for research which is necessary to stay abreast of one's
discipline and which directly contributes to excellence in teaching
- faculty physicians stretched too thinly due to recent departures
- too much focus on retaining students who lack the skill to be successful
- the unreasonable demands of online teaching without special consideration
- deplorable conditions of the physical plants
- computer-assisted teaching resources grossly inadequate
- need to use graduate assistants
- inadequate technological support
- Chairs that change the rules, do not honor commitments and are inflexible
- seriously inadequate laboratory facilities
|Query 3: Please express any concerns regarding
conditions that may impact your opportunity to achieve excellence in research
on Publications/Creative Works:
main concerns, in no particular order, include:
- excessive teaching workload
- inability to distinguish between quality and quantity in research
on the part of the upper administration
- lack of emphasis on research and technology development
- lack of adequate space to accommodate research/student/graduate
- if librarians are going to be evaluated on research then they need
to be given time away from work to accomplish this
- travel restrictions
- too much time devoted to advising
- too many course preps
- not enough mentoring of junior faculty - junior leave should be
available to complete a manuscript
- lack of support staff to assist in grant writing
- favoritism in granting release time
- clinical workload too high
- lack of technical support
- inherent suspicion of researchers
With regard to Service and Leadership, please describe concerns about
leadership that would significantly improve your personal career opportunities:
The main concerns, in no particular
- no real opportunity to participate in faculty
- those who provide services are rewarded with
even more responsibilities
- too many reports and assessments
- too many committee assignments - too few
tenured faculty to cover important service projects well. Success
is ultimately determined by self-served interests and political manipulations
- committee work seems to go nowhere
- committee work is not valued
- some administrators assign committee work
to untenured faculty and then ask them to fulfill their (the administrator's)
- upper and lower level administrators resist new ideas
|Query 5: Please express
any concerns you may have regarding services provided by the Computer
The main concerns,
in no particular order, include:
- personnel is friendly and helpful but the technology is obsolete
throughout the university system
- Computer Services Center is understaffed
- better software needed
- internet access is too slow
- PINE is frustrating
- get rid of GROUPWISE
|Query 6: Please
express any concerns you may have regarding services offered or performed
by the University Library
concerns or comments, in no particular order, include:
- librarians are patient, helpful, and efficient
- in fact, wonderful
- need more in-services especially at SHAC
- access to more recent journal issues is needed
- dire lack of journals and books relevant
to research needs
- resource allocation to departments for library acquisitions has
not changed in at least 12 years
Please express any concerns you may have regarding services offered or
performed by the Biomedical Library:
main concerns or comments, in no particular order, include:
- great job
- excellent resource
- need more online nursing journals
- improve direct access
- need to upgrade the capacity in the library
branch at Children's and Women's Hospital
|Query 8: Explicitly
what, if anything, hurts your morale regarding the University of South
The main concerns or comments,
in no particular order, include:
- lack of new academic facilities on campus.
- apparent mutual lack of respect between faculty
- USA Foundation fiasco which hurts our reputation
and keeps USA from moving forward
- ambiguity with regard to regulations for
vacation and leave for 12 month faculty
- the perception that the College of Medicine
is in bad shape
- recent tenure-denial decisions - their unfairness
- increased teaching expectations
- handling of pro-ration crisis
- no coherent vision on the part of administrators
- too much additional paperwork in the area
of Grants and Contracts
- failed lobbying efforts
- inability to attract faculty
- lack of support for carrying out research
and scholarly activities
- no raises or low raises
- lack of input on the part of the faculty
- a top down administrative style
- the exodus of faculty to other institutions
- health insurance plan
- constant uncertainty about the financial
future of the university
- poor staffing in the hospitals
- lack of academic rigor
- lack of competitiveness
- poor leadership
- too much focus on the student
- not enough tenure-track faculty to keep pace
with University growth
If you are sensitive to issues that hurt your morale, what could be done
to correct the situation:
the suggestions, in no particular order:
- faculty input in the governance
- significant influx of additional faculty in the College of Medicine
- define the true status of a librarian - too many non-tenure track
- lower co-pay on medical care
- identify key issues and then create a 5 year plan
- a more reasonable evaluation process whereby faculty contributions
are properly weighted
- identify academic objectives
- compare USA to other Division I medical school-supporting Universities
rather than comparing the university to non-medical universities of
a similar size
- eliminate fear and intimidation
- recover all frozen lines
- move away from the "do more with less" attitude that has
prevailed over the past years
- "Unfortunately it seems that the best thing to do under the
present circumstances is to put up and shut up."
- a Faculty Senate that is pro-active
- hire an outside facilitator to mediate between the faculty and the
- invite upper administrators to classes
What could the Faculty Senate do that would be of benefit to the University:
The suggestions or comments, in no
particular order, include:
- take a real stand against the increases in teaching as it cuts into
- establish work load and vacation policies
- demand proper funding
- require productivity from all administrators
- adopt a less confrontational, less strident tone in dealing with
- encourage faculty involvement in university affairs
- the administration will blame a "whining faculty"
- the Senate is full of wimps
- the prevailing sense of apathy among tenured faculty keeps them
from running for the Senate which is filled with non-tenured faculty
who feel too intimidated to say or do anything
- develop some backbone and take a stronger stand
- quit and let someone who is willing to fight for the faculty take
- the Senate needs to be the University's conscience, not a rubber
stamp of the administration
- have the final say
- lead a drive for unionization
- timidity is not the way to make progress
- strive for higher pay
- the problem is not the Senate but that neither the Board of Trustees
nor the administration cares what the faculty thinks
- provide checks and balances for the administration
- utilize electronic means to solicit opinion on a wide variety of
- Faculty Senate should be more aggressive
- "I hear many good ideas but nothing ever comes of them."
With the USA Health Plan I have an adequate choice of primary doctors.
Comments, in no particular
order, include the following:
- co-pays are outrageous
- the model for the USA Health Plan is poorly designed
- when seeing USA physicians or hospitals I face administrative "nightmares"
- "I have had to break off established relationships with doctors."
- lack of services and coverage
- "Prescription prices are killing me!" (and lots of other
people who took the survey - this was by far the main complaint)
- USA has lost so many physicians that it is hard to get appointments
- not enough gynecologists
- "My own experience with calling the USA Health Plan office
questions has been excellent."
- "If I'm willing to pay a $25.00 co-pay, I can choose anyone
I want! That's fine with me, it's better than before."
- "Faculty at USA need to realize that health care costs are
exploding and the plan the University offers is a tremendous value"
- "I appreciate the expanded network with BCBS, but the increased
financial burden is a negative. Also, BCBS as a company does not support
USA graduates (Medical School, Nursing, Allied Health) in terms of
employment. In other words, their policies are driving graduates out
of state to seek employment."
- "The loss of the oncology doctors was very disturbing."
- "The new insurance plan is biased against those of us who live
across the bay."
- "Compared to other Medical School supporting Division I Universities,
our benefits program is not competitive."
- "I think there should be more dermatologists on staff."
- increase monthly premiums instead of co-pays
- doctors arbitrarily excluded
- "Dealing with Prime Health was like dealing with a nightmare!"
- "Glad that USA switched from PrimeHealth to BCBS, HOWEVER .
. . wish that the increased cost had been passed on in the monthly
charge rather than the convoluted 3 tier system."
- happy to have an alternative plan
- "What if the care, for which there is no USA doctor is needed?"
- whole university community should have been consulted
- USA has no ophthalmologists.
The co-pay under the USA Health Plan is adequate for physician co-pay,
drugs, USA Hospitals, non-USA Hospitals, USA emergency care, non-USA emergency
care - Please explain:
in no particular order, include the following:
- Too high
- "Co-pay amounts are reasonable. I also think it is appropriate
to have incentives (lower costs) for utilizing USA services and physicians."
- "Too much of a disparity in co-pay from one emergency room
to another which risks causing someone to compound an emergency if
they miss-evaluate a situation."
- lack of emergency care in Baldwin County
- "The solutions, while harsh compared to the old system, are
not draconian when compared with the rest of America."
- USA hospitals are poorly staffed
- many specialties not available under the USA system
- prices for many families have as much as tripled
- the way the changes were implemented was wrong - no faculty input
- should have basic dental insurance
- special vital screenings not covered
The USA Health Plan adequately covered the cost of being treated in a
non USA emergency room. Please explain:
in no particular order, include the following
- huge co-pay
- should have best treatment immediately where the emergency occurs.
USA Health Plan currently does not allow this
- why bother?
The USA Health Plan adequately covered the cost of preventative medical
services. Please explain:
in no particular order, include the following:
- had a good experience after cholesterol and PSA was checked
- gynecological care not covered including mammography and pap smears
- USA Family Practice group at Knollwood does a good job
- annual prostate exam not covered
- absence of a dental plan
- eye exams not covered
- received free flu shot and booster tetanus
- little emphasis given for preventative measures
|Query 15: My health care
costs have or have not gone up significantly under the new USA Health
Plan. Please explain:
included the following:
- (All respondents to this question listed
the excessive increase in drug co-pay as the main criticism.)
- (Faculty was bothered by the co-pays for
seeing doctors others than the ones they had already established a
- there are delays in getting approval for
retesting and supplies
|Query 16: Please express
any concerns you might have regarding USA Health Plan issues:
The suggestions and concerns include the following:
- system needs to evaluated with regard to the cost/benefit on services
- will there be coverage for congenital heart disease, organ transplant,
bone marrow transplant, oncology, etc?
- need to add dental benefits
- offer a couples plan
- premiums should be based on number of dependents in a family
- increase doctor's co-pay and decrease Rx costs
- better overall coverage is needed
- "The administration needs to hear that this is a VERY IMPORTANT
ISSUE to faculty. Taxing the user places a heavy burden on junior
faculty with small children and senior faculty experiencing chronic
illnesses (frequently after many years of excellent health). It's
sort of like kicking a man when he's down. Even healthy faculty doesn't
like the message this sends about the value of individuals at an institution."
Please express any concerns you have regarding technology issues that
impact your performance at the University:
in no particular order, include the following:
- not enough student labs
- need a responsive team to assist faculty with computer problems
- need web-based internet access for travelers
- rational policy for continuous upgrades
- inadequate bandwidth
- support personnel is polite and understanding but understaffed and
lacking in expertise
- why an MS Word standard?
- why e-College?
- need Blackboard and WebCT
- network is too slow
- inadequate technology and poor management
- University need site licenses so that "faculty can utilize
the software at home for work-related application at no charge"
- need high speed access for medical teaching and clinical purposes
between hospital locations - no outpatient computer access to get
medical laboratory or radiology data
- USA Computer Center is not competitive
- institute a three-year replacement program for extant computers
or at least provide make available new software.
- need resources to stay current in teaching and research activities
as opposed to being behind as is currently the case
- computer courses that are offered through the Computer Services
Center are excellent
- very inadequate tech support on the College of Education
Please express any opinions you have:
of the opinions included the following:
- there is no reason why the College of Medicine can't be a leader
in Mobile and in the nation.
- faculty is being driven off by an untrustworthy administration
- University must push for leadership at the foundation
- split commencement between graduates and undergraduates
- library faculty needs to be recognized at commencement along with
other faculty members
- distance learning has overburdened numerous faculty who are forced
(not asked) to put together courses.
- online course was "dumped" on instructor with no preparation
- "I really thought that last year, my responses to this survey
couldn't be any more gloomy. I was wrong. This institution is heading
for a train wreck."
- "Past three years at USA were a slow meltdown!"
- administrators need performance goals
- "I hope the University Fringe Benefits Committee and the Personnel
Office follows up on the complaints [regarding BCBS] they have been
receiving from so many members of the USA faculty and staff."
- very little expertise or innovation among university leadership
- "Faculty morale is very low and being ignored."
- "Why do I have to read about innovations always at other places."
- suggestions for interdisciplinary programs, teaching enhancements,
recruiting campaigns, technological improvements are summarily ignored
- "I'm positioning myself as a strong candidate to other institutions
so I can find another job."
- "My department has lost many excellent professors who are now
being replaced with instructors."
- "This is a terrible way to take a survey. Time is wrong. Sources
are traceable. DO NOT USE INTERNET FOR THIS TYPE OF INPUT."
- "Five of us plan to leave, otherwise we wouldn't have the gumption
to be honest in even a supposedly 'anonymous' survey."
- distance learning class sizes must not be viewed as "the more
- distance learning cannot replace classroom interaction especially
at the current level of available technology.
- no leadership for distance learning -- faculty work on their own
without reward, encouragements or recognition.
- e-college system is very bad
- distance learning needs to be focused in terms of the intended
audience. For example partnering with Community Colleges to offer
instruction via compressed video would help enrollment by offering
a migratory path for the enrolled students.
- stop micro-managing the faculty
- stop making the University into a business with a time clock
- unfreeze position to draw more students and give them a quality
- reconsider admission standards particularly at the Graduate Level
- classes in the College of Education need to be capped
- professors should be able to retain the intellectual property rights
to their own work. Some are very interested in developing distance
learning courses but refuse to do so because they are not given this
- everywhere, except at USA, the matching contribution to a 403b plan
ranges from 5-8% and there is no three year waiting period
- too many "in-house searches" makes us stagnant and resistant
to change at administrative levels
- graduation services should be done by college.
- survey is too long
- "Thanks Faculty Senate. Good Luck."