Faculty Meeting for the month of October

Posted by Julia Leef '14

Faculty members discussed the upcoming COACHE survey, the Faculty Workload Group update, and a review of the General Education Requirements last Friday, Oct. 4, at their monthly meeting in Gannett Auditorium.

The meeting began with a moment of silence for Alma Becker and David Yergan, two professors in the Theater Department who recently passed away. President Philip A. Glotzbach then gave the President's Report informing the faculty of the upcoming Middle States Accreditation review, for which the College will spend the next two years preparing.

President Glotzbach also outlined the primary principles the College intends to follow for this review: to be clear about its mission and to act to fulfill it, to demonstrate evidence that students are learning what they ought to be, to show that the College is providing sufficient resources to support primary activities that have the sustainability to carry on into the future years and to develop appropriate data about institutional issues.

Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Mike West concluded the President's Report by announcing that the College is currently working with the town of Greenfield to install solar panels on the land near the baseball field which would generate approximately 12% of the College's electricity.

"I'm hopeful that we will be able to do this," President Glotzbach said, adding that the College had received some opposition from its neighbors about the project "but it's not done until it's done."

Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Beau Breslin provided a report on the Collaborative On Academic Careers and Higher Education (COACHE), a Harvard program that surveys and compares campuses in terms of their work-life balance. Faculty members have taken this survey previously in 2006 and 2010, the results of which aid the College in its own improvement and development.

This year's survey will be sent out during the week of Oct. 14, and the results will be compared with one of the College's fellow consortium members: Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Union College or Macalester College. Categories will include tenure, nature of work, work and home, climate/culture and global satisfaction.

After Breslin spoke, Mary Odekon, professor and chair of the Physics Department, gave the faculty members an update on the Faculty Workload Working Group, which was constituted last March and is set to continue its work through this December by gathering information from various surveys and focus groups to establish its priorities for discussion.

The group intends to discuss establishing clear, formal language for the faculty handbook, improving support for department chairs and program directors, changing the faculty government system to a faculty senate model, and creating more community building activities, among other topics.

Faculty members then voted on two motions that were discussed at the previous month's meeting. The motion to update the "Division of Disciplines" to add Arts Administration to "Pre-Professionals," Asian Studies to "Humanities," International Affairs to "Social Sciences" and Neuroscience to "Natural Sciences" in the Faculty Handbook passed with a total of 132 votes, with 122 voting yes, two no and eight abstaining. The second motion to adopt the 2013-2014 Faculty Handbook also passed with a total of 123 votes, with 113 voting yes, three no and seven abstaining.

A new motion was proposed and discussed to modify the language in the faculty handbook to clarify the requirements for all faculty versus tenure/tenure-track faculty, giving non-tenure faculty the option not to attend faculty meetings or commencement, although encouraging them to come. This change would not affect their voting status. The motion was tabled to be voted on in the following meeting.

After the discussion of this new motion had concluded, Professor of Economics Joerg Bibow ran a twenty-minute discussion regarding a review of the General Education Requirements. Of particular interest were the goals for Student Learning and Development, which covered Knowledge, Intellectual Skills & Practice, Personal and Social Values and Transformation.

Many rotations of the student body have passed through since the College adopted the current general education requirements five or six years ago and there is a greater need for the faculty to think about what students need today, according to Professor of Art History Penny Jolly. The first draft of the goals was created based on the language of the College course requirements to reflect what the faculty wanted students to learn.

Professor of History Jennifer Delton brought up the fact that the learnings were voted on under the view that they would not all necessarily be enacted in the curriculum and that a review of them would have to take this baseline into consideration in terms of examining their role in student learning and development. Peter von Allmen, Professor and chairman of the Economics Department, asked the faculty to bring up anything fundamental that may be missing from these goals in accordance with the College's current agenda and curriculum.

The meeting concluded with several announcements, including the introduction of the members of the Student Government Association Executive Committee, an update on the restructuring of the Faculty Interest Group from Professor of English Jacqueline Scoones to discuss the possibilities that would be available for faculty and undergraduate students if the College created a restructuring program in graduation studies, an invitation from The Zankel Chair in Management for Liberal Arts Students Pushi Prasad to the Skidmore Research Colloquium at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 regarding how maps began to conquer the imagination from functionality to fiction, and an invitation to a community reception at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery from Dayton Director and Professor of Liberal Studies Ian Berry for a student-curated project with a collection of African objects and the Classless Society show. 

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