With the beginning of class registration and the first barrage of midterms this week, faculty, students, and student organizations are actively preparing for the end of this year and the beginning of the next. But in addition to these preparations, every member of our community – from students and faculty to trustees and alumni – should be concerned with what appears to be a decline in the overall health of our university.The recent, relatively sudden faculty pay freeze is perhaps the most conspicuous indication that something wrong lies beneath the glimmer of Hiett Hall, resolved lawsuits, farewell tours, and awards ceremonies. These successes – important as they are – may only be cosmetic, and cannot offset the problems generated by a pay freeze.
The adverse effects of a faculty pay freeze strike at the heart of the university. The freeze may inhibit the university’s ability to recruit and retain the best possible faculty, but this malady has slowly begun to spread into other areas. As an example, the Scarff Professorship – a mainstay of the Government department – will not be filled next year for lack of funds. What began as a pay freeze is now nibbling away at entire faculty positions. Which department will be next?
What is the prognosis? Without more information, it is simply too difficult to tell. It nevertheless seems that the pay freeze, combined with a continual drop in Lawrence’s rankings during the past few years, does not bode well for the future position of the university among its peers. It also seems that LUCC (which currently operates on a budget surplus) is a better financial manager than our Board of Trustees. Furthermore, the recent settlement with the fraternities – though the extent to which it will inhibit Lawrence’s ability to revoke the pay freeze is not yet known – can only further irritate the situation.
We are of the opinion that the administration and the trustees should provide more information regarding the state of our university, as these recent events make it an issue of vital concern.