Recently, as many of you all know, a proposal for initial support for the Literacy Commons was submitted to UNCP’s Provost Dr. Ken Kitts. In the proposal, we asked for the following:
1) Space (essentially a room on UNCP’s campus)
2) One Course Release for the director
3) Seed money ($ 2,500)
4) And Hawk Assistantships for students
Sadly, and at this point, UNCP is unable to offer any initial support for the Literacy Commons. Below is a written response from the provost (and do feel free to offer your thoughts here in this blog post):
I have completed my review of the Literacy Commons proposal. As promised, I considered all material presented to me, both in our meeting and in the very thoughtful written proposal you submitted some weeks ago. I also sought additional input from Lisa Schaeffer, Mark Canada, and Kay McClanahan. Permit me to address some of the key issues at the center of this decision.
Space: The old nursing building will soon be occupied by the Honors College and College of Arts and Sciences. This decision was well under way before we met to discuss the Literacy Commons. The Space Allocation Committee continues to look at office/suite assignments in Jacobs Hall, West Hall, and Old Main. At least part of the space that will become available in Old Main will be reserved for the School for Southeastern American Indian Studies. The dust has yet to settle from recent moves of Enrollment Management offices into D.F. Lowry, and the relocation of Honors and the CAS to the old nursing building has not yet occurred. All of which is to say that it is difficult for us to anticipate future space availability until these moves are finalized.
Course Release: The requested course releases would pose a uniquely heavy burden on the Department of English and Theatre. Due to recent turnover, that unit might be the one least able to absorb near-term reductions in instructional personnel. Moreover, the chair of ET has agreed to work with the administration and Faculty Senate on a pilot program this year that could have additional implications for faculty course load – details to be forthcoming soon. The combination of these factors would make it difficult for the department to absorb additional course reductions in the short term.
Budget: I acknowledge that the proposed budget for the LC is modest. Even so, we now know that the university is facing another budget reduction for the fiscal year that began on July 1 (that information was not available when we met last month). While the decrease is smaller than the one we absorbed last year, it is a reduction nonetheless. The Chancellor has directed all cabinet members to identify surplus funds in order to create a pool of institutional dollars to address salary equity issues on our campus. I support that as an institutional priority.
I apologize if the above represents more information than you bargained for, but I think it important to contextualize the decision on the LC. The bottom line is that I do not feel comfortable with making a commitment to support the launch of this initiative in Fall 2012.
Looking ahead, the Chancellor and I intend to announce a second round of institutional mini-grants in AY 2012-13. When the RFP goes out, I strongly advise you and your colleagues to repackage and submit the LC proposal for grant consideration. I know of no reason why some release time for spring term could not be included in the proposed budget, provided that it had prior endorsement of the chair and dean. You should also include promotional costs and some furniture allowance as part of the budget. Receiving a grant award would move this project up the list of priorities for space allocation. More importantly, it would provide an institutional endorsement of the initiative that I would personally welcome. I have no desire to become a committee of one when it comes to resources in Academic Affairs and thus try to find ways to use existing processes to get broader input on decisions such as this one.
Please keep these suggestions in mind as you and your colleagues consider next steps. I applaud the collective energy, passion, and commitment behind this proposal. It is my hope that we can continue the dialogue in hopes of finding the best path to creation of the Literacy Commons.