October 17, 2018
Letter to the editor
Two years after administering its 2016 faculty opinion survey the TTU chapter of the American Association of University Professors has now released the results of its second faculty survey. Much like the first one, the 2018 survey finds that faculty members at TTU believe that they and their students are poorly led and served by the current administration and our Board of Trustees. The survey was distributed to 421 full-time faculty and we received replies from 137 individuals for a response rate of 32.5%; very good for such surveys. [To see the entire survey, go to: https://sites.tntech.edu/aaup/]. To nearly every question posed, between two thirds and three quarters of respondents were ‘somewhat dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with:  the manner in which administrators were hired (73% dissatisfied);  the level of satisfaction with shared governance (74.4% dissatisfied);  the composition of the TTU Board of Trustees (62% dissatisfied);  confidence that the Board of Trustees acts in the best interests of the students (73% answered ‘no’);  confidence in the manner in which the administration has upheld its responsibilities (79.6% answered ‘no’); and  faculty confidence in President Phil Oldham as an administrator (58.4% said ‘no’) while 65% were dissatisfied with Oldham’s ‘job performance’.
These dismal numbers should come as a surprise to no one who has followed recent events at TTU. The administration and the Board have routinely ignored the TTU faculty and the tradition of shared governance by acting in an authoritarian and dismissive manner. The Board, with a silent Oldham at their side, has together suggested that the TTU faculty is composed of lazy shirkers who may not deserve even a cost of living increase or the traditional protection of tenure and academic independence. On the other hand, the Board falls head- over-heels to grant Oldham an extended job contract, recurring double digit salary increases, and, most recently, a five figure bonus. What has this beneficence purchased? TTU’s continued flat or falling student enrollment; recurring fiscal shortfalls (we’ve just learned of a $2.5 million deficit resulting in academic hiring freezes and staff firings that have already begun); multiple, failed business ventures at a nominally non-profit institution; and the infamous TTU/Fitzgerald scandal (for which we still await the outcome of an investigation). No wonder the faculty has given a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Oldham’s and the Board’s performance.
Jon Jonakin, TTU Emeritus Professor of Economics