Tag Archives: other colleges

CFP “After Emory”

Bill Gaskins and Kirstin Buick, of Cornell and the University of New Mexico respectively, are soliciting abstracts for a panel at next year’s College Art Association conference.

After Emory: Redefining Art and Art History in the American University

Bill Gaskins, Cornell University; and Kirsten Buick, University of New Mexico. Email: gaskins@cornell.edu and kbuick@unm.edu
In the fall of 2012 the visual arts department at Emory University was terminated as an academic unit. The department was assessed as no longer representative of Emory’s core mission. For the art departments left standing, and the institutions that house them, this is a moment for a robust public discussion about the future of art and art history in the American university. This session will not readjudicate the decision made by Emory but rather focus on the external challenges, internal dynamics, and critical questions about the prudence, relevance, and sustainability of fine art as an academic project in the twenty-first century. We are calling for solution-themed papers from studio and art history faculty, administrators, alumni, and contributors from related disciplines.

Here’s the original call (it’s on page 8). (Just what does “Emory” signify to the largest organization of art scholars in the U.S.? Well, a cursory search of journals and conferences brings up “After Humanism,” “After the World,” “After Sex,” “After the Postsecular,” “After Life”–you get the idea.)

Speaking of Visual Arts, don’t forget to check out “Cross Reference,” the final exhibition in our beautiful Visual Arts Building, before it closes on April 5.

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Vulnerable programs in N.C.

Elizabeth City State University, a historically black college in North Carolina, is likely to eliminate their undergraduate programs in history, political science, studio art, and physics. It’s part of a wave of targeting “low performing” programs across the UNC system. Right now, about 25 programs are expected to be cut, and 22 more to be merged or reduced in size.

Roopika Risam, assistant professor at Salem State University (and Emory PhD ’13) and a trenchant critic of Emory’s “compromise” debacle last winter, found herself in the strange, saddening position of giving a virtual guest lecture in the history department a few days before the proposed closures were announced. She, along with the executive director of the American Historical Association, notes the irony of a historically black college symbolically severing its tie with history.

What we are seeing now, in the threatened cuts at Elizabeth City State University and in the cuts at Emory, is the corporate mentality trickling down through the cogs of administration, past faculty governance, over departments, and into classrooms. This mentality implies that there is little difference between professors offering a history program and teaching history courses. It presupposes that courses are moveable parts that do not need departments or disciplinary formations to thrive.

Some readers may be surprised that physics is on the chopping block at ECSU, as well as several other colleges. Basic research has long trailed behind patent-generating science in terms of institutional support, a consequence of which has been the increasing vulnerability of physics programs. Historically black colleges, subject to more budget strife in general, are at greater risk of losing their pure science programs.

Speaking of professors stranded without institutional support… Emory’s PR department has taken the opportunity to spin a symposium on the 60th anniversary of the ILA and the future of interdisciplinary studies as a celebration.

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SGA to vote on Wagner

SRC member Andy Ratto has added the following motion to the agenda for the Student Government Association meeting. In short, the motion would allow all Emory students to cast a vote about Pres. Wagner during the campus-wide elections next week. There’s a lot of momentum for an action like this in the wake of no-confidence motions at NYU, Saint Louis U, the North Dakota state university system, Coppin State U., the University of Southern Maine, etc., etc.

Bill 46sl: “Calling for a Student Vote About Emory President James Wagner”
Whereas there has been an ongoing discussion on campus about the performance of President James Wagner, and;
Whereas the college faculty have already voted to censure President Wagner through their established procedures but the opinion about him from the student body is currently unknown, and;
Whereas the voice of the student body should be heard and considered in matters of the governance of Emory University, and;
Whereas a vote about a University President is an established method for evaluating performance, and such a vote has occurred at other schools by both university faculty, and from students as well, and;
Whereas the SGA supporting this bill would not mean a judgment in any way about President Wagner’s job as President, but rather a commitment to including the student voice in the operation of Emory University, and;
Whereas the Student Government Association can offer up a referendum to a vote by the student body.
Therefore, let it be enacted by the 46th Legislature of the Student Government of Association of Emory University that a question regarding whether or not students still have confidence in James Wagner as President of Emory University be put forward for the entire Student Body to vote on during the Spring 2013 elections, on Thursday, March 28, 2013, unless moved by the Board of Elections, as a referendum.

The meeting is tomorrow (Monday, March 18) at 7pm, in the Faculty Dining room in the DUC (across from the post office). All supporters are encouraged to attend, as the measure requires a two-thirds vote even to be debated, and a further 51% majority to pass.

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Not Your University

“In all three cases, administrators faced the charge that they were acting dictatorially.”

An article published on Inside Higher Ed yesterday highlights a vote of no confidence against the president of NYU for what faculty perceive as too many unilateral decisions (hostile expansion rather than hostile contraction). The author draws a comparison to the situation at Emory, as well as controversies at Duke, Saint Louis U. and Yale. Further proof of Emory’s ties to thought-leading peer institutions.

Talk of a no-confidence vote among faculty has been circulating for some time, and the College’s dismissive response to the AAUP letter might fan the flames…

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Protest Florida’s attack on education

Not tired of signing petitions yet? Readers of this site should consider signing this one, protesting Governor Rick Scott’s classist and anti-intellectual proposal for “reforming” public higher education in Florida:

Liberal arts and social science topics (English, History, Political Science, Psychology, etc.) would cost students more, on the assumption that no one with such a degree has high skills, would ever be in high demand, and would ever earn a high wage, however “high” is defined. As Proctor himself put it on October 29, “English is not a strategic discipline.” As tuition for such non-strategic disciplines increases, these programs would be slowly phased out, or at least severely diminished, as more students seek “strategic degrees.”

Emory is not part of the Florida university system, but we are part of the same culture. The values we project will reverberate across schools of all formats.


Fighting racism, sexism in tenure decisions

In the midst of what looks, from the restricted vantage point of students and faculty, like a disproportionate attack on Emory’s African-American students and faculty, women faculty, and other minorities, not to mention the institutions of critical race and cultural studies (long enough a subordinate clause for you?), we find a new analysis of slanted tenure decisions at the University of Southern California revealing and disturbing. While statistics don’t prove intentional discrimination, they point to invisible barriers. Insightfully, one commenter pointed out that the service positions junior faculty are asked to perform are not valued equally: sitting on a diversity committee, say, isn’t taken as seriously as a finance board, even if both take the same chunk out of one’s research time. Food for thought, and yet another call for accountability in the way Deans Paul and Forman selected the individuals who would determine the future course of the College.

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Local artists and activists, II

Edit 12/6: Due to inaccurate allegations about the #EmoryCuts movement being run by outside activists, I have removed the link and crossed out a portion of this post. While we may draw attention to other education-related activist efforts, the Student Re-Visioning Committee has no affiliations with any non-Emory movements.

Tomorrow, a coalition of students and education, labor and housing activists will be holding Atlanta Against Austerity, a rally in Freedom Park, tomorrow (Tuesday the 14th) at 6 p.m. We’re posting this for the general interest of our readers, and hold no responsibility for the participants’ actions.

Some of the GSU students organizing the event have supported our fight to preserve the liberal arts and formal equality at Emory. We cast a sympathetic, anxious eye to our colleagues: Last week, GSU laid off 25 administrative and support workers and eliminated 85 unfilled positions due to its own budget shortfall.


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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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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Blau: Emory did the right thing

Max Blau, whom we remember from his revealing interview with Dean Forman last week, has written another piece in Creative Loafing allying himself with the college dean. Blau is also a College alumnus.

We share Blau’s sentiment that Emory needs to manage its resources judiciously, not just during periods of recession or deficit. But we are skeptical of either-or reasoning:

UGA recently revealed plans to eliminate roughly 130 jobs in order to meet Gov. Nathan Deal’s 3 percent state budget cuts. Likewise, Georgia Perimeter College laid off faculty and staff to absorb a $25 million shortfall caused by the fiscal ineptitude of its senior leaders. If either of these two institutions attempted to practice fiscal conservatism, both of these financial shortfalls could have been avoided.

The crucial difference here is between public and private colleges. The operating costs of the University System of Georgia, as well as aspects of their staffing policies and even course offerings, are determined directly by state legislators. We have trouble believing that the administrators of UGA and GPC have not been trying to streamline their budgets to less catastrophic ends.

As long as we’re talking about “the bottom line,” let’s talk about the cost-effectiveness of the liberal arts. Academically Adrift (2011), a large-scale quantitative study of college learning outcomes, found that humanities and social-science students far outperformed business, engineering, and communications.[1] The authors found that liberal arts majors see “significantly higher gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills over time than students in other fields of study.” These programs are considerably less expensive to run than their shinier counterparts. In addition, universities with more doctoral students teaching classes are less costly than those with fewer or none. (Source)

Given that Emory’s decision to cut seven programs was not the result of a deficit or a government bill, the argument is not really about fiscal anything, nor is it comparable to layoffs made under duress. The vulnerable departments, Blau argues, simply failed to make a case for themselves.

it ultimately appears that [Forman’s] final decisions all revolve around a single motive: that Emory cannot and will not settle for programs that are less than exemplary.

Exemplary means setting an example. I see no reason why creating the first education program for Georgia prisoners (the Division of Educational Studies), a 100% job placement rate (the PhD program in Spanish), offering a language (Hindi) which many peer institutions don’t, or just plain being well known and influential (the ILA) don’t qualify.

“Mark from Atlanta” has some pointed observations about the article as well.

[1]We can only assume a “communication” separate from languages, literature, the arts, and social research is what that “Digital and New Media” emphasis strives to be.
For an extended discussion of Academically Adrift and similar polemics, see this review essay in the NYRB, and every academic blog ever.

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