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Faculty Executive Committee maintains aim to reduce administrative growth

Faculty look for increased efficiency in bureaucratic administrative processes

<p>According to Kenneth Wong, past chair of the FEC and professor of international and public affairs, faculty desire for “stronger faculty and departmental autonomy.”</p>

According to Kenneth Wong, past chair of the FEC and professor of international and public affairs, faculty desire for “stronger faculty and departmental autonomy.”

As the Faculty Executive Committee continues its work into the spring semester, they remain focused on their fall priority: “reduce administrative growth.”

The FEC, led by Brown faculty members, serves as the central body of oversight for all faculty committees and governance, tasked with ensuring that “all aspects of faculty life and work are optimized (and) that the University is operating in such a way as to take as much advantage of what faculty have to offer,” according to FEC chair Steven Sloman, who is also professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences. The committee regularly compiles faculty concerns and feedback to discuss with administrators, which is largely related to administrative growth this semester.  

Among faculty, “there was a consensus that our lives were being taken over by bureaucratic chores,” Sloman told The Herald.

Kenneth Wong, former chair of the FEC and professor of international and public affairs, said the committee attempts to tackle issues that are “campus-wide” in nature and “affect a wide-ranging set of departments or programs.” According to Wong, faculty concerns about administrative growth stem from a desire for “stronger faculty and departmental autonomy.”


Recent concerns centered around a lack of hiring transparency, which can slow down processes such as hiring new researchers, Wong explained. 

FEC members also aim to address the procedural burden of changing course syllabi or developing new courses. The committee is searching for ways to relax regulations from the College Curriculum Council that are not required by the federal government or for accreditation, Wong said. 

Faculty also face challenges accessing discretionary funding for their departments and issues with the length of time and paperwork the Institutional Research Board needs to approve studies including human subjects. Wong said they hoped the FEC “can find some creative ways to actually streamline and make the institutional review process more efficient,” while still complying with federal guidelines. 

The FEC has shared these goals at faculty meetings, hoping that administrators take notice. “I hope and I think that it means that when administrators are making decisions, they’re considering the bureaucratic consequences of those decisions,” Sloman said. 

President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 stated that the administration has worked with faculty in order to alleviate some bureaucratic burdens.

“We are undertaking a suite of actions to improve hiring times for research staff, including streamlining the approval process for new job requisitions, standardizing job descriptions that can be fast-tracked for approval, adding targeted recruitment specialists, decreasing the time to hire across all staff positions and starting the internal processes of hiring in advance of grant awards,” Paxson wrote in an email to The Herald. 

She also wrote that administrators are looking to relieve pressure on faculty to complete tasks such as trainings and conflict of interest forms. Specifically, Paxson noted administration looks to reduce the time these tasks take to complete and spread them out throughout the year rather than concentrating them at the end of the semester. “This is important work that requires collaboration between faculty and administrators, and I am grateful for the FEC’s attention to these issues,” she added. 

“As Brown has grown and continues to grow, we need an administration that is at the appropriate scale to support our academic mission and our faculty,” Paxson wrote. “We want faculty to be able to do their work without being hampered by administrative systems and processes.”

For faculty governance to be successful, “we need to continue to build collaboration and trust between the senior administration and the leaders of the faculty … (and) we need faculty to continue to be willing to serve and be willing to give their time and expertise to really fulfill the mission of these committees because they are so important,” Wong said.

“That’s where the work gets done,” he added.


Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Steven Sloman in two instances. The Herald regrets this error. 

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Cate Latimer

Cate Latimer is a senior staff writer covering faculty and higher education. She is from Portland, OR, and studies English and Urban Studies. In her free time, you can find her playing ultimate frisbee or rewatching episodes of Parks and Rec.


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