Faculty       Chairs/Directors    
Dean of the Faculty/Vice President for Academic Affairs
 

FACULTY MEETING

November 2, 2012
Gannett Auditorium

MINUTES


President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:34 p.m.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

President Glotzbach asked if there were any corrections to, or comments regarding, the minutes of the Faculty Meeting held October 5, 2012. Hearing none, he announced the minutes were approved.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

President Glotzbach reminded everyone that the candidates for the DOF/VPAA will be on campus over the next two weeks. He asked everyone to participate in the process and provide feedback so that the search committee can have the necessary input to assist in making their decision.

President Glotzbach reported on a very successful meeting last week with the Board of Trustees. This set of meetings focused on admissions and financial aid; in these meetings, we discussed the role of financial aid in bringing in each new class, the national issue of merit aid, the pressure Skidmore is facing to offer more merit aid, the meaning of the discount rate, and efforts to enhance Skidmore's external reputation. The goal of these discussions was to help the Board understand in more detail the admissions process and to hear their advice on a number of important topics. In addition to discussing admissions and financial aid, the Board received a presentation on science planning and reviewed preliminary designs for a new admissions building. The Board will be holding a special meeting at the end of November in New York City to continue its consideration of science planning and moving toward plans for a building. We also welcomed five new members to the board, including a new young alumni trustee (Jonathan Brestoff, Class of 2008), two alumnae (Nancy Wells Hamilton ’77, Julie Traylor ’68, returning), and three Skidmore parents (Harry Alverson, Maria Markowitz, David Marks).

President Glotzbach announced that Skidmore has received an award from the Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), a national organization dedicated to sustainability. The award came to us for our innovation and effective use of geothermal heating and cooling in our new and renovated buildings – Northwoods, the dining hall, Zankel, Filene, Saisselin, and the Scribner Village replacement. With the completion of these latest projects, approximately 35 percent of all our campus building space is now heated and cooled using geothermal energy; with additional projects under discussion, the goal is to reach at least 50 percent by 2020. Skidmore was one of four schools receiving this prestigious award, which recognizes the work of many people involved in the design and construction of these buildings as well as the understanding of the Board of Trustees of the importance of sustainability and the life of the college. A congratulatory round of applause was given.

Thereafter, in response to a question raised by Professor Regina Janes at the faculty meeting held in September regarding student debt, Mary Lou Bates, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, shared a PowerPoint presentation regarding student debt relative to the Class of 2012 (see attached).

President Glotzbach addressed incidents that have occurred over the last few weeks involving bias and verbal abuse. When these incidents occur, it is a violation of Skidmore's fundamental values, and the students who were affected need to understand that, as a community, we do not accept such behavior. We also experienced some difficult moments during a panel discussion of “Whiteness” that brought home the difficulty of having serious conversations around such charged topics.

What do we learn from these events? First, we need to keep having these conversations; they are too important for us as an institution and for our students to be neglected just because they are uncomfortable. Second, these conversations operate at different levels, and we need to account for that fact. As an academic institution, we are concerned with theoretical aspects of issues. We want our students to understand how to engage with us in theoretical analysis, and that work is indeed important. That is where we live as a faculty – we live in concepts; we live in theories; we live in the conceptual realm. At the same time, for our students and for many of us in various ways – particularly faculty members of color and others – these are not abstract issues. They are existential issues that directly affect their lives. If a student has been the subject of a face-to-face incident of harassment that involved racial epithets, we need to acknowledge that this is not an abstract issue for that student – and it should not be just a theoretical issue for our community.

Our challenge for us as a faculty is how do we help our students and all of us have these conversations? We are a teaching institution so we are focused on our students. How do we help our students understand how to enter into this discourse and accommodate the fact that many of them are dealing with these issues on an existential level, that these are real and personal issues for them? How do we do it? One way is to think about the different epistemic levels of this kind of discourse, as referenced before. Usually, one cannot legitimately challenge another person’s statement that he or she has had a certain kind of experience. But as soon as one talks about what that experience means – as soon as he or she starts interpreting that experience, there is room for analysis, there is room for argument, and there is room for serious conversation. Already, at that level, we can begin talking and having arguments and reasonably disagreeing. And of course at the next level up, what does that experience mean in a larger sense? What does bias mean and how does it operate in this society? What about social identities, what about unconscious bias, etc.? How do these things operate? What do they mean? How do we as a community deal with stereotypes/stereotype threat? Dr. Joshua Aronson is going to be making a very interesting presentation on November 5 on this topic and President Glotzbach recommends that everyone attend his presentation.

When we are operating at the higher theoretical levels, we have lots of room for argument and analysis. Sometimes it is just helpful for our students to understand the difference between these different levels. In some cases we are dealing with anger and feelings of being hurt or assaulted. If someone says that he or she is angry, that certainly can be a true and revealing statement. But it doesn't mean that the next statement out of his or her mouth is true. It doesn't validate the next thing that is said, depending upon what that next statement is. We need to help all of us understand that.

For President Glotzbach, the broader context of this discussion is civility. That concept can be a contested one in this realm. Some people object to invoking civility, seeing it as a way of stifling criticism. But President Glotzbach argued that in appealing to the notion of civility he is talking about establishing a context that enables us to engage in difficult conversations. In fact, the more difficult the topic, the more we need to affirm the boundaries of how we engage it in discussion.

Civility begins with respect. It begins with an attitude of respect toward the person you are talking with – which means you don't dismiss out of hand what that person is saying, whether it is dismissing it verbally, through body language, or attitude. And we don't cross certain bounds that replace conversation about issues with personal attacks. We don't do this for a number of reasons. First, if we truly are concerned about dialogue, if we are concerned about discourse, we have to stay focused on the issues and not get distracted by what can happen if we veer off and allow ourselves to make the kind of personal attacks that count as violations of civility. Second, personal attacks serve to marginalize the person targeted – to take him or her out of the conversation – which runs counter to our commitment, as an educational institution, to creating inclusive contexts for discourse.

Above all, the argument for civility is rooted in the acknowledgment of our own fallibility. If one is omniscient and has never said anything that one wants to take back later on, one can bring a certain level of arrogance to a discourse. But if we are all poor, dumb, fallible beings, then somehow we need to leave an opening for the possibility that what one believes at the moment is perhaps not something one is going to believe tomorrow. Maybe someone else has a better view that one should adopt. We need to leave some room for that possibility – for the possibility of being instructed, which is the opposite of being uncivil, dismissive, and ultimately arrogant.

That does not mean, however, that we have to be tentative or wishy-washy in the way that we enter into these conversations. Civility creates a context in which we can have the most vigorous kinds of intellectual debate – where we can really go after an issue. As we think about how we do this, if we can give a little bit of thought to helping our students and all of us understand how to ascend that epistemic ladder and understand at which theoretical level we are having the conversation, then perhaps we all can be a little clearer as to what we are talking about, and how we might resolve our differences. This is not to say that we don't deal with issues on the existential level, on the level of emotion and experience. We have to talk about those things as well. But we need to understand how the arguments work at those different levels. If we can help our students understand that and understand the importance of staying focused on the key issues, then we keep open possibilities for learning.

There are other questions at work here as sell: How do we have a truly heterogeneous community in which people don't always have the same background and yet find ways to talk with one another? How do we have a community that is a real community that includes people – in some cases students of color, international students, gay, lesbian or transgender students – who don't automatically feel that this is their place? What happens when they are subject periodically to certain kinds of harassment, which brings home the message that they are not really welcome? How do we deal with that? How do we forge a community where we really do care about the values that we say we care about? We need to have these conversations. We need to call each other on uncivil behavior that violates these values, and we need to call our students on it when they cross those boundaries. It is a sign of a vigorous community that sometimes we get into arguments, and we want to have vigorous conversations and vigorous debate. Conversations involving diversity are complicated and difficult. It is hard to do this work, and there are a lot of folks who know that even better than President Glotzbach. Even so, he encourages everyone to stay engaged and to have these necessary discussions.

In concluding, President Glotzbach quoted an exchange in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons:

Wife: "Arrest him."

More: "For what?"

Wife: "He's dangerous."

Roper: "For all we know, he's a spy."

Daughter: "Father, that man is bad."

More: "There is no law against that."

Roper: "There is. God's law."

More: "Then let God arrest him."

Wife: "While you talk, he's gone."

More: "And go he should if he were the Devil himself until he broke the law!"

Roper: "So now you give the Devil benefit of the law."

More: "Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?"

Roper: "Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that."

More: "Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's. And if you cut them down – and you're just the man to do it – do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

President Glotzbach sees an analogy here with the points he had been making regarding civility. We need to give ourselves both the benefit and the protection of the principles of civility – to affirm them and talk about what it takes to have civil discourse in this community. And we need to model and this this for our students. If we can then we have gone a long way toward creating the kind of community we seek, and we have a platform and a framework for doing all the other important work that we have to do.

A round of applause was given to President Glotzbach.

DEAN OF THE FACULTY AND VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS’ REPORT

Beau Breslin, Interim Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, echoed President Glotzbach's message. He indicated that he received a lot of email from colleagues about various issues relating to the panel on whiteness; one colleague's email indicated his concern that "it was knowledge itself that was treated with the most contempt in that event." Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin indicated that his concern, as a student of the first amendment, is that ideas aren't entering the marketplace because of our behavior; as an educational institution it is our responsibility to make sure that ideas enter the market place in a way so that there isn't any particular chilling effect.

Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin announced that, due to the great work that Susan Kress did, we were able to secure $15,000 in new initiatives open to all faculty members for faculty development of curricular courses related to Goal 2 of the Strategic Plan. The Dean's office will put in an additional $10,000 for a total of $25,000 and will provide stipends in the sum of $4,000. This is an ongoing initiative so we will have this money in the budget going forward. Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin requested that proposals for new courses be sent to him; he and Paty Rubio, Associate Dean of the Faculty for Personnel, Diversity, and Development will vet the courses. This year, the new courses should be related to race and ethnicity. Faculty members creating new courses will receive a $1,000 stipend at the start and an additional $3,000 stipend once the course gets approved through Curriculum Committee. Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin will send an email with the details of this initiative within the week.

Thereafter, Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin described the inclusive hiring workshops that are being conducted with the faculty, diversity advocates, and chairs of the search committees for tenure track lines. These workshops have been tremendously successful, and we are seeing great pools of candidates. One of the issues that came out of the last inclusive hiring workshop was the need for a resource for candidates coming to campus to talk about things that the search committee, legally or not, cannot speak to them about, such as what the school systems are like. As a result of brainstorming on this particular issue, a new pilot "ambassador" program has been created; each candidate coming to campus for a tenure line search will spend a half hour with two or three people who have no role in the search at all but who can answer questions or direct people to the things that the search committee cannot address. The Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding did a wonderful job of recruiting faculty and staff to volunteer their time to meet with our candidates.

Thereupon, Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin announced that Professor Sarah Goodwin could not be at today's meeting to discuss assessment; thus, the discussion has been pulled from the original agenda. In her absence, Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin praised the departments for all the great work they have been doing relating to assessment. However, some departments still have not done the Teagle work, and Teagle is waiting for our report. Underscoring the importance of assessment and noting that we have an obligation to do this work, he encouraged those departments that have not completed their assessments to work with Professor Goodwin and Lisa Christenson, Assessment Facilitator, to complete their assessments.

In concluding his report, he noted that the New York Six consortium has been talking about the Teagle RFP it received on the topic of faculty workload and have spent a lot of time talking about e-learning as a collective, collaborative effort. Interim DOF/VPAA Breslin will discuss this at a later date once more details of this initiative are available.

OLD BUSINESS

There was no old business.

NEW BUSINESS

Committee on Educational Policies and Planning

On behalf of the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP), Professor Michael Arnush provided a history of the basis for the proposed revisions to the culture-centered inquiry requirement as well as the changes that were proposed over the last two academic years. He noted that this fall CEPP attempted to revisit this issue again and prepared a revised motion and rationale that was distributed in October, 2012. CEPP thought that this revised motion and rationale best captured the faculty's wishes for the requirement and, in so doing, would institutionalize a rigorous examination of cultural diversity by our students through a requirement. Upon consultation with faculty, including members of the Curriculum Committee, in the subsequent weeks, CEPP has realized that there may not be widespread support for this motion. Thus, CEPP will not be bringing a revised motion to the faculty at this time. CEPP believes it is in the best interest of our faculty and students for it to craft a requirement that is rigorous and that speaks to our collective definition of the nature and place of cultural diversity within the all college requirements. Accordingly, CEPP will host an open forum on Friday, November 9, 2012 at 3:30 p.m. in the Filene auditorium to allow an open, frank and candid discussion about the requirement, about rigor, and about what we think is best for our students' learning.

Thereafter, further discussion was held concerning the reason the motion was not brought to the faculty floor. It was noted that one of the ways in which we know the will of the faculty is by having these types of conversations on the faculty floor, particularly in relationship to a motion, and that many faculty members were looking forward to discussing the motion. Professor Arnush noted that even before the decision was made not to proceed with the motion, an open forum was already planned as prescribed by the Faculty Handbook; he further indicated that CEPP got the sense from speaking with members of the Curriculum Committee that there were problems with what CEPP had proposed, especially the dilution of the nonwestern requirement. A concern was raised that the dilution of the nonwestern requirement is yet again keeping a discussion of domestic diversity off the floor of the faculty. Professor Arnush indicated his hope that there will be a good turnout at the open forum so that we can discuss all these issues -- are we prepared to add another requirement, are we prepared to find a way to deal with domestic diversity separate from global diversity or international diversity, and if so, are there ways we can think about doing this that is constructive for the faculty and for our students.

Policies Working Group

On behalf of the Policies Working Group, Professor Barbara Black presented a draft Policy on the Development and Modification of College Policies (see attached), which was created by the Policies Working Group along with input from the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC) and the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), and provided the background for the creation of the policy. Professor Black indicated that FEC, IPPC, and the working group all endorse this policy, and FEC recommended that this draft be brought to the faculty floor for a sense of the faculty. Associate Professor April Bernard, a member of FEC, was selected as moderator of the discussion. Discussion of the proposed policy focused on what led to the development of the policy, the criteria for determining whether a policy would follow the process, and the role of the faculty in the development of policies. Following the discussion of the proposed policy, Professor Black indicated that the working group, FEC, and IPPC will discuss the comments raised during the discussion for possible modification of the policy.

Faculty Executive Committee

On behalf of the FEC, Professor Black introduced the following Motion (see attached):

     MOTION: On behalf of the Curriculum Committee, the Faculty Executive Committee moves that the following new language be added to the Faculty Handbook in Part One. It will become a new section XX and the sections to follow will be renumbered XXI. and XXII. accordingly. Here is the new language:

     XX. ESTABLISHMENT OR ELIMINATION OF A MINOR

Authority to establish or eliminate minors is vested in the Faculty and Dean of Faculty/Vice President for Academic Affairs. The primary vehicle for faculty approval rests with the Curriculum Committee.

Establishment or elimination of a minor is accomplished according to the following procedures:

      A. A proposal to establish or eliminate a minor shall be made first to the Curriculum Committee by members of the Faculty. The proposal shall be accompanied by a complete rationale based on academic concerns.

      B. The Curriculum Committee shall consider the proposal and rationale in the context of all the issues that are relevant to the College's long-range educational goals. During its study, the Curriculum Committee shall work closely with the Administration and the department (or departments) of the minor in question. It will invite faculty input.

     C. Upon approval of a proposal to establish or eliminate a minor, the result will be announced at a Faculty Meeting by the Curriculum Committee.

Brief discussion of the Motion was held concerning consultation with program directors, student government association, and CEPP. The Curriculum Committee will discuss the concerns raised with regard to the Motion. The Motion will lie over until the next meeting.

On behalf of the FEC, Professor Black introduced the following Motion (see attached):

      MOTION: The Faculty Executive Committee moves that the following changes to the Faculty Handbook (Part Two, II.F.1.) be adopted:

Current FH language, with addition in bold and deletion tracked…

     FACULTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (FEC) — Elected

Function: To act as the primary conduit of information and ideas into and out of the Faculty concerning all-College issues and policies; to oversee faculty governance and faculty participation in all-College governance; and to act as Faculty Observers of the Board of Trustees.

FEC fosters communication within the Faculty, via both reports to the Faculty Meeting and organization of other faculty discussion meetings and forums, about all-College issues and policies. The Chair of the FEC shall sit on the IPPC in order to strengthen communication between the two committees. FEC, together with IPPC and SGA, is responsible for the proper constitution of all-College committees and subcommittees.

FEC is responsible for coordinating faculty committee work and for furthering democratic representation and committee efficiency. FEC is responsible for ensuring the proper constitution of faculty committees: it solicits nominations for, conducts elections for, and makes appointments to faculty and all-College committees; it provides advice and oversight of procedures regarding faculty appointments to search committees for senior administrative positions; and it maintains a list of all faculty members on all committees. In addition, FEC reviews operating codes of all faculty committees and maintains files of annual committee reports, and FEC is responsible for ensuring that the text of the Faculty Handbook appears and remains precisely as approved by the Faculty.

FEC convenes the Committee of Committees (comprising faculty members of FEC, IPPC, CAPT, CAFR, CEPP, Curriculum Committee, FDC, and any current ad hoc committees whose presence FEC believes would be helpful to the Committee) at least twice a year to assess the interactions among member committees and between them and the Administration, and to discuss ongoing issues and any problems in committee operations. FEC is then required to inform the Faculty at large of the issues raised by the Committee of Committees.

Finally, FEC observes the on-campus meetings of the Board of Trustees, at the invitation of the Board, and reports its observations in writing to the Faculty. (In addition, CAPT, CAFR, and the Chair of CEPP meet annually with the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees.) The Chair of the FEC and the faculty Vice-Chair of the IPPC shall meet regularly throughout the academic year so that each committee can be apprised of the other committee’s work.

Membership: Five members of the Faculty elected to serve three-year terms.

There was no discussion, and the Motion will lie over until the next meeting.

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

A Committee of the Whole was formed to discuss proposed revisions to the Dean's Card (see attached). Professor Black was appointed as chair of the Committee of the Whole. A 10-minute time limit was set. At the conclusion of the Committee of the Whole, Professor Black reported that a discussion of the proposed revisions to the Dean's Card was held.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

o The Visual and Performing Arts retreat led by civic fellows Assistant Professor Lei Bryant and Associate Professor David Howson will be held Monday, January 14, 2013 at the Saratoga Arts Center; the facilitator with Terry Dolson, University of Richmond.

o The Humanities retreat led by Charlene Grant and Professor Casey will be held on Thursday, January 17, 2013 at the Surrey; the facilitator will be Edward Zlotkowski of Bentley University.

o The Social Sciences retreat by Associate Professor Natalie Taylor and Associate Professor Rik Scarce will be held on February 8, 2013 and February 15, 2013; the facilitator will be Jan Grigsby of Union College.

She encouraged all faculty to attend and noted that the retreats are open to all faculty, including those in contingent lines.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:29 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Debra L. Peterson
Executive Administrative Assistant

 

 

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