Reprint: Idaho State University Faculty at War

Concerns were expressed about this entry disappearing. So here it is again.

Originally Submitted by 123Idaho on Wed, 03/04/2009 – 10:46 pm:

When does Idaho State University have enough bad press?

It seems as if the Bengal Crew in Bannock just can’t resist creating high profile scandals.

To begin this latest saga, a letter was recently sent to Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, state lawmakers and various state officials from ISU Faculty Senate Chair David J. Delehanty.

Below is an excerpt:

“Idaho State University has an outstanding faculty made up of people who truly care about their students and who have worked very hard to make ISU a Doctoral Research University as well as a great place for learning.

“The Idaho State University faculty have achieved these accomplishments at great value to the State of Idaho…. Despite our substantial accomplishments, Idaho State University faculty salary ranks at the bottom for Doctoral Research Universities within the United States….

“On behalf of the faculty at Idaho State University, the ISU Faculty Senate transmits the following resolution to you. The faculty of Idaho State University categorically oppose any legislative effort to cut state employee salaries. In fact, the imposition of such a measure on faculty salaries would exact great harm on higher education and inflict intolerable injury on faculty members who already labor for a wage that is far below that of their peers. This measure would impose a selective tax on state employees not shared by all Idahoans.”

“It appears that Dr. Delehanty and a few Faculty Senate cohorts are sufficiently belabored with sending ill-advised letters to state officials (with no broad faculty consultation) that they are oblivious to the more than 7 million Americans who are currently unemployed, to the fact that thousands are losing their homes each month and that the prospects for immediate improvement are looking a little dim. One might further conclude, without much of a stretch, that Delehanty’s letter reflects a desire for entitling a privileged class — exempting them from the economic difficulties affecting everyone else,” writes Martin Hackworth, a senior lecturer in physics at ISU, in a column called Letter to Otter, state officials ill-advised.

Personal attacks and bitter squabbles among colleagues are common in academe. But it is highly unusual for the dirty laundry to be hung out in a newspaper by senior faculty, a practice that Hackworth has made a habit of. For an example of this, see: Idaho State Journal: Kijinski real victim of controversy caused by his resignation.

Can anyone point to any comparable public brawls in anywhere higher education? Please provide links.

Out of necessity, Delehanty, an associate professor of biology responded to Hackworth, with a column called ISU faculty favors strategic budgeting:

“Mr. Hackworth’s suggestion that the resolution was created and transmitted in isolation by a few unrepresentative faculty senators is incorrect. As a faculty member, Mr. Hackworth is invited to attend all Faculty Senate meetings, although normally he does not attend, and he did not attend the meeting during which this resolution was discussed at length. The resolution was written by senators from three colleges within the university and was forwarded by a faculty senator representing Mr. Hackworth’s own college. As faculty senate chair, I did not propose, write, move or vote on the resolution, although I certainly do support it. The resolution passed on a vote of 26-0-1 by democratically elected faculty senators representing all units within the university.”

The faculty senate chair continued:

“Mr. Hackworth’s impression that the ISU faculty is detached and self-absorbed in an ivory tower is quite stunning and is far different from my impression of our faculty. In my experience, ISU has a diverse faculty of well-grounded people. Many come from hardscrabble backgrounds and they certainly know and care about their students. Not only are faculty experiencing the challenges of the recession, they are interacting daily with students and parents who are being battered by this awful economic storm. In my opinion, the faculty resolution signals awareness of current events, not detachment from them.

He added:

“I also will add that I thought Mr. Hackworth’s personal attack on me was unprofessional, employing outrage and accusation rather than facts and logic to critique important ideas. This is contrary to the spirit of reasoned academic debate. The inaccuracy of Mr. Hackworth’s portrayal of me I can only attribute to the fact that he and I do not know one another personally … I also agree with Mr. Hackworth when, in contradiction to his original argument, he suggests that cutting weak programs at ISU, rather than across-the-board cuts, is the responsible thing to do. Personally, I am advocating that ISU cut all or some of its NCAA athletics program and redirect the $3.1 million in state appropriated funds annually going to ISU athletics towards academic programs that benefit all students. But, no ISU program should be immune from scrutiny and evaluation.”

Delehanty has a point about Idaho State University sports. Is there an academic body of evidence (not merely emotion, conjecture, or personal opinion) that illustrates how sports aid the mission of Idaho State University?

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