January 02, 2014
To Members of the Campus Community:
As I’m sure you have heard by now, the Kansas Board of Regents at its December board meeting adopted a new policy designed to guide university leaders as they deal with the use of social media by faculty and staff. Not surprisingly, this policy has quickly become controversial, and it’s generated widespread concern from campuses across the state as well as from the national media. This has clearly become a serious matter and one that will take all of us working together to resolve.
I’m writing you this morning because I know many of you have questions regarding this policy, the timing of its adoption, and what steps your campus leadership has taken subsequent to its passage.
Discussions regarding the specific language of this policy emerged as the agenda was distributed one week before the Board of Regents December meeting. As we became aware of this initiative, Dr. Olson and I began meeting with the leaders of a number of campus stakeholder groups to make them aware of the purpose of this policy and to alert them to the direction discussions were taking at a statewide level.
Dr. Olson and I asked these leaders to share this information with their groups and, as a result, a number of concerns were identified and communicated to me in writing. I passed these concerns on to the board’s general counsel and visited with the board chair about the reaction I was receiving to this policy.
I’ve waited until now to write to you about this issue because I believe it deserves our campus’ full attention. That would have been difficult to do during the holiday break when most faculty and staff were away from campus and had their attention rightfully focused on family and friends. I also believed the board would likely have additional discussions about this policy as the public response became more intense. I’m pleased to report to you the board has now reached out to campuses throughout the state and requested their help in forming a small workgroup to make recommendations for modifying the policy.
Earlier this week, the President of the board, Dr. Andy Tompkins, indicated the board intends to review the workgroup’s recommendations at its April meeting. The workgroup will be created by University Presidents and Chancellor and, with input from campus stakeholders, will consist of representatives from every campus.
Many of you have worked with me for a number of years, and over that time, I would hope you recognize me as an ardent supporter of free speech, academic freedom, and the overall importance of maintaining a campus culture of openness and transparency. I can assure you that I’ll work diligently in the coming weeks to speak in support of these ideals.
Technology is changing our professional and personal lives in ways that many of us never imagined. Yet, it sometimes seems as if every technological advancement brings with it new challenges. As we form policies to address these new and emerging issues, we must work together to ensure that our traditions and principles are not compromised.
We’ve created a webpage dedicated to providing you with the latest information regarding this issue and the progress of the workgroups. You will find links to KBOR’s current social media policy, media coverage of this issue, a feedback tool and a copy of this letter at www.pittstate.edu/kborsocial.
As you have thoughts about this matter, I trust you will share them with the president of your stakeholder group or directly with me.
Steven A. Scott, Ed.D.President