Tag Archives: Dean Robin Forman

Bylaws “not violated,” offer little guidance for faculty

According to a report just released by the Process Review Committee (PRC–um…), better known as the Payne Committee, the current and former deans of Emory College did not violate any bylaws in abruptly closing Educational Studies, the ILA, Journalism or Visual Arts and downsizing several other programs. However, the report also observed that the existing bylaws do not contain sufficient guidelines for how such restructuring should take place (read: the rules were not broken because they did not exist).

The eight faculty members who served on CFAC, the body which orchestrated the cuts, refused to be interviewed for the report. They were evidently wary of having one group of professors review the decisions of another “duly created faculty committee,” or of compromising a promise of confidentiality (read: no accountability) afforded by Deans Paul and Forman.

Since it’s a snow day, why not catch up on some reading about Emory’s record of scholarly integrity, treatment of researchers who raise alarms about the safety of clinical trials, and ambiguous advances on issues of labor and dissent.

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CFAC disbanded, members’ departments reap rewards

Remember CFAC? Well, almost immediately after Matthew Payne’s motion calling for a review of the decision-making process behind the cuts passed, and a review committee was formed, the 8-person committee responsible for orchestrating the cuts disbanded. As the Governance Committee wrote in a recent email to faculty, CFAC’s “members interpret the decision to establish the Payne committee at the February College faculty meeting as a vote of no confidence in the current CFAC. Consequently, they feel that any further advice to the Dean would be placed in question. GovCom thanked the committee members for their service and accepted their resignation effective immediately.”

One of the startling features of the CFAC was its lopsidedness: Of the 8 members, none belonged to departments that were subject to cuts or downsizing. None were in lecture-track roles and all, for what it’s worth, were white. The two women on the committee were also the only two humanists–both professors in the division of religion, which Dean Forman affirmed as being good for the Emory “brand.” Of three scientists, two were from the chemistry department (one, Stefan Lutz, is also the chair of the Governance Committee).

Well, the chemistry department has just announced it will start a $52 million renovation of its building–“an expression of the collegiality of Emory,” as a representative of the department put it. We’re not screaming blood money, since the project is “largely” funded by proceeds from an HIV/AIDS drug developed by Emory chemists, but we are demanding accountability. Why does one science building reap the visible rewards of “collegiality” when other science buildings are known to have leaky pipes and holes in the floor?

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College defends itself against AAUP

Continuing the Emory tradition of making announcements on Fridays (waiting for classes to end?), Nancy Seideman has put out a press release announcing that Dean Forman is very, very disappointed in the AAUP’s recent letter denouncing the procedure behind the cuts (reprinted on this blog and on the local AAUP website). According to the press release, Forman “takes the concerns expressed by the AAUP ‘seriously’ and has met with leaders of the local AAUP chapter and is willing to continue to meet with its membership to discuss governance issues.” (We welcome confirmation from AAUP representatives on that account; his tone is certainly more generous than it was toward students).

Earlier this week, the College Governance Committee sent a letter responding to the AAUP (linked here [PDF]). Forman himself did not sign the letter. Gray Crouse, professor of biology and current president of the University Senate chair, was the primary author. The current and former chairs of the Governing Committee, chemistry professor Stefan Lutz and physics professor Eric Weeks, also signed.

The GovComm representatives argue that the creation and entrenchment of the FFAC/CFAC complied with the principles of government. “Your [AAUP’s] letter implied that CFAC was too small, but that is a subjective decision that you surely don’t have the standing to make.” The word “small” was indeed used to describe the FFAC, but the committee size was not one of the AAUP’s main grounds for criticizing it. Their objections (see the last paragraph of page 1) are only subjective if you consider verbatim transcription of the national AAUP policy on academic governance subjective. Edited to add (12/17): We should also note that Dr. Lutz was one of the original seven members of FFAC. Dr. Weeks joined shortly thereafter, and was personally responsible for reporting to the rest of the Governing Committee about CFAC’s doings while he was the GovCom chair. Thus they could claim formal accountability without actually being accountable. [1]

They make no mention of the second half of the AAUP’s recommendation, “the suspension of any implementation of the closures pending such a review” (i.e. of the decision-making process), nor do they address the organization’s concerns with granting long-standing lecture-track faculty due process before terminating them.

Crouse, Lutz and Weeks add: “It is surprising that you would identify those decisions as curricular rather than financial, because they were clearly made out of financial necessity.” That curricular-not-financial framing was posed by the college dean and president, to be retracted on occasions when it seemed expedient.[2]

Overall, their position seems to be that any road other than the one taken would have led to stagnation and anarchy.

“In closing your letter,” they conclude, “you write of upholding faculty governance, and yet you ignore the existing, elected, faculty governance in favor of a small group of faculty who have no standing within elected faculty governance.” We find this tremendously dismissive to the growing number of AAUP members on the faculty. And who’s calling whom small?

Edited to add:
[1] See the GovComm minutes of August 31, 2011 (PDF courtesy of the Wheel).

[2] For example, on page 2 of Dean Forman’s original letter announcing the cuts (PDF).

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Notes from Negotiations with Wagner, Forman, and Hauk 12/7

Here is the full text of the notes taken by the SRC Team during their negotiations with President James Wagner, Dean Robin Forman, and VP Gary Hauk on December 7, 2012.

You can find a PDF of the document here.

Please share widely!


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Acrimony and lockdown

Emory’s official news organ and some of the news media are calling last night’s meeting a failure, or accusing students of avoiding “real dialogue.” Here’s what I saw: 7 students and 3 professors entered the dean’s building to negotiate in good faith, after a week of exhaustive planning. The SRC delegates were Pat Blanchfield, Katherine Bryant, Luke Donahue, Navyug Gill, David Mullins, Mael Vizcarra, and Andrew Zonderman. They were accompanied by Professors Jason Francisco (Visual Arts), Anna Grimshaw (ILA), and Noelle McAfee (Philosophy). As many have pointed out, the university forbade any recording, so no one will have an “authoritative” account of the conversation or even its agenda.

Outside, we put up signs, played Motown and Beatles songs, shared coffee, danced, and waved to passersby.

Inside, the delegates were greeted by police at every corner and by an administration that accused us of intimidating opponents into silence.

The students and professors emerged from an hour of hard, fruitless negotiation to speak to the press articulately and hopefully. The president and dean would not even come out and address the public.

Photo by Evan Mah for the Wheel

Photo by Evan Mah for the Wheel

I have a good idea of who should feel humiliated, and it’s not the people who “lost” in the ersatz negotiations.

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Press release: Emory Protests Yield Negotiations

Written by the SRC


On Tuesday, a coalition of students, faculty, and staff staged a massive walkout on the Emory University campus and successfully occupied the University’s administrative headquarters. That group successfully compelled President James Wagner to begin negotiations to reverse the devastating cuts Dean Robin Forman announced on September 14.

Today, Friday, December 7, formal negotiations begin in earnest. At 5PM, Student Re-Visioning Committee (SRC) representatives, faculty observers, and community stakeholders will sit down with President Wagner, Dean Robin Forman, and Vice President Gary Hauk in the Candler Library building on the main campus. The SRC’s demands remain:

1. A reversal of the cuts.

2. Formal and meaningful student, faculty and staff participation on all key decision making bodies.

3. Full disclosure and investigation of all College Financial Advisory Committee proceedings.

The close attention and supportive presence of the Emory community is vital to ensuring that the administration remains candid and that negotiations proceed in good faith. Emory community members will gather outside the Candler Library on the Quad at 4:45PM to demonstrate their investment in the negotiations, which will last one hour. Any and all attendees will be transparently kept up-to-date of negotiation developments as they happen. Remember: the administration is now willing to discuss a reversal of the cuts, and has pledged to explicitly address our specific questions about governance, cut demographics, and institutional transparency. We are moving forward in good faith – but we need your attention to keep them honest.

A full statement from the SRC regarding its expectations from these meetings is reproduced below and will soon appear in the Wheel.

Follow @EmoryCuts on Twitter for breaking news and updates on the situation. For more information and background on the cuts at Emory, including an archive of links to ongoing media coverage, visit the #EmoryCuts Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EmoryCuts) and the Stop the Cuts at Emory Blog (https://stopthecutsemory.wordpress.com/).

Continue reading

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No support, no confidence

When Emory announced the cuts in September, tenured and tenure-track faculty in the departments being obliterated were told the university would make sure they were re-settled in other departments smoothly and efficiently. That has not been the case.

Faculty members in the ILA, Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures (REALC), and Visual Arts have received minimal if any attention from the administration. One professor reports that the only personal contact he had with Dean Forman was on September 14, the day of the announcement. Another, a department head, reports that Forman came to his office only once, and then only to apologize. Other departments (Comparative Literature, English, and WGSS, among others) don’t have official guidelines as to how many new faculty they can absorb or whether they will have the resources to support new members.

It boils down to this: Professors who are already struggling to “wind down” their departments and make sure current students are treated fairly, on top of the ongoing duties of teaching, service and trying to advance their own careers (many are junior faculty), are also responsible for re-placing themselves. There is no structure in place that would ensure negotiations will be fair and open. For these professors, the spectre of forced (nudged?) early retirement looms large. Dean Tedesco did suggest it as an option in her first letter, and another faculty member notes that’s been her M.O. in the past.

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Letter delivered

The SRC delivered a revised version of our three demands and questions to Pres. Wagner and Dean Forman today. Wagner wasn’t available to receive the letter (he was in Chicago as part of a federal bioethics panel), so VP Gary Hauk received us graciously. Here’s a video. Forman was somewhat more caught off-guard when more than a dozen students and faculty members walked into his office quietly and with permission. There’s a video of that too.

We are hoping for a response from the senior administration by November 16.

In the meantime, the SRC’s next strategy session is this Wednesday (the 7th) at 6-ish in White Hall 101, so US citizens among you have no excuse not to vote tomorrow. Er, we don’t endorse anyone.

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Get your cringing muscles limbered

Evan Mah at the Wheel: Faculty Clash with Forman at Meeting.

An AAUP representative told the crowd to expect an official statement soon.

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Forman backtracks on student involvement

Evan Mah, Arianna Skibell and Leon Kohl continue their excellent reporting on the cuts and their institutional meaning. He takes us back in time to 2010, when Forman was the newly appointed Dean of Undergraduates at Rice University. (Thinking that was fast? Even Forman admitted he doesn’t know Emory all that well.) At the time, Rice supported the creation of a student-run Budget Planning Committee, which would report to the dean and the financial officers on student interests and ways to protect vital programs.

In fact, Forman now claims he “came under some criticism for allowing the students [at Rice] too large a role in those budget cuts.”

Two recession- and educational-turmoil-addled years later, at Emory, does he still believe students should have a say in the fate of their college (as is the case at Rice, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Chicago, Stanford and many other institutions)? Forman says yes, but suggests Emory is particularly difficult because of the structure of the college (?) or the resources available to student leaders.

Emory has 5 student-faculty committees, including a Curriculum Committee. None of them, however, have any official standing with the College Dean, and none were contacted in regard to the cuts. Since being interviewed by Mah, Forman has promised to work harder on strengthening communication, while implying the process will have little or no bearing on the current run of department closures.

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