Faculty meeting of September 7, 2012
Posted on September 6, 2012
The first faculty meeting of the 2012-2013 academic year was called to order by President Ronald Crutcher at 2:00 pm on Friday, September 7, 2012 in Hindle Auditorium in the Science Center.
The minutes of the May 17, 2012 faculty meeting were approved as circulated.
President Crutcher welcomed everyone back to Wheaton’s 178th year as a college and began his remarks by reminding the faculty that the College had exceeded expectations for LEED certification for the Mars Center for Science and Technology. Wheaton earned LEED Gold Certification for the new building whereas only Silver certification had been anticipated. He also announced that, thanks to alumnae/i, parents and Wheaton friends, the College has raised the $3,000,000 needed for the turf field, and that the goal for the Wheaton Fund was exceeded by $130,000. The Campaign is going well, $109,000,000 has been raised toward the goal of $120,000,000, and the President is confident that the College will exceed the Campaign goal. He went on to say that the second year of the CORE (Campus Orientation and Registration Experience) program was very successful. He thanked Provost Linda Eisenmann and Dean of Students Lee Burdette Williams, as well as the faculty and staff and everyone who worked on the program to make it a success. President Crutcher said that, looking at the fall enrollment, the sophomore class is larger than expected, perhaps a sign that our retention efforts are moving in the right direction. Finally, thanks to new initiatives by Vice President Gail Berson and her staff, applications for attendance at Wheaton increased by 15%, and we admitted one of the largest first-year classes in the history of the College this fall.
Vice President Berson shared information about the entering class. She noted that, out of 4000 applications, 481 new students are entering Wheaton this fall; 470 students are coming in as new students, 11 are transfers. Of these new students, 52 have Wheaton relatives; they represent 32 states and 28 nations around the world. She continued to give other statistics about the entering class, including the fact that 158 entered Wheaton this fall as Balfour, Trustee, Community and regional scholars; 20 are Posse scholars; and 3 are United World College Davis scholars. Her staff is already working on recruiting the classes of 2017 and 2018. She thanked the faculty for their help in recruiting students, noting that there are 30 more students entering Wheaton this fall than there were in 2011, and announced that there will be two visiting days, one on October 13th and another on November 12th.
President Crutcher remarked about the success of our recruiting efforts this year with 30 more students entering this fall, and he described the context from which to view these successes. He noted that the national context presents serious threats to all colleges and universities, but to Liberal Arts Colleges in particular. The President observed that tuition and fees have grown faster than family incomes, and that the recession of 2008 has had a negative impact both on families’ abilities to pay for a private college or university education, along with an impact on the institutions themselves. Parents and students are looking more and more at the value of education; they are much more consumer oriented, looking for bargains. The President described the national conversation about higher education. He referred to President Obama’s remarks that he is going to “hold down” tuition and fees at colleges and universities. He said that the College’s financial model is predicated on the ability to increase tuition and fees each year by a certain percentage to cover inflationary and other increased costs. The President said that all of this is cause for us to be aware of the challenges that we face as a liberal arts institution. Over the next two years, he will invite national leaders in higher education to campus for conversations and discussions about the challenges facing higher education in general, but liberal arts colleges in particular, as the College plans for the future. He hopes that everyone will be involved in those discussions—faculty, staff and students as well.
The President announced that Professors Kim Miller and Mark LeBlanc have agreed to serve as the new Faculty Athletic Representatives. He thanked Professors Betsey Dyer and Michael Kahn for their services in this role. He ended by announcing that, due to the rain earlier in the day, the welcome back party for faculty and their families will be held in the Faculty Dining Room following this meeting. The President also announced that at the end of the meeting, the faculty will adjourn to the Committee of the Whole at which time, only teaching faculty and those staff members with faculty designation will remain for the ensuing discussion.
Provost Linda Eisenmann thanked the faculty and staff members who made the second iteration of CORE so successful; she has heard from many faculty and staff that they have found students much better prepared at the beginning of the school year. The Provost highlighted faculty scholarly and creative work over the summer. Professor Andrew Howard’s work is currently being exhibited in the Weil Gallery; Professor Stephanie Daniels will give a solo performance of Ken Prestininzi’s BIRTH BREATH BRIDE ELIZABETH on September 21st and 22nd at the Factory Theater in Boston. The costumes for this performance have been designed by Professor Clinton O’Dell and it is being presented by Professor Charlotte Meehan’s theater company, Sleeping Weazel. Three new faculty grants were awarded over the summer—Professor Matt Evans has won a large National Science Foundation grant for Collaborative Research: Glacier Behavior in W. Greenland; Professor Thandi Buthelezi has also won a substantial grant from NSF for undergraduate research: “RUI: Host/Guest Interactions of Thermochromic Molecules in Binary Aqueous Media”; and Professors Gabriela Torres and Kersti Yllo have won a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation to conduct a workshop at Wheaton on “Global Perspectives on Sexual Violence in Marriage”. Professor Michael Drout has two publications—the ninth volume of Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review and his article entitled “A Note on Homiletic Fragment II and The Dynamics of Translation from Latin to Old English” has appeared in Neuphilologische Mitteilungen.
Provost Eisenmann announced that Wheaton’s study abroad program in Bhutan is going to expand into two one- semester programs (the College will run this program each semester). Professor Jeffrey Timm is the program director this semester; Professor Bruce Owens will serve as the program director for the spring 2013 semester and Professor John Miller will serve in the fall of 2013. The faculty will be hearing more as the Bhutan Working Group works to expand interest among Wheaton students as well as from other institutions. An announcement seeking a director for the spring of 2014 will appear soon.
The Provost also announced a grant opportunity that has come to Wheaton. The College has been invited by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) LEAP project, the national organization for liberal education , to participate, along with eight other schools (four from Massachusetts and four from New York) on a faculty-oriented grant from the Teagle Foundation, entitled “Integrative Liberal Learning”. The project is a two and a half year project to strengthen faculty leadership on issues of integrative liberal learning. In early August, Provost Eisenmann sent a memo to the faculty explaining the project and inviting faculty interested in serving on Wheaton’s campus team to email her. She went on to read a portion of the project rationale and said that she would resend the memo to the faculty for their information. The Provost said that Professors Kathleen Morgan and Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus have agreed to be the faculty members on Wheaton’s team and she has agreed to serve as the academic administrator.
Provost Eisenmann gave an update on the Wheaton Preserve. She reported that she and Vice President Brian Douglas met with a group of science faculty to discuss what criteria could be used in developing a preserve; issues that the Trustees will raise; and how to begin to identify a section of Wheaton’s land holdings for consideration. In the next steps, the faculty group will examine maps and the land and will begin to identify possible sites for consideration. The students have also expressed interest in working with the faculty group. She suggested that faculty who might like to be involved should contact Professor Janina Benoit.
The Provost reminded everyone that each educational institution in the United States is required to recognize Constitution Day. On Wednesday, September 19th, Wheaton will hold a moot court session and follow-up discussion on two issues related to “Contested Rights on College Campuses,” including affirmative action in admissions and students’ right of association. She said that an email will be distributed to talk about ways that faculty might engage their classes. The faculty participants in this event are Professors Jenna Lukasik, Stephen Mathis and Kim Miller, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Lee Williams and Provost Eisenmann. The Provost ended her remarks by announcing that the Provost’s Office, together with Phi Beta Kappa, will be presenting Jill Lepore, historian of early America and Chair of Harvard’s program in History and Literature, on November 13th and 14th. She will deliver the Ruby Lecture, and as a Phi Beta Kappa Fellow, Dr. Lepore can visit classes and meet with majors or other student groups. For more information, faculty can contact Professor John Partridge.
New members of the faculty and administration were introduced.
Professors Touba Ghadessi and Yuen-Gen Liang announced the establishment of the Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities (WIIH). They explained that the mission of the Institute is to strengthen the intellectual community at Wheaton for both faculty and students. The Institute enables students to take learning achieved in the classroom and apply it to real world situations. Each year two professors will serve as co-directors. The co-directors will “develop a cutting-edge theme and design activities that explore it.” Professors Ghadessi and Liang will serve as co-directors for the first two years.
They explained further the activities of the Institute through a PowerPoint presentation and distributed a handout with a fuller description. Professor Liang noted that only 11 liberal arts colleges in the United States have humanities centers. Professor Ghadessi said that they had been gathering ideas from various faculty and staff members throughout the summer and hope to continue meeting with faculty on an individual basis, as well as with departments. Professor Liang stated that “the Institute is being established for the entire college and as such, its foundation will benefit from collaboration and team work among everyone.” They thanked the faculty for their continuing support and welcome feedback.
Professor Christopher Kalberg, Chair of the Committee on Committees and Agenda, reminded the faculty that the members of the Committee this year are Professors Nancy Evans and Yuen-Gen Liang. He requested that agenda items for faculty meetings be sent to the Committee. He also announced that there will be two special elections that will be happening very soon—one is to fill a tenured social scientist position on the Advisory Committee, open from a resignation that occurred during the summer and the second is for an untenured social scientist or humanitarian on the Provost’s Advisory Committee, because there is no untenured member of the faculty currently serving on that Committee. He said that the Committee will meet on Tuesday, September 11th and hopes to have ballots out soon after that meeting. Professor Kalberg noted that there will be updated materials on the Provost’s website including full lists of committee members for both current and past years.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:05 pm.
Professor Kalberg then moved that the faculty adjourn to the Committee of the Whole for a discussion of the College’s finances. A second was offered for his motion and a vote was taken. The motion was approved.
Lynda S. Marcoccia
Senior Executive Assistant to the Provost
Secretary to the Faculty