February 4, 2011
Acting President Susan Kress called the meeting to order at 3:36 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Acting President Susan Kress asked if there were any corrections or comments to the minutes of the Faculty Meeting held December 3, 2010. Hearing none, she announced the minutes were approved.
Acting President Kress welcomed everyone back for the spring semester and indicated that her report would also consist of a few brief reports from cabinet members and a cabinet question and answer session.
Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer’s Report. Mike West, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer, reported that on December 22, 2010, the Board of Trustees approved proceeding with the Scribner Village replacement project and authorized the accompanying bond financing. After receiving approval from the Governor to market the bonds, the sale was completed at $25 million par amount for new money at a total interest rate of 5.366 percent. In conjunction with the sale and marketing of the bonds, the College received an A-1 rating from Moody’s with a stable outlook consistent with our earlier rankings. In addition, the College’s outstanding 1998 serial bonds were also refinanced at $7.4 million at par resulting in the College receiving a positive a net cash flow of $700,000. The cost of the new bonds is funded by additional revenues from new beds being added to housing and savings anticipated from maintenance and related costs.
Dean of Admissions’ Report. Mary Lou Bates, Dean of Admissions, reported that we have passed the January 15 regular decision deadline and projected that we will receive 5,750 to 5,800 applications this year, which is down 4 percent from last year. This is the third year we received fewer applications than the year before and that corresponds to the demographic trends in our feeder states; for the past 3 years, we have seen decreasing numbers of high school graduates in those states. Early decision is even with last year. Round 1 decisions were mailed in mid-December and Round 2 decisions will be mailed within the week. There is not any specific data on the applicant pool yet. Dean Bates reported that we are seeking a smaller class than last year. This year’s on-campus target range is 580 to 630 and 36 in London; this is smaller than last year’s targets by 25-30 students and significantly less than our actual fall enrollment when we opened with approximately 90 students more than projected. Regular decision letters will be mailed on March 25, and then Admissions will transition into a number of yield events. In April, Admissions will be hosting three Accepted Candidates Days as well as the Discovery Program. Dean Bates thanked everyone in advance for all the wonderful support that is given to Admissions; the faculty is a key factor in enrolling an outstanding class.
VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS’REPORT
Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs, Muriel Poston, welcomed everyone back to the new semester. She announced that the Moseley lecture will be held on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 and will be delivered by Professor Alice Dean, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, who will talk about solving puzzles through graph theory in her talk entitled, “Layers, Lines, and Boxes: Some Mathematical Puzzles and Pearls.”
Acting VPAA Poston welcomed Joe Stankovich back to the Institutional Research Office as the new Director.
Acting VPAA Poston discussed the initiatives being undertaken in Academic Affairs which include a new exhibit on Africa that will be opening in the Tang shortly developed by John Weber and Associate Professor Lisa Aronson; faculty writing groups for both junior and senior colleagues being led by Professor Beau Breslin; and the development of faculty interest groups being led by Professor Erica Bastress-Dukehart, Faculty Network Facilitator. Acting VPAA Poston encouraged everyone to take advantage of the faculty development opportunities as they become available.
Dean of Special Programs’ Report. Dean of Special Programs, Jeffrey Segrave, announced that Jim Chansky, Director of Academic Programs, will be retiring from the College and assuming a significant leadership position at Brown University. Dean Segrave thanked Jim for his significant contributions to the faculty and to the institution, and paid tribute to Jim on his accomplishments during his career at Skidmore. A sustained round of applause was given for Jim’s contributions to the College.
After the conclusion of Cabinet reports, Acting President Kress opened a lengthy discussion on the climate of inclusiveness at Skidmore. She spoke briefly about the incident at Compton’s diner that occurred in December, 2010, which resulted in charges against four students. She said that those cases are still in the process of adjudication, both externally and internally. While she did not wish to discuss the details of the cases, she noted that one student was charged with a felony assault and hate crime and that it was public information that the hate crime charge was found to be baseless by the District Attorney and was dismissed. She announced that the police department and the DA’s office have now put in place a 3-part protocol to deal with the investigation of what might appear to be a hate crime.
She noted that individuals in some media columns and online discussion boards offered remarks that were at best uncivil and at worst deeply prejudiced. There was much stereotyping of students, faculty, police, and others, but most damaging and offensive were the comments about our students with respect to race and class. She said that such remarks poisoned the atmosphere for all of us.
Acting President Kress noted there is a great deal of work ahead to ensure that Skidmore is a more inclusive, welcoming community and asked for everyone to be engaged in this matter. Discussion ensued concerning the remarks made about our students, concerning the institution’s policy with regard to a student’s suspension when charged with a felony (Dean of Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun reviewed the institution’s current policy), and also concerning Skidmore’s relationship with the Saratoga Springs community. Further conversations surrounding these issues will be held in the future, and Acting President Kress encouraged everyone to become engaged in the discussions.
CONFERRAL OF DEGREES
University Without Walls
Professor Sheldon Solomon read the following resolution into the record (see attached):
RESOLVED, that the Faculty of Skidmore College recommend to the Trustees the granting of the Bachelor of Arts degree to two students and the Bachelor of Science degree to one student.
There was no discussion, and the motion was voted on and passed with all in favor.
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Associate Professor Ela Lepkowska-White read the following resolution into the record (see attached):
RESOLVED, that the Faculty of Skidmore College recommend to the Trustees the granting of the Master of Arts degree to one student.
There was no discussion, and the motion was voted on and passed with all in favor.
There was no old business to report.
On behalf of the Curriculum Committee, Associate Professor Lisa Aronson read the following motion into the record (see attached):
MOTION: The Curriculum Committee moves to eliminate the Economics-Sociology interdepartmental major.
There was no discussion, and the Motion will lie over until the next meeting.
On behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), Professor Reg Lilly reported on the semi-annual Committee of Committees meeting that was convened on December 13, 2010. Internally, the Committees reported relatively minor difficulties; however, the continuity of memberships is a concern for some committees as well as support for committee work, which FEC considers to be issues that pose serious challenges to effective governance. CEPP did raise the issue of its working relationship to FEC regarding FEC’s requests to consult with it on the division of disciplines. Externally, all committees who had contact with the administration described their contact as positive. Three concerns did arise: (1) FDC noted that there are numerous administrative faculty development initiatives that are initially announced without the FDC’s knowledge and that proceed without the FDC’s involvement; (2) the question of committee support is, in part, a matter to work through with the administration, and (3) there is a perception of the fact that FEC and the administration have been at odds concerning recent issues. FEC noted that it does not share this perception and hopes to work with the administration to dispel this misperception. Acting Dean of the Faculty Paty Rubio reiterated that the administration’s communications with FEC have been collaborative and positive and is unaware of the misperception.
- On behalf of CEPP, Associate Professor Bob Turner reported that CEPP and CAPT formed a subcommittee to consider an alternative student rating system to the current dean’s cards, which subcommittee includes faculty members of all ranks (professor, associate, assistant and visiting assistant). Professor Turner provided a background for why this issue is being tackled, what has been done already and the work that remains to be done. Professor Turner indicated that the CEPP-CAPT subcommittee is currently working on a new student rating instrument and plans to consult extensively with faculty and students and expressed his hope that everyone will participate in this process.
- Associate Professor Kim Frederick announced three grant opportunities with the Skidmore/Union Network Grant Opportunities which are open to any female faculty member in the STEM fields. Any questions concerning these opportunities should be directed to Professor Kate Berheide or Professor Mary Ann Foley.
- Professor Pushi Prasad invited everyone to the Skidmore Research Colloquium scheduled for February 10, 2011 featuring Assistant Professor Josh Ness of the Department of Biology and Environmental Studies, who will discuss the North Woods as a model that captures the dynamics of other systems and share his research.
- On behalf of Honors Forum Council, Assistant Professor Tillman Nechtman announced the Ramsey Lecture will be held on February 15, 2011 featuring Professor Sheldon Solomon and the Honors Forum Induction which will be held on February 17, 2011. Any faculty member that teaches an honors forum course or honors forum add-on that wishes to speak at the Induction should contact Professor David Vella.
- Malloy Curator Ian Berry announced upcoming events at the Tang: an exhibition about land use and environmental change featuring the work of Associate Karen Kellogg and her student Nicholas Liu-Sontag; the Jewel Thief, an exhibition of Paula Hayes and Peter Edwards; and a lecture featuring Jonathan Katz to discuss censorship. He also announced the opening of Environment and Object in Recent African Art curated by John Weber and Associate Professor Lisa Aronson and publicly congratulated Associate Professor Aronson for the great work on this large-scale exhibition that will travel beyond Skidmore. A round of applause was given for Associate Professor Aronson.
- Associate Professor Lisa Aronson discussed the opening of Environment and Object in Recent African Art, which will open February 5, 2011, beginning with a Dunkerley dialogue featuring four of the artists in the show followed by opening of the show. She also noted another dialogue will be held on March 1 featuring Lara Baladi an artist from Egypt; given the recent events in Egypt, her piece about Cairo is likely to generate some very interesting discussions.
- Acting President Kress congratulated the Tang, especially Ian Berry, John Weber and Jessica Stockholder on the stunning review of the Jewel Thief written by the New York Times.
- Michael Casey, Vice President for Advancement, invited everyone to the post-faculty meeting reception being held on the second floor in the Murray Aikins.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:47 p.m.
Debra L. Peterson
Executive Administrative Assistant