Baltisberger Agenda For Change

Ideas to Improve the College

Note that all ideas on this page are the opinions of Professor Jay Baltisberger and do not represent an endorsement of these ideas/values by Berea College as a whole.

The following items represent ideas to see Berea College change in the future.

  • Sabbatical Salary Issues – Address flaws in the sabbatical salary rules where a person may apply at only one external position and receive funding but be ineligible for the 2/3 of base salary because they didn’t apply at a second. Also change wording to allow a wide range of potential funding sources for the 1/3. Goal is not to have people simply apply at two agencies but in fact to actually get funded from at least one.
  • Grade Inflation – Address grade inflation and disparity across divisions/departments, specifically move to a system where the five-year class average is reported alongside the grade given in a course so the reader can judge what that grade better means. These averages would also be available as part of the online catalog so that students know what to expect from a course. I know some students would really jump for the classes that give “easy grades” but others might want to show that they are really the best students by getting good grades in the “hard” classes. I think in time faculty who do the “easy grading” would realize that they don’t really do anyone a favor by artificially inflating grades and in fact we would all be better served to have a narrower range of class averages. To claim students don’t already know some of this is kind of silly…I hear them talk often about “easy” and “hard” classes. This would just make it more official on the transcript.
  • Graduation Honor Recognition – Make honors mean something at graduation, specifically have all honors graduates walk across the stage either at the end or beginning and celebrate it. We do celebrate two students with the awards at graduation but I think we should make a bigger deal about ALL honors grads.
  • Improve Faculty Meeting Efficiency – Make governance and faculty meetings more meaningful; specifically move to a faculty senate (committees would still be populated by other faculty). This would not eliminate the voice of anyone (meetings would be open) but it would make sure that voting is fair and representative of all faculty members, not just those who happen to show up.
  • Egalitarian Salary System – Open up the salary process so that people can see a scale that is meaningful. Ideally this would make it so that faculty with similar years of experience at Berea make similar salaries and not have it so dependant on the initial salary (which is affected strongly by the economic times when hired) Another element might be if we want to have merit raises, only do these as a ONE YEAR bonus rather than some permanent raise that serves to separate faculty salaries.
  • Competitive Major Program Admission – Address number of majors in each program to control number of upper division course offerings and faculty member requirements in each program. The real world has competitive admission to graduate and professional schools as well as competition to secure a full-time job. In major programs that are stretched by faculty size issues we would limit admission to help balance programmatic distribution.
  • Semester Credit Hours – Switch to a semester credit hour system to replace our current credit system and bring us in line with national norms.
  • Distributional General Education – Work to reduce the general education requirements (which did not happen at the last COGER) and move to a distribution system with a minimal core.
  • Administrative Council Representation – Work to get faculty representation at the AC level and improve faculty contact with the board and president. This ideas was examined and rejected early in the current presidency. I respect this decision but feel that the issue should be brought up again.
  • Co-educational Housing – Move to co-educational housing in some of the dorms. This would go beyond simply having men and women in adjacent hallways but even have rooms next door to one another and let them control visitation/bathroom/cooking rules on their own.
  • Work to take on and reassign tasks from the President (and other administrators) that are not required to report at that level. I fundamentally believe that when a decision can be made at a lower level, it should be. When a committee can make the decision, it should. The President has a job to raise money because that is singularly the one thing that drives everything else.
  • Minority Students – Significantly recruit from non-black minority communities that can further diversify our campus.

The following items represent ideas that have seen some progress at Berea.

  • Total Smoking Ban on Campus – Potential text “We move that Berea College administration make appropriate changes to the student handbook, faculty manual and other documents to ban smoking anywhere on Berea College property. This would include converting the gazebos into general-purpose shelters rather than havens for smoking. An administrator shall be charged with creating a set of appropriate penalties and enforcement policies to be implemented as soon as possible that may be reexamined at a later date if the need arises.” This was brought to faculty and failed. I still believe we need to move on this and make the ban campus wide and permanent in much the way it is at both EKU and UK. Implemented at Berea College
  • Internship Salaries – Fix the internship/summer salary system that seems to reward students who collect a lot of money from on-campus sources and allows them to make more than students who find a good off-campus job/internship/RA that is paid entirely outside of Berea College. Implemented in large part, though still we don’t seem to have strong enough encouragement to find outside money versus use Berea money to pay, even when the internship might well have the funds.