October 7, 2005
President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:35pm. President Glotzbach asked if there were any objections to the approval of the September 9, 2005 Faculty Meeting minutes; hearing no objections, the minutes were approved.
President Glotzbach indicated that a community meeting was held yesterday at which various items on the institutional docket this year were addressed. These included completing the implementation of the First-Year Experience program; Burial of Thebes; starting the process to implement the Strategic Plan; the possibility of further conversations with Qatar; the IPPC will consider the question of how many students we have, how large should we be, and the strategic parameters surrounding this issue. The Middle States reaccreditation is taking place, and a team will be on campus beginning Sunday for several days. The team will be looking at the compliance aspect of the review and returning in the spring for a visit focused on our self-study. President Glotzbach thanked Sarah Goodwin, Associate Dean of Faculty, for providing excellent leadership in this process and for the hard work of everyone on the Middle States steering committee. President Glotzbach stated that fund raising efforts are continuing and about $40M of commitments will be needed this year to add to the $61M to date. He will continue to focus on obtaining the lead gift for the Music building. Work will also be done on the continuing agenda of communication with internal conversations and external community relations.
President Glotzbach indicated that there will be community-wide discussions on revising the Campus Master Plan. The new student apartments will be completed for next fall, and we will divest ourselves of Moore Hall. The campus dining hall will be renovated, which will change the nature of the student dining experience. Plans also call for creating an attractive new and inviting space that can accommodate campus events. Conversations took place with IPPC regarding these plans. Funds borrowed from the bond issue will pay for most of the renovation costs.
President Glotzbach further stated that efforts continue on the implementation of the Comprehensive Compensation Plan. A report also is forthcoming regarding last year’s faculty salaries. We were not able to make as much progress in this area as we had hoped. IPPC will be having conversations about salaries as it begins the process of constructing next year’s budget. The President concluded by reporting that more work will be done on increasing the visibility of the College on the national level.
The President asked the Vice President of Finance and Administration, Michael West, to provide a budget update and to comment on budget challenges at the College. Mr. West highlighted various comparison charts and tables. He indicated that the College is experiencing financial pressure from a number of areas including increasing demands for student financial aid and rising costs of utilities, health care, and other forms of insurance. He stated that we have to pace the scope of the new initiatives indicated in the Strategic Plan. We enjoyed a 15.7% rate of return on our endowment as of June for the last fiscal year and gifts made a difference. Still, that growth is not expected this year as we will see reduced projected future endowment growth. See Attachment
VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS REPORT
Charles M. Joseph, Vice President for Academic Affairs welcomed and introduced Dr. Muriel Poston, the new Dean of the Faculty. Dr. Joseph indicated that there will be Dean of the Faculty and Dean of Special Programs reports on the agenda at future faculty meetings, although not today since both deans are new to the College.
Dean Poston indicated that she plans to meet with each faculty department as quickly as possible. She introduced her new assistant, Patricia Choukeir and thanked everyone for a nice welcome.
Dr. Joseph announced the promotions from last spring: Hedi Jaouad to full professor from Foreign Languages & Literature, Mary-Beth O’Brien to full professor from Foreign Languages & Literature and Daniel Nathan to Associate Professor from American Studies. Dr. Joseph congratulated all.
Dr. Joseph indicated that the David Porter Endowed Chair is now open since Professor Tad Kuroda vacated that last year upon his retirement. Nominations are going before CAPT in the next few weeks and an announcement will be made shortly thereafter.
Dr. Joseph encouraged faculty to check the Skidmore homepage frequently where faculty accomplishments are often highlighted. He thanked Bob Kimmerle and his folks for being so responsive in getting the word out quickly. He mentioned four achievements: Professor Regina Janes from the English Department for her new book from NYU Press – published in August: Losing Our Heads: Beheadings in Literature and Culture. Professor Thomas Lewis for his book on The Hudson: A History from Yale University Press. Professor Rik Scarce from Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work on his new book from Alta Mira Press entitled Contempt of Court: A Scholar’s Battle for Free Speech from Behind Bars. His essay was in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a month ago on this matter as well. All are featured on the homepage and all three authors will be available to sign copies of their books during Celebration Weekend.
Vice President Joseph expressed congratulations to Professor Joanna Zangrando from American Studies for receiving the 2005 Mary C. Turpie Prize from the American Studies Association. This is a prestigious honor in the manner of a lifetime achievement award for excellence in teaching, advising and program directing. Professor Zangrando will be recognized on the national front in Washington, DC next month.
Dr. Joseph introduced Debra Fernandez, Associate Professor of Dance, who briefly announced the launch of the second year of SaratogaReads! She encouraged more faculty involvement and asked faculty to nominate a classic or contemporary novel that would generate conversation and exciting programming both on campus and in the Skidmore community. Nominations may be done online at www.saratogareads.org, the Skidmore Shop, library or Stewart’s Shops. The ballots of ten will be announced in mid November.
In conclusion, Dr. Joseph announced that at the last faculty meeting, John Weber, Director of the Tang Museum and Professor Ray Giguere of Chemistry, made a presentation about a forthcoming Tang exhibition on “Molecules that Matter.” There will be an opportunity at the Tang on October 18 to share ideas, learn more about the initiative and build some connections with colleagues who may wish to contribute to the show. He also noted that this will be the topic of our Senior Week Symposium in May.
There was no old business to report.
Associate Professor of Math and Computer Science, Una Bray, on behalf of the University Without Walls program, offered the following resolution (See Attachment):
RESOLVED, that the faculty at Skidmore College recommend to the Trustees the granting of the Bachelor of Arts degree to three students and the Bachelor of Science degree to one student.
Associate Professor of Math and Computer Science, Una Bray, on behalf of the External Master of Arts program, offered the following resolution (See Attachment):
RESOLVED, that the faculty at Skidmore College recommend to the Trustees the granting of the Master of Arts degree to four students.
ACADEMIC CHALLENGE AND EXCELLENCE
The VPAA, Charles M. Joseph provided an overview of Academic Challenge and Support. He addressed the recent history and efforts to speak to rigor and excellence that have gone forth with CEPP and others over the last few years. He signaled continued administrative support but also urged the faculty to take ownership of this topic as this is the only way that such an initiative will move forward. We have a thriving Honors Forum that Phil Boshoff will be discussing shortly. The Academic Vision began to be discussed in 2002. It is fundamental to our assessment efforts and in focusing on the First-Year Experience. This discussion is framed within one of the four goals of our Strategic Action Plan. We are interested in having increased collaborative experiences, closer mentoring, and more independent studies. This takes support – support that the President has pledged. We need to increase faculty development funding and opportunities to allow faculty and students to become involved in this process. There may be some misinterpretation of the declaration that we will challenge every student. There is nothing in the plan that implies that in challenging every student we must lower our standards. By providing useful academic support systems, we are asking students to reach whatever expectations we set. That should encourage faculty to be all the more rigorous in their demands. Dr. Joseph spoke about grade inflation indicating the median grade is a B+ and the median GPA is 3.2. He asked if we need to raise standards and if we should be reconsidering requirements to admissions to honor societies, or the awarding of academic honors at commencement. If so, what would it take to change this and what committees should be involved in this process. Faculty and students need to find specific ways to elaborate the challenges that lead to rigor and excellence. We must have serious conversations on how far we are we willing to go. We need support from the administration and cooperation with Student Affairs.
Dr. Joseph then introduced Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Susan Layden who gave an overview of the HEOP/AOP programs and presented various comparison tables regarding GPAs, student profiles, majors, achievement data and graduation rates. Handouts were provided with this information. She explained that the HEOP/AOP programs are about access and achievement. She stated that HEOP graduation rates are higher than all college graduation rates and the graduating rates for our minority students are higher than minority students that are not in our HEOP program. She continued by commenting that first year students’ term GPAs were higher than all other first year students at the College and that is quite different from what is happening nationally. She noted that our students, despite their entering profiles, achieve at levels that are competitive with other students with much higher entering profiles. Our students are majoring in various programs and more major in the natural sciences than do other students at the College. Students are enrolled in 255 different courses with 175 different members of our faculty. Academic support is offered to help students succeed here and 62% of our time is spent with first year students, and then it drops substantially in their sophomore and junior years. HEOP students need less support as the years go by. The program achieves this level of success because of the relationships with faculty over the years, as faculty mentors are vital to the success of this program. She concluded her report discussing the financial forecast summary of income and expenses. The New York State grant is approximately $380,000; external grants are approximately $1.4M; total income is approximately $1.7M; expenses for compensation for staff and supplies are $375,000; financial aid is about $3.7M for students. Therefore the net expense to the college is about $2.4M. In summary, these tables are clear indicators that when students are challenged and supported, they graduate and achieve and this information should be considered whenever there are discussions about HEOP/AOP. See Attachment.
Dr. Joseph introduced Associate Professor of English and Director of the Honors Forum, Philip Boshoff for a presentation on the benefits of Honors Forum. A handout was provided. He indicated that this program, of 340 student members, should provide a balance wherein members feel it gives them a community of scholars. The original charter was to have 10% of the student population. There are discussions on how to have a sense of community. Every first year student in the second term, and every sophomore that receives a 3.4 or above GPA receives a special invitation from the Honors Forum Director to apply. 400 + students qualify based on their grades. They are considering having students take the initiative to apply on their own. Of the 340 members, about one quarter are really excited and self-motivated about Honors Forum and they want to have discussions about academic rigor. The debate society was recently formed and they received fifth prize at Smith last week in a competition. They are sponsoring speakers and trying to start an art journal. Students’ initiated the “Friday’s at Four” discussions where they come together and talk about a topic and may or may not invite faculty members to attend. A community service requirement may be added to Honors Forum where the students should be taking leadership roles. The dilemma is which community do we serve – academic service to the Skidmore campus or outside the Skidmore community. SGA is meeting about this right now and trying to decide this. New courses are needed that include a research component to really challenge students. Professor Boshoff asked faculty to think about developing courses so the students will have the type of curriculum that they are asking for. One of the best ways for the students to be more successful is through events such as Shades of Gray, the debate society, independent studies and Academic Festival. One of the most popular options is providing students the opportunities to work with faculty and add on to existing courses – one, two or three hour courses. The student evaluations indicate that is one of the most significant activities they do with faculty. He concluded by saying that while these are great students, it is a challenge as there are too many of them and they need to think about trimming back to the 10% mandate that CEPP originally designed. He asked for the faculty’s recommendations on how this may be accomplished. See Attachment.
The President asked that we have a motion to form a “Committee of the Whole” and all approved. He proposed to yield the chair to the VPAA, Charles M. Joseph to chair this conversation and hearing no objections, proceeded. Professor Lary Opitz, the Parliamentarian, suggested 45 minutes of an open discussion period.
At the conclusion of these discussions, the VPAA, Charles M. Joseph reported that the “Committee of the Whole”met and discussed the topic of Academic Challenge and Excellence and adjourned.
FACULTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (FEC), PROFESSOR GOVE EFFINGER
On behalf of FEC, Professor Effinger reported on the governance systems, the new website, faculty handbook revisions and the revised VPAA and DOF descriptions. He explained that typically the FEC works with the DOF and VPAA offices over the summer on the faculty handbook, then the revisions are brought to the September faculty meeting for action in October. This has not occurred yet because of so many changes in the handbook as a result of the restructuring in the DOF/VPAA and restructuring of the governance system.
Hopefully a completed handbook will be brought to faculty in November for action in December. Professor Effinger stated that there were several revisions of the website this year under the faculty staff homepage and governance page. Also, the committee information, including upcoming elections indicating round one is in November and round two is in February, and member information was updated on the website. Sue Blair in the DOF office maintains this information. All faculty committees are now three-year commitment. In conclusion, he discussed the process of elections and stated that there are 242 eligible faculty to participate in these committees. Willing faculty are needed to participate on these committees and in particular two senior faculty members are needed to take part in the VPAA review committee. See Attachment.
STUDENT GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION (SGA) EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
The President of SGA Executive Committee, Petria Fleming ‘06 reported what SGA is doing this year and discussed the 2005-2006 SGA Executive Committee Vision and Action Plan (handouts were distributed). SGA is committed to strengthening a thoughtful student voice, taking ownership of academic tone, honor and rigor. Each Vice President is giving a presentation today of their goals for their department. Petria invites faculty to collaborate with SGA in the role as a faculty mentor or senate mentor and assisting with developing initiative committees. SGA is investigating student issues and recommending policies to our student senate to then bring these reports back to faculty and administration. In conclusion, Petria indicated that a CPA was hired to review SGA’s budget this year which has been very helpful.
The Vice President of Residential Affairs, Dave Bernstein ’07 briefly discussed academics at Skidmore. He indicated that students want academics to be a larger part of the community per his discussions with them on campus. Faculty will be invited to participate in discussions to learn ways that SGA can incorporate them more into the residential community.
The Vice President of Clubs and Organizations, Kibuchi Banfield ’08 indicated that his role is to make the clubs and organizations the best they can be. Some of the major goals are using space for efficiently and improving communication within the campus community. They are looking for faculty advisors for clubs and to give ideas, support and history of the College. Need assistance with decisions to be made on campus regarding food and other areas. The clubs and organizations help create the spirit of the College and includes activities for parents during special weekend events.
The Vice President of Communication, Sarah Kunz ‘06spoke briefly about her role in SGA. She runs the SGA elections, makes sure that the student body knows what’s going on in the senate and listens to the conversations from students on campus. The primary initiatives are investigating honor and how it is reflected in our judicial system in the academics and determining the initiative committees that will be student chaired. Reports will be formulated that go to appropriate committees and will act as policy recommendations for senate.
The Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dan Moran ’07 reported on their main goals. The first goal is for Academic Counsel to include two department representatives, which is ideal for academic discussions like challenge and excellence. The second goal is to increase academic relating programming and increase student participation of these events on campus. Another goal is to improve SGA’s relationship with faculty and increase student voice in academic related issues on campus. Also two faculty advisors are needed to participate on the executive board and come to senate meetings on a regular basis. A goal is to improve the effectiveness of the library as a study space and extend the library hours. They are looking at proposing alternative ways of grading for students. They believe students should be included in the faculty tenure process and be involved with an evaluation form at tenure time. The Honor Code is being resubmitted to the student body as it hasn’t been done since 1990 so there are plans to redo this and make it more appealing to students.
- Susan Walzer – A letter will be sent to all employees soon regarding the Employee Scholarship Fund.
- Phyllis Roth – Lights Out! Everyone was asked to post handout around his or her office to help with saving on power usage. Michael Hall, Director of Financial Planning and Budgeting briefly discussed energy conservation.
- Ian Berry – Invited everyone to a reception at the Tang Museum today and encouraged everyone to pick up a brochure on the 5th Anniversary events.
Meeting adjourned at 5:50pm.
Mary Ellen Kokoletsos
Executive Administrative Assistant
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs