Today: Apr 21, 2024

Interim President Battle addresses faculty and staff


Ryan Morgan

General Assignment Reporter

Interim President Stanley F. Battle held the semester’s first faculty address on Monday to inform faculty of current university affairs.

“I’d like to give a few comments on the State of Southern. During the summer we were directed we’d have to make a 15 percent budget cut,” said Battle. “On the facility side we’ve made some significant process on two components.”

Battle explained to faculty the two projects in the works: Buley Library and Seabury Hall. While there is approximately $16 million in the bank, Battle said another 16 million is needed to finish the library construction and $3.8 million needed to finish Seabury Hall. Construction is expected to start at the end of the fiscal year or midsummer.

“If there is a silver lining in the process, it’s relooking at the space and our current needs to rethink certain parts of the design,” said Executive Vice President James E. Blake.

Faculty did not see the silver lining at the meeting, especially after Provost Selase W. Williams explained the number of faculty positions currently on campus.

“In 2005, when I first came on board, we had about 403 faculty positions. This year we have 444, a significant gain in faculty lines,” said Williams. “There are still some critical holes we need to fill with tenure track lines and we will be working with deans to identify the most important places.”

Mike Shea, English department chair, was quick to question some of the numbers presented when the floor was opened for questions. Shea asked why there are approximately 25 vacancies and was unhappy to be told there are more positions than currently filled.

“I’m not asking what we budgeted, I want to know how many bodies we have. The 444 doesn’t really matter,” said Shea.
After some confusion, Williams apologized for the mishap and told faculty he would take another look at numbers to identify the discrepancy.

Both Battle and Blake addressed how important they feel it is to keep the positive trend they see in enrollment going. Battle said enrollment is up two percent. 900 transfer students and 1,250 incoming freshmen have joined the Southern community.

“One of the last things we want to do is impact our enrollment,” said Blake. “It’s our operations that need to change.”

Battle went on to warn faculty of the intense weeks to come as university priorities are assessed and cuts are considered. Blake said the good news is $4 million has already been cut from the budget and only another $1 million needs to be cut this year.

Faculty members were also concerned with security at the university and what protocol, if any, is in place in the event of a shooter coming on campus. Police Chief and Director of Public Safety Joseph Dooley answered concerns.

“There are over 40 buildings on campus. We can’t easily flip a switch and go into lock down as easily as an elementary school could,” said Dooley.

Dooley explained a new plan for security currently in its final stages, a mass notification system.

Loudspeakers have been mounted across the campus to ensure that all members of the Southern community are aware of a serious situation.

“There may not be specific instructions but there will be information to put everyone in the mindset of a serious alert and to take shelter until further notice,” said Dooley.

The system will be tested and announced once completed this semester.

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