FACULTY MEETING MINUTES
February 6, l998
President Porter called the meeting to order at 3:39 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The December 5, l997 faculty meeting minutes were approved as written.
President Porter reported that beginning in l998-99 the College will be offering a new set of scholarships focused on the sciences and modeled on the Filene scholarships. These scholarships will include the "hard" sciences, mathematics and computer science, psychology, and exercise science, and the chairs of these departments will serve as the selection committee that will review the candidates. The intent is to enhance not just the sciences but the College as a whole. We are hopeful that this set of merit scholarships will lead in time to another set that might be focused on another area. We will select five scholars in each class with a scholarship of $l0,000 each, at a cost of $50,000 per year, per class, beginning with $50,000 next year and moving to up to a total of $200,000 by 200l-02, when the program will be in full operation. These merit scholarships will not use funds allocated for need-based scholarships but will be funded by additional money from the campaign.
Referring to the non-binding resolution passed by the faculty last spring to cease the sale of tobacco products in the Skidmore Shop, Dr. Porter reported that a student referendum voted not to discontinue the sale of tobacco products on campus. He said that both the faculty and students have thoughtful arguments to support their position and that before making a final decision he wants to make sure that each side understands the "weight of the other’s arguments."
The President reported that members of the Board had expressed some serious concerns about the budget last fall in relationship to two matters: 1) long-term plant maintenance, and (2) projections for the growth of the endowment. As a consequence, we have lowered our endowment growth projections for l998-99 from 8% to l%. At the same time we are increasing the budget for maintenance of the physical plant to avoid the build-up of a serious deferred maintenance backlog. In developing a budget for review by FPPC and the Board, we have applied these concerns both to next year’s budget and to the long-range projections; at the same time we have managed to retain in next year’s budget the parameters with which we have been working, and which respond to those priorities identified in IPC: financial aid, a 3.5% general increase in salary, plus a $l30,000 pool for enhancement of faculty salaries. He said that he has urged the Board to keep in mind the priorities established by IPC when they look at the long-range budget and reminded them that the people at Skidmore are our most important long-term asset. To properly support this human asset will entail considerable additional discussion and action in terms of our longer-term budget planning.
The President pointed out that there are several physical plant needs on campus that we need to take into consideration: Filene expansion, additional faculty and staff office space, replacing the water tower and the greenhouse, creating transitions between the Library, Case, and the Tang Teaching Museum/Art Gallery, and implementing changes in student social space. Since the bond market is at an all-time low, we are considering a modest bond issue which we could conceivably get at an interest rate as low as 5%.
The President recognized Kent Jones, Mary Lou Bates, and Robert Shorb for the splendid job they have done in this year’s recruitment efforts.
The President announced that two degrees would be presented at Commencement rather than just the one to himself as previously announced. At President Porter’s urging, a degree will also be presented to Myles Cane, who is retiring as Chair of the Board at the end of this year. We will also be conferring a degree on Susan Williamson, who has been on the Board for twenty-five years, at the February 27th Scholarship dinner at the National Museum of Dance.
President Porter announced that the campaign had reached its goal of $72 M at the end of l997 thanks in part to a $2.5 M gift (the second such) from Trustee Arthur Zankel. He announced that within that $72M there was money for yet another professorship, bringing to seven the total number of chairs added in the campaign. He also officially announced the establishment of the Douglas Family Chair in American Culture, History, Literary, and Interdisciplinary Studies. The total received in the campaign to date is $74,250,000.
Karl Broekhuizen, Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer, introduced Ben Price, the new Director of Facilities Services.
Mary Lou Bates, Director of Admissions, reported that early decision applications are up 50% compared to two years ago. The median SAT of the applicant pool was up 40% from ll30 last year to ll70 this year and the median SATs of the accepted students is up 30 points: ll70 last year compared to l200 this year. To date we have received 5300 applications.
Mary Lou Bates, on behalf of the Presidential Search Committee, reported that the presidential search consultant, Shelly Weiss Storbeck, Vice President and Managing Director of the Education Practice at A.T. Kearney, had been on campus for two days. Ms. Bates thanked everyone who met with Ms. Storbeck. Ms. Storbeck is in the process of drafting a prospectus on Skidmore College. She said that nominations for president could be mailed to Skidmore College Presidential Search Committee, l02 Circular St., Saratoga Springs, NY l2866 or emailed to jyepsen.
Patricia Rubio, on behalf of University Without Walls (UWW), presented the following motion:
MOTION: RESOLVED, that the Faculty of Skidmore College recommend to the Trustees the granting of the Bachelor of Arts degree to four (4) students and the Bachelor of Science degree to five (5) students for a total of nine (9) students (see Attachment A).
This motion carried unanimously.
Peggy Seiden, Chair of the Faculty Governance Committee (CFG), announced that the Student Aid Committee asked CFG for a postponement for a vote on the motion presented at the December faculty meeting regarding the composition of the merged Admissions/Student Aid Committee. We will bring this motion back to the floor in March.
Una Bray, on behalf of the Committee on Financial Policy and Planning (FPPC) made the following motion:
MOTION: Pension contributions for employees hired after May 3l, l998 will commence one year after the date of employment, unless the employee already has a TIAA-CREF or Vanguard 403B plan. If the employee comes to the College with an existing plan, contributions will commence upon employment (see Attachment B).
This motion will lie over for a vote at the March faculty meeting.
The faculty discussed the ramifications this motion would have on recruitment and the fact that this would affect all constituents on campus, not just faculty. Dean Roth said that while interviewing candidates she did explain this change to them and none of the candidates expressed any concern. Karl Broekhuizen reported that if this policy had been in effect over the past three years the savings would have been between $65,000 to $75,000 per year. People who are hired and are already participating in the TIAA-CREF or Vanguard 403B plan will be continued during their first year of employment because if we don’t, it could make it harder to recruit upper-level management or faculty. There is a very low turn over of support staff or AP staff and this change should not affect our ability to recruit in those categories. Pat Oles explained that this change in benefits was all part of an effort to reduce costs and included in this undertaking were the reviews of the Riding Program, Office Services, the Bookstore, and New Family Project. We did consider the impact this might have on recruiting but we also had to consider that health care costs were increasing and we needed to find some way to reduce the overall costs of benefits to the College.
Una Bray, on behalf of Financial Policy and Planning Committee, reported that FPPC had been under the impression that faculty and staff who were on a leave of absence without pay received pension contributions from the College. She explained that FPPC was trying to find out if that was correct and hoped to have this information available at the next meeting. The discussion that followed brought out the fact that the policy was probably changed at some point and FPPC was asked to find out what the policy had been and who changed it. Karl Broekhuizen reported that the College’s pension plan became non-contributory July l, l987 and he was trying to find out what the practice had been and how it applied prior to l987.
Lary Opitz made the following motion:
MOTION: that the faculty at Skidmore College rescind the vote on the motion to merge the Financial Aid Committee and the Admissions Committee.
This motion was seconded.
During the discussion, some faculty voiced their concern that rescinding this motion would set a poor precedent; the faculty shouldn’t go back and change motions once the faculty passes it. Lary Opitz countered that sometimes we make mistakes and we do have the mechanism for changing our minds.
"It is the only way to at least satisfy ourselves that voices were not intentionally silenced because, if we refuse to raise this again, that would be the impression."
William Fox made the following motion:
MOTION: the faculty will table Professor Opitz’s motion to rescind the vote to combine the Admissions Committee and the Financial Aid Committee with the option to remove it from the table at the next meeting.
This motion was seconded.
The motion was voted on by a showing of hands and carried 52-42.
Robert DeSieno invited everyone to attend the Moseley Lecture to be held on February l9, l998 at 8 p.m. in Gannett Auditorium. Sheldon Solomon, Professor of Psychology, is the Moseley lecturer and his topic will be "Grave Matters: on the Role of Death in Life." Professor DeSieno also announced that the next Pedagogy Workshop would be held on February 27 at 3:30 p.m. in Starbuck Lounge. The topic is "Pedagogy and Information Technology: Connections and Discontents."
Isabel Brown, Chair of the Faculty Development Committee (FDC), announced that next year’s Moseley Lecturer will be Jeffrey Segrave, Professor of Physical Education. She also announced that the names of the AT&T Summer Fellow recipients have been put on email (see Attachment C).
Gordon Thompson announced that Amy Briggs Dissanayake ‘89 would be performing that evening.
Cynthia Evans, on behalf of the Faculty/Staff Club, announced that the Faculty/Staff Club reception will be held in the Foreign Languages and Literatures Resource Center (Bolton 380) immediately following the faculty meeting.
President Porter adjourned the meeting at 5:23 p.m.
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