Tag Archives: FFAC/CFAC

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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Profs in cut departments file formal grievance

18 faculty members, all from departments that are being eliminated or downsized as a result of Dean Forman’s cuts last fall, have filed a formal grievance with Emory College. The complaint, which alleges numerous violations in CFAC’s handling of the cuts, was written in consultation with a prominent Atlanta lawyer. (One professor who signed the document told us that any administrator who glances at it will know that the signatories mean business.) It demands that Emory annul the cuts and “affirm the primacy of the [Emory] Bylaws” and the official principles governing faculty regulations.

You can view the original document here [PDF], courtesy of the Wheel.

The 18 signatories are David Armstrong and Sheila Tefft (journalism); Walter Reed, Angelika Bammer, Kevin Corrigan, Sander Gilman, Anna Grimshaw, Sean Meighoo, Catherine Nickerson and Kimberly Wallace-Sanders (ILA); Juliette Apkarian, Vera Proskurina and Elena Glazov-Corrigan (Russian/REALC); Samiran (Shomu) Banerjee (economics); Jason Francisco and Julia Kjelgaard (visual arts); and Robert Jensen and Carole Hahn (Division of Educational Studies).

Needless to say, the Grievance Committee has denied the signatories’ requests to repeal the cuts and affirm the university’s commitment to uphold its own bylaws. (The only request it did grant was to respond to the grievance during this semester.) English professor Sheila Cavanagh, writing on behalf of the ten-person committee, reportedly “finds no cause to pursue this matter further.”

Faculty members, including AAUP representatives, insist that the battle isn’t over.

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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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McAfee addresses the “facts”

Noëlle McAfee, professor of philosophy and an affiliate of WGSS, has written a very detailed blog post breaking down Emory’s public claims about the cuts. As she explains, the CFAC’s covert operations violated Emory’s bylaws concerning subcommittees’ accountability to the Governance Committee, flouted AAUP guidelines ensuring professors have a say in their college curricula, and even misrepresented former Provost Earl Lewis’s opinions regarding the whole process.

Thanks for your scrupulous research!

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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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State of the University

A few more disclosures in the Wheel should galvanize students and faculty to attend President Wagner’s State of the University address today (Tuesday), at 4:30 in the Winship Ballroom.

In that same report from the Faculty Senate to the Governing Committee in January 2009, the minutes on Wagner’s position are minimal and read: “Cut inferior, boost superior.”

Wagner said that program directors, chairs, deans and trustees all had roles to play and cited Princeton University as an excellent university without a medical school, public health school, business school or law school. “[Princeton’s] excellence is narrow,” he said, according to the minutes.

Funny, I didn’t notice anything about cutting the medical school or any other bodies outside the Faculty of Arts and Science.

We also learn a bit more about the CFAC/FFAC, and what “oversight but no jurisdiction” looks like. In the spring of 2011, the Governing Committee advised that

“candidates should not currently hold positions that might be perceived as representing a conflict of interest, an effort should be made to preserve representation of Lecture Track faculty, and it is desirable, though not imperative, that more than one CFAC member not be from the same department.”

None of those recommendations were taken into account.

The Wheel obtained this information from the official GovComm minutes, but only with the intercession of an anonymous faculty member. It seems that after 2010, “upon reviewing the policy of other universities” (Princeton again?), Emory decided not to be accountable to anyone make its minutes available to the public.

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Stonewalled

At tonight’s Student Revisioning Committee meeting, a faculty member from one of the targeted departments described a culture of “blatant intimidation” toward professors who speak up against Emory policies and visible efforts to buy off potential critics.

First, there was a meeting with the Faculty Council (a branch of the university senate) last week, at which several members of targeted departments were barred from contributing.[1] The same cohort of professors was allowed to address the Governing Committee. How did the GovComm answer their questions?

“Stonewalled. Completely stonewalled. They simply sat in silence.”

Actually, they answered one question. Asked about the power given to those eight professors who conducted secret audits of departments (not their own, of course) and lied about their plans, the GovComm admitted that it had “oversight, but no jurisdiction” over them. A whole new definition of government, perhaps? Or is Emory now a state of exception?

Vocal faculty members are experiencing an even more aggressive version of what student activists face: sleek, professional indifference. Roger Sikes, who facilitated the SRC meeting, put it succinctly: “It’s not about building a rational argument; we already have that. What we don’t have yet is power.”

[1] For the record, the editor of this blog is baffled by all these committee and board names, too, but note: members of the faculty are outsiders on the Faculty Council.

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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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Disclosures re: Faculty Financial Advisory Committee

Evan Mah at The Emory Wheel goes into some of the talks that have been happening behind the scenes for the past 4 years, culminating in what looked to the rest of the faculty and students like a sudden announcement.

The Faculty Financial Advisory Committee was established in the 2007/2008 year in response to what were then the early days of a nationwide recession (but before the worldwide market crisis of September 2008). It was comprised of 8 faculty members, none of whom were part of any of the departments that ultimately incurred cuts. Michael Giles, of political science, was the chair.[1]

The committee set to evaluating the various academic departments in terms of their running costs, enrollment numbers, reputations, and (more amorphous) value and viability. Giles explains:

“Thinking in terms of scholarly distinction and potential for eminence of programs, how much does it take to move a program up? Some are more costly than other,” Giles said. “How distinguished is a department? What’s its role in the liberal arts? How essential is it? If it’s excised, can you still have a viable liberal arts program? Interdependence [with other departments] goes into that [criteria] as well.”

Giles also said that a key consideration was a department’s centrality in the liberal arts. Without mathematics, for example, physics and biology would be undermined.

Many readers of this blog will no doubt take issue with the findings: Is Spanish, with high demand and a nearly 100% job placement rate for its PhD graduates, not central or distinguished enough? How about the ILA, the first interdisciplinary PhD program in the U.S.? Or the economics department, whose U.S.-wide ranking improved by about 30 points over the last decade (placing it among the top 50 nationwide)?

Hank Klibanoff, chair of the journalism program, takes the committee to task for its refusal to communicate its goals and fears openly, especially at the height of the financial crisis. Giles maintains that greater transparency would have caused “widespread panic.”

(I was here in 2008. I doubt that one more voice, speaking rationally and factually, could have generated any more panic than the constant flow of rumors or the culture at large.)

The Wheel also includes a graph of the “Number of students affected by department cuts,” which we believe is misleading (especially in regard to the undergraduate figures). The number of majors is not an accurate measure of impact, given elective courses, on-campus visibility and public conferences, the amount of teaching done by grad students, and the impact of departments’ research and publications.

 

 

[1] The other members were Keith Berland of physics; Huw Davies of chemistry; Dean Forman; Pam Hall and Bobbi Patterson of religion; Stefan Lutz of chemistry; and Associate Dean Rick Rubinson of sociology.

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