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President Gordon faces emotional SFA Faculty Senate during meeting

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 7:20 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2021 at 7:25 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - There was no shortage of emotion at a Stephen F. Austin faculty senate meeting today. It all stems from a budget which originally called for an $85,000 raise for the president. There were frank remarks before over 280 listeners. They were primarily faculty senators and professors.

President Scott Gordon faced a tough audience.

“I respect the board, but it was a mistake to accept that raise,” he said in an opening statement.

The $85,000 raise was rescinded this week, upon Gordon’s request. It isn’t solving faculty’s frustration and anger voiced today, despite their fears for expression.

Dr. Matthew Kwiatkowski said, “I can’t begin to tell you how fearful the faculty are of this administration with intimidation and retribution. The faculty are seriously afraid of this.”

Another faculty member voiced frustration over years of trying to get more faculty in his department.

Another asked, “How can the president be paid equitable for his peers, when faculty have been waiting over a decade for that to happen?”

Heather Olson-Beal stated, “It’s shocking that a lot of us keep coming to work because it’s so ... it’s an environment.”

President Gordon is taking responsibility for some of the faculty’s concerns, but not all.

“All of the issues that I had to have evolved or be responsible for, I own it,” the president said. “But these are issues that this university have been occurring over not just years, but decades.”

Comments were directed to Regent Chair Karen Gantt.

“It was expressed that the board of regents has been historically, over a very long period of time, inaccessible and unapproachable,” she shared. “And that culture must change.”

Even through a distant ZOOM connection, President Gordon was visibly shaken. The emotional faculty senate discussion followed three days of meetings with faculty and students.

“It’s not going to do any good to rehash the last three days. Talk to your colleagues about those meetings. Several of them have been in those meetings. And, uhm, we just need to heal. We need to heal and move forward,” said Gordon.

Yet, academic deans expressed in writing, “indignation in the fiscal decisions by the President and in his lack of leadership.”

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