February 27, 2009
President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:35 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
President Glotzbach asked if there were any corrections or comments to the February 6, 2009 Faculty Meeting minutes. Hearing none, he announced the minutes were approved.
President Glotzbach provided an update from the Board of Trustees’ meeting held last week, noting that the Board focused on the students and their changing experience as they move through their years at Skidmore. In that regard, the Board heard from students and faculty members about the first year experience, about choosing a major as a sophomore, about the junior year abroad, and about undertaking research in their senior year; in the evening, various groups of students hosted the Trustees for dinner in the Northwoods Village apartments. The Trustees enjoyed these opportunities to interact informally with the students.
Additionally, the Board reviewed the major economic indicators for the year-to-date; approved UWW and MALS degrees; approved recommendations for tenure and promotion; reviewed the progress on this year’s strategic action agenda; approved the early release of funds to renovate Kimball Hall; and authorized the engagement of an architect for preliminary design work for the Scribner Village replacement. The Board delayed the authorization for renovations to Saisselin pending receipt of funds from the NYS HECap program.
President Glotzbach noted that the College still struggles to achieve the targeted savings in our strategic hiring freeze and in limiting the use of overtime. The challenges associated with recruiting next year’s class have become clearer at this point; the target numbers for both our students and our financial aid budget are achievable even though bringing in this class within the constraints of the financial aid budget will be difficult. Providing sufficient financial aid for our early-decision candidates has cost about $500,000 more than we had anticipated; thus, the increase in financial aid allocated to the early-decision pool put some additional limits on the amount of financial aid available to the remaining candidates. This shortfall may have some effect on the diversity and academic strength of the incoming class; however, Admissions is working on this very closely, and we are doing all we can to maximize the amount of financial aid available for next year’s entering class.
President Glotzbach advised that the Board expressed its confidence in our efforts in dealing with the FY ‘09 and ‘10 budgets by affirming the major budget parameters for FY ‘10. Even though we were able to make significant cuts in the budget, we continue to project a deficit of $1.4 million. To cover this deficit, the Board authorized the use of over-enrollment funds. For FY ‘11 and beyond, however, our financial difficulties continue to increase, in part because the projected over-enrollment funds will be depleted and the full effects of the decline in our endowment will be felt in later years.
President Glotzbach presented a PowerPoint chart outlining the projected operating budgets through fiscal year 2014, noting that these projections are neither best-case nor worst-case scenarios; however, they represent a reasonable starting point for the budgetary work that must be done to avoid unacceptable deficits. The work that has been done to date has positioned the College to deal with the next set of challenges; however, doing so will require us to embrace a new understanding of the reality ahead along with new, more disciplined, creative ways of accomplishing our essential work.
Although no one can be confident about predicting the future of the economic environment, President Glotzbach stressed that planning for future, realistic possibilities by developing plausible, alternative budget scenarios becomes even more important and more urgent than it has been in the past. It is fair to acknowledge that the last 5 years have been a time of relative abundance, but because of the radically-altered environment, our situation has changed. The next few years will not feel like “business as usual.” In order for us to avoid the projected budgetary shortfalls, it cannot.
President Glotzbach suggested that we need to find ways to reduce our future costs more dramatically than we have contemplated to date. Although layoffs or reductions in workforce for existing full-time employees are not contemplated for FY ‘10, we have reduced our workforce by not filling certain positions. However, for FY ‘11 and beyond, as we face the currently projected deficits, and as we understand that compensation represents approximately 2/3 of Skidmore’s budget, we will need to reduce our compensation expense; therefore the full range of options must be considered. President Glotzbach stressed that our Strategic Plan remains a viable framework for such discussions and we must engage the enormous intellectual and creative capacity of the Skidmore community in these conversations.
President Glotzbach concluded by discussing Scope’s recent story about Scott Hamilton Kennedy, a 1987 graduate and an independent filmmaker. When asked what lessons he had learned through his experience in filmmaking, he said “it’s all about story – in documentary and non-fiction filmmaking, story is everything, and we have to be ruthless critics in our own work through inception to cut.” President Glotzbach remarked that our enterprise at Skidmore is also about telling a story, but the times do call for us to be ruthless critics with our own work from inception to final cut. We have to ask of everything we do: Is this worth doing and, if so, how can it be done more efficiently? We are still writing the Skidmore story; within the constellation of highly, selective liberal arts colleges, Skidmore offers advantages to our students that few other schools, if any, can match. Skidmore is positioned exactly where it needs to be; Skidmore’s story is worth telling, and we need to learn to tell it more effectively to ourselves, our students, and the outside world.
VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS’ REPORT
Dean of the Faculty Report – Muriel Poston
Muriel Poston, Dean of the Faculty, announced the recommendations for tenure and promotion approved by the Board of Trustees at their February meeting held last week:
- Rik Scarce, Associate Professor, Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work
For Promotion and Tenure (from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor)
- Erica Bastress-Dukehart, History
- Linda Hall, English
- Timothy Harper, Management & Business
- Pat Hilleren, Biology
A. Dan Nathan, on behalf of Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP) and the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC), read the following resolution which was introduced at the last faculty meeting (see attached):
MOTION: That the faculty recommend to the administration that Skidmore terminate its University Without Walls (UWW) program, and that the process of termination extend for a reasonable period of transition to allow currently enrolled students to complete their degree requirements.
John Brueggemann, on behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), noted that FEC endorses framing this motion as a recommendation from the faculty to the administration, citing the language for closing a program from the Faculty Handbook, Article XVII. He added that FEC does not take a committee position on the substance of the motion jointly proposed by CEPP and IPPC. He said that FEC believes the faculty should always weigh in on educational matters but recognizes that the authority for any ultimate decision regarding the UWW program lies with the Board of Trustees.
Professor Nathan reviewed the process that led CEPP and IPPC to the joint resolution. The process of reviewing UWW, creating a new model for the program, and assessing the new model’s viability has taken close to three years. These steps were taken as a result of many concerns about the program, including academic challenges and decreased faculty commitment to the program.
Professor Sue Bender, on behalf of IPPC, discussed the financial losses sustained by the UWW program for a number of years. She noted that IPPC reviewed the various models built by the UWW Working Group, with the most optimistic model needing to enroll 100 new students to break even. As IPPC reviewed this financial information along with the academic recommendations, the consensus was that a revised UWW program was not in the best interests of the institution. She noted that this recommendation from IPPC and CEPP comes with regret and that IPPC continues to be committed to broadening options for staff with regard to residential college credits.
Professor Nathan noted that one of CEPP’s primary concerns was the academic requirements of the program. He noted that, while the new model devised by the UWW Working Group was more academically rigorous, these changes would have implications for the faculty to deliver more courses. Therefore, CEPP consulted with the departments most responsible for delivering the courses to determine if they would be able to support UWW in the way the new model suggested; all but one department indicated that it could not support the new model. Professor Nathan noted that several departments reported that they wanted to be on the record as “historically committed to UWW” and “sad that they could no longer deliver this program.”
Professor Nathan said that he is confident that the process leading to this motion had integrity. He believes that everyone who was involved in the various study groups has worked long and hard with open minds and did their best to look at this issue from multiple angles. He commended those who have dedicated themselves to UWW—those who staff, administer, advise and teach in UWW—for their professionalism and collegiality and for their many years of service to the College and the students.
Professor Nathan concluded by noting that it is the faculty’s responsibility to engage fully in the ensuing discussion and not to assume that the Board of Trustees and the administration have already decided the fate of UWW; that is, the vote matters and the less responsibly the faculty approaches any one issue, the less seriously it is going to be taken in the future.
Thereafter, discussion of this motion ensued:
- Dean of Special Programs Jeff Segrave noted that the second part of the motion clearly affirms our commitment to the UWW students. He noted that communications have been sent to the current students and UWW graduates, and the UWW staff has been in the process of determining exactly what each enrolled UWW student would need to graduate. It is anticipated that it will take another two years to phase out the program. Currently, there are 95 students (10 full-time; 30 part-time, 15 Antigua, and the remainder on sustaining, continuing or on leave status, and he believes the majority will be in a position to graduate within the next two years. We may need to make ad hoc arrangements for the students who remain after that to complete their Skidmore degrees. With respect to the staff of UWW, some staff attrition is expected over the next two years; indeed some staff members have already left. Moreover, Special Programs is in the process of reorganizing, which may also provide opportunities for UWW staff. He noted that Human Resources and his office will continue to work individually with the UWW staff to identify employment opportunities. He concluded by commending the UWW staff for their professionalism and for giving priority to the best interests of the students and the College.
- Professor Roy H. Ginsberg discussed the reasons he believed the institution has failed UWW. He noted the absence of review of UWW in the past and the problem of “revolving-door directors.” He pointed to the recommendations of the external reviewers that UWW be reformed rather than closed, expressed concern over the lack of opportunity for UWW to institute reform, questioned the too-hasty process for recommending closure, and suggested the current economic situation should not be a sufficient reason to close UWW.
- In response to Professor Ginsberg’s comments, Professor John Brueggemann discussed the role the governance system played in presenting this resolution and indicated that FEC stands by the process. One of the keys in this process was that a task force with broad expertise and a specific charge (UWWWG) studied the issue carefully and then its report was independently considered by a standing committee (CEPP). In addition, the faculty have had numerous opportunities to study relevant materials and discuss the issues.
- Professor Dan Nathan also addressed Professor Ginsberg’s comments noting that this resolution was not a rush to judgment; in fact, the process took three years.
- VPAA Kress also responded to Professor Ginsberg’s comments concerning the recommendations of the external reviewers of UWW and the appropriateness of suspending enrollments in a program that was being studied for possible closure.
- Professor Sarah Goodwin commented that she had taught in UWW in her early years and noted that these were some of her best teaching experiences. She noted that for some years she has not had time to teach in the program, which is one of her principal reasons for supporting the resolution. She believes that if the faculty is not willing to support UWW with its time and involvement, it cannot reasonably vote to keep it open.
- Professor Ginsberg urged that the institution give the new model an opportunity to work.
- Professor Terry Diggory responded to Professor Ginsberg’s comments, suggesting that if there were any failure of responsibility, it should be shared by faculty, staff, and administration; he urged that the faculty continue to be involved in decision-making through the governance structure at the college.
- Professor Reg Lilly noted that he believed he would support the motion, but that he was still uncomfortable with the process.
- Professor Gordon Thompson commented that our first commitment should be to the residential students; the continuation of the UWW program will only take money away from those students.
- Professor Jennifer Delton praised the process and the work of the governance system.
- Professor Jim Kennelly noted his agreement with Professor Ginsberg on some points but acknowledged that the economic landscape had changed since the beginning of this process and indicated that, at this point, the College does not have the resources to make the model work.
- Kirsten Mishkin, a UWW advisor,pointed out that one of the models presented by the Summer Working Group anticipated that UWW would start turning a profit in 5 years. Moreover, the external reviewers did not recommend that UWW be shut down and felt that UWW, serving a special niche of students, would not be hurt by growing competition.
The question was called to close debate and vote on the motion. A motion to close debate passed with 2/3 majority vote.
Thereafter, a paper ballot was requested on the joint CEPP-IPPC resolution and was administered by FEC. Professor John Brueggemann announced those who were eligible to vote. The votes were as follows: 106 yes, 20 no, 5 abstentions. Therefore, the motion carried.
President Glotzbach commended the work of all those involved in this process and noted that he will consider the recommendation and report back to the faculty before he takes his own recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
B. Regina Janes, on behalf of the Committee on Appointments, Promotion and Tenure (CAPT), read a motion regarding proposed changes to the Faculty Handbook on second-year review, which was introduced at last month’s faculty meeting (see attached).
Professor Janes noted that if this motion were to pass, the provision would apply to faculty currently in their second year when a) they were denied reappointment by their departments and b) the Dean of the Faculty disagreed with the department’s recommendation. This provision would introduce CAPT and the VPAA into the process and would be effective immediately. Relative to the question asked at the last faculty meeting regarding timing of the CAPT involvement, Professor Janes indicated that CAPT would revise its operating code so that it would be the first business that CAPT addresses in the fall. Professor Janes addressed an email that was circulated by Professor Judy Halstead regarding the primacy of the department in second-year reappointment decisions. Professor Janes noted that the Faculty Handbook at present does not clarify what happens in the case of a disagreement between the department and the Dean of the Faculty after the Dean returns the case to the department for reconsideration. A question was raised whether the candidate for reappointment in the second year would be permitted access to the materials in his or her file for a possible appeal in situations where the department has recommended against continuation. After discussion, it was determined that CAPT, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the Dean of the Faculty will consult to determine what information a candidate would be entitled to review.
The motion was voted on and passed with all in favor.
There was no new business.
A. Students Carolyn Eilola ’10, Kathryn Fishman ’10, Arielle Greenberg, ’11 and Andrew Schrijver ’11 announced an invitation toparticipate in the Association on Higher Education and Disability’s Assessment of Campus Climate to Enhance Student Success (ACCESS) Survey to commence March 17, 2009. The focus of the survey is to assess the campus culture with regard to students with physical and learning disabilities.
B. Professor Roy Ginsberg, on behalf of the Faculty Development Committee, announced that the next Moseley Research Lecturer will be Professor Reginald Lilly.
C. Ian Berry, Malloy Curator, announced upcoming events at the Tang: Tim Rollin’s exhibit and the YES symposium scheduled for March 20-22, 2009.
D. Mary Lou Bates, Dean of Admissions, invited everyone to gather outside in the Gannett Lobby for refreshments.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:26 p.m.
Debra L. Peterson
Executive Administrative Assistant