Cruzado responds to emerging faculty concerns

President Cruzado issued a 1900-word e-mail to MSU faculty and staff late Friday afternoon, after a large group of faculty presented a letter of concern regarding the direction of the university.

The faculty letter, presented to Cruzado Thursday, was drafted after approximately 100 tenure-track professors met privately off campus on Tuesday evening. MSU has about 500 tenurable faculty.

Specific concerns outlined by faculty include rapid growth in student enrollment, maintaining the university’s “standing as a top-tier public research institution” and the extent to which they are included in academic decision-making. The group, including professors Robert Rydell, Sue Monahan and Linda Young, wrote that they hope the letter will spur “productive conversations” between faculty and senior administrators.

The frustration comes as the university administration, which unveiled an overarching strategic plan last fall, works to set long-term goals for its academic colleges and departments.

Cruzado’s response emphasized her efforts at communication as she has implemented her land-grant vision for MSU, specifically citing her weekly Monday Morning Memos and numerous public listening sessions.

Referencing her 2010 inaugural address, she wrote that “I never promised … that the status quo would dictate the rhythm of my days.”

She characterized challenges stemming from the university’s 18 percent growth in the student body over three years as “growing gains” that have brought additional resources to MSU and increased access to higher education. As MSU seeks to achieve its future enrollment goals, “The protection of our academic quality is crucially essential,” Cruzado wrote.

She credited faculty and students for MSU’s strength in research and described several examples of her support for university research. MSU has spent nearly $300 million in research over the past three years and is currently designated as a top-tier public research institution by the Carnegie Foundation.

Cruzado’s e-mail also specifically denied rumors that she had been searching for positions at other universities. “I want to use this letter to clearly state that I have not been involved in any job searches,” she said. “None. Nada.”

“You are hearing it from the Bobcat’s mouth: The last time I participated in a search was the happy day when I accepted the nomination that converted me into ‘Candidate number 59’ for the presidency of MSU,” she said.

Cruzado said she and Rydell, Monahan and Young agreed on Thursday to seek “additional avenues of communication,” and that Cruzado and Provost Martha Potvin would attend some departmental meetings to search for solutions.