DePaul Faculty Council weighs its priorities


Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus.

DePaul’s Faculty Council discussed an array of items at a meeting Oct. 2, including the Faculty Council Budget Committee (FCBC)’s priorities list and the state of the university in a conversation with President A. Gabriel Esteban.

After approving the council’s minutes and two Committee on Committees memos, Scott Paeth, the council’s president, called an “executive session” and asked all non-members to leave the room as the council participated in University Board of Promotion and Tenure elections. Non-members were invited back into the room after the closed election had concluded.

The council moved on to items brought forward by the Committee on Curriculum and Programs, approving both an Education Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership and Universal Combined (Bachelors/Masters) Degrees in Public Service Management without any discussion.

Ahmed Zayed, FCBC chair, then presented a document which detailed the committee’s faculty budget and strategic priorities. Items listed on the document include faculty salary increase pool percentage, tenure-line faculty hiring and funding pools for academic priorities like endowed chairs and centers of excellence, among other things.

The first aspect of the document, which quickly became a point of contention, was the salary increase pool.

The FCBC’s original document called for a salary increase pool for faculty of no less than 2.75 percent. Despite the fact that there was a salary increase pool of 3 percent last year, Zayed explained that he felt this was generous given the fact that over the course of many years, the average increase pool was between 2.2 and 2.4 percent.

Members of the council expressed frustration with the lower numbers, citing a lack of consideration for inflation and the number’s place compared to the average cost of living, a discussion the council has had at prior meetings, according to Paeth.

The discussion led to a vote, where the council voted to amend the document to list the salary increase pool as no less than 3 percent as opposed to 2.75 percent.

Other amendments to the document included changing the wording of “Endowed Academic Innovation Fund” to “Academic Growth and Innovation Fund” to avoid misconception, and adding a time frame of five to seven years on how often the university will complete faculty compensation studies.

The council then heard a presentation by Daniela Raicu, associate provost for research, where she shared which faculty members had been granted awards and how she intends to use her position to guide the research funding process at DePaul.

Two faculty members — V. Bala Chaudhary, an assistant professor of environmental science studies, and Tanu Malik, an assistant professor in the School of Computing — won National Science Foundation Career Awards, which Raicu described as one of the highest honors in science.

After a brief program portfolio review update by Lucy Rinehart, assistant provost, Esteban took to the front to discuss some of what he would bring up at his State of the University presentation and answer questions.

In his opening remarks, Esteban asked the group to look long-term when thinking about the university’s future. He said that by 2030, there is a “good chance” DePaul will be among the top 50 universities in the country, top 10 private not-for-profit universities and top five Catholic universities due to its continued efforts to invest in academics.

He noted that opening the Chicago Promise Scholarship for CPS students, raising the LSAT score requirement for the Law School and investing in the School for Applied Diplomacy were all decisions intended to increase the likelihood of the university achieving those goals.

When the floor opened to questions, few faculty members had anything to say. The  councilmembers’ questions primarily addressed the adding of new health care majors to the university and the changes in the Law School, which Acting Provost Salma Ghanem and Vice President Jeff Bethke discussed at length at a forum Sept. 20.

Esteban also mentioned that in the spring, the university was approached by a law firm representing a group in China who may want to observe DePaul’s film facilities. In the future, it is possible that this could lead to the formation of a DePaul film campus in China. Esteban said that he and the group have only had one meeting, though, and that the prospect is still very much in the works.