The committee hosted the first of two open forums Wednesday for faculty input on the University’s efforts to repair the damage from an athletic scandal that has lasted almost four years. The committee will hold another forum today at 9:30 a.m.
Some faculty remain skeptical of the committee’s efforts, including history professor Harry Watson .
“You’ve set up a mandate for cheating,” he said.
Watson and others said it was a mistake to focus on individual athlete literacy statistics because it caused the University to lose sight of larger issues facing student athletes.
“Our international reputation is in utter tatters because we have focused on trashing the reputation of a whistleblower,” Watson said in reference to former learning specialist Mary Willingham.
He said the athletic department is still not being held accountable.
“Are you prepared to advise the chancellor that we have an authentic athletic problem, not merely an academic problem?” he asked the committee.
History professor Lloyd Kramer said he agrees the literacy test data was a distraction, but Willingham’s contributions had value.
“There are clearly students who were clearly not writing at a college level,” he said.
Health policy and management professor Tom Ricketts said he thinks some faculty members have been unfairly criticized for not speaking negatively of the athletic department.
“I think there is some inappropriate targeting of the faculty that we need to protect ourselves from,” he said.
Committee member Barbara Osborne said she thinks they are well-positioned to address upcoming issues.
“The fact that we have a direct line and direct ear to the highest members in the administration is something most faculty don’t have,” she said.
Chairwoman Joy Renner said the committee will likely meet twice in May before the summer. She said she thinks their biggest accomplishment this year has been spreading the conversation about athletics to different departments.
“One of the greatest things we’ve done is connected everyone who’s involved in the student athletic experience so everyone is talking to everyone,” Renner said. “Before I think everyone was doing their jobs in isolation.”