Faculty reacts to college’s decisions

By Shardae Smith

Columbia’s College Council held its final meeting of the fall semester on Dec. 3 to discuss topics such as the college’s recent purchase of the Johnson Publishing building and a proposal for a new academic degree.

The meeting took place at the 1104 Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., and was opened by Theater Department Chair and Council President John Greene. Opening statements were made by Mark Kelly, vice president of Academic Affairs, regarding student enrollment for the spring 2011 semester. Vice President of Campus Environment Alicia Berg also spoke.

Berg announced plans to use a piece of the empty lot owned by the college at Wabash Avenue and Eighth Street, formerly Buddy Guy’s Legends, for bike parking.

Berg stated the college is currently working on plans for the Johnson Publishing building and the needs it will satisfy for the college.

But Frank Bianco, full-time faculty member in the Television Department, voiced his concern about the purchase.

“I’m a little confused and amused at the college’s ability to buy new buildings and not give their faculty members a substantial salary increase after a two-year freeze,” Bianco said.

Provost and Senior Vice President Steven Kapelke acknowledged that he didn’t take the comments lightly. He explained the library’s current limitations are a priority for the college right now.

The library has outgrown its location in the South Campus Building, 624 S. Michigan Ave., and is unable to accommodate many of the books in the collection.

According to Kapelke, the salary freeze was for one year.  Although this year’s faculty pay increase was minimal, the administration was able to increase it by one percent.

“Nobody in the administration is happy with the fact the salary increase was low,” Kapelke said. “I think we should acknowledge this college does a good job [at] managing its resources.”

Bianco said he understood the physical needs of the college are important but feels faculty should also come higher on the list.

“I think the faculty has been put on the back burner,” Bianco said. “I  understand the library had to take priority, but I think your priorities are a little out of whack when you sit on a faculty as valuable as this and not reward them for the services they render for the [college].”

Kapelke concluded the discussion, and said he believes the administration has not been insensitive to the faculty’s needs.

Also discussed at the meeting was a proposal from Pantelis Vassilakis, chair of the Audio, Arts and Acoustics Department, on changing the acoustics concentration degree from a Bachelor of Arts to a Bachelor of Science.

Vassilakis said this is not an attempt to change all of the department’s degrees but an arts degree in acoustics isn’t suitable.

“[We] are asking for this change [because] a Bachelor of Science is the degree that better represents the type of education our students receive in this concentration,” Vassilakis said. “It is also the kind of degree sought after by professional and

academic organizations.”

The Bachelor of Science will require more credit hours, and students who wish to finish their degree as a Bachelor of Arts will be allowed to do so until the program is phased out.

Vassilakis said if the proposal is passed, Columbia will have the only acoustics Bachelor of Science in the U.S. at the undergraduate level.

“[Science is] a belief that doing things systematically and vigorously has some benefits, and combining this with pieces of imagination, creativity and intuition are as important to science as they are to art,” Vassilakis said.

The council will vote on the proposal at the next meeting on Feb. 4,2011.