April 26, 2013
President Philip A. Glotzbach called the meeting to order at 3:36 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
President Glotzbach asked if there were any corrections to, or comments regarding, the minutes of the Faculty Meeting held April 5, 2013. Hearing none, he announced the minutes were approved.
President Glotzbach provided a brief update on admissions. The deadline for deposits is May 1; so far, we are 25 ahead of last year and 40 ahead of two years ago. We still have 215 to go to reach our target of 705, which accounts for summer melt.
President Glotzbach then invited Professor Alice Dean, Chair of the Faculty Development Committee, to make a brief announcement regarding the Ralph A. Ciancio Award for Excellence in Teaching. Professor Dean thanked this year's nominators and candidates and noted that it was difficult to choose just one person for this award; she hoped that all those nominated would be nominated again in the future. This year's winner of the Ralph A. Ciancio Award for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to Associate Professor Erica Bastress-Dukehart. A warm and prolonged round of applause was given on behalf of Associate Professor Bastress-Dukehart.
Thereafter, President Glotzbach quoted a few lines from an April 11 article in the Washington Post by Paul Farhi, entitled “Commencement Speaker Protests Stir a Debate over Free Speech on Campuses”:
“College campuses are supposed to be marketplaces of ideas. But some ideas, and some people, are less welcome than others these days. Just ask Robert Zoellick … .
“Zoellick, the former Work Bank president [withdrew] as a college commencement speaker … following protests ... . Zoellick accepted and then turned down an invitation from Swarthmore College – his alma mater – after students objected to his support of the Iraq war and his record at the World Bank ….
“Commencement speaker controversies have become so common that they’re practically a springtime ritual, like the opening of the baseball season or the blossoming of daffodils. Figures as diverse as President Obama and actor James Franco, whom some UCLA students knocked as lacking gravitas, have all been the object of graduation brouhahas in recent years.”
President Glotzbach noted that Skidmore is not alone in dealing with a controversy regarding a commencement speaker. As we deal with our present issues, it is important for those in positions of authority and responsibility for the present and future well-being of the College – including both the faculty and the administration – to always think not just about our immediate situation but about the precedents and practices being establishing for the future.
In the Washington Post article cited above, Josh Wheeler, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, a First-Amendment policy group at the University of Virginia, is quoted as saying that “Nowadays, people aren’t afraid to express their objections, which isn’t a bad thing, but people are more willing to censor [speech] to remove the offending speech or language.” He refers to this phenomenon as “the heckler’s veto,” the ability of a small but vocal group to limit the choices of a much larger majority.
This seems to be what happened at Swarthmore where both the student paper and a progressive campus publication called Left of Center criticized the opponents of Robert Zoellick for distorting his record. And, in the end, it seems that only a relatively small – but quite vocal – minority of students at Swarthmore wanted him not to come. But by then it was too late; he had already withdrawn.
The issues President Glotzbach raised in his letter about institutional integrity could be reformulated this way: Do we want to establish the practice of honoring “a heckler’s veto”? Those who want her to be disinvited do owe the rest of us a response to that question.
President Glotzbach stated that he spoke with Cynthia Carroll earlier in the day, who is aware of the controversy. He posed the following question to the faculty: "What do you want me to tell her about whether she should come to accept the honorary degree we have invited her to receive?" Those faculty members that offered advice were supportive of Cynthia Carroll. One faculty member noted that she should be told that the faculty is not on the same wavelength as the students.
Another faculty member suggested that the question of censorship should be left out of the conversation, as we are inviting Cynthia Carroll to receive an honorary degree; in his opinion, the issue comes down to a difference of opinion about what constitutes a legitimate set of credentials of a person who is being offered an honorary degree; he does not find anything of disgrace in the record of Cynthia Carroll. It was his hope that Cynthia Carroll would have something compelling and thoughtful to say to everyone and hoped that those in the audience that were unhappy with her presence would listen to her. Unless you regard a commencement speaker as morally rehprensville, the invitation should go forward.
In response to President Glotzbach's letter sent to the community, one faculty member inquired about his statement that a third speaker might be added. President Glotzbach said that there were a number of suggestions made and that he would have an update in a few days.
Another faculty member stated that one of the reasons he supports her coming to campus is that one question our students are wrestling with is how do they make choices on how they will live their lives being part of systems they want to change. In his opinion, Cynthia Carroll has confronted the nature of her business; she has resolved some of those questions as she managed her career. Even though one might disagree with the choices she has made, it would be nice to hear her speak on the choices she has made in her career. Another faculty member offered his hope that Cynthia Carroll address some of the issues that the students have raised in their objections to her invitation.
In concluding his report, President Glotzbach posed this question: Would we be willing to give the Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, an honorary degree? Before he became President of the World Bank, Dr. Kim, who holds both an M.D. and a Ph.D., was President of Dartmouth. Before that, he was a colleague of Dr. Paul Farmer. Together they founded and led Partners in Health – the NGO that has brought health care – with particular emphasis on fighting drug-resistant tuberculosis – to thousands, if not millions, of people throughout the developing world. In his Inaugural address at Dartmouth, Dr. Kim made a special point of saying that we have to teach our students today to think in terms of systems. That is wonderful to want to change the world. But if they are going to do so, they need to understand how natural and social systems work and how they can be changed.
As President Glotzbach stated in his letter, and in light of recent conversations on this campus, he would love to see us as a faculty take up this idea with some degree of rigor – to see how systems thinking might be more broadly integrated into and across our curriculum.
DEAN OF THE FACULTY AND VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS’ REPORT
Beau Breslin, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs, offered his congratulations to Associate Professor Bastress-Dukehart on her award. Thereupon, DOF/VPAA Breslin provided an update on this year's new faculty; he noted that to date we have recruited 26 full-time faculty members, of which 12 are tenure-line faculty. Of the 26 new faculty members, 12 are women and 14 are men, 4 are in post-doc positions while the remainder are currently in teaching positions, all have teaching experience with an average of 9 years' experience. DOF/VPAA Breslin noted that this year we filled 12 tenure lines (11 searches and one conversion), of which 6 are men, 6 are women, and 7 are faculty of color. Overall, we had a great recruitment season and he thanked everyone, including faculty, staff, and those involved in the ambassador program, for all their hard work.
On behalf of the Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure, Professor Mark Hofmann read the following resolution into the record (see attached):
BE IT RESOLVED, that the faculty of Skidmore College expresses its profound appreciation and admiration for the following members of the Skidmore Faculty who have this year expressed their determination to retire:
- Roy Meyers, Professor, Department of Biology
- Linda Simon, Professor, Department of English
The faculty further resolves that the biographical highlights of these members contained in the Retirement Citation booklet distributed at this meeting be included in the Faculty Meeting Minutes of April 26, 2013, in recognition and celebration of their distinguished service and achievement (see Attachment).
Thereafter, Associate Professor Pat Hilleren delivered a tribute to Professor Meyers. President Glotzbach presented Professor Meyers with a gift, and warm round of applause and standing ovation was given to Professor Meyers.
Institutional Policy and Planning Committee
On behalf of the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC), Associate Professor Erica Bastress-Dukehart read the following Motion that was introduced at last month's meeting (see attached):
MOTION: The Institutional Policy and Planning Committee is asking the Faculty to endorse the Standards of Business Conduct, the Conflict of Interest, and the Conflict of Commitment policies.
Associate Professor Bastress-Dukehart noted that the IPPC held an open forum on April 18 to discuss the policy, and no issues were raised. There being no discussion, the Motion was voted on and passed by majority vote.
Committee on Educational Policies and Planning
On behalf of the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP), Associate Professor Michael Arnush provided an update on course cap policy that was enacted in 2009. In the Spring 2012, CEPP and the Curriculum Committee (CC) created a joint subcommittee to explore the consequences of this policy (the 2009 policy was enacted as a result of CC's concern about departments asking for waivers and exceptions from the 2000 course cap guidelines and CEPP's concerns about maintaining excellent academic programs in light of budgetary shortfalls that were expected to continue into 2015. The recommendations from a 2009 joint subcommittee among CEPP, CC, and the DOF were enacted with the intent of supporting three priorities: minimizing inequities in student's academic experience, minimizing inequities among disciplines, departments and instructors; and increasing institutional flexibility in our usage of human resources and facilities. The policy proposed that the maximum enrollment in 100-level courses be raised from a range of 32-38 students to 35-38 students; 200-level courses be raised from 27-33 students to 29-33 students, and 300-level courses be raised from 18-23 students to 19-23 students. Each case represents an increase in maximum cap and a compression in the range of possible caps, with the latter being deemed particularly meaningful as a means to foster greater equity. The 2009 report recommended that course caps policy be revised in three years.
To that end, a subcommittee consisting of members of CEPP, the CC, and the DOF 's office was created. The subcommittee was chaired by Josh Ness, and the subcommittee submitted its report to CEPP this spring. CEPP has read and interrogated the report and has endorsed it and forwarded it on to the DOF/VPAA for five recommendations. Thereupon, Associate Professor Ness reported that, as part of their review, the subcommittee solicited data from Institutional Research regarding the enrollment in classes between 2006-2011 (several years prior to and after the policy went into effect). The goal was to compare the consequences of the new policy and to determine the typical variation we might expect across years, semesters, etc. A review of this data indicates there are pronounced inequities in class sizes, across sections of the same course in some cases, across departments, across divisions and across a student's career. The subcommittee found that the inequities were unresponsive to the changes that arose as a result of the 2009 report and in some cases those differences were exasperated. The means caps are incredibly varied, most caps are well below those prescribed by the 2009 report and, in most cases, the caps were much higher than the average enrollments in courses. The subcommittee's recommendations are as follows:
- Course caps should more closely resemble observed enrollments.
- An enrollment policy designed to generate greater inequity would require that departments follow similar policies.
- A policy that lowers course caps has the greatest potential to decrease inequities in enrollment, increase student-faculty engagement, and increase space utilization. Thus, course caps are recommended at 28 for 100-level courses, 22 for 200-level courses, and 18 for 300-level courses.
- We reviewed the justification for each course with enrollments that are far below the and for courses that are substantially greater than the cap.
- If these recommendations are implemented, the subcommittee proposes that the course cap issue be reviewed within five years of implementation.
Brief discussion was held on these recommendations. One faculty member raised a concern about a "one size fits all" model while another faculty member suggested that the college develop guidelines and then let the departments set the internal caps
DOF/VPAA Breslin thanked the members of the subcommittee for all their work. This topic will be discussed in greater detail in the chairs and program directors retreat. There are, however, significant resource implications that will need to be considered, including budgets, faculty lines, and new initiatives.
In closing, Associate Professor Arnush provided an update on the all-college curriculum, noting that CEPP's retreat on May 14 will be devoted to brainstorming related to the all college curriculum. He encouraged faculty to share their thoughts with him. CEPP will keep everyone updated as the process unfolds.
On behalf of the Faculty Executive Committee, Professor Barbara Black introduced the following Motion (see attached):
MOTION: In order to codify the use of electronic polling technology for voting, the Faculty Executive Committee moves that the following changes be made to the Faculty Handbook (Part Two, I, “Faculty Meeting By-Laws,” Article VI, “Taking Votes”):
A. The Faculty Meeting shall vote by ballot on any motion to change the curriculum or Part One of the Faculty Handbook if at least one voting member makes such a request. On all other motions, the Faculty Meeting shall take a vote on a motion for a ballot vote.
B. The Faculty Meeting shall otherwise vote by ayes and nays. Any member, however, can demand a rising vote (standing vote or a division of the assembly). This vote must be counted. In the case of a tie vote (ballot) the Chair may vote with either side. If the Chair chooses not to vote, lacking a majority, the motion is defeated.
C. The members of the Faculty Executive Committee shall tally all votes taken by a show of hands or by ballot, except in cases where the motion before the Faculty Meeting comes from the FEC. In the latter instance, the Chair shall appoint up to six faculty members to make the count.
A. The Faculty Meeting shall vote by ballot, using electronic polling technology. In the event of a technology failure, an ayes and nays vote will be taken, either by voice vote or—under circumstances determined by the Chair—paper ballot.
B. In the case of a tie vote, the Chair may vote with either side. If the Chair chooses not to vote, lacking a majority, the motion is defeated.
C. is deleted.
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 Faculty Governance. Professor Black was appointed as chair of the Committee of the Whole. A 20-minute time limit was set. At the conclusion of the Committee of the Whole, Professor Black rose and reported that a discussion on the topic of faculty governance was held.
- Professor Catherine Golden, Director of Honors Forum, announced the schedule for this year's Academic Festival. She thanked the faculty for all their good will in re-envisioning academic festival, with special thanks to Assistant Professor Jennifer Bonner and Associate Professor Tillman Nechtman. The format for this year's Academic Festival is similar to a real conference, with 4 designated time slots with no more than 8 concurrent sessions, designated time for roundtables, and a concluding session. She asked that everyone to encourage their students to attend; this is an opportunity to see the very best.
- Associate Professor Erica Bastress-Dukehart invited everyone to attend Masterclass scheduled for May 13.
- Associate Dean of the Faculty Karen Kellogg and Professor Sheldon Solomon announced an upcoming faculty workshop on sustainability and encouraged everyone to consider attending. The workshop is designed to assist faculty in developing creative approaches to incorporating sustainability into new and/or existing courses.
- DOF/VPAA Breslin announced this year's post-Commencement reception for families of seniors will be held on May 18 from 2:30-4:30 in Murray Aikins.
- DOF/VPAA Breslin invited everyone to attend a reception immediately following the faculty meeting at the Surrey Williamson Inn to celebrate the retiring faculty.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:15 p.m.
Debra L. Peterson
Executive Administrative Assistant
Executive Administrative Assistant