Faculty meeting of March 2, 2012
Posted on March 1, 2012
The faculty meeting was called to order by President Ronald A. Crutcher on Friday, March 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm in Hindle Auditorium in the Science Center.
The minutes of the February 3, 2012 faculty meeting were approved as circulated.
President Crutcher introduced Brian Douglas, Wheaton’s new CFO and Vice President for Finance and Administration. Mr. Douglas comes to Wheaton from the University of Massachusetts system where he served as Associate Vice President for Budget, Planning and Administration. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Colgate University and a Masters in Administration Planning and Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The President announced that Steve Manos will remain as a member of the administration until the end of the academic year as Special Assistant to the President. Mr. Manos will oversee the FOCUS plan. He also announced that Professor Paula Krebs will be leaving Wheaton to begin her new position as the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University. He thanked Professor Krebs for her contributions this year as the person who oversaw external affairs as liaison to our congressional delegation and businesses, and represented Wheaton, on his behalf, to meetings of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts.
Referring to his memo to the Community dated February 27th, President Crutcher reported on the meeting of the Board of Trustees held on February 23rd to the 25th. He noted that the entire day on Friday was spent educating the Board on current matters in Higher Education to give them a deeper understanding of the discussions that took place on Saturday. He explained that three plenary sessions were held on Friday—Brian Zucker of Human Capital Research Corporation spoke to the Board on the competitive environment and how the approach of HCRC will be implemented to produce greater net tuition revenue with new students; Tom Sternal, President and CEO of Generation, presented a video to the Board on Wheaton’s current profile as a college and its aspirations; finally, five admissions counselors from across the country spoke of their view of Wheaton, how they represent the College to students and families, and what they are hearing from their students about Wheaton. The President commented on two points that the counselors made: high school students place importance on athletics, and some students who are interested in business move on to another school if business is not mentioned on a college’s website. On Thursday, Professors Tomasek, Krebs, and Kerner, and Scott Hamlin gave an impressive presentation on technology in teaching and learning.
President Crutcher continued to report that the Board approved the recommendation of the Committee on Tenure to award tenure and promotion to Yuen-Gen Liang, Assistant Professor of History, and Clinton O’Dell, Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance Studies. The Board approved the comprehensive fee for 2012-13 at approximately $55,000. The President noted that Mount Holyoke College has decided to freeze tuition for the next two years and their decision may be of some concern. The Board also approved a $10,000,000 line of credit. He commended Meghan Kass, Controller, for negotiating this line of credit for the college. President Crutcher explained that because of projected deficits for the next three years, there will be points at which cash balances will be low, and the line of credit will allow the College to access funding should there be a need. He gave an example of a situation of a large unexpected expense (failure of the air conditioning system in the old Science Center, which also services the Library) which may warrant the need to call on the line of credit. The President reiterated the fact that the budget projections over the five years are only “guestimates” and are bound to change. He said that the focus will be on Wheaton’s ability to matriculate the students who want to be here, and who have increased ability to pay the comprehensive fee so that net tuition revenues increase and the discount rate decreases. President Crutcher ended his remarks by speaking about the announcement concerning the housing fees. The Forum with students on February 7th resulted in an outpouring from alumnae/i, faculty, students and parents, so the decision to change the housing fee structure was rescinded; however, this left the College with a need to raise an additional $200,000. He announced that, at their meeting on Sunday, the Alumnae/i Association made a commitment to raise the $200,000 needed. The President noted that the Alumnae/i Association has evolved in many positive ways over the eight years that he has been at Wheaton. He suggested that this development might be a topic for discussion at a future Board meeting.
Provost Linda Eisenmann began by showcasing recent faculty publications and one grant. An article by Sarah Tobin, Mellon Post Doctoral Fellow in Anthropology, entitled “Jordan’s Arab Spring: The Middle Class and Anti-Revolution” has just been published in the Journal of Middle East Policy; Assistant Professor of History, Dana Polanichka has a chapter entitled “Transforming Space, (Per) forming Community: Church Consecration in Carolingian Europe” published in Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies; a chapter, entitled “The Evolution of a Psychologist of Religion” by Professor of Psychology, David Wulff, has been published in Psychology of Religion: Autobiographical Accounts. Assistant Professor of Math/CS, Rachelle DeCoste, has been awarded a grant from the National Security Agency in the amount of $12,000 to continue to support a summer workshop (CaMeW) for women who are finishing their PhDs in Mathematics. (This will be Professor DeCoste’s fifth workshop). Provost Eisenmann thanked the faculty and staff for their presentation on technology in teaching and learning to the Board of Trustees on Thursday evening. She gave a special thanks to Professor Tomasek who organized the panel and to Patrick Rashleigh for his participation; Trustees were very impressed and excited about the presentation. They focused particularly on the fact that this work demonstrated such creative use of technology in teaching at Wheaton. In addition, faculty had another opportunity to interact with the Board of Trustees on Thursday evening. Members of the Faculty Planning and Priorities Committee, two members of the AAUP Executive, the members of the Committee on Faculty Workload and Economic Status, Professors Liang and O’Dell, their advocates and the Tenure Committee were invited to dinner with the Trustees. Lastly, Provost Eisenmann asked the faculty to watch for a call for proposals, called Connections v. 2.0, for ideas that would be attractive to students who could work with faculty and staff on projects that build on our academic strengths. The Provost suggested some examples (lecture series, themed center, etc.) Faculty will have the opportunity to suggest an idea for a project that could benefit from “seed money”. Funds will be awarded on a rolling basis.
President Crutcher called on Michael Graca, Assistant Vice President of Communications, to introduce Thomas Sternal, President of Generation, the marketing and communication firm currently working with the College. Mr. Graca spoke about the work of the company and noted several colleges that they have worked with (Wellesley College, Bates College, and Columbia University). He said that Wheaton began working with Generation on the most recent project last February to develop a communications strategy and a set of communications, both printed and electronic, for student recruitment. He noted that it’s too early to tell what the results of the final data will indicate, but there has been a 15% increase this year in admissions applications. Mr. Graca read several statements from prospective students in answer to a question that appears on the Wheaton application asking what interested them about Wheaton. The majority indicated that they were impressed with the marketing materials sent to them or on the website. He reiterated a statement by President Crutcher saying that the College is working with Generation to establish a clear and compelling way to describe ourselves to all constituents of the college, particularly alumnae/i.
Mr. Sternal began by offering information on his background and the background of his firm. He said that the initial idea was to focus on admissions and the bottom line of net tuition revenue, but was expanded to think of the institution as a whole with focus on a variety of people such as faculty, students, parents, high school guidance counselors, alumnae/i, Board of Trustees, etc. In making the video, the idea was to:
* describe Wheaton authentically
* demonstrate Wheaton’s impact on students and the wider world
* differentiate Wheaton from its peer and aspirant institutions
* create urgency and enthusiasm for Wheaton
* translate emotion into action
* address multiple major external constituencies from admissions through alumnae/i.
Mr. Sternal spoke about the process for making the video (gathering data and input from various groups such as Trustees, faculty, staff, etc.) ending with a “positioning statement.” He noted that the statement reflects the current atmosphere and is subject to change over the years. He went on to read the statement:
The spirit of Wheaton is a spirit of start-up— adventurous, flexible, open to possibility. Since Wheaton’s founding in 1834, it has created a culture that is unusually adept in connecting people to resources, ideas to action, and problems to solutions. The world needs institutions like Wheaton. An intellectual community of students, faculty and graduates that works across borders, embraces change, challenges convention. We are the inspired evolution of liberal education.
He continued by showing the video and asked for feedback from the faculty. Professor Nancy Kendrick noted that there didn’t seem to be any attention on faculty intellectual and creative life, indicating that it was important for students to see that faculty members are participants in their own discipline and in the world. She said it’s important for students to know that faculty are engaged in a larger intellectual world away from Wheaton. Mr. Sternal said that the video was geared toward high school students and might not have that emphasis. Professor Elita Pastra-Landis suggested that the video show faculty and students working together in the new Mars Center. Mr. Sternal noted that he and his team were on campus a total of three days in mid-January when there weren’t many students and faculty on campus, although some of the photos were taken in Mars. Associate Provost Joel Relihan noted that Norton, MA was not mentioned. Mr. Sternal said that the video was meant to be a consensus building tool (that is, are they on the right track) and was more internally focused but with an opportunity to take pieces out to the public. Professor Ellen McBreen asked how Generation is planning to deliver this video if Wheaton’s web sources are limited. Mr. Sternal assured her that they would find a way to adapt to different platforms to get the message out. In answer to a question by Professor Betsey Dyer, Mr. Sternal said that faculty could send their thoughts and suggestions to Mr. Graca.
The next item on the agenda was a proposed change to Faculty Legislation by the Committee on Academic Standing. Dean Alex Trayford, on behalf of the Committee, withdrew the proposal until the April faculty meeting.
Professor Hector Medina, Chair of the Committee on Educational Policy, presented two new minors in Public Health. The Educational Policy Committee has approved the Community Health minor; the second in Public Health Sciences is still being discussed by the Department of Biology. Professor Michael Berg pointed out a change in the course listings. Students may take either Biology 101 or Biology 112 but not both in the Public Health Sciences minor. He thanked the faculty members who participated in creating these minors (Phoebe Chan, Paula Krebs, Donna Kerner, Gabriela Torres, Barbara Brennessel and Alex Trayford and Craig Andrade). There being no questions, Professor Medina moved on to speak about the proposal to change the minor in Management. He said that the Educational Policy Committee has approved the structure and concept of the minor but, because the courses for this minor have not yet been finalized, full approval by the Committee is pending. Professor Morgan asked about the timetable for offering the minor and the economic impact. Provost Eisenmann explained that many of the courses are already in place (e.g., Microeconomics, Corporate Finance and Social Entrepreneurship). Others, such as Fundamentals of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Marketing will need to be developed. The plan is to have those latter courses taught by adjunct faculty. Professor Matthew Allen said that the old minor offered more of a variety of elective courses in the arts and the humanities and he wondered about them. The Provost explained that the old minor tended to be organized around what was already being offered at the college, but it was seen by students as being less directly related to management and/or business; in revising the minor, courses that were less focused on business/management were dropped. She said that other courses could certainly be added, however. Professor Francoise Rosset asked about Psychology 360 and whether a pre-requisite would be required. The Provost said that the course is being reviewed to determine whether or not it should be offered as a 200 level or a 300 level and whether or not a pre-requisite would be required. Professor Tommasina Gabriele asked who would serve as advisor for the minor and where the courses will be housed. Professor Gildea is currently the advisor for the management minor and has agreed to remain as the advisor for the new version. The Provost added that perhaps an advisory committee could be created to assist Professor Gildea with the advising. She went on to say that the courses may be housed under their own subject heading of Management, similar to the way that Japanese, Chinese and Arabic are offered in their own areas. Adjuncts who teach these language courses are currently hired and supervised by Associate Provost Evie Staudinger. An outside consultant in the discipline helps the Associate Provost review their teaching. Professor Gabriele noted that a parallel to the Asian courses was not ideal because they have no departmental connection. The Provost said that she agrees and this issue is currently under discussion. Professor Beverly Clark asked about the future of the program; will it develop into a major. The Provost said that she could not prognosticate about its future, but that it is being planned as a minor that connects with a student’s Wheaton major. Professor Shelly Leibowitz suggested that Introductory Statistics be removed as counting toward the QA requirement in the minors. Professor Medina said it had already been removed.
Before continuing on to the next agenda item, President Crutcher announced that he had scheduled a meeting with Professors Dyer and Kahn, the Faculty Athletics Representatives, and others associated with athletics, to discuss academic standards for athletes. Professors Dyer and Kahn conducted an informational session on this topic. Professor Dyer said that, as the Faculty Athletic Representatives, it was their duty to watch over the academic experience for NCAA athletes—primarily to make sure that they are making progress toward their degree. Professor Dyer noted that the NCAA has rules about NCAA athletes maintaining good academic standing. She researched other NEWMAC colleges with respect to NCAA Academic Eligibility or Compliance and discovered that Wheaton has one of the lowest standards of all of the schools (a comparison chart was distributed to the faculty). A brief discussion followed. Professor Kathy Morgan suggested that further discussion be postponed until after the proposal that was tabled by the Committee on Academic Standing is considered at the April faculty meeting.
Ellen McBreen, Assistant Professor of Art/Art History, announced that, in celebration of community building in the arts, the students in the Art History Club (ARTHive) will be holding an auction to benefit the City Arts for Youth, a community arts organization that provides free professional arts education to young people in Providence during the summer. One half of the proceeds raised will go to the City Arts for Youth organization and the other half will support the Ann H. Murray Art Conservation Fund at Wheaton as well as ARTHive. Donations are being accepted for auction items, and/or time and service. The deadline for making donations is March 22nd. A preview exhibition in Watson will begin on March 27th. The auction will be held on April 10th at 7:00 pm in the Holman Room in Mary Lyon Hall. A further announcement will be sent out to the community via email.
Professor of Biology, Bob Morris, announced that his Biology 112 will be turning Hindle Auditorium into a living white blood cell that evening for his “Living Large” simulation. He invited everyone to the class starting with student talks (90 seconds each) at 5:30pm and the “live” demonstration starting at 6:30pm.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:50 pm.
Lynda S. Marcoccia
Senior Executive Assistant to the Provost
Secretary to the Faculty