Tag Archives: Governance Committee

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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Faculty governance means faculty governance

As we noted a few days ago, college faculty are meeting next Wednesday, Jan. 23, to vote on a motion raised by Stefan Lutz and the Governance Committee to annul an earlier motion brought forth by Matthew Payne. The Payne motion called for an independent review of the decision-making process behind the cuts, to be carried out by a committee of 5 professors beginning in April.

Here is the text of Dr. Payne’s motion, which passed by a vote of 64 to 54.

Obviously, the SRC supports Dr. Payne’s amendment. It fulfills our third mandate, disclosure and investigation of CFAC operations. But it’s not a blanket solution; the text doesn’t mention the possibility of reversing the cuts, nor does it grant students any official power. As minutes from the December meeting show, the modest scope of the proposal was what allowed it to pass. We’re also disappointed that the Governance Committee is pushing against the faculty’s decisions, but since a few professors have remarked that the first vote felt muddled, it’s within the Gov Comm’s power to re-open it. As always, we encourage all faculty to attend and vote.

As a student group that relies on and honors our faculty supporters, we respect the AAUP’s wish that we not turn 1/23 into a rally. (Yup, shelving the armadillo costumes for now.) Ultimately, what’s at stake is the integrity of faculty governance, and sometimes the best way to support that is to take a back seat. That said, individual students may choose to demonstrate in White Hall on Wednesday afternoon, and it is within their rights to do so (it is not in their rights to crash the meeting or be disruptive). Any actions on Thursday do not represent the SRC.

TL;DR: Important faculty meeting. Students, focus your energy on building awareness and fostering conversation.

Edited 1/20 to correct an organization’s name.

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Gov. Comm. continues to intimidate faculty

On December 12, the Faculty Council passed two motions: the first, initiated by Pamela Scully (WGSS), to reform faculty governance; the second, brought forth by Matthew Payne (History), to conduct a thorough review of the process leading to the cuts. You can read Dr. Payne’s very reasonable-sounding motion here (PDF). Each motion was subject to a vote and passed by a majority.

Now, the Governance Committee has resolved (with 66 signatures) to “vacate”–that is, annul–the second motion. They will be presenting this resolution at the next faculty meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23. In other words, the GC is directly intruding upon professors’ democratic decision-making process and their demands for transparency.

Stefan Lutz, professor of chemistry and chair of the Governance Committee (and one of the FFAC/CFAC “deciders”), has appointed an “expert parliamentarian” to run the meeting. Who is an expert parliamentarian? All we know is this individual has been hired by Emory to control who has the power to speak and, perhaps, decide whose remarks go on the official record. This is not third-party mediation and this will not be a fair vote. Indeed, the entire “parliamentary” procedure is a ruse to obscure the fact that the Governing Committee is trying to overturn a democratic motion made by the faculty.

The AAUP is encouraging all faculty members to attend the meeting on Jan. 23. The event is for faculty only, which means that any “intimidation” will proceed from the administration.

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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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