Disconnected Phones

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In order to cut costs and save money, the phones in some professors’ offices are no longer operational, so will this create a communication barrier when contacting students?

According to Betty Ellzey, professor of English and chair of the department of English and modern languages, not all of the professors have been disconnected. When asked if all professors have working phones in their offices, she replied, “Some do and some don’t.” All of the offices in Knutti have connected telephones, but many of political science offices in buildings like White Hall are disconnected.

Stephanie A. Slocum-Schaffer, associate professor and chair of the department of political science, said, “It is correct that some phones in the department of political science were disconnected to save money, but this was a decision made 100 percent by the individual faculty members themselves.”

The members of the political science department volunteered to have their phones disconnected because they rarely received phone calls from students and disconnected phones freed up money in the departmental budget. Slocum-Schaffer, as chair of the department, kept her working phone. The money that was freed up in the departmental budget went to pay for other expenses in the department.

Jacob Stump, assistant professor in the department of political science, is one professor who volunteered to have his telephone disconnected. Stump said that he rarely received calls from students, but the main reason he had his phone disconnected was for the budget. He said that at Shepherd we “operate on a shoestring budget that puts faculty members (i.e. the most essential components of a university) in almost comical positions.” The professors at Shepherd were forced to make the decision between having a working phone or “[still] inadequate money for professional travel.”

Stump went on to say that of the professors he knows at other public and private universities and colleges around the world, “I am the only one without a phone—and worse, I am the only one that I know who has to make a ridiculous choice between having a phone or having enough professional development money to stay an active scholar-teacher.”

The opinion of the students surveyed was that they felt unaffected by the phone disconnection. The majority of students contact their professors or advisor by email or by simply stopping by their offices.

The disconnected phones save money for department budgets and students have not reported any discrepancies in communication, but professors may still feel the effect of a tightened budget. Professors may have a need for a working telephone not just to contact students, but also to get in touch with colleagues and other professionals. Budget cuts at Shepherd are a prevalent issue and involve students as well as professors.