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
“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
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
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
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
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
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