March 3, 201103/03/2011
The President sends his best wishes and warm regards and wishes he were here today, but he’s on his way out of town to interact with the Chairperson of the Board to discuss modification of the committee structure of the Board, the approaches to populating agendas of the Board and the Board committees, and a general discussion for how to bring the Board’s table issues and policies and perspectives that at a high level have very important implications for the progress and projectory of success for The University of Akron. So, we’ll look forward to the results of that interaction.
I wanted to comment on a couple of items that we did discuss with the Faculty Senate Executive Commit- tee. One of which is to comment on the discussions related to the convergence of the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Creative and Professional Arts. First, I’d like to point out that we’re following the process and the schedule that we reviewed at the last meeting and as such Dean Midha, Neil Sapienza and John Zipp have met with the faculty of all four schools of the School of Creative and Profes- sional Arts through the months of January and February addressing issues and answering questions and making notes of questions that, at that point in time, could not be answered. But at the end of every meeting the question was raised if there should be a continuation of conversations to the proposed convergence. Each school showed overwhelming support for continuing those discussions.
Next, on February 22nd, we were pleased to have the opportunity to interact with about 140 faculty from both of the colleges; which is a tremendous turnout, remarkably candid, collegiate, respectful, and open. The attendance was just greatly appreciated; especially, on a day that faculty didn’t have to be at the university. This obviously indicates the importance of the conversation to everyone. Again, at that meeting Dean Midha and myself responded to questions, addressed issues, made points, and noted questions that couldn’t be answered at that point in time. But again we asked about continuing the conversation related to convergence and while there were some points of view that weren’t necessarily favorable, they thought the conversation should continue. It was vastly overwhelming that the conversation should continue. What has happened since then, however, is that Dean Midha has created a diverse committee of about five faculty from each college and they’ve been asked to address issues and concerns that need to be consid- ered as the convergence discussions continue in such a way that those concerns that are raised can be legitimately addressed. I want to point out that from my point of view legitimate concerns don’t include perspectives that they don’t want to do it, don’t include perspectives that it’s happening too fast. Rather, legitimate concerns are those regarding academic program quality, the potential for our students to progress through their degree programs and graduate. The impairment perhaps of the ability for faculty to carry out their teaching, research and service responsibilities, however, would be legitimate concerns to raise and to assure that we have the answers to. You know obviously there isn’t going to be a 100% for every adjustment to an organization such as The University of Akron and, frankly, I initiated the convergence sessions anticipating that while there will be some bumps that the end result will be that we’ll find it appro- priate to converge the two colleges for the right academic reasons for supporting the success of The University of Akron.
Related to that, and as you heard, Professor DePompeii had an interaction with the Faculty Senate Execu- tive Committee about the conversations that have been underway for the last years between and amongst the College of Nursing faculty and staff and the College of Health Sciences and Human Services faculty and staff. And while she did indicate that the biggest issue will be the name of such a college there was or is overwhelming faculty support to move such an agenda forward. Given the fact that we’re progressing through discussions of such organizational adjustments by asking the faculty to indicate in principle, at different points in time, should we continue to explore, in principle, progress towards such an adjusted organization. I’ve determined that I will call a meeting. I have called a meeting of the two colleges for next Tuesday at which we will have the kind of conversations that took place with the College of Creative and Professional Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences at which point in time, at the end of the meeting, I will ask the faculty about their interest and willingness to have a conversation about their becoming mem- bers of the faculty of a college of health.
I think we must create a college of health to leverage the as of yet unrealized opportunities that exist in this area in consideration of the strengths that already exist in this area at this university. But also with an eye towards the future of expanding the role and the collaboration with ABI, with NEOUCOM, and with the three major hospital systems in Akron and those others in Northeast Ohio. I will pursue that conversation with the full intent of having an interim director or dean in place perhaps as early as July 1st for this college, with a commitment that we will have a dean in place for this college a year from this July. So, that is the trajectory that is in the viewfinder and that is the goal and objective for those conversations.
Finally, as Professor Bove noted, we’re continuing conversations related to Vision 2020. I know there’s been a little gap in those conversations, but we’ve gone through a process of moving Vision 2020, as some of you have seen the tiered PowerPoint presentation, to an actual narrative. And tomorrow morning I’m meeting with the steering committee of the Strategic Planning process along with the Office of Academic Affairs. I will receive feedback from the Vice Presidents by the end of the day tomorrow that will produce an adjustment to that narrative. It’s my intent through March to then have interactions with different constituency groups to secure feedback on the narrative version of Vision 2020; such as, meeting with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, Council of Deans, Department Chairs and School Directors, Provost’s Advisory Committee and others to further enhance and improve Vision 2020’s narrative with the intent then that the penultimate draft will be released to the university for comment during April as we did last year with the penultimate kind of draft of goals at a very high level, but obviously this time before the semester has ended. Such that before the faculty leave, we will have received input on the narrative portion of Vision 2020. Depending on the feedback, we may choose to also have a couple of university-wide conversations or work sessions to further adjust that narrative. During this period of time we’ll be interacting with the Board to determine how they would like to proceed to have, as our objective, the Board’s endorsement of Vision 2020 no later than the end of this fiscal year, so that going into the next academic year we have a Board endorsed strategic plan.
So, I think with that I will end my comments and only note again that when we make decisions to close the university, as we did last Friday, we do that in full consideration of the safety of our faculty and staff and students both on this campus and attempting to come to this campus. It was unfortunate we had to make that decision as Dr. Sterns was to have the celebration and symposium related to the 35th anniversary of The Institute for Lifespan Development and Gerontology. You might have noted that we waited as long as we could to make the call, particularly in consideration of that fact, but it was necessary as I think you probably saw to make that decision. Again, we will try to make that decision as early as possible so individuals don’t end up being on the road and finding out while they’re on the road that we have closed. So thank you Chair Sterns.
Chair Sterns: Are there any questions? Senator Prichard: Does a comment count? Chair Sterns: Yes, Senator Prichard.
SenatorPrichard: Hi,I’mwiththeDepartmentofDance,TheatreandArtsAdministrationandIjusthave two comments. I think one having to do with issues of interpretation. And this also has to do, I’m sorry, with the merger of Buchtel College of Arts and CCPA. At the last meeting, we had heard Dean Midha say that he had met with every department and at the end of that there was overwhelming support to go forward. I think all of us looked around at one point because there was never a sense in which we thought that that’s what had happened. I think he had asked a very specific question about the timeline and we responded to a question about the timeline, and then that was interpreted as overwhelming support. I think that happened again at the last meeting. I think just now you said there was overwhelming support to move forward and I’m not sure that was actually the experience of many of us who were there. I do want to say, just to be clear where I’m coming from, I am very optimistic about this and I feel that this could be a really good thing. But I keep waiting to hear what the reasons as to why this is going to be a really good thing. I really appreciate you saying, “Well, I don’t want to do it” or “It’s moving too fast” are not legitimate reasons to move forward. At the same time, I feel like it’s not a legitimate reason to say we’re going to do this because of what OSU did. And so I feel like I keep waiting to hear, and because I am optimistic about this, why we’re doing it and I still haven’t quite felt like I’ve gotten enough to really be able to sink my teeth into.
Provost Sherman: Perhaps I should have said there’s support in the context of proceeding with the conversation using the guideline and the timeline that was proposed for the exploratory conversations. So if I said support for the convergence, I meant to say support for continuing the conversation along the lines of the timeline. And then in terms of the rationale, I could lay out the rationale from a management perspective. But the timeline is really established to allow the academic conversations to create the answer to the question you’re looking for. Dean Midha if you have anything to add?
Chair Sterns: Permission for Dean Midha to speak. (no objection)
Dean Midha: I went to all the schools, I had the timeline in front of me, and I asked, “Should we continue exploring that thing?” That’s where I’m saying there was overwhelming response. In fact, in two depart- ments there was applause at the end of the meeting. On February 22nd, which Mike was referencing, we tried to give information in terms of the budget, where we are, but we talked about it in terms of having one dean and having savings coming from that and going back to the college in terms of faculty lines. When there was some concerns, I was asked by those people if we would have a straw vote as to whether we are going to go with the convergence or not. And I said, “Yes,” I would ask that. Someone said we should not vote like this and I said don’t raise hands, but make some noise that we should continue with this or not, and based on the response we felt that most people are saying move with it. And where I did not hear that, in light of the question, I said, “What are the concerns? Let’s talk about it.” And when we did not hear anything, we said we will form a committee which will listen to the concerns and move from there and that’s exactly what we are doing. I will also tell you that twenty volunteers stepped up and said that we want to work on that committee. And we have formed a committee of ten people, keeping in mind to balance the rank and disciplines. We have got at least one member from every school from Creative and Professional Arts and we have got at least one member from each division of College of Arts and Sciences. And we have scheduled two meetings next week to accommodate everyone’s teaching schedule. So, we are going to do our best to listen to the concerns and then try to address those concerns. If I will not be able to address those concerns, I will seek advice from the Provost and we’ll go from there.
Chair Sterns: Senator Erickson.
Senator Erickson: The timeline was brought and discussed at Buchtel College Council, the elected advi- sory committee for the college, that after the 11th there were to be ad hoc committees. Those ad hoc committees needed to be elected members and it should be done through the advisory committee. We found that at our last BCC meeting we were unsure of what exploring convergence meant. As far as I’m concerned, looking at exploring convergence means we look at the question we’re answering, “What are the real advantages of convergence?” I think we need to create a vision that’s not just going to save costs. I might be an economist, but I know you have to have an objective function and it’s not just to reduce cost. You want to do something, and I’m sure, as creative people, Fine and Applied Arts wants to see it be creative and that’s our job to think through that. And so exploring convergence seems to be about working out a vision. Let’s see if we can work out to see if there are diseconomies of scale or economies of scale. Are there ways of reducing the per unit cost or would it increase it? Before you get to, ‘Okay we’re going to go ahead with it,” we have see to how we’re going to work out RTP, what are we going to do about language, and all those kinds of second level details. As I understood it, exploring convergence meant that you were going to be dealing with these overall major questions. My understanding, it was BCC’s under- standing as well, of the majority of people who were there, was that the volunteer committee being set up was to collect all those different concerns and then those would be discussed by these ad hoc committees. At this meeting, it was clear that exploring convergence was not as clear a definition as what was involved. So we were asked to find out from the Provost what’s his definition of exploring convergence? Because I think it might help in our process of trying to see what each group is doing and make clear what you have in mind.
Provost Sherman: I’m going to let Chand answer that question because I haven’t been at the majority of the meetings you’re referring to, of that council.
Senator Erickson: What does explore convergence mean?
Provost Sherman: Well I think the timeline illustrates the two components that you’re asking. Senator Erickson: Except it just says ad hoc committee.
ChandMidha: Ihavesaidallalong;theprocessisevolving. IwenttoBCCtoexplaintothemthetimeline. Prior to that I had gone to the Executive Committee and they advised that I should insert the reasons why. That also came up at the BCC meeting when I said we’d have one meeting of the faculty from two colleges. The question being asked now, about how we will make sure that all faculty can attend because people are teaching at different times as there would be no good time; I can tell you in the history of the 28 years I’ve been here that that was the largest meeting attended by the faculty at one time, on February 22nd. This idea originated after the BCC meeting as to whether we can have a meeting on that day and will faculty come? I’m very happy to say that when you read the article in the Chronicle saying that faculty doesn’t come, faculty came that day and that was a rough Monday night because of the weather.
I was wondering should I cancel this meeting and reschedule it. 147 people said that they would come and out of the 147, 140 came. So we added that into the equation to hear the concerns. As far as the other committees are concerned, I have said repeatedly that there are not going to be any changes in the curricu- lum. There are not going to be any changes in RTP requirements. However, procedurally we have some things at the college level, like the BCC mentioned, regarding RTP at the college level when there is a split decision between the faculty and the chair. Likewise, in CPA we want to bring those members together with some elected members and some appointed members. For example we have 15 members on BCC and not every member on that committee is elected. There are members in CPA that will need to be elected and some appointed. So that was our plan and we still want to follow that plan, but this meeting we added in between was to make sure we hear from as many people as possible. So that’s the process we are going to follow.
Chair Sterns: Further comments? Yes, Senator Scotto.
Senator Scotto: Chair Sterns, I’m from the College of Nursing and we have been having many meetings and ad hoc committees and discussions with the College of Health Science and Human Services. We’ve met our colleagues and it has been a wonderful experience. We didn’t have any timelines and in fact we didn’t have too much except for the goal to go and envision our convergence and we did a lot of envision- ing. We envisioned amazing things that can never happen because of the restrictions of the College of Nursing and that sort of thing. We spent so much time doing this and we got cookies too, which I love. We know why we’re doing this, but we don’t know what we’re supposed to do. We’ve spent hours sitting in rooms saying let’s imagine our strengths and our weaknesses. Well, if you ask for my strengths and my weaknesses as a teacher they would be very different from the strengths and weaknesses as a parent or a friend and we just don’t really know what we’re supposed to do. We’ve had many meetings and made many lists and we don’t know what we’re supposed to do. I have no doubt that we can do it and I have no doubt that we know why we’re supposed to do it. If someone would just tell us what to do, I’m sure that we could and we would.
Provost Sherman: Very good. On Monday we’ll have a meeting to establish the timeline for doing exactly what you’re asking to have happen. And a commitment to a timeline for having a permanent dean. So hopefully we’ll address your very legitimate observations on Monday.