November 3, 2000
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the September 22 and the October 6 meetings were accepted as presented.
President Studley reported on the recent Board of Trustee meeting. She said that Board members were impressed with what is happening on campus--the excitement of the students, the teaching and scholarship, and the extra-curricular activities. The Board was also pleased about Skidmore's positive visibility and stature. The Board is prepared to do its part to help grow Skidmore's resources over time, but wants the College to be realistic about balancing ambitions and resources. They are counting on the College to develop a sense of its future course and priorities through the strategic planning process.
With regard to strategic planning activities, President Studley said that the places are filling on the roundtables, and she encouraged faculty and staff to participate in these roundtable discussions. She noted that employees could also participate at the web site or at various "planning walls" around campus. She reminded the group that time invested in strategic planning would pay large dividends in the future.
President Studley then noted that the Commission on the 90’s was the last serious planning process at Skidmore, and it established priorities that guided decision making and planning for the past decade. Academic excellence, diversity, and a firm financial foundation were the goals of that planning process. President Studley commented that the Pew roundtable discussions had a different purpose than our current strategic planning efforts and were not intended to be a full-scale planning process.
President Studley went on to say that early, honest and constructive comments are essential, and that everyone needs to participate if Strategic Planning is to be successful. She reminded the group that good things happening at Skidmore have the effect of attracting great students, generating loyal graduates, and positioning the College to receive support from alumni, foundations, and friends.
Professor Pat Fehling, a member of IPC, emphasized that Strategic Planning is not just for faculty members and encouraged everyone to participate and to urge students and staff to do so as well.
Professor Michael Arnush proposed that a day be set aside late in the spring for the Academic Festival. For the past two years it was held during the last week in April on a Wednesday and a Thursday afternoon, just before Honors Convocation, and ran concurrently with classes. Because classes were still in session, not all faculty could attend and not all students were able to participate. Professor Arnush thinks the Festival has the potential to grow into an all-community event if a day in the academic calendar is freed and devoted solely for the Academic Festival with classes and other events being cancelled. He has received support in principle from a number of administrative offices and has been working with CEPP to move in such a direction. He asked the faculty to take a moment to complete the electronic questionnaire that will help make a decision about the most appropriate venue for the Academic Festival. He would like this settled by the end of the semester.
A question was asked whether this was an urgent matter or could wait until the next academic year. Professor Arnush said it wasn’t urgent but for planning purposes (eg. faculty setting their syllabi) it would be good to know by December.
Professor Arnush went on to say that CEPP suggested scheduling the festival at the beginning of study days as an alternative; however, he was concerned about that plan because a number of students leave campus during study days. CEPP would reconsider its suggestion if data were collected on alternative solutions. This survey is a chance for the faculty to give input.
Professor Dan Hurwitz reported for FPPC in Tom Denny’s absence. FPPC has met four times this academic year, and has spent a lot of time discussing how the committee should function for the rest of the year. FPPC reviewed last year's initial budget plan, and it looked at a financial review of the five-year Journey Campaign. Even though the Campaign was remarkably successful, not all of the money is in hand–some money has been promised for a future date. The capital projects that are now in progress are the Tang Museum and Case Center. The renovation of the fourth floor of Palamountain is on hold, and architectural firms are being selected for the Filene renovation project. FPPC discussed the fundamental budget parameters upon which deliberations should be based; i.e., presenting a balanced budget to the Board, growing the endowment, determining the student body size, and maintaining the physical plant. FPPC also talked about its function for the coming year and where it wants to go. It discussed how it could have a greater role in the planning of big-ticket items and reduce the time the committee devotes to the details of line items. FPPC is in the process of establishing a home page on the web, which will include reports on projects and some FAQs, as well as information on big budget items. A preliminary operating budget was created.
Professor Una Bray asked three questions.
She heard a rumor that the library acquisition budget has been cut by $90,000 because of employee salary compensation. Are they linked?
Professor Hurwitz commented that this was discussed at FPPC's last meeting. He said that during last year's FPPC deliberations in a special meeting with President’s Staff, a list of possible budget balancing changes (line items) was shared with FPPC. Although FPPC had very strongly suggested compensation be at a certain level, it would be unfair to say that the cut to library acquisitions was done in order to pay for the GSA alone. Although salary and compensation were extremely important issues, FPPC would not take two items and choose one over the other.
President Studley commented that reductions were not specifically tied to any other item in the budget because the entire budget lives and dies in its entirety. The choice to cut the library acquisition budget was no less difficult than choices about other cuts that needed to be made. It was clear that including a percentage for salaries was very important to FPPC, and that percentage was maintained.
2. We have experienced cuts for student help and tutoring. Is this related to needing student help at the Museum?
President Studley said that there was a suggestion that savings could be found in the use of student workers, and there were a number of departments that agreed that reduced hours could be accommodated. On the Academic side, Dean Susan Bender, and on the Student Affairs side, Dean Pat Oles, looked at how they could find those savings. This issue will be looked at again if it is determined that it has an academic cost. [Note: The following week President Studley clarified to faculty that the student worker load was held constant, but that a necessary increase in the hourly wage led to a reduction in the number of hours.]
Compensation and salary have not been increasing as promised; will FPPC address it early this year or later in the year? Is FPPC going to pursue gender equity issues as promised last year?
President Studley stated that the promise to look again at issues was from Dean Roth and herself, and Dean Berman and she are committed to doing it. These questions have been reported to the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees.
Speaking for CEPP, Professor John Brueggeman reminded the faculty that CEPP would offer a formal motion of the revised core curriculum at a special faculty meeting on November 17. Further discussion will be held at the December 1 faculty meeting, when a vote is expected to be taken. Only about 20 faculty members have contributed to the survey on the web site. He hopes the conversation will broaden at the web site and at faculty meetings.
CEPP’s sense of the main issues that have been raised are: 1) origins and goals behind this proposal and specifically the question of streamlining; 2) when and at what level LS2 gets taught; 3) whether the proposed breadth requirements make sense; specifically, whether science is adequately integrated into the proposed requirements; and 4) how we integrate intercultural education into our curriculum, including concerns about foreign language, non-western study, and cultural diversity.
Professor Brueggemann said that cultural diversity would require students to examine the relations of culturally distinct peoples within a given sociopolitical context. These courses may focus on diversity in the United States or on inter-cultural relations in other contexts. CEPP intends that at least one of the culturally distinct groups of people examined in such a course would have "non-western" origins, but the social context in which the groups interact could be western or non-western. CEPP expressed a common dissatisfaction with the conventional dichotomy of western and non-western cultural settings. CEPP recognizes that "western" scholarship and creative works and imperialist ideology have historically dominated the academy in the United States.
He went on to say that one way to preserve strong foreign language, non-western and perhaps cultural diversity is to reduce the breadth requirements in social science and humanities. However, CEPP has concerns that 1) the breadth categories reflect traditional knowledge domains that many think are important for a liberal arts education; 2) the abundant double-counting of social science/humanities courses with non-western courses presently facilitates flexibility so students can take other courses without mandating that all non-western or social science/humanities courses count for both; 3) the intention of LS1 and LS2 is that they not include not only social scientific and humanistic components.
Professor Brueggemann proposed the following goals for the discussion: to work together to sift through the issues on which there is disagreement in order to find some common ground; to hear more voices; to suggest concrete ideas.
The conversation was opened with the following questions: Is cultural diversity worth retaining in any form in the curriculum? In addition, how should we balance the goals of foreign language, non-western, social science and humanities?
Professor Rubio asked about merging the ICE requirements with social science and humanities so students would be able to take one in the humanities and another one in the social sciences. She thought that there seemed to be an imbalance between the social sciences and humanities.
Dean Bender explained that all of the non-western courses reside either in the social sciences or humanities. CEPP thought that by allowing double counting the social sciences/humanities courses with non-western courses that students could double count. We would then retain a set of breadth requirements that represents the traditions and studies within a liberal arts curriculum.
Other comments included:
- There seems to be an imbalance between the social sciences and humanities.
- Are constraints being placed on students that are unnecessary?
- Go back to what the most basic goals are and worry less about questions of equity from the viewpoint of the department and the faculty and concern ourselves about the learning goals of the students.
- The system of all-college requirements really helps students because it exposes them to different departments and majors. Flexibility should remain.
- While trying to streamline the core curriculum, a new category (cultural diversity) has been added. Is it possible to have a single category—cultural diversity/non-western?
- The new cultural diversity requirement will have to be staffed. How will departments staff those courses?
- Non-western and cultural diversity should not be pitted against each other; both are needed. If there is a cultural diversity requirement and the non-western requirement is retained, faculty lines may be need to be added.
- Two suggestions for handling the ICE component of the proposal:
- Add one course to the number of required courses, requiring a foreign language course and then keeping the ICE requirement as it exists in the proposal.
- Require one foreign language course and keep the ICE as one choice from the non-western and the cultural diversity categories. That keeps the number of required courses unchanged.
- Foreign language at the college level exposes students to a different culture. It would be a disservice if students were not prepared for an international world.
- Has CEPP done any modeling to see what would happen if extra sections were added? How many extra seats would we need to provide for the curriculum that we presently have?
- More models and more choices are needed.
- Be careful not vote before knowing what is being delivered.
- Be careful not to do something that undermines programs with underlying foreign language requirements.
- Foreign language is the best way to teach different cultures of the world.
- Foreign languages address multiculturalism and are an integral part of this liberal arts education.
- A one-course foreign language requirement would allow students who have never been exposed to Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Portuguese, etc. the opportunity to explore these languages—a great plus for diversity.
- Think about the quality of the requirements and consider what students are learning.
Professor Brueggemann invited the faculty to continue the conversation on the web site and with each other. A suggestion was made to Professor Brueggeman to direct the faculty’s thoughts for the next faculty meeting with specific questions beforehand.
President Studley commented about a reference during the discussion to the addition of faculty lines. Two to four faculty lines were Phyllis Roth’s estimate of what it would take to make implement reconfiguration smoothly. It was not a commitment to create lines; whether that is the most important use of our resources is a subject for strategic planning and priority setting.
- Susan Kress and Sandy Baum spoke about the importance of the Faculty/Staff Scholarship Fund and asked the members of the faculty to please be generous and donate to this important fund. Skidmore is less able to provide need-based aid because of our small endowment; therefore it is important that faculty contribute to this fund.
- Dean Berman announced that the faculty reception would be held at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery immediately after the meeting.
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and
Dean of the Faculty