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Dean of the Faculty/Vice President for Academic Affairs
 

FACULTY MEETING MINUTES

OCTOBER 4, 2002

MINUTES

President Jamienne Studley called the meeting to order at 3:39 p.m.

MOTION:

A motion was made by President Studley to approve the September 13, 2002 Faculty Meeting minutes. The motion was seconded and passed with all in favor.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

President Studley opened by announcing things she wished to speak about at the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting such as IPC, compensation review, and budget status. She wishes to make sure that information isexchanged and shared during these challenging times.

Regarding the October Board of Trustees meeting, President Studley remarked that there is a new Chair of the Board of Trustees, Sue Corbett Thomas, a graduate of the Class of '62. This will be her first official board meeting as chair. The main sessions for the Board will include one session on the economy and the financial future as they affect Skidmore and choices that lie ahead and one session on academic vision that Dean Joseph will lead.

President Studley also announced that the Denis B. Kemball-Cook Award for service to the College and to the Board of Trustees would be awarded posthumously to Erwin Levine. This is the first time the Board has granted the Kemball-Cook award to a non-board member. The Board felt very strongly that this was completelyappropriate in light of what Erwin had done for the College, the community, and in helping to educate the Board. The program related to the Kemball-Cook Award is on the subject of faculty/student collaboration. The hard part will be choosing which of the Board members who were Professor Levine’s former students will have the honor of helping make that presentation.

President Studley then discussed the compensation review. Working in conjunction with FPPC, the Benefits Committee, and CFG, Skidmore is in the process of shaping a process to better understand the College's investment in people and the compensation that the College pays to its employees. Skidmore is committed to rewarding all of its outstanding faculty and staff as well as possible for the excellent, hard, and dedicated work people do. Compensation is the single largest expense of the College. Skidmore needs to be sure that this substantial sum is used as effectively as possible to reward people in ways that are most meaningful. With hundreds of employees, it is obviously going to be impossible to come up with any scenario that perfectly meets
everyone's individual circumstances, philosophical values, needs, age, and preferences. The timetable and charge will be developed. The community will be kept posted and opportunities will be provided to weigh in.

President Studley next addressed the status of the budget. Past comments have been fairly general, but now that she has spoken with FPPC and has clear figures, she wanted to provide a more specific overview. It was identified in last year's budget that there were negative variations from what was expected. Some of the information came fairly late in the process of closing the budget due to certain categories being undetermined until the fiscal year end, ranging from energy costs of the spring to many actuarial or interest-rate based figures. President Studley further remarked that last year's budget had an unfavorable variance of about $700,000, which is less than one percent of our overall budget. This is similar to a situation Skidmore experienced in 1992; at that time the scale of the variance was larger than it was this past year. The good news is that Skidmore has already closed last year's budget in balance. About $300,000 had been saved from surplus funds from the 2001 year which Skidmore had reserved to cushion potential needs in financial aid; the funds were not needed for that purpose so they were available to apply to the budget overall. The remaining variance of about $400,000 was satisfied by using amounts held in reserve from unallocated bequests (funds from people who gave the College money in their wills but didn't specify what Skidmore had to do with it). Skidmore's long-standing practice has been to use those funds to expand endowment or toward special commitments and capital projects. Borrowing from that source toward operating expenses comes with the expectation that Skidmore will have to decide how to replenish or apply those funds in the future.

President Studley wished to make clear that this is an operating deficit, not a financial deficit. We typically think about a budget as simply balancing what comes in and what goes out. On that basis, last year Skidmore had more coming in than was needed to spend going out. However, Skidmore imposes conditions on how some money is used. Bequests are one of the types of money with conditions imposed; they come in as cash, but Skidmore has determined to set them aside in a specialized way. Some of the revenue that comes in has been earmarked for long-term expenses or capital reserves. If these conditions had not been in place, Skidmore would have come out in the black at the end of last fiscal year. President Studley concluded that Skidmore is in good shape. President Studley advised that after closing the 2002 budget, the budget for 2003 had to be re-evaluated to find what assumptions in the '03 budget are no longer supportable. Based on last year's experience, it was determined that there would be a shortfall of about $800,000 in this year's budget. In consultation with FPPC, which reviewed a list of suggested changes developed by President's Staff, ways were found that are thought to be the least painful, most sensible ways to go about bringing the budget into balance.

President Studley continued by advising that the changes that are planned start with adjustments to the capital budget. Projects have already been identified that can be either postponed or canceled. We expect to achieve $375,000 of savings in this manner. Second, President Studley addressed the contingency account, roughly one percent of the budget, which handles things that come up unexpectedly, shortfalls in expected revenue, or changes through the course of a fiscal year. Now that ways have been found to pay for all of the things that usually come out of contingency funds, it will now be possible to reduce the contingency slightly. Third, members of President's Staff developed a set of fiscal disciplines that it believes Skidmore can apply without unduly affecting program. Energy savings are high on that list, and both institutional management changes and individual behavior changes will be implemented to help save on the energy side. Vice Presidents and Deans will also work with the budget office to implement savings through other things that seem the most manageable, for example, small equipment savings, entertainment reductions, purchasing economies, and better management of overtime. It is hoped that these changes will accomplish the savings that will meet budget objectives but that are livable, reasonable, and don't affect the important things employees have to do.

President Studley mentioned that members of President Staff and committee chairs involved would also be happy to speak to anyone about this now or later. She then opened the floor for questions.

PHYLLIS ROTH:

Phyllis asked for a small point of clarification of compensation review and the process for having discussions. President Studley answered that this relates to the workload of the committees. FPPC and the Benefits Committee will be quite involved and may launch or do the reviews; this is under discussion. The committees may decide to do the work themselves, or they may create one or two entities to do the work and report to them.

MICHAEL ARNUSH:

Michael stated that President Studley mentioned in fiscal year 2001/02, the operating deficit was $700,00, give or take, and that for this year the deficit is foreseen as being roughly $800,000. Looking ahead to next year, given that some of the things that were suggested to reduce that $800,000 might be annual and others may not be, he inquired what President Studley foresaw as far as solutions for fiscal year 2003-04.

President Studley responded that Skidmore is working on exactly these issues to develop multiyear solutions. The goal is to add priority expenses for meeting program goals at the same time that Skidmore deals with the economic consequences. The hardest part will be to figure out reasonable assumptions are for variable items such as interest rates, endowment revenue, to the ability and willingness of our alumni to contribute.

TOM DENNY:

Tom inquired about the $700,000 deficit that was solved by unspecified bequests being put in to balance the budget. If he understood correctly, the term “borrowing” suggests the intention to repay that money back to the quasi-endowment. However, he was curious as to if the deficits are an ongoing, foreseeable thing, where would funds come from to repay that in future years?

President Studley confirmed that this use of funds reflects a change in practice. It is something that President’s Staff and the Board are comfortable doing on a one-time basis but it is necessary to determine whether this is a policy approach the College should take for the future. At this stage it was decided that immediate replenishment of funds out of this year's operating budget was not necessary, but that during this year a plan and a strategy must be developed. For fiscal year 2003 economies are included to close the budget with without similar transfer.

DEAN OF THE FACULTY'S REPORT

Dean Joseph mentioned taking his LS1 class last Friday to the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery. President Studley was also present. The students had a wonderful experience. The idea of actually involving students in an interactive way is something that Dean Joseph thinks is very important, and which he senses is important to all of the community. Dean Joseph also advised that his LS1 class is better than it has ever been before in terms of discussion level.

Dean Joseph mentioned he attended the National Council for History Education dinner the evening before. The Council is presently in Saratoga. Tad Kuroda has been very instrumental in making a link between the Council and Skidmore. Dean Joseph was seated at a table with historian, David McCullough, together with two students, Samantha Frank and Matt Sweet. He noted how wonderfully David McCullough genuinely engaged our students in conversation. Those kinds of connections are very important to Dean Joseph, and he hopes that Skidmore can somehow, even more directly, assimilate those into the community.

Dean Joseph next spoke about various stages and phases of a faculty member's life, more particularly, the junior faculty phase. Skidmore needs to figure out a better way to involve junior faculty in the business of the community. Recently Dean Joseph has sponsored a series of Brown Bag Lunches that have produced a nice combination of not-so-junior faculty and new faculty. The talks have been illuminating for Dean Joseph and he observes that new faculty members are very excited about joining the community.

Dean Joseph announced the Andrew Mellon Foundation has awarded an $80,000 grant to be shared in even amounts between Skidmore, Hamilton College, Colgate University and Union College. The purpose of the grant is to discuss what it is the College is actually doing and what might be done better as a faculty and as a community. If useful ideas develop in the planning stages, it is believed that perhaps the Mellon Foundation might be sympathetic to a further grant in this area. Dean Joseph then read a list of the themes agreed upon with the other three colleges that will be pursued in the next few years Dean Joseph stated that he thinks faculty need to ask the question as to how they can be productive from the time of entry into Skidmore and throughout the
various phases of teaching here.

Dean Joseph also mentioned that these are the very same questions other institutions are asking. Northeast Deans Association is a group of 25 peer institutions that have a very active list-serve where questions are posed. The two most recent questions asked in that forum were what other colleges are doing about assessment and distance learning. The responses indicate that, for most institutions, these areas are still being developed. The topics being discussed at the next Northeast Deans Conference to be held in November include: The liberal arts college and faculty expectations; the evolving balance among teaching, research, and service for the faculty today; the living/learning campus, housing, social arrangements, and faculty involvement; athletics on a liberal arts college campus; problems with benefits of athletics programs in light of issues raised recently; diversity on campus, the value of diversity, recruitment approaches for students and faculty and training; the problem of work intensification for junior faculty of color. These topics are very much on the minds of Skidmore and our peer institutions. Skidmore has very clear markers in the Strategic Plan, knows what the boundaries are, knows what we want to do as a community, but defining, articulating, and implementing, those markers is something that
needs future work.

Dean Joseph then made it known that he feels the time has come to seek some extra help in the Dean of Faculty's Office. Until the middle of last year, there had been two associate deans, Sue Bender and then-Associate Dean Joseph. Dean Joseph felt that when he began his interim position mid year, it would have been too disruptive to move in a new person at that time. It is now clear, given there is a line vacant, that the time has come to appoint a new assistant or associate dean, depending on what level seems appropriate. Dean Joseph then asked Dean Goodwin to outline the process for filling the position.

SARAH GOODWIN:

Dean Goodwin stated that she has been aware since she started that there was going to be the need for another dean in the department. However, she needed to get a feel for the job before she could decide what could be delegated to a new person. She continued to say that she finds the job exciting. Nevertheless, she thinks it is necessary to have another person on board.

In the past, the division of responsibility was that the two associate deans divided up the departments and the committees. Dean Goodwin, however, is not certain that that concept is in Skidmore's best interest. She has hoped that with time a concept might emerge where Dean Goodwin could continue to work with all of the chairs, with Bob DeSieno's very generous and important help. The other person's responsibilities would be decided in part according to what that person's interests are, but would include overseeing some of the development parts of
the position. Dean Goodwin further explain the person would not necessarily work with chairs, but, for example, might work with the Faculty Development Committee, with individuals who are proposing grants, and with some of the groups that are related to faculty development, broadly conceived. Dean Goodwin encouraged each faculty member to think about whether they might be interested in doing this. She believes this has to be someone with tenure but it could be a relatively young person, it could be someone who wants to do it full time, or it could conceivably even be part time, especially for the spring semester where teaching commitments have already been established. The timetable that has been proposed is as follows: the call for nominations and self-nominations will go out next week and nominations will be accepted over the course of a week. The process will continue with talking to the individuals and narrowing the list over the subsequent weeks. It is hoped that an announcement can be made at the next faculty meeting who the person will be. If there are any questions, Dean Goodwin advised that she would be attending the reception afterward and anyone is welcome to speak to her. Dean Joseph continued by mentioning that the open meeting regarding academic vision with the Board of Trustees scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Friday, October 25, will be held to discuss the ideas and process of how difficult it is to put together a true academic vision over the course of a certain number of years.
Department chairs and program directors of Academic Staff have been asked to attend. There is no specific agenda except to voice opinions of what might constitute an academic vision and to try to get the Trustees involved right from the beginning. Dean Joseph has begun to discuss some ideas with CEPP, CAPT, Dean of Faculty Staff, and a little bit with Academic Staff. He further mentioned he will present a plan to everyone at one point or another, to be followed by debates of the merits and flaws of the proposal. Dean Joseph then opened the floor for questions.

PENNY JOLLY:

Penny asked if Dean Joseph was implying that the meeting with the Board of Trustees is open to other people or is it by invitation only?

Dean Joseph explained it is only for directors of programs and department chairs, however, the outcome will be shared with faculty at the next faculty meeting.

REPORTS

GOVE EFFINGER – GAC:

Gove opened by defining the acronym GAC, Governance Advisory Council, and explaining that CFG recommended the formation of the group last year. The group consists of the chairs of what is usually referred to as the major committees: CFG, CAPT, CEPP, Curriculum, CAFR, and FPPC together with the Dean of the Faculty. A meeting was held two weeks ago and a meeting will be held in about two weeks. The purpose of the group is to facilitate communication between the chairs or representatives of the major committees and the Dean of the Faculty. At the first meeting, each committee chair or representative divulged what the primary agenda items were for their committee this year, which, in each case, was followed by discussion about how that might overlap with what other committees are doing and/or how it might overlap with what was going on in the Office of the Dean of the Faculty. It was discovered at the first meeting that there were things going on both at CAPT and FPPC that were of interest to CFG, and that facilitated further communication after the meeting. In addition, it is very helpful for the chairs to find out what is on Dean Joseph's mind as well as the other chairs' minds.  People have inquired as to what the status of GAC is. As it stands right now, it is an experimental group, it is not in the Faculty Handbook, it is being tried out to see if it works to see whether it is a positive use of time or not. If in a period of a year or so it is the opinion of the people who participate that it seemsto be a positive thing, then CFG will bring a proposal to the faculty that this group be brought into the regular governance system and be put into the Faculty Handbook.

One question that has been raised to Gove is what is the difference between GAC and the Committee on Committees, and isn't it the same thing? Gove explained it is not the same thing as it is not serving the same purpose, although there are some similarities. The Committee of Committees is called at least twice a year which is what is normal. It involves the chairs and any representatives who want to participate from a broader group of committees; it is faculty only. The purpose of the Committee of Committees is for faculty on committees to discuss how relationships with the administration are going, whether progress is being made, whether there should be adjustments, whether there needs to be discussion with the administration about certain committees, etc. So, although in each case the purposes are to facilitate communication between the committees, the specific purposes are different, the membership is different, and the number of meetings are different. Gove opened the floor for questions.

Dean Joseph inquired as to whether GAC would be putting information such as minutes on the web. Gove advised that yes, information, agendas, and minutes will be posted on the website from the Governance web site in due course.

JOHN BRUEGGEMANN - CEPP:

John explained that Pat Fehling, the chair of CEPP this year was unable to be present; therefore, John was present on her behalf. The Department of Chemistry and Physics submitted a proposal to split into two departments. The Faculty Handbook indicates that the establishment of a new department, which would result from this proposed split, is made by the Board of Trustees upon the recommendation of the President in consultation with the faculty.  The first step in the process is for the initiators of such a proposal to submit their proposal to CEPP, CEPP then announces the existence of such a proposal to the faculty. CEPP then evaluates the proposal and arranges at least one faculty-information meeting. After that the proposal is brought to the faculty floor for a vote which is then taken into account by the President when she makes a recommendation to the Board. John opened the floor for questions. There were none.

NEW BUSINESS

HEDI JAOUAD:

Hedi, on behalf of the External Master of Arts Committee, offered the following resolution:

RESOLUTION: Be it resolved, that the faculty of Skidmore College recommend to the Trustees the granting of the Master of Arts Degree to one student: Linda Yaven.
The resolution was seconded with no discussion and was passed with all in favor.

OLD BUSINESS

Gove, on behalf of CFG, spoke to the Faculty Handbook motions on the table.

MOTION:

Gove Effinger announced the Committee on Faculty Governance moved the adoption of the 2002-03 Faculty Handbook. The motion was held over from last month. The old handbook, the new handbook and the changes were made available on the web to everyone. Gove thanked Mark Huibregtse and Chris McGill for their valuable help. He then asked that the faculty approve. Gove asked for questions or discussion; there were none.

The motion, having been seconded at the last meeting, was passed with all in favor.

OTHER BUSINESS

President Studley then moved on to Other Business in the agenda asking if there was any other business to come before the meeting. There was none.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

TERRY DIGGORY:

DAVID MILLER:

The meeting was adjourned at 4:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Colleen M. Sleezer
Executive Secretary
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
and Dean of the Faculty

 

 

 

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