Thank you for listening to me today. I would like to respond to the request to help define a new “Flight Plan” for EWU. This year, my job as professor of Philosophy became harder than ever. A Study Abroad trip that I had planned for our students to Europe was cancelled at the last minute. Like most of my colleagues, I was forced to adapt classes for online delivery. Like my colleagues, I also adapted to prioritize my students’ success in the face of unprecedented obstacles to their learning; I did my job.
EWU board members, do your job. Faculty are not middle management: we have enough teaching and research to do without the burden of generating, on-demand, “innovative ideas ” and “forward-thinking strategies.” There is no guarantee that such ideas, directly or indirectly, will not lead to the loss of their department, their program or their job. Now, faculty already reinvent the university, quarter by quarter, through their collaboration, inspiration and risk-tasking. Like anyone else, we just don’t want to do it with a sword of Damocles hanging over us. Having worked on reform of General Education, Honors, the creation of the Faculty Commons and frequently teaching FYEs full of first-generation students, I am still asked to constantly justify my existence as a scholar of the humanities and, when I am lucky, a mentor to students who want to transform the world.
I might note that you have heard today from every tenured member of our small but vibrant philosophy program. Philosophy is the oldest academic discipline; if we’re cross with you, I suggest that your priorities are in the wrong place.
Kevin S. Decker