The following is a statement from UFA President Paul Haber from December 1, 2016:
The UFA wishes to express its best wishes to Royce and Mary Engstrom. We encourage you to do the same.
I think the meeting we co-convened yesterday with the ASUM, MPEA, Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, and Montana College Faculty Association went well. In the 25 years I have been here, we have never before had such a show of unity. The conversation focused almost entirely on prioritization. I think it would be accurate to say that most of the comments expressed during the meeting questioned the decision to move forward with this project. Neither faculty, staff, nor students were included in this decision and we think we should have been, given that we are after all, UM.
Yesterday morning, many of these same organizations were represented at a co-governance committee meeting where the discussion focused on the importance of advising and mentoring students and the relationship between quality advising and student retention. We committed ourselves to working toward a campus-wide initiative. Tom Crady was at the meeting and he is completely on board. We need to improve on our retention rate.
My feeling is that rather than jump to prioritization, which seemingly would inevitably include more cuts, a better response to our current enrollment challenge is to grow and retain our way out of it. We have reason to believe that the commissioner and the Regents will support us in this effort. This will require meaningful efforts on all our parts. We should not nor can not simply say no to prioritization or we will be guilty of the obstructionism that some have accused the faculty. Some might say that it is not faculty’s job to come up with a better idea than prioritization but I think we undermine ourselves and our institution if we take that position.
We will of course stay in contact with you as we move forward in our efforts, as your union, and in our collaborate efforts with students, staff, Faculty Senate, and administrators.