Reported By Jonathan Martin
Just three days into the job as Tennessee State University's interim president, Portia Shields had quite a bold first meeting with faculty.
Video: Faculty Demand Answers From New TSU Prez
"We've done this now 10 times, and nobody listens. Nobody listens when we work," said faculty member Mary Asson-Batres.
"Could you give me the opportunity to meet with you all on Monday?" said Shields.
She addressed the entire faculty Thursday morning. Afterward, a group cornered her, demanding she hear their concerns and clean house in the school's administration to fix what they call corruption.
"Some of these administrators are fine and wonderful and dandy," said Jane Davis, another TSU faculty member. "Others are fiddling while Rome burns, and what they're doing is trashing the university."
"I need to get a handle on what they're concerned about because they seem to be very emotionally bound to their point of view," Shields said.
The group said their ideas have been shut out by administrators in the past and feel a big reason TSU's fundraising and enrollment are down and the reason the school was just denied reaffirmation of its accreditation is because leaders haven't addressed issues that directly affect students, such as financial aid.
"Would you come here if you were not served? No, you would go to MTSU, where you can process your admission quickly," Asson-Batres said.
Shields did not make any promises about changes at the top but promised to take faculty input.
"We're going to take all this information back, condense it and find out what our steps should be," she said.
Shields said she will meet with faculty members Monday.
There is a lot of pressure on Shields. She has less than a year to clean up institutional effectiveness or the school could be placed on probation or lose accreditation altogether.
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