Adjunct pay, strategic goals and more discussed at ETSU Board of Trustees meeting

Brandon Paykamian • Sep 20, 2019 at 9:30 PM

East Tennessee State University campus community members voiced concerns about adjunct professor compensation and more at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

During public comments, ETSU Young Democratic Socialists of America organizer Connor McClelland said he and other members of the Adjunct Action campaign were pleased with the recent College of Arts and Sciences’ decision to raise adjunct wages by $100 for anyone making less than $800 per credit hour.

Despite this decision and “moderate pay increases” elsewhere, he said activists will continue pushing for higher adjunct pay across the university.

“Last year, the average adjunct at ETSU was making $400 less per credit hour than not only the national average, but the averages of our peer institutions,” the ETSU Adjunct Action co-founder said, adding that organizers “remain unwavering in our pursuit of a university where hard work is met with fair pay and treatment.”

“We still have not reached our goal of a universal base pay in all colleges of $1,000 per credit hour, as well as the general improvement of employment conditions,” he continued.

Next, Dorothy Drinkard-Hawkshawe, director and founder of the Africana Studies Program, voiced her concerns about the August resignation of ETSU Public Safety Chief Nicole Collins — the region’s first African-American female law enforcement chief, who was met with complaints of “bullying” in her first year of leading the department.

“There are many faculty members who are very disappointed about her resignation, and they have talked about it,” she said. “She is very strict in rules and regulations, and because of that, she, of course, was not appreciated by many security people.

“Many faculty are really saddened by that, so much so that I really want to cry.”

Drinkard-Hawkshawe also said she would like more funding for her program. 

“That program is essential to the future of this country, and that is why the major universities and even some of the universities that are not as major have this program,” she said. “And we are not getting the budget that we need or that we once have.”

In other business, board members discussed progress on capital projects, including the renovated D.P. Culp University Center set to be completed this year, as well as the long-anticipated $53 million Martin Center for the Arts set to be completed in 2020.

“It’s actually transformative — there’s been a great team that’s worked on this…” Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Ross said of the $45 million Culp renovations, which he said represented a departure from the building’s previous brutalist architecture.

Toward the end of the meeting, ETSU President Brian Noland discussed the progress the university has made in terms of academic program growth and the improvements made in graduation rates.  

As part of the university’s strategic goals set to be met by 2026, Noland wants enrollment to grow to 18,000 students. While there was a 57% increase in dual enrollment this semester, total enrollment fell by 133 to 14,441 this year.

“That’s where we are in enrollment. It’s not where we want to be,” Noland said. “I’m hopeful that we will not be in this position next year.”

For more information on Friday’s meeting or to watch it, visit www.etsu.edu

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