SIUC faculty union still concerned about reorganization - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

SIUC faculty union still concerned about reorganization

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WSIL --- News 3 is taking a closer look at concerns the SIU Faculty Association has about plans to restructure the university.

Economics Professor Sajal Lahiri explained that for more than a year, there's been confusion about what's next for SIU as plans for reorganization move forward. 

Professor Lahiri explained that eight of the 13 school consolidation proposals put before the Graduate Council have been approved, but there are still concerns, "Its not that we oppose what the university's changes, we like changes. But the plan had some good elements, which we all approved, and it had some really bad elements, which we oppose. There are reasons we oppose and we gave the reasons. Right now the university kind of ignored our objections to three of them and passed them forward to the president for his signature." 

Lahiri is in the Department of Economics which is in the College of Liberal Arts. As part of the reorganization, SIU would like his department to join the College of Business, but he says it's not the right fit. 

"Right now, we are in the college of Liberal Arts, the faculty number has gone down to 13 from 18 through retirements and resignations and we all consider ourselves to be social scientists, not business. Business economics is a small part of economics and is a very old discipline, it's about a 3,000-year-old discipline. We work on unemployment, we work on growth, we work on poverty, we work on inequality. These are not really the kind of issues that the business school is interested in," said Lahiri. 

Currently, all that separates the Department of Economics and the College of Business is a signature from the SIU President. Lahiri says several letters have been sent expressing concerns and urging the president not to sign the approval. 

"Our biggest concern is, of course, the faculty opinion, which I think in this case, I think that it's being ignored. It's the faculty who will be delivering the courses and everything. I am an old man. I still work on weekends to do my research, and if the morale is low, people will stop doing those things and if you don't have the goodwill of the faculty, the university cannot survive," said Lahiri. 

Lahiri says all he can do is hope the president listens, because southern Illinois relies on the university.

"As a local community, you want a thriving university where everybody is happy and working together and if you are pushing through proposals, which the faculty and the students don't actually agree with, then its not going to be a very happy place and it will be reflected in unhappy faculty and therefore unsatisfied students and that cannot be good for the community. You'll have even fewer and fewer students coming to SIU," said Lahiri. 

Lahiri says research has been done about how SIU is an engine for the region and if it thrives, southern Illinois will thrive.

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