Senate Officers Election 2015
Candidate Statements

For Chair-elect

David Cicci

Department of Aerospace Engineering
College of Engineering

Auburn University is a wonderful place to work, learn, and live.  I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a large part of my professional career at such a fine university.  Auburn has changed in many ways since I joined the faculty in 1987, and the university will continue to evolve in ways many of us haven’t yet considered.

One of the primary reasons that Auburn has changed for the better is the strong model for shared governance that now exists here, which was certainly not always the case during previous administrations.  Dr. Gogue’s respect for the faculty and shared governance has changed the culture at Auburn to one where the administration now seeks faculty input, and the Board of Trustees no longer views the faculty as adversaries.  This improved governing atmosphere will make it possible to successfully overcome many challenges that we will face in the years ahead.  Many of the challenges in front of us include the implementation of the 2013-2018 Strategic Plan, which present an ambitious set of priorities, goals, and commitments that were identified in order to advance Auburn University and reinforce the institution’s capacity for excellence.  This comprehensive plan could only have been developed with input from many constituency groups, including faculty and staff, and its implementation will only be possible through a heavy reliance on shared governance.

Perhaps a more urgent challenge facing us is the implementation of proposed changes to the university budgeting process.  These changes will result in a completely different budgeting model that will have a major impact across campus.  While the new plan appears to have some improved aspects over current practice, other aspects of the plan are likely to be problematic for many units.  When changes of this magnitude are undertaken it is imperative that the senate leadership, as well as faculty committees, be highly involved in the plan’s development and implementation.

While a new budgeting process is clearly long overdue, I believe the university faces an even more significant budgetary challenge in the future.  I believe that Auburn, as well as many other colleges and universities, are heading towards a meltdown of higher education due to the rising cost of tuition.  Students are paying large amounts of money to attend college and many are saddled with a huge debt when they leave.  We cannot expect that Auburn will have an endless supply of students who are willing to pay these high costs and this problem must be addressed soon.  One of the main reasons for the high cost of tuition is that many tuition dollars are used to subsidize other areas of the university.  This is a direct result of the declining support provided by the state and federal governments in these difficult economic times.  This results in higher tuition rates to cover the cost of non-academic university functions. For example, the current AU budget cites resources from tuition at approximately $400M while only about half of that is returned to the academic departments to cover the cost of instruction.  This occurs even though many units have a faculty shortage and are provided with less than adequate operating and maintenance budgets.  I believe a higher percentage of tuition dollars needs to be used for instruction and academic-related support (including graduate education) rather than being used for non-academic activities.  The most important national ranking that we should be chasing is that of the Best Values in Public Education.  Auburn used to be highly ranked in that category but has fallen far behind (88th in Kiplinger for 2015) many of our peer institutions. 

I’m also concerned about the recent reduction in benefits for faculty and staff.  Salaries have fallen behind both regional and national averages, we’re now paying 50% more for a reduced retirement program, healthcare costs are rising, and we must now pay to use some campus recreational facilities.  Even the price of faculty football tickets is increasing by 60% next year.  It’s time for the Senate to take a close look at our eroding benefits package if we are to attract and retain quality employees in the future.

These are some of the important issues that must be addressed to keep Auburn moving forward.  The construction of central classroom facilities, campus safety, and eventually, the search for a new president upon Dr. Gogue’s retirement will also need to be addressed.  Meeting these challenges will require creativity and asking many difficult questions.  However I feel that the current culture of shared governance that exists at Auburn will allow us to do so and make this university an even better place in the future.


For Chair-elect

James Goldstein

Department of English
College of Liberal Arts

Auburn University has changed in remarkable ways in the twenty-four years since my arrival, and nearly all of the changes have been positive.  Recent years have witnessed exceptionally good relations between the faculty and administration.  Yet Auburn faces many challenges in the immediate future.  Funding for public universities has reached a crisis state across the nation, and Auburn is tentatively planning to adopt a new strategic budgeting system.  If implemented carefully, the new model should allow the university to fulfill its mission and plan more effectively for the future, but all groups must be engaged in making sure that allocations are distributed with transparency and fairness.  The senate leadership will continue to play an indispensable role in keeping channels of communication open between the faculty and administration.

Our current strategic plan, like its immediate predecessor, has identified important areas for improvement.  Graduation rates are rising.  Student learning continues to be a priority, and the impending reorganization of academic assessment should help inject new energy and commitment to that often underappreciated task.  Many positive initiatives to encourage innovation in research, teaching, and outreach are taking place, though more progress is needed in obtaining external grants for funded research.  We will not have to wait much longer before construction begins on the new central classroom facilities.  Our labs, clinics, libraries, and support services continue to improve.  Despite our recent progress, however, we will face difficult challenges in the near future.  As state appropriations for public universities have declined, tuition and therefore student debt burdens have increased.  Although many of these national trends are beyond our control, as a land-grant university we must make every effort to keep tuition as affordable as possible while increasing opportunities for student aid.  Keeping administrative overhead down may offer a partial solution to the problem of rising tuition. In addition, we must do a better job recruiting and retaining a more diverse student body and faculty, ensuring that Auburn is a welcoming place to all. To recruit and retain the best faculty possible, we must continue to address the issue of competitive salaries and other forms of compensation.  More needs to be done about salary compression, as well as salary equity for women and minorities; there are no easy solutions, but the Senate leadership can play a strong advocacy role. Undergraduate education remains central to our mission, but we must continue to address the needs of graduate education in the arts, sciences, and professions.

I love the Senate and its traditions, but we should explore new approaches to making it more transparent and open as well as more efficient; for example, annual committee reports could be posted to the Senate website.  If elected Senate chair, I will do my best to represent every faculty member, whether tenured, probationary, or off the tenure track, in every school and college, as well as in the cooperative extension system.  Auburn has not yet completely succumbed to the disturbing national trend whereby over 60% of the faculty in the U.S. are now off the tenure track, yet we must remain vigilant while we continue to improve the working conditions of contingent faculty (lecturers, instructors, clinical and research faculty).  I am deeply committed to the principles of academic freedom and tenure, the faculty’s role in shared governance, and fairness and due process.  I believe that universities are one of our nation’s greatest public goods and are indispensable to the welfare of our fellow citizens.  Despite the ongoing erosion of public support for what we do, we must preserve the democratic mission of our land-grant university.  Under current economic conditions, it is understandable that students, parents, taxpayers, and politicians demand that we prepare college graduates for jobs.  While this is traditionally part of the mission of land-grant universities, we must also prepare future generations of well-informed and engaged citizens, not merely future employees, if our nation and state are to thrive.  Universities like Auburn are crucial to helping individuals and communities to flourish, but such flourishing only occurs when more than our purely economic needs are met.  Continued support for the arts and humanities, athletics, healthy lifestyles, and a sustainable environment are also vital to our well-being.  A wide range of opportunities to develop our intellectual, creative, and spiritual lives and those of our students are essential to human flourishing.  Working together, the faculty, administration, and governing board must anticipate and be ready to respond to any efforts to reduce our mission to nothing more than training our students to “meet the state’s workforce needs” (as one Midwestern governor recently attempted for another land-grant system).  Auburn is already an excellent university, and by working together, we can help to make it a truly great one.    


For Secretary-elect

Michael Baginski

Associate Professor
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
College of Engineering

I began my career at Auburn in the fall of 1985 and understand the important role the University and Senate Committees and the Senate play in shared governance and shaping many key programs and policies.

To date I have served on the University Library Committee, the Steering Committee for two terms, the Administrator Evaluation Committee for one term and been Committee Chair twice, the Faculty Grievance Committee, the Traffic Appeals Committee, the Admission Appeals Committee, and several Ad Hoc Committees. This experience has given me an appreciation of the University Senate and the duties of all the Senate Officers including the Secretary and what is expected of each. I’m very aware of the fact the Officers directly interact with the Administration and they must clearly communicate the long and short term goals of the Administration to the Faculty. They must also present the Faculty’s suggestions and concerns to the Administration.

If elected as Secretary, I will be responsible for distributing meeting notices, agendas, proposals, and other communications as directed by the Chair and the recording, publication, and distribution of minutes of each meeting. I feel that the timely dissemination of information to the Faculty is central to the role of the Secretary and I welcome the opportunity to do so at this time.

Auburn University is in the midst of making many important decisions including adopting a new budgetary model. The actions of the Senate Secretary are key to maintaining transparency in all decision processes that lead to all future changes. If elected I will be guided in my duties by Auburn creed. The two lines in the creed that have meant much to me over the years are: I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully. I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men. And let me add I believe in Auburn and without hesitation – War Eagle!


For Secretary-elect

Xing Ping Hu

Professor / Extension specialist
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
College of Agriculture

I believe Auburn University is a forward-thinking campus that demonstrates what shared governance can do at its best. The Faculty Senate is part of shared governance and participates in the formulation of our constitutional policies affecting the academic and professional welfare of the University and the faculty. Service through faculty governance provides opportunities to make a difference as we observe, assess and learn from the broadened wisdom of the collective university community by addressing concerns and finding solutions to the challenges confronting the university.

During my 15 years at Auburn, I have developed a deep appreciation for what the Faculty Senate contributing to a better campus environment and to achieve excellence in its endeavors. I have served on a variety of committees (university, senate, college, academia and professional societies), and editorial boards of professional journals along with scholarship in research, teaching and outreach. I believe that my experiences as a Senate representative, three terms as a member of Administer Evaluation Committee, and membership on the Academic Standard Committee have given me insight into what the senate represents and what the position of secretary-elect would encompass.

I understand the secretary’s role is a serious responsibility. I will, if elected, embrace the opportunity to further serve as we continue to move forward on the works ahead on many fronts including key elements of the current Strategic Priorities including enhancing success of faculty and students and promoting research enterprise through collaboration, transparency and collegial interaction among faculty, along with the challenges of the budget and cyber security.

The responsibilities of Secretary-Elect would provide a path to fostering effective communication, creativity and leadership. I will use this platform to communicate with objectivity and accuracy to keep faculty informed and ensure their voices are heard, and work collaboratively with faculty and leadership in promoting transparency and open platform for discussion and decision-making in addressing today’s pressing challenges and issues that are important to the Auburn community and especially the faculty. Collectively, we work towards enhancing this shared governance and making the process of university governance more important than before. Together, we provide leadership in finding solutions to the challenges confronting the university, while continuing Auburn’s current mission and the Auburn Spirit.





Last Updated:Feb. 19, 2015

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