Sirisha Naidu’s Remarks at the Board of Trustees Meeting, 19 October 2018

2018-10-19 BoT–Sirisha Naidu’s Remarks [PDF]

Video Link: https://youtu.be/TPbTr_JIOEU.

2018-10-19 BoT--Sirisha Naidu

Good Morning,

I am Sirisha Naidu, Faculty in the Department of Economics, College of Business.

I would have addressed you as Respected Members of the Board and President Schrader. However, respect has to be earned. And you, as decision-makers, have not earned my respect.

We Faculty, as members of the Wright State community, are here yet again, to express grave concerns about your decisions. We have been attending every BoT meeting since the disclosure of financial mismanagement by the University’s central administration under the oversight of the Board of Trustees, some of whom continue in the current Board.

The University’s Central Administration has accused the faculty of creating hysteria on campus. Let me highlight some of what has occurred in the past couple of years.

  1. Under the “able” leadership of the BoT and Central Admin we lost over $100 million in reserves. “Lost” is a funny word, isn’t it? It seems to suggest that it was an accident.
  2. Despite this loss, in 2017, the BoT sanctioned that President Hopkins be paid $200,000 plus deferred compensation and other benefits.

But the current administration and Board are not blameless either.

  1. It hired a private law firm, Baker Hostetler, to negotiate with the faculty union – AAUP. As of July 2018, the law firm has charged a quarter million dollars for failed negotiations even as academic departments are being forced to count pennies. Every previous contract had been successfully negotiated by the University administration and AAUP with no extra cost to the administration.
  2. The current Board and Central administration has continued to subsidize Double Bowler, an affiliated real estate entity, which allows them to engage in spending university funds without adequate oversight. 80% of Double Bowler’s revenue, however is derived from Wright State. WSU also shell out $250,000 for its CEO’s salary. Double Bowler purchased a property from WPCU with WSU funds 4 months after the CEO of WPCU joined our board. We are currently in that building.
  3. This compounded by bad press on reports of financial mismanagement, the Presidential debate debacle, ethically suspect dealings with lobbyists. And more recently the mismanagement of the release of your attorney’s brief to the fact-finder, which prompted the media to report that WSU wouldn’t recover financially for another 20 years. And NO, one NCAA game is not a silver bullet for enrollment, as current numbers suggest.

Bad decisions, however, are not restricted to personnel, management, media and financial matters either. The Board now appears to be engaged in direct attempts to undermine the academic mission of the university.

On an August 17th meeting, various board members dismissed the importance of humanities and the arts to this university. One Board Member even promoted associates degrees. Board Members, please note: WSU is a 4-year degree granting public university not a community college. It does a fine job of serving Raider Country and beyond.

As the current leadership not only have you, the Board Members and central Administration, failed to increase enrollments and control high costs of a top heavy administration, but you have jeopardized the ability of this university to recruit and retain the very best professors in the country by attempting to negotiate on tenure.

Your extreme proposals on tenure, healthcare and job security are among the worst in the state and the country. It will prevent us from retaining and hiring good faculty for a very long time. We have already lost 90 faculty since Spring 2016. This undermines the academic mission of the university.

Not having sufficient faculty to teach classes and programs, not having sufficient department and college staff to keep programs running, and not having sufficient custodial staff and ground workers to maintain safety and cleanliness undermines the ability of students to graduate and faculty to do their jobs.

Last Spring President Schrader used the analogy of pruning a garden to justify the cuts that she had made to staff. While the previous Board may have let the garden overgrow, or to use a phrase Mr. Fecher used last semester, it fell asleep at the wheel, I urge you not to overcompensate. Too much pruning severely distresses the tree beyond recovery.

You have at various times suggested that everyone except faculty have rolled up their sleeves.

But staff did not voluntarily agree to reduce their severance or to relinquish bumping rights when they have been subjected to “culling.” Nor did they agree to the inequitable health care costs. You have simply imposed the worst health care plan at all public universities in Ohio despite our having very comparable health care costs. But it is not bad for everyone. Under this plan, highly paid administrators even those making $250,000 and greater are paying the same premiums as those making $75,000. Now you want to impose this inequitable policy on faculty.

You and your predecessors, who are responsible for our current situation, have characterized our legal right to bargain over our working conditions as if it is somehow selfish and unfair. Yet every concession thus far has been made by our union. On a number of the unresolved articles, your proposals reflect your desire to dictate to us, rather than to bargain in good faith. You rebuffed the faculty union’s recent attempts to offer substantial concessions to break the impasse.

Board Members, President Schrader, I hope you realize that Wright State works because We, the Faculty and Staff, work. And you can be assured that we will roll up our sleeves to preserve tenure, the right to bargain, the academic mission, and the long-term viability of this university.

Because We are Fighting for Wright!

 

 

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