I was about to make my annual contribution to the Roberta Hill Memorial Fund, which has provided scholarships to students in Family and Consumer Sciences (formerly Home Economics) since 1977. Then, I read the article in today’s Herald Leader regarding the cuts in academic programs, cuts made necessary by the $13 million shortfall. What particularly provoked me was Mr. Turner’s attack on the faculty for taking so long to make the cuts in academic programs and to increase the costs in the employee health insurance (by a staggering 400 percent — unbelievable). As regrettable as the academic cuts are, such cuts in benefits have to be harmful to established academic programs, the future of which depends on retention and hiring of quality professors. Where were the administration and the Faculty Senate on these decisions? Perhaps their “time-consuming” deliberations prevented further damaging cuts, but how much more burden should the faculty bear? Mr. Turner’s own profile (EKU News, Oct. 8, 2013) suggests he is all for the values of smaller classes, individual teacher-student ratios and shared governance, which his current remarks contradict. Mr. Turner’s argument that the athletic budget of $14 million is necessary for “better retention and graduate rates” is peculiar at best. To add to the possible cost of the athletics program, AD Lochmueller has promoted a much greater budget – up to $24 million – in order to “reach the next level.” Apart from the fact that the athletic budget is about equal to the deficit, I am not sure how such a budget is going to help graduation success for most students who are not athletes in history or biology – or Family and Consumer Sciences, for that matter. This doesn’t make sense. Yet, as unhappy as I am about the current academic situation at EKU, the university to which I have dedicated 36 years of my teaching career, I am going to continue to support the Roberta Hill Family and Consumer Sciences endowed scholarship, the recipients of which are non-traditional students. I can imagine their sympathies lie with the worthy faculty members who will stay at EKU if they have affordable health insurance rather than whether EKU will make it “to the next level” or not.
Ordelle G. Hill
Professor Emeritus, English