The Arts and Sciences Council, January 16, 2014, 3:30-5:00, UMC 415-17

Meeting Minutes

Representatives present: Michela Ardizzoni, FRIT; Reece Auguiste, FILM; Daniel Barth, PSYC; Paul Beale, PHYS; Giulia Bernardini, HUMN; David Bortz (for Vanja Dukic), APPM; Deane Bowers, EBIO; Jack Burns, APS;  Brian Catlos, RLST; Cathy Comstock, RAPS; Damian Doyle, PWR; Weiqing Han, ATOC; Alison Jaggar, WMST; David Jonas, CHEM; Daniel Kaffine, ECON; E. Christian Kopff, HNRS; Catherine Labio, ENGL; Susan Moore, SLHS; Greg Odorizzi, MCDB; Markus Pflaum, MATH; Mark Pittenger, HIST; Erika Randall, THDN; Artemi Romanov, GSLL; Rob Rupert, PHIL; Greg Tucker, GEOL; Bianca Williams, ETHN

Representatives not present:  Cynthia Carey, IPHY; Diane Conlin, CLAS; Bert Covert, ANTH; Asunción Horno-Degado, SPAN; HNRS; Mike Radelet, SOCY; Matthias Richter, ALC; Elisabeth Root, GEOG; Beverly Weber, GSLL

Also present:  Steven Leigh

Catherine Labio called the meeting to order at 3:35PM.

Dean’s Remarks, Steven Leigh

Professor Peter Molnar, of Geology and CIRES, has been awarded the prestigious 2014 Crafoord Prize in Geosciences by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Professor Molnar was honored “for his ground-breaking contribution to the understanding of global tectonics, in particular the deformation of continents and the structure and evolution of mountain ranges, as well as the impact of tectonic processes on ocean-atmosphere circulation and climate.” The Crafoord prize is awarded annually to honor achievements in fields not covered by the Nobel Prizes. Dean Leigh expressed congratulations to Professor Molnar and the assembled representatives offered a round of applause.

Dean Leigh noted that he does want the ASC to be updated on recent events but said there was not much he could say since personnel issues are involved. He affirmed his commitment to faculty governance before turning the floor to the Chair and leaving the room for the ensuing report and discussion.

Chair’s Remarks on Proposed BFA Committees, Catherine Labio

Professor Labio reminded representatives that the Chair of the ASC serves as a non-voting member of the Boulder Faculty Assembly (BFA) and of the BFA Executive Committee. In the last month or so the BFA Executive Committee has debated the formation of one or more special committees and appears close to coming to a decision. Specifically, the creation of the following two committees appears likely:

  1. An ad hoc committee charged with “Reviewing whether established University policies and procedures were followed in the Professor Adler case.” This committee would focus on the issues directly surrounding the case of Professor Adler and the “Deviance in U.S. Society” course. Membership to that committee would probably consist of seven BFA representatives and be limited to full professors.
  2. A second ad hoc committee charged with “Reviewing established Office of Discrimination and Harassment (ODH) procedures related to administrative and faculty processes, with the purpose of addressing faculty concerns, recommending, where needed, improvements to such procedures.” The committee would also be charged with “developing materials to assist the faculty in understanding ODH policy and procedures.” If approved, it is likely to be comprised of eleven faculty members, including both tenure/tenure-track faculty and instructors, from within the ranks of the elected BFA representatives.

Professor Labio noted the description of these committees was provisional and emphasized that their creation had yet to be formally approved by the BFA ExCom. However, since recent events involve a department in the College of Arts and Sciences, she wished to give ASC representatives an opportunity to weigh in. She pointed out that it is up to ASC representatives to decide if and to what extent they would like the ASC to be involved and added that any request for ASC involvement into a BFA committee would have to be approved by the BFA ExCom.

The floor was opened for discussion. Questions were raised regarding the usefulness of the proposed committees. Might it not be futile to propose changes to ODH procedures? How much information could the first committee really gather? With respect to the first question, it was noted that many faculty members have questions regarding what their rights and responsibilities are. In particular, faculty members are unsure as to what the ODH may and may not do. (For instance, under what circumstances can ODH show up in someone’s classroom?) Viewed from this perspective, the “ODH committee” could provide valuable information. In addition, if the committee were to find, for example, that existing policies and procedures of ODH conflict with the principles of academic freedom, it would be valuable to make that statement, no matter what the outcome. With respect to the second question, it was noted that the repercussions of the Patti Adler case have been painful for many in the university; if it could have been handled in a way that avoided the related problems and publicity, it would be valuable for the faculty and administration to know this. Moreover, inasmuch as many rumors are circulating, the committees could play a valuable role by providing as much factual  information as possible.

The following consensus emerged regarding the desirability of ASC involvement. On the one hand, since ODH policies and procedures are the same for the entire campus, ASC involvement in the “meta” ODH committee does not appear necessary. On the other hand, since the Department of Sociology is in the College of Arts and Sciences, ASC involvement in a committee tasked with looking at the particulars of the “Patti Adler case” appears desirable.

Following a question regarding the ASC’s options for involvement in the committee, the Chair mentioned that she could think of three: 1) the ASC could issue a statement supporting the creation of the BFA committee (and ask for regular updates from the BFA); 2) the ASC could request to be represented on the proposed BFA committee; 3) the ASC could propose the creation of a joint ASC-BFA committee instead.

In the ensuing discussion, a representative suggested that the committee should include representation from departments used to dealing with sensitive topics in their curricula since classroom environments can vary widely among the disciplines. Another representative underscored the importance of paying attention to the respective status of students, TA’s, and ATA’s. Concerns regarding the role played by liability considerations in the administration’s thinking were also expressed.

It was moved and seconded that the ASC chair contact the BFA chair to request that at least one ASC representative be included in the “Patti Adler committee.” The vote was 25 yes, 0 no, 1 abstention.

Professor Labio will communicate the ASC’s request to Professor Chinowsky. As the committees have not yet been approved or finalized by the BFA ExCom, the manner of their constitution and implementation was not known at the time of the meeting. Professor Labio will convey the ASC’s hope that the committees include disciplinary diversity as much as is possible.

Deans’ Remarks (continued)

Campus-wide retention efforts have been going well, as evidenced by an unusually high dorm occupancy rate.

The budget is looking good. The proposed increase in state allocation is promising, although we do not yet know how the increase will be distributed among Colorado’s publicly funded colleges and universities.

A capital improvement plan for Ketchum has been expanded to include a change in the floor plan. Faculty offices are currently across the hall from classrooms; the remodeling will allow the classroom and offices to be separate. New rooms will be created and fundraising for this project will include naming opportunities for these new rooms.

The Sustainability, Energy and Environment Complex (SEEC) building interior plans are now complete. This is important as it may be used as swing space for Ketchum; work on the lab space is underway. When completed it will free up space in the West Campus.

The Dean’s Office is looking at changes in chair compensation. Feedback from the Budget Committee has been received and the Dean is currently responding to queries from that committee. Chairs are now compensated 21 percent of their salary; it is a simple and transparent solution, but it does not reflect large variations among units. Dean Leigh hopes to implement the new system in the next cycle. Compensation will be tied to drivers of complexity: number of faculty, number of institute faculty, affiliated faculty, Ph.D. students, and undergraduate students. In response to a query, Dean Leigh noted that support staff numbers do not scale with the rest of the unit’s size and are not being considered. The planned change in chair compensation is being driven, not by a desire to economize but by the realization that some chairs are being overcompensated while others are woefully undercompensated. The most dramatic part of the model is moving money from units that do not advance our academic mission to units dedicated first and foremost to advancing our academic mission.

In response to questions from representatives, Dean Leigh added the following considerations:

The current model may be good for the RAP’s, which are dedicated to fulfilling the College’s core academic mission. Their model is somewhat unique, however. Independent discussions are going on with the RAP directors to address this.

Under the current system some of the College’s most highly compensated directors head non-academic units, even though student tuition dollars are used.

  • Several representatives spoke of the value of the Conference of World Affairs to the campus and the larger community. Dean Leigh noted that in its current form the Conference does not contribute a great deal to our academic mission, even though it is supported budgetarily from the college’s general fund. The Conference will soon have a new director, which could present opportunities for fundraising and lead to the introduction of changes that would benefit the campus and do a better job of engaging with students.
  •  The proposed model does not disadvantage small departments. The stipends of persons currently in office will not go down, but may go up. Associate chair compensation is not being considered at this time.

ASC By-laws, Catherine Labio

Professor Labio stated there is a gap between the ASC bylaws and practice. Some need to be updated; some are no longer needed; some have lapsed. This subject was brought up at the ASC Executive Committee and a summary of the Executive Committees’ deliberations was given to the representatives.

Professor Labio highlighted the following points:

  •  The bylaws provide there should be a parliamentarian; there hasn’t been one in 5 years. We should reinstate the practice.
  • The Executive Committee (which consists of the chairs of all the standing committees) sets the agenda and approves and appoints committee members. It is important to have a functioning Executive Committee in place throughout the year.
  • It is not clear who the voting members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences are.

This month Professor Labio will be contacting the chairs of representatives whose term is coming to an end. She will impress upon them the importance of the ASC and ask that their unit elect a representative by the end of February so that the Executive Committee can appoint committee members in March and committee chairs can be elected or appointed (in the case of the Budget and Personnel Committees) in April, as per the existing bylaws. Professor Labio also asked each representative to let her know as soon as possible if they will not be able to complete his or her term and to make sure that their department promptly elect someone to replace them.

Unlike the Faculty Senate, which determines membership according to a set of criteria valid across units, membership in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences varies among units. Indeed, Article II of the ASC bylaws states that “The voting members of the FAS are the voting members of primary units in the College of Arts & Sciences.” Article 7.2 further states that “Amendments to the bylaws require a two-thirds majority of the FAS.” For this and other reasons, it is important to know who the voting members of the FAS are. The question is: how should we interpret the phrase “voting members”?

In its April 28 2005 meeting, the ASC decided that the phrase “refers to faculty members with voting rights in their respective department or unit.” It also recommended that the ASC bylaws be amended to establish uniform standards across departments and that, in the meantime, the administrator of the ASC should “establish a list of faculty eligible to vote and updat[e] it regularly.” The bylaws have not been changed and the list does not exist. We are thus still functioning within a system in which it is up to each department/unit to decide who has voting rights. The question thus remains: who are the “voting members of primary units in the CAS?” In its recent meeting, the Executive Committee proposed that within the context of existing bylaws the phrase “voting members” should be interpreted as follows: “faculty members who have voting rights in their own department or unit according to the bylaws of that department or unit.” It also came to the conclusion that we should ask each department/unit for a list of its voting members. The floor was opened to discussion. A number of points were made:

  •  Departments regulate voting rights so that a faculty member who might have voting rights on one subject, for instance, curriculum, may not have voting rights on another topic like the election of the chair.
  • Instructors’ voting rights vary hugely from department to department.
  • A more generic model for voting members would be fairer and would simplify the administration of ballot measures.
  • In 2010 the BFA voted to ask departments to consider the status of instructors and give them voting rights.
  • We may not need to compile a list of individuals with voting rights. If departments would tell what categories of faculty members have voting rights according their own bylaws, the Dean’s Office could easily compile the list (by department) of people with these specific titles.

Since we were running out of time, Professor Labio suggested that the discussion should be continued at the next meeting. She added that some of the committee descriptions on the committee website are dated and asked the members of each standing and ad hoc committee to review the relevant description and, if necessary, propose a revised description.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:01PM.

Minutes submitted by Janice Jeffryes