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Speaking Truth to Power: Step up, Mr. President

Lest the President take too much comfort in the apparently strong support for his salary reduction motion. He might want to consider carefully what Joe Konstan - an IT prof - had to say yesterday. The following transcript and video are from someone who supported the president's motion.

From yesterday's faculty senate meeting:


Joe Konstan, IT. Faculty senator.

We stand here alongside our beloved university, beaten up and slashed in recent years, short on blood with more attacks on the way. The ambulance pulls up, but we're offered no surgery, no transfusion of blood, not even a tourniquet.

No, we're offered a band-aid and asked to take up a collection to pay for it.

That's what this paycut is, it's a band-aid that will not save the University. It will not even stop the bleeding.

Perhaps it is better than nothing. Perhaps it is better to chip in than to have stood by and refused to help. Perhaps the symbolism is valuable by itself. I think so and I will vote to support it.

But I am disappointed and I am angry. And I fully understand my colleagues who will vote against the band-aid in a desperate cry for a more serious solution.

I'm mad. I'm mad at our governor and legislature for their shortsightedness, but mostly I'm mad at our own leadership - a leadership that has too rarely made the hard decisions to prepare for these tough times. A leadership that has yet to offer us a compelling vision or plan to reduce the scope of the university to maintain excellence. A leadership that frankly has so badly bungled this very proposal, confusing the issues, making it hard to get meaningful and consistent information and losing the trust of so many faculty.

Over the past three weeks, I've listened a great deal and spoken perhaps too much. I have come to appreciate that the 27 pay period was mostly a red herring, though it has real financial and equity issues we'll discuss later.

The real problem is not how we get through fiscal 2011, the real problem is what happens in 2012, 2013 and beyond.

I've not heard a single faculty member oppose a temporary pay cut if that would solve the problem.

But all I've heard about the future is "Trust me." I've heard some half-completed plans for the coming year. Plans that seem to keep changing. And I've heard that 2012 will be worse.

I wish I had that trust in our leaders. I wish the last few years have convinced me that we had a vision and a strategy, but they didn't and I don't.

I want to be perfectly clear. Simply parceling out across the board cuts or proclaiming vague goals of excellence is no vision, no strategy, and no leadership.

I'll vote for the motion, I value our staff too much to put more of their jobs on the line. But I vote this way to support the University and its employees.

I vote for this motion clinging to the faint hope that the year this buys us is really used to do it right and not just have us in the same place a year from now.

This is a critical point for our University. The decisions made in the next months will determine whether we sink towards mediocrity or become a smaller but still shining gem for our state.

We need vision and strategy and most of all we need leadership.

This is the time for leaders to step up. To lead us in setting critical priorities and making those hard decisions.

Mr. President, we need vision and leadership now. Step up.

Step up Mr. President. Step up or step aside.

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