Faculty meeting of May 4, 2012
Posted on May 4, 2012
President Ronald A. Crutcher called the faculty meeting to order at 2:00 pm on Friday, May 4, 2012 in Hindle Auditorium in the Science Center.
The minutes of the April 6, 2012 faculty meeting were approved as circulated.
President Crutcher called on Associate Dean of Studies Alex Trayford to introduce this year’s National Scholarship winners. For the 2011-12 academic year, fourteen current students and three alumnae/i have been awarded national scholarships and fellowships, with three other applications outstanding. Dean Trayford said that these fellowships represent the largest number of winners from Wheaton since the 2006-2007 academic year. He introduced all of the scholarship and fellowship winners: Nicholas Cicchinelli has been awarded the National Security Education Program David L. Boren scholarship to study in Russia (Dean Trayford thanked Professors Rosset and Wilson for writing letters on Nick’s behalf); Pagna Eam has been awarded a Davis 100 Projects for Peace grant; Robert Iafolla has received a Beinecke scholarship (Dean Trayford thanked Professors Boroviak, Polanichka and Bezis-Selfa for writing supporting letters for Robert); Heather Hanson and Sophie Bergelson will be traveling to France this summer as French Government Teaching Assistants (Professors Anderson and Medina wrote letters of support for Heather and Professors Kerner and Walsh wrote for Sophie); Class of 2007 Biology Major Alison Mehlhorn has been awarded a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study in the United Kingdom. Lisa Gavigan, Director of Career Services, introduced this year’s Watson Fellowship winners: Iraimi Mercado and Adam Goldberg. She thanked Professor Christian for writing for Iraimi and Professors Kim and Shomali for writing on behalf of Adam. Dean Trayford introduced nine students who have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships this year. This number ties for the most Wheaton Fulbright winners in one academic year. Amanda-Joy Febles has been awarded a Fulbright to Indonesia (Professors Cathcart and Coale wrote letters on behalf of Amanda-Joy); Raphael “Raffi” Sweet will travel to Thailand to teach English (Professors Murphy, Griffin and Price wrote letters on behalf of Raffi); Class of 2010 graduate Padric Gleason was one of nine Fulbright grant winners to Mexico (Professor Boroviak wrote in support of Padric); Mary Bisbee has been awarded a teaching assistantship grant to the Czech Republic (Professors Conway and Bianchi wrote letters on behalf of Mary); Leah Pearl Bloomenstein has been awarded a Fulbright grant to Russia (Professors Boroviak, Wilson and Rosset wrote letters for Leah Pearl); Stephanie Antetomaso has been awarded a Fulbright grant to Estonia; Margaux Fisher has been awarded an assistantship to Taiwan (Professors Torres and Owens wrote recommendations on behalf of Margaux); Class of 2010 graduate Zachary Ginsburg has a Fulbright grant to study in Poland (Professors Boroviak and Marcus Allen wrote in support of Zachary); Hannah Allen has been awarded a Fulbright grant to Bulgaria (Professors Brumberg-Kraus and Cathcart wrote letters of support for Hannah). Dean Trayford noted that with this group of nine Fulbrights he has had the pleasure of working with 68 Fulbright winners from Wheaton. He gave a special thanks to Professor Darlene Boroviak who this year has written letters of support for over one-third of Wheaton’s National scholarship winners. President Crutcher thanked Dean Trayford and Lisa Gavigan for their work with the scholars and gave his thanks to all of the faculty members who wrote on behalf of the students.
President Crutcher said that the administration had a good meeting with the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees on May 1st. The Trustees are still very concerned about the deficit—approximately $6,000,000 for next year—but they are very supportive of the Focus Plan. A matrix has been developed to track the Focus Plan. The President will give a full report of the Executive Committee meeting at the next faculty meeting and talk more about the Focus plan at that meeting as well. He thanked the members of the Educational Policy Committee, the Faculty Planning and Priorities Committee, the Staff Planning and Priorities Committee, and the Advisory Committee for their assistance this year. He called on Vice President Gail Berson to give a brief update on the Class of 2016.
Ms. Berson reported that the enrollment targets for freshmen and transfer students are expected to be met. She said that the Class of 2016 currently has 491 members and another eight students who plan to transfer to Wheaton. This represents a significant turnaround from last year when at the very same time there were 70 fewer deposits and we were confronted with a very difficult situation. She acknowledged the Admissions and Student Financial Services Staffs who worked so many extra hours throughout a very stressful cycle to achieve the goal. She also offered her thanks to every faculty member who participated in open houses and visiting days, welcomed students to their classes, and communicated to students via email and in person. Ms. Berson went on to say that she hopes these conversations will continue. She went on to thank faculty for the important work they did on curriculum this year, especially on the new and restructured minors that respond directly to the importance of academic programs in college selection. She noted that her staff received support from everyone on campus from Advising to the grounds crew and in particular current Wheaton students, especially with over 700 prospective students visiting campus this year. She stated that the current “trend line” for enrollments has just begun but the challenge for this year and future years isn’t over. Ms. Berson called the new student enrollments “fragile,” noting that they are vulnerable to our competitors who will undoubtedly move to their wait lists and to families, who will be recognizing their financial situations. She said it would be several years before we will be able to make a significant improvement to our discount rate. Ms. Berson went on to say that she hopes the 15% increase in applications realized this year will be the “precursor” to improve retention which is another important piece to restoring financial equilibrium. The numbers may change over the summer but programs like the June CORE program will help to secure interest in Wheaton and to convince students to choose Wheaton over another institution. She noted that the work with consulting firms Generation and Human Capital Research Corporation (HCRC) has been extremely valuable. She said that Generation provided important creative guidance by making admissions publications more compelling, our electronic communications more enticing, and developing new multi-media presentations at Wheaton. The work with HCRC increased the college’s ability to target recruitment and introduced a new approach to financial aid that has helped Wheaton to meet the enrollment target. Finally, she gave a few brief descriptives of the class of 2016.
President Crutcher reminded everyone that one year’s success doesn’t necessarily indicate that it will continue. It will need to continue over time and will take another three to five years of hard work to reach financial equilibrium. Professor Bob Morris said that last year the President announced there were plans to increase our enrollments. He asked if the target figure that was met this year was an expanded target. The President responded that the target set for this year was met but that doesn’t grow the total number of students because our enrollment overall was already low and we will be graduating a large class this year. Ms. Berson pointed out that if we continue to enroll classes of 475 to 500 students each year and our retention rate does not decrease significantly, we would begin to see some incremental growth in the next three to five years. President Crutcher noted that the new financial aid regimen Ms. Berson alluded to is intended to help us choose the class that we would like to have but with a higher net revenue so enrollments may not have to increase significantly.
Provost Linda Eisenmann began by highlighting faculty publications. Professor Bill Goldbloom-Bloch has a chapter entitled “Lost in a Good Book: Jorge Luis Borges’ Inescapable Labyrinth,” published in the edited book Imagine Math: Between Culture and Mathematics; together with Professor Michael Drout, Professor Goldbloom-Bloch has written an article entitled “Fair and Unfair Division in Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon,” which appeared in Mathematics in Popular Culture: Essays on Appearances in Film, Fiction, Games, Television and Other Media; Professor Ann Sears has a chapter entitled “Political Currents and Black Culture in Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha” in the edited book Blackness in Opera; and Professor John Grady has published a chapter entitled “Numbers into Pictures: Visualization in Social Analysis” in the Sage Handbook of Visual Research Methods. The Provost reminded everyone that this year she decided to reinstate the retirement luncheon. With so many faculty members choosing to retire this year, the Provost said it seemed like the “moment was back upon us” when long careers should be recognized more formally. She reminded the faculty of the invitation they received from Susan Colson for the new version of the retirement luncheon that will be held on Thursday, May 17th at noon in the Diana Davis Spencer Café in the Mars Center for Science and Technology. She commented that there is no video equipment in that area. The faculty members who will be honored are Vipan Chandra, Susan Dearing, Ed Tong, and David Wulff. Next she noted that departments have been waiting to hear her decisions on full-time replacements. The Provost will notify each department chair by the end of the day. She said that she had consulted with the Provost Advisory Committee on what would be a helpful way for people to receive that information, so some time before the end of the day today, the department chairs awaiting decisions will receive her response via email. In addition, she will send a summary of her decisions to all department chairs. On Monday, May 7th, she will announce her decisions on the Connections v.2.0 proposals. The Provost said that she received eight formal proposals and a few informal proposals. She consulted with the Provost Advisory Committee and with PPC on the proposals and said that Professor Matthew Allen, Chair of the Provost Advisory Committee, is assisting her with the selections.
Next, Provost Eisenmann spoke about the visit from Brian Zucker from HCRC on April 25th. She said that she had a chance to talk with the Provost Advisory Committee, the Faculty Planning and Priorities Committee and with Department Chairs to get their feedback. She noted that the two conversations with faculty he had that day were very different. Many ideas and suggestions were generated from these meetings but it was the consensus of the faculty that Mr. Zucker provided a lot of good information but he really didn’t say “this is exactly what you have to do.” The Provost said that, in speaking about the value of Connections, Professor Bob Morris had offered a model he had seen in a “Visual Thesaurus.” Professor Morris had an idea of taking the work that Wheaton currently does with Connections and representing it on the College website in the form of the Visual Thesaurus. He gave a brief demonstration to the faculty. Professor Matthew Allen said that he had attended the lunchtime presentation by Mr. Zucker and, after hearing his presentation, questioned whether or not he was the right consultant for us. Ms. Berson spoke about Mr. Zucker’s work, both generally and with her staff. She said that he gathers data from different schools showing what they are doing, and explained how he goes about advising his clients on what they might do that could help them to appeal to students. The Provost told the faculty that Mr. Zucker collected the data from students who answered three open-ended questions that were posed to accepted students:
- If you could create a course at Wheaton, what would it be?
- If you could create an out of the classroom experience that you would like to have, what would it be?
- What skill or competency would you like to have as you leave Wheaton?
She said that we can track the types of answers from students who enrolled at Wheaton and from those who chose to go elsewhere, and that we should be able to use data from these questions to spark additional planning. Provost Eisenmann said that she felt that Mr. Zucker’s data and advice helped to get people thinking and she plans to work with different groups of faculty on generating ideas
President Crutcher called on Alex Trayford, Chair of the Committee on Academic Standing, to bring back the proposed change to Faculty Legislation on Academic Standing presented at the April faculty meeting. Dean Trayford announced that the Committee had decided to postpone discussion of the proposed change to Legislation until the fall.
Professor Hector Medina, Chair of the Committee on Educational Policy, asked if the faculty had any comments or questions on the new minor in Public Health Sciences or the two revised minors (Business and Management and Jewish Studies), which were circulated prior to the meeting and which were approved by the Educational Policy Committee. There were no questions or comments. President Crutcher thanked Professor Medina for his work as Chair of the Educational Policy Committee this year, as well as Susan Colson who takes the minutes at the Committee’s meetings.
Professors Deyonne Bryant and Rolf Nelson, Co-chairs of the Committee on Committees and Agenda, led a discussion on disbanding the Budget Advisory Committee. Professor Bryant began by saying that “for a number of years the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) has not functioned fully as a committee with a clear purpose or stated charge, and the Committee on Committees and Agenda suspended elections in the Spring 2012 election cycle to replace members who had stepped down from the committee or whose terms had expired. The poor functioning of the Budget Advisory Committee and a proposal from a group of faculty members to disband the BAC brought the committee under review by the Committee on Committees and Agenda.
"The standard view of organization structures is that a committee that is not functioning should be terminated because it weakens the overall committee structure and threatens the integrity of the organizational structure—in this case, shared governance.
"In keeping with this view the Committee on Committees discharged its duty to: (a) recommend to the faculty or to concerned administrative officers any change in the organization, terms of service, and functions of standing or other committees; (b) regularly review, or initiate self-review of, the structure and function of faculty committees; and (c) consider all proposals to terminate or alter the charge of a standing committee of the faculty; and, after consideration, to bring the proposal to the Faculty for a vote with the recommendation of the Committee on Committees and Agenda.
"To these ends, we have consulted with the president, provost, and both the interim Vice President and new VP Brian Douglas about the status of the Budget Advisory Committee, as well as the faculty members who served on the Budget Advisory Committee this year and the Co-Chairs of the Staff Council.
"We also have kept in mind that the Budget Advisory Committee is one of few all-campus committees at the college, and the value that this type of committee holds for faculty, staff, and students. And, I [Deyonne Bryant] have worked with various constituencies to work out a solution to the dilemma.
"This consultation culminated in a meeting earlier today of the Committee and Committees and Agenda, the Co-Chairs of the Staff Council, Sara Smith and Gary Ahrendts, and the senior administrative officers, President Crutcher, Provost Eisenmann, and VP of Administration Brian Douglas.
"The decision of the senior administrative officers is to dissolve the Budget Advisory Committee and substitute it with periodic, joint meetings of the Staff and Faculty Planning and Priorities Committees—as written in Faculty Legislation. This continues the inclusive practice of an all-campus committee working in a consultative role at the college. The joint committee structure also serves the following three points, which VP Brian Douglas will elaborate on.
- It replaces the old process of reviewing an annual budget, which constituted the work of the Budget Advisory Committee, with the current process of long-term planning.
- The upcoming focus on long-term Capital Planning will require input about prioritizing capital expenditures from various constituencies at the college, especially the staff, faculty, and students.
- Recent re-accreditation reports recommend that the college establish a method of long-term planning and priorities committees with input from the college community at large
"The joint committee structure would meet a couple of times each semester; and the individual staff and faculty planning and priorities committees will carry out their remaining charges at all other times.
"The joint committee should not impede, obstruct, or duplicate the work of the faculty standing committees, particularly the Economic Status and Workload Committee.
"The Committee on Committees and Agenda agreed that using joint meetings of the faculty and staff PPCs, subject to review as stipulated in Faculty Legislation is a good and acceptable solution to the problem of the Budget Advisory Committee.”
Professor Bryant then invited Mr. Brian Douglas to address the room and open the floor for discussion.
Mr. Douglas said that pretty much as soon as he arrived at Wheaton, he was asked about the future of the BAC. He reviewed the history of the BAC and the PPC and after consulting with the Provost and the President and with Professor Bryant, it seemed like the correct decision would be working with the PPC. He noted that he had come before the faculty earlier this year to bring an update on the budget and financial planning and he plans to report to them on a regular basis. He feels that keeping the faculty informed helps to work through problems together and helps to keep priorities in line. Mr. Douglas spoke to capital planning. He said that there is a need to have a multi-year capital plan that represents all constituents of the College. He went on to say that the division of the PPC into two separate committees further divides the faculty and the administration. He would like to see that divide closed and would like to work toward that.
Professor Nelson distributed a document containing a section of Legislation pertaining to the BAC and to the PPC. He pointed out that there is no charge to the BAC. PPC does have a two-year review built within it. He said that we will use the next year to see if the model proposed is working.
Discussion followed. Professor Boroviak said that she appreciated all of the thinking that went into this decision but she is opposed to disbanding BAC. She said that up until the Budget Advisory Committee was established, the faculty had never seen a budget. She went on to say that she believes that, to have transparency, it’s very important to be included in discussions, to learn and to have a voice in decisions. Now that the PPC is no longer a joint constituency committee, BAC is the last committee that has a joint constituency and she feels that it is very important to maintain it. Mr. Douglas responded, saying that his goal is to continue to present a great deal of data to faculty, staff and students. Professor Boroviak asked if that data would be presented in the process of establishing the budget. He responded that it would be in the process of creating the budget but he noted that the Committee shouldn’t be called onto make certain decisions on the operating budget. (He gave examples.) He did say that there would be opportunities for faculty input on priorities in certain years given the financial climate. He said that he would count on that input in order to make correct decisions. Professor Betsey Dyer asked if there were any faculty members who had served on the BAC who could offer perspectives on the committee’s work during the last few years. Several faculty members responded. Professor Janina Benoit said that when she served on BAC their role was never seen as advisory; they never made decisions, but were just informed. Several faculty members said that they learned a lot from sitting on the committee and appreciated the interaction with the staff members. Professor Nelson said that the idea of being kept informed and working with the staff members should be carried forward to the PPC each time. Mr. Douglas addressed the concern that the committee would not meet on a regular basis. He said that he is open to the frequency of the meetings.
Professor Francoise Rosset asked if there was a mechanism in place for sharing information. President Crutcher said that he had met with COCA and the college officers that morning. He noted that he had shared an article that outlines levels of decision-making in shared governance. President Crutcher gave examples of the levels and said that, accordingly, he sees the role of the faculty, staff and students in budgeting and financial planning at the college to be consultative. He would like a group of faculty, staff and students to work with him and Mr. Douglas and Provost Eisenmann on the yearly budgets as well as the five-year financial plan to satisfy NEASC. He went on to say that to have such a group is vitally important to the administration to come up with a focus and figure out a way to bring the budget into financial equilibrium. Professor Russell Williams expressed his concern for building expectations into the committee structure, noting that should Mr. Douglas leave Wheaton, he could be succeeded by someone holding a different view toward transparency. The President pointed out that the PPC is scheduled to be reviewed next year (right now it is an ad hoc committee) and a decision would have to be made to bring the committee into the governance structure.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:30 pm.
Lynda S. Marcoccia
Senior Executive Assistant to the Provost
Secretary to the Committee.