Major Vote on CAPT Reconfiguration
Skidmore faculty will be voting on a motion to reconfigure the Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure. This committee, known by its acronym CAPT, is responsible for overseeing tenure promotions. The motion, which would streamline hiring, is being proposed by CAPT, the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), and the Dean of the Faculty's Office, and would substantially affect the way that CAPT hears cases for new tenured faculty. In Breslin’s words, these changes are “critical.” It is currently unknown when this vote will be taking place. It was initially scheduled for December 1st, but was postponed to give the motion's sponsors more time to solicit input.
The CAPT changes come in response to a recent influx of faculty members and the resulting spike in the number of professors seeking tenure. According to Professor Breslin, there are 216 tenure-line faculty members now at Skidmore — a record number. There will be 15 tenure cases before CAPT next year, and this level of tenure proposals is expected to continue for the near future. Professor Breslin told the Skidmore News that “the goal here is to attend to the size of the cohort coming down in the next few years.”
Under the proposal, CAPT’s size would be increased from six members to eight, with a panel of five members hearing each tenure case. The eight members would include two members from each division of the college, and the five-member panels will include the CAPT members from the tenure candidate’s division. The reconfiguration would also lengthen the amount of time that CAPT meets to decide each year’s tenure cases, and could institute an automatic review, known as “en banc,” of any negative decision by the original five-member panel. More information on the proposal can be found here.
CAPT is currently configured with six members, all of whom hear each case and decide on whether to grant tenure. There are no requirements on how many members of each division must be present on CAPT, leading to divisional under-representation. Under the current rules, any candidate applying has no guarantee that their division will be adequately represented. This means that, for example, an art history candidate could be judged mostly by members of the sciences. According to Professor Breslin, it is unusual for a college tenure board to lack requirements for divisional representation.
The proposal aims to solve this issue and mitigate the coming influx of candidates. Professor Breslin hopes that extending CAPT’s calendar and instituting the panel hearings will allow CAPT to more effectively handle the influx. He told The Skidmore News that “the goal here is to give the CAPT the time to interrogate files completely. Stretching the calendar is extremely important.”
It’s unclear at this time when the motion will be put to a vote and whether the motion will be approved by the full faculty. Some faculty fear that the "en banc" rule will dilute the recommendation of the first five members of the panel, among other concerns. Nevertheless, the flood of tenure candidates is coming, and, as Professor Breslin said, “we gotta do something…the CAPT reconfiguration [is] critical.”
*Note: This article has been modified to reflect the faculty's postponement of the CAPT reconfiguration motion.