Published: Nov. 5, 2021

The Boulder Faculty General Assembly members voted 40-0, with one abstention, to adopt a resolution passed on Oct. 28 by the systemwide Faculty Council that rejects “any attempts by bodies external to the faculty to dictate academic discussion and relevant academically-related training on any matter, including matters related to racial and social justice.” 

The Faculty Council resolution is a response to a resolution by University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl introduced to and rejected in a 3-6 vote by the CU Board of Regents on Nov. 5. Ganahl presented an identical resolution to the University Affairs Committee in October, failing to win the committee’s support in what was a 2-2 vote. Both resolutions call for CU’s campuses “to not use race, ethnicity or gender as a consideration when hiring faculty or staff or administering academic programs or evaluating programs.” The measure includes eight other prohibited concepts applied to teaching or training:   

  • That one race or gender is inherently superior to another race or gender.
  • That an individual, by virtue of his or her race or gender, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  • That an individual should be the target of discrimination and adverse treatment on the basis of his or her race, ethnicity or gender.
  • That members of one race, ethnicity, or gender cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, ethnicity or gender.
  • That an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race, ethnicity or gender.
  • That an individual, by virtue of his or her race, ethnicity or gender, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, ethnicity or gender. 
  • That any individual should be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race, ethnicity or gender.
  • That meritocracy or other positive traits such as a (sic) hard work, patriotism and religious ethics are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race.

The Faculty Council resolution calls upon CU President Todd Saliman and the chancellors of all the CU campuses to “affirm that they reject any attempts by bodies external to the faculty to restrict or dictate academic discussion on any matter, including matters related to racial and social justice, and will stand firm against encroachment on faculty authority by the legislature or the board of regents.”

Discussion on the measure was attenuated due to a shortened BFA meeting, but focused on protecting the faculty’s exclusive role in setting and carrying out curriculum and all academic matters related to it, including trainings.

“Tomorrow is when Regent Ganahl and Regent Hill will be presenting formally their resolution seeking to reach into our academic practices, on our campuses, to limit the teaching of what they call critical race theory,” said BFA Chair Tiffany Beechy in introducing the measure for discussion. 

Another BFA member expressed the importance of the matter. 

“This undermines faculty control of the curriculum,” said Alastair Norcross of philosophy of Ganahl’s proposal. “All of us should be prepared to die on this hill. This is amazingly important and affirms a basic principle of faculty governance at the university.” 

BFA member Ravinder Singh of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology agreed, saying “we should really fight hard on this,” expressing concerns that Ganahl’s proposal had “some invisible hands behind it.” 

Beechy verbally advanced a request from the Faculty Council chair to “encourage people to Zoom in if they are available” at Friday’s regents’ meeting and the BFA then adjourned to vote.

In other BFA business, Andrea Feldman of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric and chair of the BFA’s Diversity Committee introduced a resolution to the assembly encouraging academic units to consider Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in merit evaluations. 

The resolution does not prescribe a uniform requirement for individual faculty, but encourages all units to credit the DEI work of faculty, with each unit determining “the standards for crediting faculty DEI work appropriate to their respective discipline.” It caps off with a charge to the BFA’s Diversity Committee “to create a best Practices, resources and considerations document to guide units in their deliberations over DEI in merit reviews, to be completed by spring of 2022 and revised thereafter as needed.”

BFA members will seek feedback on the resolution from their constituents and from BFA committees over the next month. A vote will occur on the measure at the December general assembly meeting. The December meeting will also feature a presentation by Vice Provost and Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Affairs Michele Moses on a pilot for changes to the Faculty Report on Professional Activities (FRPA) that comes in response to a BFA resolution from 2020. That resolution called on Faculty Affairs to change the FRPA in such a way that faculty can more easily report on their DEI activities. 

In other BFA action, the assembly: 

  • Heard an update from officials in the Veterans and Military Affairs office including Director Stew Elliot, Academic Integration Program Manager Kristina Spaeth, and Faculty Advisor Patty Limerick on the updated services provided to CU Boulder veterans and military affiliated students, who number more than 2,500.
  • Received an update from the Buff Undergraduate Success Leadership Implementation Team on efforts to improve CU Boulder’s persistence and graduation rates for undergraduate students. The efforts, outlined by Senior Vice Provost Katherine Eggert and campus Chief Communications Officer Jon Leslie (two of four leaders on the team), involve holistic improvements in the technological and administrative resources devoted to students’ success in both the classroom and the social learning environments on campus.