Faculty Senate address budget concerns

Several Marshall University faculty members raised concerns Thursday evening at a meeting of the Faculty Senate over Operations’ decision to power down all academic buildings on the weekend except for Smith Hall.

Brandi D. Jacob-Jones, senior vice president for operations, said heating and cooling will be powered down in all academic buildings except for Smith Hall to save funds on utilities and manage the recent state budget cut.

However, Elizabeth Murray, professor of biotechnology, said Smith Hall is not a big enough venue for some events meant to bring prospective students and their families to campus, and operations’ decision may not effectively help compensate for the budget cut.

“It’s not clear to me how that is going to save us money,” Murray said. “And I think indeed there are events that we could relocate to a better time and a better space, but maybe we need a system of prioritization to justify the best use of space.”

Wendy Trzyna, associate professor of biology, said the fluctuation in building temperatures can interfere with the functioning of laboratory equipment.

“I’m a little disturbed by this,” Tryzna said. “We haven’t really been informed of this ahead of time, so we can’t really make any adjustments to what’s happening in the laboratory.”

Carl Mummert, associate professor of mathematics said he was concerned that powering down the buildings might also affect faculty whose offices will be colder over the weekends.

Chief financial officer for the university Mary Ellen Heston said faculty members will have to work with the impact of the budget situation, even if it means wearing a jacket to the office.

“There’s going to be stuff that not everyone is going to like,” Heuton said. “But heating a whole building because somebody might want to get in their office doesn’t make sense. There’s just so many different factors.”

Dale Shao, professor of management information systems, said it will be more rewarding for those affected by powered-down buildings to take care of their own needs for now until the budget crisis has passed.

“We’ve got to save the money,” Shao said. “I’d rather save the money and have a higher salary in the long run.”

In the meantime, Heuton said the Faculty Senate will need to work on communication and collecting information to meet the needs of those who need access to certain buildings over the weekends or are affected by changes in heating and cooling.

The next Faculty Senate meeting is scheduled for February 18.

Rebecca Turnbull can be contacted at [email protected].