University News

Faculty members voice few opinions on strategic plan

Many faculty members have not reviewed the draft of the plan since it was released last week

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, September 26, 2013

Faculty members interviewed expressed no strong opinions about President Christina Paxson’s strategic plan draft, which was released to the community last Wednesday.

The plan will be presented and discussed at Tuesday’s faculty meeting before being voted on by the Corporation — the University’s highest governing body ­— during its meeting Oct. 24-26, just over four weeks from now.

The 11-page document addresses many faculty-related issues, including incentivizing research, reforming sabbatical policies, growing the number of faculty members and increasing faculty diversity.

“I haven’t had a chance to read the strategic plan yet,” wrote Nancy Jacobs, associate professor of Africana studies and history and chair of the Committee for Faculty Equity and Diversity, in an email to The Herald.

Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies Harold Roth expressed similar sentiments.

“I’ve been too busy to read (the plan),” he wrote in an email to The Herald, adding, “I would imagine others are in the same boat.”

Professor of Political Science and Urban Studies and Vice Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee James Morone said he would be interested to hear more faculty feedback about the plan, to which he contributed input during last year’s planning process.

Though Paxson held a forum Tuesday to solicit feedback from students, faculty members and staff members, no faculty members voiced opinions at the event.

But those who worked on the plan said there was significant faculty contribution to the draft of the strategic plan.

Professor of Engineering and Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee Iris Bahar said strategic planning was “a long process” and “a good number of faculty members (were) a part of that evaluation.”

“I really believe that most of the faculty believes” that there is a good balance in the draft, Bahar said.

After the interim reports on the strategic planning process were released in January, many faculty members voiced concern over the trajectory of the process.

Roth said at the time that though the reports addressed “a lot of good things,” they overlooked many vital problems with the University, such as tuition assistance for employees and general health and retirement benefits, The Herald reported at the time.

None of those issues were mentioned in the more recent draft of the plan.

Other issues that faculty members supported did make it to the new draft. During faculty forums to discuss the interim reports in January, faculty members expressed need for “enhanced sabbaticals” to do research, said Mary Louise Gill, professor of philosophy and classics and then-chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, according to previous Herald coverage.

The current draft of the plan includes a proposal to restructure the academic year, which would open up blocks of time for faculty members to conduct research, and a proposal for recently tenured faculty to receive 100 percent of their salaries when on sabbatical, rather than the current 75 percent they receive.

Though not explicitly stated in the document, the student body would likely grow by about 1 percent per year under the plan, Paxson said in a forum Tuesday. The faculty would grow at a corresponding rate to maintain current student-faculty ratios, she said.

“I can’t speak for the faculty in general, but I would think the faculty would be generally supportive of an increase in both the faculty and student body as long as it was done in a thoughtful and controlled manner,” Bahar said.


-With reporting by Mathias Heller

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