FACULTY MEETING MINUTES
DECEMBER 3, 1999
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the November 5, 1999 faculty meeting were approved as presented.
In the interest of time, President Studley announced that she would not give a President’s report today.
The following motion, made by Professors Denny and Rubio, motion was carried over from the November 5th meeting:
MOVED that the faculty instructs Curriculum Committee that reconfiguration not be implemented for Fall 2000.
Professor Rob Linrothe explained to the faculty that the joint committees of CEPP (Committee on Educational Policies and Planning) and the Curriculum Committee thought that the Denny/Rubio motion, which is directed at the timing of implementation of reconfiguration, included a prior question, one which expresses concern that the College might be moving too fast towards reconfiguration without consulting the faculty, and without thoroughly considering the college-wide effects of reconfiguration on students, faculty, and the institution at large. CEPP and the Curriculum Committee discussed ways of getting at these more basic concerns and agreed that it was important to gauge the sentiments of the faculty about reconfiguration as a concept before voting on questions about details of timing of implementation. The joint committees offer the substitute motion for the single purpose of providing a venue for measured reflection and exchange of views on the issue of reconfiguration among the faculty. The aim of the substitute motion is to create an equitable and credible process so that regardless of the way faculty votes, everyone will feel it is a fair process with space for everyone’s input.
The Curriculum Committee and CEPP consulted with Professors Denny and Rubio about the substance of this substitute motion and also with Professor John Thomas about procedural details. They hoped that Professor Denny would accept it as a friendly amendment/substitute motion. If the substitute motion passes, Professor Denny’s original motion will be reintroduced. The substitution motion is as follows:
MOTION: The faculty accepts the concept of student and faculty reconfiguration as a way to solve present problems and create new opportunities.
Note: For the purposes of this motion, reconfiguration is given the following definition: Reconfiguration entails a revision of the course delivery system such that 4-credit courses will become the main vehicle for teaching and learning, although variable credit experience (1-3 hours) will be offered as appropriate. The effects of this adjustment will be that faculty teach five courses per year that carry an average of 18 credits (17-19 credit range), while students enroll for four courses averaging 15 credits each semester. The goal of reconfiguration is deepening engagement of students, through a move from breadth to depth.
Professor Denny thanked the two committees for taking a very civil, courteous and thoughtful approach during the last several weeks to bring the motions before the faculty. He accepted the substitute motion as a friendly amendment to his motion.
President Studley stated that the substitute motion is a substantive motion, which ordinarily would be held over until the next faculty meeting. To suspend the rules would allow the faculty to act upon the motion. A motion to suspend is a non-debatable motion, which requires a 2/3 majority vote to carry.
Professor David Peterson made a motion to suspend the rules, since they would interfere with acting upon this substitute motion at today’s meeting. His motion was seconded and adopted.
Abby Swormstedt, SGA Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Chair of Academic Council, stated that students generally don’t know enough yet to form opinions about the subject of reconfiguration.
A lengthy discussion ensued among the faculty members about the pros and cons of reconfiguration.
There was concern that faculty members have had not an opportunity to fully understand the range of issues raised by reconfiguration and what the effect it would have on the all-College curriculum as well as on the students. One member of the faculty felt that since this is a curriculum issue, a special subcommittee should have been elected. There was concern about having enough classroom space, whether adjunct faculty members would shoulder a larger workload than tenured faculty, and whether there would be enough staffing. Reconfiguring on a piecemeal basis rather than all at once is a worry for some because of potential problems that may not be foreseen. A few faculty members were anxious about the results of a smaller curriculum—would students who cannot meet their major requirements be forced to take independent studies that would result in more work for the faculty?
Dean Roth stated that as far as staff support is concerned, it has difficult to assess until we see how the proposals moved forward. She said that the issue of staffing has been raised. Discussions have just begun to plan for next year’s budget with FPPC about how to build into the budget additional staff for the faculty to implement reconfiguration.
Those who spoke in favor of reconfiguration felt that we should conform to our peer institutions by having a student load of four courses, and that teaching fewer courses is better for students and faculty. One faculty member stated that he is discouraged that there is a chance that his colleagues can bar him from implementing the reconfiguration that he has done in his department. There were those who felt that they would be discouraged and demoralized if the reconfigured curriculum is not started in the fall. Last year, departments were told they could move forward if a critical mass was achieved, and that has been accomplished. To stop reconfiguration now is to risk a drop in morale. One professor stated that his department has been reconfigured and felt that nothing was taken out of that was necessary. His department has been able to offer honors courses and has contributed as much to LS as any other department.
Professor Linrothe stated that the nine proposals reviewed seem rich and thick with choices for students at all levels.
Dean Roth said that our students feel terrific gridlock because Skidmore College has more requirements in the majors and more requirements in the all-College curriculum than other institutions. We will try to be as responsive as we can to moving forward productively to achieve what we think is in the best interest of our students’ education.
Professor John Thomas moved the question. It was seconded and carried.
President Studley stated that the motion has been amended. The motion on the floor now reads:
MOVED, that the faculty accepts the concept of student and faculty workload reconfiguration as a way to solve present problems and create new opportunities.
Professor Lary Opitz made a motion to vote by a paper ballot. It was seconded, and it was carried. A paper ballot was taken, and the results were: "yes" votes – 77; "no" votes – 32; abstention – 1. The motion passed.
Professor Peterson then made the following motion:
MOVED, that the faculty instructs Curriculum Committee that reconfiguration not be implemented for Fall 2000.
Another discussion was held.
Professor Barry Goldensohn called the question. It was seconded. An oral vote was taken and the motion to call the question carried with a 2/3 majority.
President Studley stated that the effect of the votes on the motion are as follows: a "no" vote would allow departments which are ready to go forward with implementation of reconfiguration; and a "yes" vote halts implementation of reconfiguration for next year. An oral vote was then taken, and it was too close to call. A show of hands was taken. The "no’s" carried the motion by a show of hands. The result of this vote means that the Curriculum Committee may allow reconfiguration to go forward department by department, beginning with Fall 2000.
Professor Mehmet Odekon spoke on behalf of CFG (Committee on Faculty Governance) which was charged to initiate the process of selecting the five faculty members on the search committee for the position of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Dean of the Faculty.
The following three motions were presented:
RESOLVED, that the five faculty members of the search committee for the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Dean of the Faculty be elected by a vote of the faculty. Four out of the five faculty members will be drawn from each of the four academic areas (humanities, pre-professional, sciences, and social sciences) with one faculty member at large. At least four faculty members will be tenured and at least two will be female and at least two will be male.
The motion was seconded, voted on and carried.
RESOLVED, the faculty recommends that the chair of the search committee be one of the five faculty members and be elected by a vote of the committee.
The motion was seconded, voted on and carried.
RESOLVED, that the faculty supports the recommendation of the President that the other members of the committee shall be one member of President’s staff, two members of the administrative staff, and one student selected by the SGA Executive Committee.
The motion was seconded, voted on and carried.
CFG also recommended that the search committee draft an operating code at its earliest convenience and share it with the faculty.
President Studley noted that the title, Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Dean of the Faculty, is not the same title that appears in the Faculty Handbook or in the Board’s documents. The position will remain as a Board-appointed officer. She has spoken to the Chair of the Board, and the Chair will recommend to the Board that this change be made. President Studley and the Chair are confident that it will be accepted, but in any event the Board can act on the title prior to the appointment.
Professor Michael Arnush will make his report on the Honors Forum via e-mail.
Professor David Vella announced that Skidmore is short of its goal for the United Way Campaign. Donations will be accepted until the end of December.
Professor Arnush announced that the faculty/staff reception would be held in the second and third floors of Ladd and is sponsored by the Honors Forum, the Writing Center, and the Departments of Government, Philosophy and Religion, and Classics.
The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
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