Bill of Right to Know

May 1, 2014

Whittier Chapter American Association of University Professors’ Bill of Right toKnow
The Executive Council of the local Whittier Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (WCAAUP) is requesting that the Administration and Board of Trustees share information they already have regarding short- and long-term planning and the financial state of the college with the entire Whittier College faculty.

Why Faculty need to know financial state of the college.

“Effective planning,” according to the AAUP Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities,  “demands that the broadest possible exchange of information and opinion should be the rule for communication among the components of a college or university. The channels of communication should be established and maintained by joint endeavor.” Such an endeavor, while not necessarily easy, is not particularly difficult either, and it represents an important step in building a well-functioning institution that is prepared to face the future.

This document is thus a call to action for the Administration and Board of Trustees to share more and better information regarding the internal operations of the institution, particularly related to long-term planning and allocation of resources. Increased communication is not merely relevant; it is a vital tool that helps Faculty and Administrators to make data-informed decisions. Fiscal transparency builds trust and prepares the terrain for joint action and teamwork, and harnesses our collective strengths in shaping Whittier College’s response to the challenges of the current higher education landscape.

The Faculty is only one of many stakeholder groups at the college, and it regularly interacts and collaborates with the Administration and with the other stakeholder groups. These relations could be improved by a mutual commitment of all stakeholders to shared governance, transparency and accountability. This document is a first request for information the Faculty needs for the work it performs in academic departments, committees, and in a variety of roles at the college. The Faculty differs from other stakeholder groups involved in shared governance because the Faculty serves as the primary agent overseeing academic affairs, including:

•   Constructing, maintaining, and transforming college curriculum;
•   Maintaining fair and competitive standards in all academic matters, including overseeing academic policy and policy changes;
•   Ensuring the standards of admission, currency, performance, and graduation in all degree programs, and ensuring that students are held to standards commensurate with the degrees they pursue;
•   Promoting excellence in all forms of teaching, research and scholarships;
•   Overseeing faculty personnel issues;
•   Providing consultative input into any and all matters that affect the character of the learning environment and the quality of scholarly and creative activities.

These practices are well-established in academia and reinforced by accreditation boards and their standards. Toward this end, the Administration is responsible for providing faculty members with a collegial work environment that supports academic freedom and provides the information Faculty need to make data-informed decisions related to the above tasks. Faculty members must have accurate and timely information on student composition, the financial state of the college and short- and long-term plans related to both of these. The Faculty, in turn, has the responsibility to fulfill its obligations in teaching, research, service, and advising, working in collaboration with the Administration to ensure that all academic programs and activities meet or exceed competitive academic standards.

Specific information Faculty need to know
We are therefore requesting that the Administration provide us with these and other records related to the gains and losses to Whittier College over time. We request this information in whatever form already exists (printed or electronic), such as but not limited to, documents showing answers to the following questions:

1. What are the top strategic goals of the College for the next five years? How does the endowment fit into those strategic goals?

2. How many new tenure-track faculty positions are in the model for the next 5 years?

3. What was our discount rate for the last 5 years and what is it projected to be in the next 5 years?

4. What other investments besides endowment do we have? What are our yearly costs of managing our investments? How much of our annual surpluses for the last 5 years were  invested in non-restricted (not the endowment) level I-III investments?

5. How many months could the college stay open if it had no revenue coming in?

6. How much revenue is generated from tuition vs. fundraising vs. strategic initiatives? What costs are associated with each area? We would like to see these numbers separated for the main campus and law school.

7. What have been the salary patterns for faculty and administrators for the past five years, and what are they projected to be for the next five? We would like to see these numbers separated for the main campus and law school.

 We request hard copies or electronic copies be sent to the Chair of the Faculty and President of WCAAUP at the same time to decide how to disseminate to the faculty. Alternatively, this information could be shared with all faculty at the same time using one of the faculty listserves (e.g., Faculty-L or Faculty-limited), Moodle, or the college website. We would like these and other records related to the financial welfare of the college within a period no greater than 60 days from receipt of this document. We are submitting this request in writing and the request is continuing in nature. The request is not exhaustive and the information listed is severable and will be accepted in partial form. We consent to redacted personnel information such as social security numbers and addresses. Please let us know if there are any associated costs with these requests and the executive council of AAUP will decide if the expense can be incurred by members’ dues.

 This fiscal information should be shared with the Faculty on a regular and recurring basis.
To its credit, Whittier College Administrators have yearly audits and share financial information regularly with the Board of Trustees. Faculty should have this same information as close to the time when the Board receives it as possible. It also behooves the college to post the 990s and audit reports on our website because we are a nonprofit institution hoping to increase fundraising from alumni and community members. Nonprofits, including private liberal arts colleges, are rated on transparency and accountability by outside raters and these are increased when 990 and audit reports are posted on an organization’s website (see examples of private college’s ratings at http://www.charitynavigator.org). All donors, who include faculty, staff and students, deserve to know where their contributions are going. We thank you for your time and attention and look forward to establishing these best practices at Whittier College.

 

Anne Sebanc
President in collaboration with the elected Executive Council
Whittier Chapter American Association of University Professors

 

*WCAAUP acknowledges and thanks the national AAUP and other AAUP local chapters’ position statements upon which this Bill of Right to Know was based.

Please visit our website for further information: http://wcaaup.org/