Free Advice to the BGSU Board of Trustees, on the Occasion of Its Awarding an Enormous Raise to One, and Only One, University Employee

Dear BGSU Board of Trustees,

Pres. Rogers leaving Board of Trustees meeting (Artist’s rendering)

The BGSU community was gratified to learn of your recognizing the entire University’s accomplishments by your recent spontaneous awarding of a raise to Pres. Rogers.

I write to add to your list of Pres. Rogers’ own accomplishments, to list some of the accomplishments of the rest of BGSU’s employees, and to provide you guidance in rewarding the rest of BGSU’s employees for the communal job well done.

Here are some of Pres. Rogers’s accomplishments that you did not cite, but which we employees have noticed:

  • Pres. Rogers, as a first cost-cutting resort, calmly eliminated the jobs of 117 of our co-workers this spring, thereby avoiding the kinds of panicky actions that other universities took facing the same challenges, like spending a penny from the university’s large unrestricted reserves, negotiating with unions for reduced payroll costs, offering early-retirement incentives, or adopting widespread furloughs (BGSU’s were later rescinded).
  • Pres. Rogers admirably violated the spirit and perhaps the letter of the $6.5 million and $300,000 CARES grants awarded to BGSU that were expressly intended for job preservation, by not keeping or rehiring the people whose livelihoods he decided to cut.
  • Pres. Rogers cleverly invoked impeccable logic, in his expressing his choice to physically open BGSU in terms that suggested that BGSU had did not in fact have a choice, in contrast to the choice of hundreds of other public universities made not to physically open; and in his saying that, if BGSU went online, that would be a complete failure of its mission, despite its mission being the same as all those other institutions that did go online that continue to serve the public.
  • Pres. Rogers systematically used data-driven reasoning in dismissing centuries of colleges’ failure to control student social behavior, the entire body of research on the risk-taking behavior of young adults, and numerous universities’ failure to stop the spread of COVID-19 over the summer.
  • Pres. Rogers presided over the bold design and implementation of a COVID-19 testing program so epidemiologically inadequate, and BGSU has been reporting COVID-19 test results on its dashboard so inconsistently, that Pres. Rogers can pretend that BGSU does not have what may be an uncontrollable outbreak of COVID-19 among its students.
  • Pres. Rogers has prudently hidden from the public such unimportant information as COVID-19 breakouts among at least the football team and both the men’s and women’s soccer teams.
  • Pres. Rogers exhibited sensible management by, for no stated reason, firing the experienced, high-performing dean of BGSU’s largest college in the midst of an operational crisis (unless, that is, this was a rogue decision by the Provost; I leave that for you to judge).

But enough about Pres. Rogers’s accomplishments.

Here are a few things that the rest of us have accomplished in the past six months:

  • Perform over 99.9% of the work that led to the successes cited by the Board in its praise and financial rewarding of just one employee.
  • Reinvent university education delivery, despite, until recently, almost no attempt by central administration to offer adequate or widespread training, especially given the skeletal resources Pres. Rogers wisely chose to ration to the Center for Faculty Excellence.
  • Tend to the mental health of our record number of students during this stressful pandemic, as the Counseling Center, already understaffed before COVID-19, had its staffing further compassionately reduced by Pres. Rogers.
  • Trouble-shoot our own and our students’ technological issues at a time when we have all had to adopt quickly a range of new technologies, what with Pres. Rogers’s farsighted elimination of nearly 20% of full-time ITS employees this spring.
  • Teach and work spaces with uneven ventilation, with students perhaps six feet away (no guarantees there), so as to fulfill Pres. Rogers’s equanimity in promising all things to all students. This teaching has been most often performed by adjuncts, graduate students, and QRF faculty who, after the termination of the jobs of 117 of our coworkers and the canning of a dean for no apparent reason, are justifiably afraid to apply for accommodations, and thus as BGSU’s essential workers fear both for their jobs and for their livelihoods.
  • Teach and support the record number of students during this pandemic despite the decrease in the number of employees.

Here, then, might be a fair way for you to ensure that all BGSU employees and graduate students who have contributed to BGSU’s recent success are recognized, rewarded, and protected, in accordance to the example you have set with Pres. Rogers.

  • Rehire, at full-time pay, every one of the employees laid off or whose contracts were not renewed.
  • Give every employee a 10% raise in base pay and every graduate student a 10% increase in stipend, which would be roughly equivalent to the boost you gave to Pres. Rogers’s deferred compensation in terms of his overall compensation (not including his bonus; we’ll get to that).
  • Provide health insurance benefits to all graduate students, adjuncts, and other part-time employees, who, though unable to live up to Pres. Rogers’s dauntless example of leadership from his office in McFall, must as a condition of their employment spend 50-minute and 75-minute periods with many untested students, perhaps not fully distanced, in rooms that may not be properly ventilated.

You may object that some of us—full-time faculty members and members of the BGSU police force, for example—already have contracts in effect. However, as that was the case with Pres. Rogers, too, I am glad that you do not let pre-existing contracts stand in the way of your laudable generosity.

May I also take this opportunity to comment on the increased annual bonus you just awarded Pres. Rogers. At least as long as I’ve been at BGSU, this is a yearly ritual in which you give the president a bonus, which they then donate to the BGSU Foundation.

I am sure you would agree that it would be only fair, if, in addition to the above measures, the Board of Trustees awarded every BGSU employee a 22.8% bonus this year. Each of us would then donate that bonus to the BGSU Foundation to support the particular mission that we choose. After all, if it’s good public relations, a hefty tax deduction for Pres. Rogers, and a nice way for you to funnel over $100,000 annually from BGSU’s open books to the BGSU Foundation’s closed ones, no doubt it would be fantastic public relations if you did the same with tens of millions of dollars each year.

Thank you in advance for your leadership and your generosity to everyone who contributes to BGSU’s success.

Sincerely,

Andy Schocket