Chairpersons interviewed on presidential search, salaries

Students protested outside of the Community Center on the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 22, while the board of trustees met inside to vote on various business matters of Guilford College.

The protestors’ message: our faculty pay issues must be addressed. There is no way, the signs said, that Guilford’s professors should be ranked dead last among peer colleges.

During a break, some trustees trickled out and engaged students in conversation before they were called back in to vote on matters that affect students.

Regardless of unhappy students or underpaid faculty, the band played on.

The trustees gave the green light for administrators to figure out what would need to be cut should enrollment meet a bare minimum requirement. During the last round of reductions, several adjunct and staff positions were cut.

The Board also confirmed the tenure of two professors and raised tuition and room and board by three percent. Additionally, at the request of the CCE SGA, student activity fee for the adult population was raised by $15.

According to the Vice President for Finance Greg Bursavich, the amount and percentage of any salary adjustments will depend on the actual enrollment in Fall 2014 and the enrollment anticipated for Spring 2015.

So for now, where finances and layoffs are concerned, much is still up in the air.

Following the meeting, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees Joseph M. Bryan Jr. and Chairperson of the Presidential Search Committee Carole Bruce sat down with The Guilfordian for a brief Q&A.

Q: What can you tell me about pay inequality? You have read The Guilfordian and can agree, I’m sure, that faculty are an important part of this institution — why is it that we are dead last among our peers? 

Bryan Jr.: I have no intention of going out and talking to (the protestors). The board has been made aware that salaries are the first priority in the worse case. This is really not a board issue. This is something we entrust to the administration of the College. The budget committee recommends to the president, and he in turn makes his recommendations to us.

Bruce:  Faculty is our biggest cost. If we budget deficits in order to raise salaries, we will eventually run out of money. You have to remember that we have been contending with the $2.5 million in funding cuts. That is a lot of money to lose.

Bryan Jr.: There have been many small liberal arts colleges that have gone belly up. That is what we are trying to avoid here. Higher education all over is facing financial issues.

Q: What can you tell me about the presidential search? 

Bruce: I think the entire board is very satisfied with the applicants. We have over 92 very qualified professionals to choose from.

Q: Can you clarify what “qualified” means? 

Bruce: The applicants have read what the community is looking for, and not only understand, but also are enthusiastic about the ethos of the College. Our next president will value the Quaker values of the College, its testimony, programs such as Principled Problem Solving; and the person accepting the position will have a full understanding of Guilford. I should also add that the board approved a hybrid interviewing process should it be requested. I speak for the entire board when I say it is only if needed.

We would essentially create a small proxy group for the various college constituencies (students, faculty, staff, alumni, board of visitors) sworn to confidentiality to interview the finalist candidates along with the trustees.

Bryan Jr.: We are pushing for open interviews. The hybrid interviewing would only be done if it were impossible to interview otherwise. We want the process to be as open as possible.