Provost addresses enrollment drop, faculty’s transparency concerns


Maria Cardona

Senior Vice President & Provost Stan Wearden admitted the lack of communication with faculty during the summer, but asked for more faculty engagement and presence. 

By Campus Editor

Senior Vice President & Provost Stan Wearden acknowledged the lack of faculty consultation in the merger of the Theatre and Dance departments and predicted greater collegewide enrollment drop at a Sept. 9 Faculty Senate meeting. 

Wearden admitted to senators that there should have been faculty consultation during the summer administrative merger.

“There are lots of reasons why it didn’t happen, but they are not good reasons,” Wearden said. “We really should have consulted [faculty] and we did try to make a good faith effort to address that.” 

He added that the two departments are not permanently merging, and this temporary solution will last for one year.

Wearden spoke about problems brought up during the Aug. 19 Faculty Senate meeting. 

Wearden added that one of the first things he did as an administrator was meet with department chairs and urging them to share their budgets with faculty. 

“I have endeavored to be as transparent as I possibly can,” Wearden said. “On my part, there has been no lack of transparency.”

Wearden added that the college will be sending an email Sept. 12 announcing new budget policies for this year, caused by the college’s serious budget deficit. The policy allocates funds for professional development and annual travel expenses. 

Keith Kostecka, an assistant professor in the Science and Mathematics Department, asked Wearden how associate professors would obtain funds for professional development. 

Wearden said they would apply to the pool, and deans of the college, along with a committee, would be in charge of reviewing applications. 

According to Wearden, deans are scheduled to meet with their departments this year, and will present their budgets. They will include how their budgets fit into the college’s general budget.

Michael Caplan, an associate professor in the Cinema Art + Science Department, said he would like the college to talk about other financial opportunities, specifically endowments. 

“It is not easy to address that,” Caplan said. “But at some point it could be helpful to hear where we stand.”

 Wearden said the college hopes to generate rapid revenue through international students and education programs for adults.

“It’s going to take a while to get to that healthy place again,”Wearden said.

According to Wearden, the administrative merge was an effort to respond quickly to former Theatre Department Chair John Green suddenly leaving his position.

“We should have consulted in advance, but I do want you to understand that this was an effort to serve the departments and to serve the students,” he said. 

Wearden added he was surprised by the number of “out of office” email replies he received from faculty when he tried to contact them during the summer and  asked faculty to avoid the automatic responses because students may feel it shows a lack of interest.

Wearden also predicted the college will face at least four more years of falling enrollment, adding Columbia is in an urgency state following its eight-year enrollment decline.

“Solving enrollment is not a magic wand,” Wearden said. “Next fall [semester] we will have fewer students than we did this fall. It’s going to take some time.”