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The faculty withdrew a motion to review tenure and faculty development policies at its meeting Tuesday night, stalling progress to reform the tenure process. Faculty members brought the motion to discussion again after it had been withdrawn.

Before debate, President Ruth Simmons reminded faculty about the conduct for debate, including that faculty should stand and be recognized, with the chair facilitating, before speaking. Provost David Kertzer '69 P'95 P'98 introduced the background for the motion being discussed, which stemmed from the New England Association of College and Schools report on Brown's tenure rate. The motion discusses deleting existing language of the Faculty Rules and Regulations concerning tenure review and tenure procedures and replacing it with new language.

The motion considered how "outside expert opinion is brought into the tenure process," Kertzer said.

Sheila Blumstein, professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences and member of the Ad Hoc Committee to Review Tenure and Faculty Development Policies, presented the major changes in the language and explained that the motions were all "motivated to ensure our tenure process is rigorous and fair."

"We, the faculty, must make sure this process is run with integrity and rigor," she said.

The heated debate on the presented motion began with Steve Rabson, professor emeritus of East Asian studies, who suggested dividing the motion according to the categories Blumstein mentioned.

Rabson said these four parts would pertain to the deadline of submission of material for tenure, the dean's ability to add references to a candidate's evaluation, a change in the number of references from five to eight and the appointment of a representative from the academic unit to serve as the reference's contact.

Some faculty members expressed concerns with this suggestion and Peter Richardson, parliamentarian and professor of engineering, following Robert's Rules, said in order to divide the text, it must be clear and not dependent on other parts.

In order to divide the motion, all the original text "must be present," he said.

There was also a friendly amendment by another faculty member to consider the suggested changes one paragraph at a time.

The faculty meeting then moved towards voting with clickers on dividing the motion to vote on each paragraph. The vote resulted in 53 percent — 113 faculty members — for, 46 percent — 97 members — against, and 1 percent — 3 members — abstaining.

"Many of the paragraphs are interrelated," Kertzer said. "I don't know how we will go through with this."

Kertzer suggested that the faculty withdraw the motion to vote by paragraph.

This suggestion was countered by Jerome Sanes, chair of the Tenure, Promotions and Appointments Committee and professor of neuroscience.

There is a "split vote on all of the pieces," Sanes said.

"We need to know the exact language on what is being voted on," Kertzer said of the problem with division of the paragraphs.

Blumstein added that the divisions would innumerate multiple points and paragraphs and would not "make a coherent whole," she said.

Gregory Elliott, professor of sociology, suggested the reconsideration of the vote by paragraph with reassurance that the committee would be able to sort it in "distinguishable ways," he said.

"Some of us are in favor of some pieces, and some of us are not," he said.

A faculty member motioned to withdraw the entire motion by the ad hoc committee.

The motion to withdraw the motion was passed with 53 percent — 110 members — for, 45 percent — 92 members — against and 2 percent — 4 members —  abstention.

"This is most unexpected," Simmons said.

Simmons thanked the committee and the provost for their proposals.

"The will of faculty is an important part of the University," she said.

She said that the faculty must think further about this.

"The fact that we have not moved to this is something we need to think about," she said.

Kertzer said he does not believe that the government system and will of the faculty is allowing the University to move forward with this matter.

James Morone, chair of the political science department, made a motion for the reinstatement of the withdrawn motion, which would send the motion back to the ad hoc committee.

Ann Dill, associate professor of sociology, suggested referring the withdrawn motion back to the Faculty Executive Committee.

The vote to refer the withdrawn motion to the FEC resulted in 67 percent — 90 members — in favor, 33 percent — 44 members — not in favor and 1 percent — 1 member — abstaining.

The vote to refer the withdrawn motion to the FEC in consultation with the ad hoc committee resulted in 76 percent — 100 members — in favor, 21 percent — 28 members — not in favor and 2 percent — 3 members — abstaining.

During the meeting, Simmons also discussed the humanities initiative approved at last weekend's meeting of the Corporation, the University's highest governing body. This initiative will provide funds of $500,000 a year for projects in the humanities.

"We are grateful for a gift that will provide funds that will support faculty in the humanities," said Rajiv Vohra P'07, dean of the faculty and professor of economics.

This was the first faculty meeting where the faculty used clickers to vote. In presenting the report by the FEC, Cynthia Garcia Coll, professor of education and the committee's chair, said the spring 2010 meeting's votes "took many minutes to collect and count." She mentioned that for formal motions, there will be "paper backups" in addition to the voting by clickers. She said that if a vote were to come close, they would recount it through paper ballots.

Garcia Coll also said that the FEC had a "quite extraordinary, wonderful meeting with the Corporation," and that she recommended Corporation members sit in on some Brown classes.

Garcia Coll said that she will try to do some very short faculty polls, particularly electronic surveys, with about five questions on a topic to get "a sense of how the faculty is thinking."

Concerning the level of debate and withdrawal of the motion, Garcia Coll said she is sympathetic to the body at this time but is also sympathetic that something must be done.


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