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Perspective: Calm the waters and work with faculty

Wright State University plans to begin the retrenchment process that will result in workforce reductions. Elevate Dayton is publishing the perspectives of students, faculty, alumni and other Wright State community members that could be affected by the changes. Kathryn Feltey, a two-time alum and retired professor from the University of Akron, writes about how the university was the catalyst to her career in academia and how administrators should work with faculty.

By Kathryn Feltey

I was deeply saddened to see that Wright State University's administration had begun the process of retrenchment last week. The university where my dream to join academia as a professor began is joining other universities in cutting faculty to right financial missteps of administrators. I started at Wright State in the fall of 1974. I earned a B.A. in sociology, followed by an M.A. in applied behavioral sciences. I was mentored by knowledgeable and caring faculty who encouraged and challenged me to become a researcher, scholar, and teacher. What was so impressive about a Wright State education is that the faculty took time (a lot of time) to know their students and help them build on their strengths and address their weaknesses. I could not tell you the name of one administrator in the eight years that I attended Wright State, but I knew every faculty member's name in my home department and many in other departments as well. To this day, I am still in touch with professors I took classes from.

With a firm foundation from Wright State, I went on to earn a Ph.D. and had a 33-year career as a sociology professor at the University of Akron. I modeled my approach to teaching and mentoring on the professors I was fortunate to study with at Wright State. I think of it as a life-long "pay it forward" to the academic mission and the people at the core of that mission: Students and their faculty. Together we examine disciplines and explore possibilities and through the relationships we forge, we create and recreate the university into the future.

My hope is that rather than taking drastic measures in a time of national crisis, Wright State administrators will take a deep breath, pause, and work collaboratively with faculty. This work should prioritize the well-being of the university community: All of us are suffering in this pandemic. In an institution filled with highly educated and intelligent people, we should be able to discern how to best calm the waters during this time. Then the hard work of reviewing priorities can begin and fulfilling the promise of a top-rate education to students can continue.

Are you a Wright State student, faculty member, alumni or a member of the university's community? Send your thoughts about the university's entrenchment process to to be featured online.

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