Corporation affirms ROTC, athletics recs

Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, October 23, 2011

In its first meeting since President Ruth Simmons announced her decision to step down at the end of the academic year, the Corporation approved Simmons’ Reserve Officers’ Training Corp and athletics recommendations.

The Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, meets every October, February and May. It convened Saturday to address the search for Simmons’ successor, means of “continuing the momentum” generated by the Plan for Academic Enrichment, tenure practices and ways of adapting to the University’s diminishing revenue, Simmons wrote in an email to the community.

Simmons’ recommendations on athletics and ROTC, which she released last week, closed discussions that began last year. She recommended against bringing ROTC back to campus but said the University should explore establishing more cross-curricular programs with other universities.

Simmons recommended giving the men’s and women’s fencing, women’s ski and men’s wrestling teams a year to raise funds for the program outside University resources. She also called for an increase in teams’ Academic Indices — a quantitative measure that indicates recruits’ academic aptitude — and for the elimination of 20 admissions slots reserved for recruits.

Director of Athletics Michael Goldberger said the details of implementation “need to be worked out.” But teams are “very close” to raising funds that would secure their statuses, he said. The elimination of admissions spots will be “hard, but not impossible,” he said.

The weekend also marked the first meeting of the two committees tasked with choosing the University’s next president. Chancellor Thomas Tisch ’76, spokesman for the committees, was not available for comment after the meeting. But Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, wrote in an email to The Herald that the committees had “a productive session” in planning how best to involve the community in the presidential search.

The search will involve several community forums, the first of which will take place early next month.

The Corporation also addressed the issue of how best to “deploy the capacity” produced by the Plan for Academic Enrichment, said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15. Schlissel said administrators will consult faculty members and deans to brainstorm academic foci for the University.

The University will likely focus some of its momentum and funds on strengthening the School of Engineering and the Institute for Brain Science, he added.

Though the University has no plans to initiate another major fundraising campaign, Schlissel said administrators did “discuss priorities for raising resources” and are “definitely attempting” to raise funds for new projects.

The search for a new president will not slow the University’s initiative to develop programs and identify new priorities, he said. “We want to keep moving forward on the many projects and ideas that we’ve taken on, and then the new president will join us,” he said.

Schlissel also joined Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin P’12 in presenting multiple reports about tenure practices.

The reports were commissioned last February to specify the impact of the faculty-approved revisions to the tenure process. They were meant to address three points, McLaughlin said: the best practices for hiring and mentoring faculty, appropriate faculty tenure ratios and how administrators would ensure “quality” tenure decisions.

The documents established an appropriate tenure ratio of between 70 and 75 percent, McLaughlin said. Currently, the University’s tenure rate falls around 76 percent, he added.

Before addressing the Corporation, McLaughlin presented the documents to the Faculty Executive Committee, the Academic Priorities Committee, department chairs and the Tenure, Promotions and Appointments Committee. The presentations mostly consisted of informing the faculty of the documents’ contents, McLaughlin said, though they did change a “couple of details” in the documents based on the discussions.

McLaughlin, Schlissel and Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Ed Wing will present again before the Corporation at its February meeting.

Officials also presented the University’s annual financial statement to the Corporation, addressing the diminishing growth of revenue.

Beppie Huidekoper, executive vice president for finance and administration, said an important part of the Corporation’s discussion was acknowledging “this is going to be a challenging two years” and prioritizing University projects.

The Corporation also approved over $30 million worth of gifts and donations, including $15 million donated by Tisch for “University priorities.” Schlissel said the money will likely be used for academic initiatives like the School of Engineering, the Institute for Brain Science and the creation of a school of public health.

General Motors gave $1.6 million to maintain a joint research lab with the University. The University has not been “particularly successful” in generating corporate revenues, but it is something administrators hope to improve upon, Huidekoper said. Particularly, she said, Dean of Engineering Larry Larson hopes to bring in more corporate donations for engineering.

The Corporation also established a new IBM Professorship of Applied Mathematics and renamed a visiting professor to the existing IBM Visiting Professorship for Applied Mathematics.