Meeting Minutes, January 12, 2021
The Arts and Sciences Council (ASC), 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm, Zoom

Representatives Present: Mithi Mukherjee (HIST), Andrew Cowell (LING), Sebastian Casalaina-Martin (MATH), Juan Herrero-Senés (SPAN), Angelica Lawson (ETHN), Stephen Mojzsis (GEOL), Mike Zerella (RAPS), Robert Rupert (PHIL), Rebecca Wartell (JWST), David Stock (EBIO), Michela Ardizzoni (FRIT), Cecilia Pang (THDN), Leslie Irvine (SOCY), Julie Lundquist (ATOC), Jennifer Schwartz (HONR), William Taylor (ANTH), Mara Jill Goldman (GEOG), Lorraine M. Bayard de Volo (WGST), Beverly Weber (GSLL), Annje Wiese (HUMN), Zachary Kilpatrick (APPM), Robert Kuchta (BCHM), Matthias Richter (ALC), Carol Shiue (ECON), Anthony Abiragi (PWR), Deborah Whitehead (RLST), Christina Meyers-Denman (SLHS), John Keller (APS), Lewis Harvey (PSYC), Shelley Copley (MCDB), Julie Carr (ENGL), John Gibert (CLAS), Robert Parson (BCHEM), Paul Romatschke (PHYS), Christopher Osborn (CINE), Francoise Duressé (AAH), Dale Miller (ENVS)

Representatives not present: Janet Casagrand (IPHY);  Colleen Lyons (ENVS)

Also in attendance: James White (Interim Dean), Anna Jensen (Dean’s office), Robert Ferry (BFA)

 

The meeting is called to order at 3:32 pm.

 

Dean’s remarks

 

On the topic of the differential impacts of COVID on tenure track faculty, Interim Dean White has asked the college’s Personnel Committee to draft policies around how the college should handle this situation. The impacts of COVID will linger for years to come in the research and teaching lives of our faculty and the college needs to remember this as they go two to three years down the road. It has been a relatively light year on the Personnel Committee, so its members have taken on drafting these policies.

 

White would like to express his support of the Diversity Committee’s ASCEND Awards.

 

It has been suggested to White, following the controversy that took place with the Benson Center recently, that faculty have a look at how the college appoints visiting faculty. White is not opposed to this, but does not want to just focus on the Benson Center. He suggests talking about the current procedure for how visiting faculty are appointed. To his knowledge, there are no set policies on how they vet these faculty. White is open to whatever suggestions others have on how to proceed with that. White expresses his satisfaction with the Benson Center and Director Daniel Jacobson’s leadership on the issue.

 

A representative speaks up, saying he found the Benson Center’s public statement on the matter shameful and embarrassing. He found the statement did not do an acceptable job of distancing the center from what Eastman did and believes the ASC needs to discuss the role of the Benson Center on a fundamental level.

 

White says the campus is forming committees for a plan on how to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. Right now, he does not know when the vaccines will come in and how many they will receive. Faculty are considered part of education, so they should be next in line for vaccination after senior citizens.

 

A representative suggests a website with Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 for CU faculty to refer. White says he will look into this.

 

Another representative asks if faculty should mark themselves as frontline educators on the Boulder County Prioritization form. White says yes, they should.

 

The same representative asks about those faculty that do not live in Boulder County. White says faculty can get vaccinated at CU when it is available, regardless of where they live.

 

Chair’s Remarks

 

If anyone would like to share their views in one way or another on the differential impacts of COVID-19 on tenure track faculty, Rupert encourages them to e-mail Carol Shiue, chair of Personnel Committee.

 

Rupert announces the ASCEND Awards: Arts & Sciences Consortium of Committees on Climate, Equity, Inclusion and Diversity. This initiative is headed by Cecilia Pang and the Diversity Committee. Everyone should look for a notice of nominations going out very soon.

 

Concerning the Benson Center, Rupert agrees with White on avoiding approaching controversy by targeting the Benson Center. He sees some of what is happening as part of an issue ASC might want to take up, such as what to do with violations of institutional norms. Rupert would welcome any feedback on how the ASC should best proceed with this.

 

The Faculty Affairs Committee is still working on faculty governance bylaws. A new draft will be circulated soon. There are a few more meetings and consults needed before being brought to the ASC as a whole. This will hopefully happen at the February or March meeting of the ASC. A full vote of the faculty will then be arranged, if the ASC supports doing so.

 

Dean’s hiring plan for the college

 

Recently, Interim Dean White gave a presentation on the college budget and the connection with changes in hiring, specifically fewer tenure track positions and more instructors. The ASC’s Executive Committee would like to have a broader discussion about this. Rupert invites the Budget Committee’s chair, Andy Cowell, to discuss the topic.

 

Cowell explains this is something that White has put forward to the Budget Committee and would have major impacts on the college and faculty. There are two priority issues for the Budget Committee this year. The first is the college reorganization and how budget should be distributed between divisions, as well as how faculty governance should be involved. The second priority is White’s suggestion on the loss of faculty due to budget cuts.

 

Cowell clarifies that the issue of cutting down on tenure track faculty is a question for next year, as cuts have already been made for this year. This will have to be an incremental discussion. As the college gets funds back, how much goes to new faculty, graduate students, travel, research, etc.?

 

White has put forward a proposal and the Budget Committee will put forward a response this semester. Cowell is interested in hearing suggestions from anyone.

 

White says he is happy to work with the ASC and Budget Committee for feedback.  

 

A representative from Anthropology says the junior faculty in his department expressed fear over concerns of job security. The more senior faculty felt more positively about the proposal and felt it would provide flexibility and improve support for younger faculty. Many indicated a desire for a formal way to provide input.

 

Rupert expresses concerns over reducing the university’s stature as a research university and compromising CU’s mission as a comprehensive research university. This could lead to fewer potential dissertation committee members for graduate students and may compromise the University’s ability to provide first-rate graduate education.

A representative from Applied Math says his unit expressed concerns about the representation of faculty to upper administration and how teaching would be evaluated going forward. There were also concerns over the statistics presented being granular, as it was not clear if lecturers were included. They want more transparent and detailed information.

 

White explains they did not include lecturers in those statistics, since they are not funded on continuing dollars. White says he looks at this as a college-wide issue and does not think it is healthy to require every department to have a set tenure track to instructor ratio to adhere to. He has recently collected information from the Association of American Universities and found that the college has a high ratio of tenure track faculty to instructors when compared with other AAU Arts & Sciences colleges. He is working with the Office of Data Analytics for solid numbers.

 

A representative from Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology says her unit expressed concerns that decreasing tenure track faculty harms the college’s reputation. There is a strong feeling that it is important for undergraduates to have a significant amount of education coming from tenure track faculty. Additionally, it is important for undergraduates to have opportunities to do research.

 

Rupert says that comparing the ratio of instructor to tenure track as compared to other AAU institutions can be useful, but another perspective is looking to aspirational peers and how their faculty is made up.

 

A representative from Cinema Studies explains that the problem in his department is that they have 400 degree-seeking undergraduates and do not have enough tenure track faculty to serve all of them. They have yet to find a good solution for this.

 

Bob Ferry, chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, shares his view that when 50 tenure track faculty retire and are not replaced, that is a great deal of knowledge creation eliminated.

 

White says he agrees completely. He thinks the value of research universities in this country is grossly underestimated by governments as they are the backbone of what has made our society more technologically and artistically savvy.

 

A representative from Anthropology says his department has placed a lot of trust and goodwill in White’s vision and long-term trajectory. However, they are concerned about the combination of reducing tenure track faculty and the shake-up in faculty governance. Some feel if they were to reduce tenure track faculty, future leadership may not be quite as trusted to re-grow at a future date.

 

White says it is important to recognize that this discussion is being had out in the open and that this is a sign of a very healthy, open university.

 

A representative asks for clarification on whether or not White’s proposition is to make this change permanent, or to regrow at some point in the future.

 

White says his proposal was to find a way to reduce total dollars spent on people in order to create dollars to do other things. His desire is for everyone to understand that the college’s budget currently cannot survive another budget crunch. He believes the college has to shift their ratio of tenure track faculty to instructors in order to create a more flexible budget.

 

A representative asks if there is a timeline for this.

 

White says that if there is a constant number of students for the next five years, his proposal is to replace some fraction of retiring faculty with instructors to generate budget flexibility. However, the college must be ready to handle budget ups and downs of the coming years. White would like to see permanence in the flexibility of the budget. If the college has increased dollars coming in from other sources in the future, then they will have a discussion on how we invest those.

 

Rupert says that much of this discussion takes place with the assumption that the college’s revenue is tied to the number of students enrolled. He believes it would be worth it to re-think the ratio of money going out from the college versus coming in from the university. White says this has been an issue he has raised since he took this position and is constantly advocating on changing this ratio and re-allocating tuition dollars.

 

College reorganization and the hiring of deans

 

Rupert explains that approximately four years ago, the provost initiated a process meant to reorganize the college, which included ad-hoc committees. The suggestions from one of those committees, the Structures Working Group, focused on the divisional deans and the executive dean and how these positions would be filled.

 

David Stock, chair of the Planning Committee says that the Structures Working Group’s plan was to obtain permission from the Board of Regents in order to establish divisional dean positions and elevate all divisional deans and executive dean on an interim basis, then hire an executive dean and have national searches for divisional deans.

 

The modification proposed by the Planning Committee is to take existing associate deans and elevate them to permanent divisional deans. Moving forward, divisional dean searches would be conducted internally. When the executive dean is hired, they would give internal candidates the same chance as external candidates. Rupert shares his screen to show the motion and asks for input.

 

One representative says there was near unanimous support in his department.

 

Rupert says he has received some feedback on the language used for the divisional dean searches, and that some faculty members do not want their hands tied in future searches, as far as only seeking internal or external candidates. Rupert says amendments can be proposed and voted on.

 

One representative expresses concern over hiring a tenure track faculty member in a national search for an administrative position. However, he understands that the college may not always have highly qualified applicants for these positions.

 

Rupert says that as the Planning Committee’s motion is currently written, associate deans would be elevated to divisional deans in a non-interim capacity and future vacancies would be filled by internal searches.

 

A representative says she does not see the need to specify internal searches since internal candidates can always apply for national searches and there could be good reason in the future for a national search.

 

Another representative agrees with the idea that future searches could be national. She believes it is most important at the beginning stages of this process to have our current associate deans become divisional deans because she would like to see the current culture represented when it comes time to hire an executive dean.

 

Cowell agrees and proposes an amendment to strike “internal” from future searches. Rupert suggests striking that entire sentence or just not specifying. Cowell motions to have the sentence entirely struck from the motion. Osborne seconds. Rupert conducts a vote.

 

  1. in favor. 0 opposed. 0 abstentions. The motion passes unanimously.

 

Now on the table is the Planning Committee’s motion, with the aforementioned sentence taken out. Rupert conducts a vote.

 

  1. in favor. 0 opposed. 0 abstentions. The motion passes unanimously.

 

This recommendation will be made to the Provost and Rupert will ask for a meeting with him to get the process going. Meanwhile, he reminds everyone there are still other conversations going on regarding faculty governance and budget.

 

New business

Bob Ferry of the Boulder Faculty Assembly brings up the controversy with the Benson Center. The BFA is currently assembling a draft resolution that would help faculty be clear on the way in which Benson Center recruits and makes decisions in the future. Furthermore, it would also touch on the way in which units give approval for the hiring of a temporary faculty member. There is some concern that they should not do anything that is not consistent with the way in which temporary faculty are hired in departments.

Ferry says that this is a matter of concern for the BFA and he believes it should be a concern for ASC as well, perhaps the Curriculum Committee in particular. Ferry says that any decision to hire anyone to teach curriculum needs to be well understood. He believes it would be a good idea to develop a joint resolution between the BFA and ASC.

Ferry further explains that there are unique issues with the centers and they might not want to single out the Benson Center. However, he is not sure they need to talk about visiting faculty in general.

Juan Herrero-Senés, chair of the Curriculum Committee, agrees with Ferry. However, Herrero-Senés thinks it would be difficult to know exactly what visiting professors are teaching, or to evaluate the content of the classes, since they often all use the title “Special Topics” for their courses. The Curriculum Committee would have no way of knowing exactly what they are teaching, other than to police their syllabi. Additionally, classes are announced as they begin, not well in advance.

A representative says that it should not be assumed that changing the process will solve this problem. She encourages others to think about whether they are hiding behind procedure and process instead of engaging with the problem head-on.

Rupert implores others to think about how this is specifically a governance issue. While he is not sure about the relationship between faculty governance and calling out, he does believe the Benson Center was created through political motivations and not necessarily by faculty-led process, and this is something problematic that faculty governance could address.

Another representative agrees with Herrero-Senés and does not want the committee policing every syllabus. If the college takes the process for diversity and inclusion at CU seriously, then this issue needs to be handled with some directness.

Another representative asks how exactly the visiting scholar in question was selected. Rupert says the first step in this process is to find out how the search process is working right now before they can make any recommendations.

Rupert says the plan going forward is for the ASC’s Executive Committee to work with Bob Ferry and the BFA to put together a joint resolution. Though it does not have to be a joint resolution, it would be good to discuss this with the BFA since they already have a draft going. This topic will be returned to at the next meeting.

Meeting is adjourned at 5:03 pm.