Speculation fuels misinformation, which can spark resentment and hostility.
So FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw held an open forum Friday with faculty, offering to answer any and all questions that came his way. There weren’t many.
Just nine questions emerged, and only one dealt with a potentially controversial topic: administrative bloat. That’s a common concern, but this time Bradshaw was armed with a recent study from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. That report showed FGCU increased its instructional spending by 37.6 percent in a five-year period, while cutting its administrative costs by 8.7 percent. The difference in percentage points was the highest among Florida’s university system.
Those figures don’t surprise Bradshaw. Each year, the first step in the budget development process is determining how many faculty FGCU will employ for the coming terms. Every other expenditure then follows.
“We will continue to have instructional needs drive the budget,” Bradshaw told the two dozen faculty in attendance.
The same question about administration also hinted at faculty being shortchanged on promotions. One in three faculty earned promotions during the past five years, Bradshaw said, despite consecutive years of reduced state funding. Two senior administrators also were promoted to the vice president level this year, giving FGCU six vice presidents, but Bradshaw said faculty will continue being able to advance their careers, both professionally and financially.
“We have never not funded promotions for faculty,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw also faced other questions about policy development, parking, finances and virtual education.
Shawn Felton, an assistant professor of physical therapy and faculty senate president, said Bradshaw has maintained an open line of communication with faculty and visits with faculty senate once per semester. However, some faculty perceive his decisions differently because of their own beliefs and assumptions.
“Whenever you have tough budget times and have one of those years, everyone is watching everything,” Felton said.