Remember the Byrds song, “Turn, Turn, Turn?” The passage from which it was lifted goes like this:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
7. a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8. a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
There is a time and a place for everything.
Some of my faculty colleagues, angry that we have had to operate with $15 M less in revenues, and thus have had to share in this sacrifice, now wish to censure our University Administration. They have organized a faculty vote of no confidence. They believe that censuring the Administration will “make WIU great again,” and provide us with better circumstances and greater personal fortunes. But it will not. Rather, it will plant the seeds for greater harm.
Three years ago our Governor tacked a list of 47 “Turnaround” demands on the doors of the State Capitol. He has presented three austerity budgets that have decimated higher ed. This Spring, he will present a fourth austerity budget. He will attempt to reduce the income tax, and more important, will attempt anew to reduce higher education and social welfare spending. We know this.
If out of selfish greed, we well-paid, middle-class faculty members of the Macomb community vote to censure our Administration, we will potentially give the Governor justification to appoint a new President, a former “CEO,” and charge him with restructuring and decimating our University (and hence, our community). If so, we will be “a party to” his austerity platform, and the harm it effects upon Macomb.
In such a case, many jobs will be sacrificed. When I was at Millikin, a similar vote and the hiring of a new president led to the displacement of 20% of all faculty, and the elimination of 25% of all other jobs. And make no mistake – if this occurs, it will be Liberal Arts and Sciences positions that will be eliminated, not, the professional programs. Unit B will go away, along with many Unit A positions.
Now is not the time to draw public attention. We faculty earn more than twice the median income of McDonough County. If we “rise up” at this time, we will become the Governor’s target of choice, and the public’s bull’s-eye. Both will openly attack WIU as evidence that public higher education is “out-of-touch” with fiscal reality.
We do not need that sort of public attention. To everything, there is a season. There is a time for rebuilding and a time for patience, a time for change and a time for lying still. Now is the time to plant, not the time to uproot. Please support our Administration for having balanced a declining budget with minimal pain.
Robert J. Hironimus-Wendt
Western Illinois University
Robert J. Hironimus-Wendt on no confidence vote, March 10, 2018