Interim President Lewis highlighted ten points and their goals at Wednesday’s President’s Faculty Meeting. The ten points included a new governance system, internal communications, technology, teacher load, the Deferred Retired Option Program, outside employment, customer service, impact of cutbacks, legislative initiatives and accountability.
Unlike the former Board of Regents, Lewis said that the board of trustees will now have more authority of the school, including setting the university’s tuition, but will not receive as much funding from the state and encouraged the faculty to play a part in setting the agenda for the board.
Lewis also addressed faculty following a chain-of-command in terms of dealing with problems and accepting final decisions made by university officials.
“Some of us are tempted to go to the top first, maybe because we operated like that before. I don’t work that way,” Lewis said. “I ask this faculty to solve this problem within confines of this campus before we take it to public domain, because when we take it to public domain before dealing with it ourselves, people downtown think we don’t know how handle our business.”
Lewis’s internal communications goal entails a four-part plan including, inclusiveness, collegiality and teamwork among faculty members and executive responsibility.
Many faculty members were satisfied with Lewis’s decision to place computers on each of their desks that did not have one before but were called upon by Lewis to work with the deans of the colleges and schools to plan a strategy in order to replace the over 50 faculty members retiring, effective June 30, 2003. There are 70 staff and faculty members participating in the Deferred Retired Option Program. Lewis said the university will have to pay $855,000 to the future retirees in addition to the cost of recruitment and advertising for replace the faculty members.
A new initiative Lewis has implemented is the Distinguished Professor Award.
“This is our way we recognize the contribution of the faculty,” Lewis said.
Lewis gave the Senate Faculty the charge of developing guidelines for the award within 90 days. The chosen professor will receive an increase in base pay and the title of “Distinguished University Professor.”
Reiterating his address at the board of trustees meeting on Jan. 9, Lewis stressed the importance of being customer-friendly.
“We have to remember the students, faculty, fellow staff, board of trustees, Board of Education, legislators and parents are all of our customers and no one customer is less than the other,” Lewis said. “We need to treat every customer like they can make or break our careers because they can. Being customer-friendly and customer-oriented is going to be the salvation for FAMU.”