March 3, 2020
Letter to the Editor & Open Letter to the Board of Trustees and Administration:
Three to four years ago, BU began a “salary-equity-initiative” targeted at closing faculty pay gaps against peer institutions and comparative faculty positions. The salary initiative was long overdue, desperately required, adequately vetted and approved by the administration and the Board, and was announced as a three-year program. It was a promise with dollar values assigned. Targeted faculty have been underpaid for decades with real implications for quality of life, family wellness and retirement planning. The fruits of the promise were calculated into long-range planning and raised faculty member hopes and dreams. Such promises are made to be kept, not broken when convenient.
Instead of keeping its word, Bradley’s administration has now broken the initiative’s promises three times. Over the past two years a three-year program was stretched to five years. These restructurings diluted the value of the adjustment.
This year’s announcement of no pay raises and the apparent curtailing of what would’ve been the last two years of the initiative, stand as stark evidence of the administration’s lack of commitment to high-quality faculty. The promise is now fully broken. If their words are to be trusted, institutions must stand by their promises.
In an interview last fall, BU President Gary Roberts noted, “I think there could well come a day when schools like Bradley will decide that having intercollegiate athletics is not worth it” [Shelly, WGLT.org, 11-6-19].
One has to wonder if running an annual athletic department deficit of $4-8 million while cutting Physics, Theatre Arts and 3/5s of FCS qualifies as that day? Which sounds more like an institution of higher education: “the Bradley Brand is Basketball” or “the Bradley Brand is Physics (or Theatre or FCS)”?
From what ethical stance can we close academic majors/departments and break long-term promises to valued faculty while refusing to put the $17M-annual athletic budget under full review? At the very least, the Board of Trustees should indemnify the real and expected losses in athletics with money from the endowment or their personal fund-raising efforts. Why does the academic side always suffer the consequences of athletic department losses?
In 35 years, I’ve never seen a shred of specific evidence that the $4-8 million “subsidy” (losses) is/are justified. Game attendance doesn’t warrant the losses. Demand on the part of students, either present or future, does not warrant the “investment” (losses). I did not see a single item on the data report from Grey & Associates indicating future students search for/select Bradley based on its athletics. Such a result weighed heavily against academic programs.
Bradley needs to re-examine its priorities. The Board of Trustees needs to emerge from its secret, out-of-touch, lair-in-darkness and engage with faculty and students instead of only listening to their “administration-based-whisperers.”
The least the University can do is keep its promises and dedicate itself to standing tall and competing as a comprehensive University rather than reverting to Bradley Polytechnic Institute (with really good basketball teams).
Edward Lee Lamoureux, Ph.D.
Department of Communication
Department of Interactive Media