December 2, 2005
President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:35 p.m. President Glotzbach asked if there were any objections to the approval of the November 4, 2005 Faculty Meeting minutes; hearing none the minutes were approved.
President Glotzbach congratulated the Faculty and students on the completion of the semester. A time capsule was opened last Monday, November 28, 2005 that had been sealed in the corner stone of the library on the old Skidmore campus. The time capsule was returned to Skidmore by Empire State College and included a copy of the Saratogian dated May 10, 1940 reporting news about WWII, a surprising reminder about the juxtaposition of world history and Skidmore history. The roots of the conflicts, Anti-Semitism, led to the horrors of that era and unfortunately the specter of genocide has not been banished from the world since. Recent incidents of racist graffiti have raised the ugly specter of prejudice and intolerance on this campus. These incidents prompt the question: What kind of community do we want to live in and create at Skidmore? What is the faculty prepared to do to achieve it? As an academic community Skidmore is a community of discourse and conversation; we define ourselves, in part, by the topics we deem important enough to talk about. President Glotzbach applauded the efforts of the SGA and the FEC to give expression to our collective voice. President Glotzbach used a passage from philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty about the painter Cezanne to argue that education is a complex task, full of details to be tended to, and about which we cannot afford to become complacent.
VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS REPORT
Charles M. Joseph, Vice President for Academic Affairs, thanked everyone for their hard work this semester, the success of the First-Year Experience, and the good committee work.
An update on the Mellon Consortium Grant includes two large sections: 1) Candidates are being interviewed for the post tenure sabbatical grants. Professor Phyllis Roth is the assessment officer in charge of looking at the results of the proposals and responding to the Mellon Foundation. 2) The Faculty exchange professors are David Vella and Murray Levith who are currently teaching at Union, and Jordan Smith and Terry Weiner are teaching at Skidmore. There is still one more opening for the fall in addition to Phyllis Roth who will be teaching at Union. This opportunity is not limited to Union, as assistance can be offered with transportation to Colgate or Hamilton. This grant allows faculty to teach one course at another institution. Everyone is encouraged to participate.
Vice President Joseph thanked Johan Ronby as our STINT professor from Sweden. Dr. Joseph congratulated Professor Thomas Lewis on his book The Hudson: A History that will be reviewed in the New York Times this Sunday, December 4th and this review will be posted on the Skidmore web site.
Vice President Joseph spoke about the memo sent by Mike West and him regarding the complex issue of optimization. See Attachment A. Vice President Joseph addressed Professor Denise Smith’s comment about the understanding among staff and faculty that since we have more students here this year, we have more revenue. VP Joseph explained that revenue can not be directly injected into an operating budget and therefore allow for a raise in salaries immediately. It is a surplus that can not be part of the operational budget and it is money that we cannot count on annually. The hope is to stabilize some number so there is a targeted amount of revenue that can be put into the operating budget. The VPAA stated that he, the President and Mike West are all committed to address the issue of compensation and optimization is one piece of that. The goal is to have an ideal number without in any way compromising the education we provide to students or the ability of the Faculty to provide that. An open meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 15th however due to conflicts, it will be rescheduled. This important subject may also be added to a faculty meeting perhaps in February.
In conclusion, Dr. Joseph encouraged the faculty to work through the discussion of the Faculty Executive Committee’s (FEC) motion so that a “Committee of the Whole” can include a larger discussion of the issues surrounding the racist incidents.
DEAN OF FACULTY REPORT
Dr. Muriel Poston, Dean of the Faculty announced that the DOF and FEC will begin to jointly consider the issue of course releases next semester, more transparency and a policy that has the appropriate fairness needed given the wide range of programs we have available.
The Office of International Programs is in the process of drafting a plan to provide travel award support to students that will be going overseas. There is a gap of funding so that many students are challenged by the opportunity to study abroad.
The Dean of Studies Office and the Associate Dean of Student Affairs are looking at the implementation and the integration of the activities of academic support. One of the challenges is the Information Technology issues to allow both those offices to share files virtually.
The Mellon Foundation is funding a Junior Faculty Workshop the first weekend in February at Union College that will look at research opportunities and ways to collaborate research between Skidmore, Union, Colgate and Hamilton.
Dr. Poston thanked Associate Dean Sarah Goodwin and the President’s Office for helping to bring two visiting faculty members to Skidmore next semester, one from Dillard and one from Xavier.
DEAN OF SPECIAL PROGRAMS REPORT
Dr. Paula Newberg, Dean of Special Programs invited nominations from the faculty for the Director of the Masters Program. This represents a departure from past practice: in its thirteen year history, the Masters Program has generally been directed by an administrator rather than a faculty member. During the current year, Erica Bastress-Dukehart has acted as interim director, and her very successful tenure is one among many arguments for continuing this practice. Dr. Newberg would like to recruit the next director from within the faculty as a way to solidify the program’s content and prospects, and ensure that the MALS program can be an integral part of the College’s intellectual life. Nominations will be accepted from faculty in any field; the core requirements are a clear sense of interdisciplinary as a focus for the program and enthusiasm – practical and intellectual – in helping the Dean of Special Programs to reconceive the MALS program. The position can be rotated every three to four years, and Dr. Newberg is willing to negotiate with a prospective director’s department so that the director could continue to be a member of his or her department. Dr. Newberg will follow up with an email next week.
On behalf of Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), Professor Timothy Burns offered two motions:
1) A motion to withdraw the November 4, 2005 motion to adopt the 2005-06 Faculty Handbook
2) December 2, 2005 motion to adopt the 2005-06 Faculty Handbook as revised.
The motion was approved. See Attachment B.
President Glotzbach asked Petria Fleming to speak on behalf of the Student Government Association about a resolution that the Student Senate passed Tuesday, November 29, 2005. See Attachment C.
The SGA resolution hopes to serve as a symbolic and meaningful statement from the student community. It was built upon the original resolution presented by FEC. Although the word “anathema” was removed from the FEC resolution, the student senate consciously kept this word in their resolution. On a theoretical level, declaring the perpetrators anathema and not just their actions anathema, we as a community draw a line of what is not tolerated at Skidmore. 1) We are defined by our actions, although people can change and grow, they can not be separated by their actions, 2) we are first and foremost an institution dedicated to providing an environment conducive to academic learning and growth and not dedicated to reforming people and 3) we can draw a clear line of what actions and ideas make our goal of providing a safe environment impossible.
On behalf of Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), Professor Timothy Burns moved that the faculty adopts a resolution as a response to concerns expressed by a number of faculty and the note President Glotzbach sent to the community. See Attachment D. Professor Burns explained the FEC reasons for moving a resolution were to express the faculty’s concern and anger at the racist language that was used and to reaffirm the commitment to the principals that were enunciated in the President’s letter. In doing so, the College would take a strong political stand against racism, allowing those students who felt marginalized by these incidents to know it is the perpetrators and not their victims that should be marginalized.
Lecturer Jay Rogoff asked the difference between the terms “categorically” and “uncategorically” as used in the FEC resolution. Professor Burns explained that condemnation might be in other cases not categorically. In this case there are no exceptions.
Professor William Fox asked Professor Burns to speak about the difference between the last sentence of the student resolution and the FEC resolution. Professor Burns invited Petria Fleming to remark on the question and she stated that although the incidents in McClellen did not include language that was hateful towards socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and sexuality, SGA felt their statement would be stronger if they included those groups too. The resolution was intended to be a joint resolution between the Faculty and the SGA.
Professor Paty Rubio explained that FEC wrote the motion specifically regarding the incidents that had happened.
Professor Burns explained that FEC wanted to address the racism issue but this should not be construed to be exclusive of other concerns.
Professor Mason Stokes thought it problematic that the last paragraph of the FEC motion did not include the categories included in the student resolution. He moved to amend or substitute the language of the student resolution into the FEC resolution.
President Glotzbach asked if the FEC would consider this a friendly amendment.
Professor Michael Arnush offered a friendly amendment to use the language of the student resolution in its entirety as a joint resolution between the student body and the faculty.
Professor Jordana Dym offered another friendly amendment to substitute the language of the student text with the language of the faculty text with the addition of … “we the students and the Faculty”…
Dean of Student Affairs Pat Oles asked for guidance in how the changes might affect his office and how it might handle the incidents that may arise. 1) ‘Anathema’ does not mandate expulsion but permits it, and asked if this is the understanding of the faculty, 2) In the first “where as of “ in the resolutions “and indecent language directed against”… he asked if we are talking exclusively about graffiti or does this include the Fecal Times and the Uncyclopedia, and if the resolution intends to include those contexts as well.
In answer to Dean Oles first question, Professor Burns explained that although the resolution is not policy, the FEC would expect that it was taken into account in matters if discipline.
Professor David Karp proposed an alternative friendly amendment to include the last paragraph of the language that is adopted into the Faculty resolution but not adopt the other language changes. He finds adopting the word anathema into the resolution troublesome. By marginalizing, expelling or excommunicating someone from our community for doing something we don’t like is elitist. Instead we should recognize the problem and deal with it, recognizing our community is complicated.
President Glotzbach asked if the mover of the first amendment accept this friendly amendment as a substitute or did we need to vote on the first amendment knowing there is a second amendment waiting in the wings.
Professor Mark Rifkin is concerned with the language…”without regard to race, gender, ethnicity…” as the idea that in order to have a quality or private community we not take these things into consideration.
Professor Laury Silvers shared her thoughts that making anyone anathema in the community reduces what a community is. She is also concerned about including the role of parody and satire in this resolution.
Professor Burns explained that we are an inclusive community that is not saying we don’t like this action; we are saying this action is wrong.
Professor Mary Correa stated that expelling a racist student does not solve the issue of racism.
Professor Phyllis Roth clarified we are talking about the last paragraph of the resolution. The second to last paragraph is the one that includes the word anathema. She agrees the word anathema is wrong. A third suggestion was made to amend the last paragraph by putting a period after “community” and bolding the word “all”.
Professor Jennifer Delton asked if they could hold off on voting on this amendment until after the “Committee of the Whole” discussion.
Professor Regina James finds adopting the word anathema very problematic because of its heavily weighted religious language in a secular institution.
Professor Gove Effinger suggested it would be advantageous to have a joint resolution as this would provide a lot more weight but agrees with others that he does not like the word anathema.
Professor Gordon Thompson asked if a conference committee could resolve the issues between the two resolutions.
Professor Arnush offered to withdraw his amendment and turn it over to FEC to work on the behalf of the faculty with SGA.
Professor Burns explained the faculty could pass a resolution and the conference committee would take into account all of the discussion that has taken place and adopt a joint resolution that could be discussed at the next Faculty meeting. Both Professor Arnush and Professor Karp are prepared to withdraw their amendments.
Professor Correa asked if it is possible to vote on this through an e-mail ballot and President Glotzbach ruled that this would not be in order.
Professor Thomas Denny asked if the students are interested in reconciliation.
Petria Fleming said the SGA is willing to meet in a conference committee. However, their debate over the use of the word anathema was so long that she doubts they will omit it.
The Parliamentarian Professor Lary Optiz moved that the final paragraph of the faculty resolution be substituted with the final paragraph of the student resolution.
President Glotzbach asked for a second.
President Glotzbach asked for a vote on the amendment, and it was approved.
President Glotzbach asked for a vote on the amended motion. It was approved with the understanding that FEC and SGA will have further conversations about a joint resolution but the SGA representative shared a strong expression about the use of the word anathema.
President Glotzbach sought unanimous consent to move to a “Committee of the Whole” to continue the discussion of racist graffiti and the resolutions proposed by FEC and the SGA for approximately 25 minutes. He proposed to yield the floor to Vice President for Academic Affairs, Charles M. Joseph to lead the discussion period.
At the conclusion of the discussion, after a total of 34 minutes, Charles M. Joseph, chair of the “Committee of the Whole” reported it was a productive conversation.
President Glotzbach acknowledged the conversation was a good start, and he reminded everyone there is a task force created to deal specifically with the objectives under Goal II of the Strategic Plan.
CEPP REPORT – HEOP – First-Year Experience
Professor Matthew Hockenos, Chair of CEPP reported on the discussions between HEOP, FYE, the DOF, and CEPP regarding the Scribner Seminars available for HEOP students in the Fall of 2006. See Attachment E.
On behalf of Murray Levith, Professor Arnush announced an eight credit summer program in Bath, England from June 3 – July 8. The deadline is mid February and applications should be forwarded to Murray Levith by February 1st.
Professor Phyllis Roth invited and urged everyone to participate in Saratoga Reads!, by voting by December 10th.
Vice President for Advancement Michael Casey invited everyone to the Surrey for a reception following the meeting.
President Glotzbach reminded everyone of the Holiday Open House at the Scribner House.
Meeting adjourned at 5:10 p.m.
Assistant to the Dean/Coordinator of Summer Services
Office of the Dean of Special Programs