Faculty Clash with Forman at Meeting

Tensions flared as faculty members voiced their discontent to College Dean Robin Forman on Wednesday. More than 100 faculty members attended the special meeting, which was held in response to the Sept. 14 announcement that the College and Laney Graduate School would be phasing out or suspending several departments and programs.

Forman on the Defensive

Forman opened the floor by addressing concerns about the process behind the decision. Forman said that in 2008, after learning that the College needed to make significant budget cuts, the Governance Committee assembled a subcommittee of elected faculty to advise the dean.

Forman said the process wasn’t a “secret” and that in his March meetings with department chairs, he outlined the timeline of events leading up to Sept. 14 when he announced that the College was narrowing its scope. At that meeting, Forman said he explained that the College would not only close select academic departments and units but also suspend admissions to certain graduate programs.

“At that meeting of 50 faculty, there were two or three questions or clarifications, but no concerns were raised about the process,” he said.

Because discussions were ongoing and nothing was final, Forman said he was not comfortable being as forthcoming about the plan to department chairs as many would have liked. Any announcement made before the decision was final would have been “inappropriate and unwise,” according to Forman, and would have prevented the College from providing context for the decision if the focus was on the sole units being phased out.

Department chairs have been vocal about what they see as a lack of due process and have expressed frustrations about not being given a chance to take part in discussions that affected them the most.

Forman said giving a department a chance to defend itself was a “perfectly plausible approach,” but hypothesized that the ensuing debate would have lengthened the list of departments to be phased out.

“Other colleges have done it that way,” he said. “I don’t think any of them were thrilled with the experience.”

Departments and programs have been particularly keen on the criteria used by the College Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC), which advised on and ultimately endorsed Forman’s plan. Forman laid out five areas: scholarly distinction or the amount of money needed to distinguish an academic department; the role an academic unit plays in an undergraduate liberal education; interdependence with other parts of the College; ways the department contributes to the broader College mission and how that department fits into the College’s vision in the coming decades.

With regards to finances and how the College’s budget influenced the decision, the goal was never to break even, according to Forman. Rather, the College needed funds to hire new faculty, cover travel and research projects and support faculty “in the efforts we hired you to do,” Forman said.

“As a general target, I don’t think we can succeed in any of our aims starting from where we are, which is no debt and no discretion money at all and no surplus,” he said.

Forman also addressed questions about his authority to make decisions about curriculum, which comes under faculty jurisdiction. Forman said that the dean makes decisions all the time that affect curriculum and to think that the curriculum “is owned by the faculty” is a “dramatic oversimplification.”

At this point in the meeting, one faculty member called “time” to remind Forman, who had now been speaking for half an hour, that he was exceeding the 20 minutes he had said he would talk for.

Forman concluded that the faculty on the committee did not come from departments that represent “leading priorities” of the College, in reaction to criticisms that programs or departments being eliminated did not have representation on the committee.

Faculty Take the Floor

Names of faculty members who spoke during the meeting have been omitted, in accordance with the terms that allowed the Wheel to attend the meeting. 

The second half of the meeting had few questions for Forman. Instead, many chose to read from prepared statements, starting with the first faculty member.

The speaker contested Forman’s account that department chairs were informed that there were performance issues. The speaker said that as early as February of this year, Forman and the Laney Graduate School gave his department “a clean bill of health” and a “resounding stamp of excellence” in meetings. The speaker then questioned whether a committee in the College was qualified to make decisions about a graduate program and called the lack of communication between the Laney Graduate School and the committee a “big black void.”

“Should such a decision stand?” he asked, before expressing concern about future cuts that might also lack due process.

The speaker also asked whether the College is still “hemorrhaging millions” because of Emory Advantage, a financial aid initiative “to help students from families with annual total incomes of $100,000 or less who demonstrate a need for financial aid,” according to Emory’s website. The speaker said that the initiative is “Emory University policy” and therefore an “undue burden” on the College’s finances. Nearing the end of his statement, the speaker turned to Forman.

“The real shame is the damage done to what we want: trust, academic community and collegial respect,” he said.

Resounding applause filled the room, after which Forman said that it is unlikely another “wave of reorganization” is in the works, and that University officials are having discussions about financial aid at Emory and what that commitment means.

The second speaker also read from a prepared statement, this time on behalf of a professor who couldn’t attend the meeting. The speaker defended the role of educational studies amid the current educational challenges the state and nation faces. The speaker also said that the University wanted to attract more African American and Latino graduate students and that her department had been successful in that mission.

Faculty members applauded as a third member spoke on behalf of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), a national organization that works to “define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education,” according to AAUP’s website.

The speaker announced that the local AAUP chapter will release a statement shortly, but would go on the record and say that AAUP guidelines were violated “insofar as shared governance and educational matters are concerned.” Responsibility for such “subject matter” and “method of instruction” primarily falls to the faculty, the speaker said.

Speaking on her own accord, the faculty member called the recent events “appalling,” and suggested that the College create a standing committee devoted to budgetary matters populated by elected representatives “who are given a clear charge.” She rejected the notion that “sensitive matters” was an insurmountable obstacle and that the University now had an opportunity to strengthen faculty governance.

“I don’t think it’s rocket science. We’re smart people,” she said. “We can figure out a way to enhance our participation in these various conversations.”

The next faculty member to speak took issue with Forman’s authority to place tenured faculty into different departments. The speaker said that one could place tenured faculty in a hostile department in an effort to encourage early retirement.

Such powers were an extraordinary breach of faculty governance, he said.

“What that says is, ‘Hell, we gave you a job and they chose to retire.’”

Referring to Forman, the speaker concluded, “The dean is an honorable man, and he would not do that, but we know the problem with honorable men.”

Forman responded that proper steps would be taken to ensure that tenured faculty and involved departments would be consulted prior to any decisions. He also noted that the president of the University has the authority to move tenured faculty but has delegated that power to the dean.

The next speaker took Forman to task on the nature of the CFAC. The speaker said she read the minutes of meetings from the last three years of the Governance Committee, and that at one meeting, a member asked why the CFAC did not report to them if it was a subcommittee under them. She surmised that the CFAC simply reported to the dean.

“Will you please release the complete set of minutes of the CFAC from the time that it was created?” asked the speaker, who also wanted to know how many faculty members on the committee were appointed by the dean.

Stefan Lutz, an associate professor in the chemistry department and the chair of the Governance Committee, replied that there are no minutes taken down during the CFAC’s meetings.

Lutz said that the chair of the CFAC has given reports to the Governance Committee. He also said that when the Governance Committee emailed faculty asking for nominations for the CFAC, the response was “moderate” and only two names were suggested.

“These committees serve an incredibly important function, but it does require faculty involvement,” he said. “I think we need to do a better job to engage in those committees.”

Another prepared statement followed Lutz. The speaker touted the importance of journalism as more than a program that only trains students to become journalists. Journalism is only a co-major, and students must also major in another field. The speaker said the diverse composition of journalism classes has led to “dynamic discussions and critical thinking — all of the things that liberal arts institutions are supposed to stand for.”

“You cannot pick up the New York Times, you cannot listen to NPR, you cannot read the Wall Street Journal or watch The Today Show, [or watch] 60 Minutes without seeing the imprint of an Emory journalism graduate,” he said.

The speaker went on to celebrate those graduates who entered other professions and whose work was informed by the Journalism Program.

Faculty applauded, followed by another speaker asking Forman for the specific criteria and discussions regarding individuals departments. Forman didn’t budge.

“It has never felt appropriate to go unit by unit to talk about the rationale behind that decision,” he said. “If there’s a collective sense by Government Committee that there’s value in that by, maybe we will do it at some point.”

The decision to keep proceedings and discussions confidential was a process defined by the Governance Committee, Forman continued.

Even as the meeting exceeded an hour in length, the full house of faculty members remained seated in chairs and in walkways. The next speaker came from the back of the room. The faculty member said she came to Emory 1.5 years ago and had no idea that she had “signed on for the demise of [her] department.”

As a former member of the Governance Committee, the speaker said she remembered a different process of events when they considered eliminating the Physical Education and Health Department. The committee decided to invite the department to give a presentation, which changed the committee’s minds. At a later faculty meeting, other faculty defended the department.

She then lamented the nature of the meeting’s proceedings as a non-conversation starter since “the horses have already left the barn.”

“I’m not participating much [today] because I don’t have a choice. My contract will end,” she said. “I’m not convinced by this activity that conversation or interchange is what has really been promoted in this practice.”

The next speaker came from the middle of the auditorium and reiterated a previously-mentioned criticism that in departmental reviews with the dean, praise, not criticism or concern, was the tone of the conversation. Perhaps in reference to Forman’s plan to explore the study of contemporary China, the speaker then mentioned her department’s proposal to create a committee to advise the dean on international matters. The proposal was ignored by the administration, according to the speaker.

After polite applause, what followed was, by far, the most heated moment of the meeting. Standing from the back of the auditorium, the speaker criticized the chairman of the CFAC, Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Political Science Micheal Giles, who said he “lied” to faculty in 2008 about the financial state of the College in a previous interview with the Wheel.

As a former program director, the speaker recalled meetings with administrators in which finances were discussed. At the mention of cutting a department, the speaker remembered a consensus that departments should always “get their say.” In the event that there were implications during a meeting that the department was in danger of being cut, the speaker said that department chairs were always “very strong in asking for details.”

The speaker said the recent decision to shut down departments and programs came as a “lightning bolt.”

“Am I just incredibly obtuse … or do we in fact have a major breakdown in faculty governance?” he asked. “I don’t frankly trust what the dean is saying. I don’t frankly trust what the faculty governance committee is saying, and I’m not pussyfooting around.”

Forman remained silent amid applause, as he had for most of the second half of the meeting. Shifting from the tone of the previous speaker, the next faculty member asked Forman how the community might “heal” from this experience and move forward. Forman said that it was clear the current faculty governance structure was “not adequate to support the role that many would like the faculty to be playing,” and that faculty wanted a “different kind of representation” moving forward. Forman also shared Lutz’s frustration with garnering faculty nominations for the committees already in existence.

The next speaker expressed concern about creating the proper “channel of discussion” by which “the people whose fates have been decided can have a voice.” That channel, she said, should be more than a legal obligation, but part of the community.

“There has to be a venue of redress in terms of discussion,” she continued. “[The decision] cannot simply be a fiat.”

Forman responded that since the faculty controls graduation requirements, his responsibility is to allocate resources so that those requirements can be satisfied. Forman also said that those departments most affected by the changes have been and will continue to make important contributions to the community.

“We have to stop doing some things,” Forman pronounced. “What should they be?”

The subsequent set of speakers reiterated similar issues already voiced. One was “disturbed” that the departments of members on the CFAC were not affected. He wondered why that didn’t “raise all sorts of red flags.” Forman said he did not make the committee, and that responsibility falls on the Governance Committee. Responding to criticism about not consulting with chairs, Forman called the characterization a “dramatic oversimplification.”

Another faculty member asked how University administrators are doing their part if faculty and students are taking cuts. Forman said that the administration will be “shrinking” its team, but could not speak for the University Central Administration.

By this point the meeting was approaching the two-hour mark, and more and more faculty were filing out. Perhaps summarizing the mood of the remaining faculty members in the room, one of the final speakers was direct with Forman.

“I’m just not satisfied,” the speaker said. “Part of the reason is that there’s a kind of double-speak.”

The speaker suggested Forman was playing the victim about inheriting these problems and that there were shortcomings in the governance committee, and yet he made the decision to assert himself as a leader and as the dean. The speaker said that she was frustrated that University officials had not taken steps to “answer most of the questions of people in the room.”

“I don’t know if the conversation can move forward,” Forman responded.

As someone who came to Emory just two years ago, Forman said he did not think it was a mistake to consult with the CFAC even if the process “led to an unsatisfactory outcome.” Forman appeared agitated that many faculty thought the decision to consult with the CFAC was unwise, given that the faculty nominated members to that committee in the first place.

In a moment of frankness, Forman continued. “I am incredibly upset by the vitriol that’s been directed at the members of that committee … They are the ones who stepped up when the University asked them to and take on a burden that nobody would ever dream up,” he said. “Those who are committed to stronger faculty governance should think twice about being abusive to those who have answered the call.”

— By Evan Mah

  • http://www.facebook.com/EmoryCuts #EmoryCuts

    Almost everyone opposes these cuts. What is the key now is to collectively organize our response.

    The choice is simple: translate the outrage at the obvious illegitimacy of these cuts into organized opposition by students faculty across departments, or watch the cuts take place.

    The Student Re-visioning Committee (SRC) has formed to coordinate efforts across departments. The college should exist for students and faculty, not administrators. Let’s get organized and make that a reality.

    The SRC will meet in White Hall Room 101 on Tuesday at 6pm.

    We encourage any and all Emory community members to attend, but make sure that at the very least a representative from your department attends to provide updates and remain coordinated.

  • Trevor

    Can I just say when these cuts first arose, I was not surprised and that I had faith in our administration that they would do the right thing to fix it. As this unfolds more and more, I am at a loss. Dean Forman, you are a nice man, and I have met you in person, but you have lost all my trust.

    To the faculty on that committee, you were given an impossible task. I’m sorry, but please step forward and be transparent. It may not be the way to fix the budget, but it would begin the healing process.

  • Shame on Dean Forman

    Dean Forman is an embarassment and should resign. His puffed-up indignation at the faculty who have been subjected to “vitriol” is disingenuous at best – in other venues, he has repeatedly shielded himself from hard questions by deferring to their authority and expertise. Forman’s plan to distinguish himself with a “bold” vision is coming apart at the seams, and it’s only a matter of time before his autistic approach to communication and callow reliance on self-serving spin and obfuscation irreversibly taints the legacies and images of Presidents Wagner and Laney. Already an immeasurable amount of damage has been done by Forman to the scholarly community those figures have worked for years to cultivate. “Healing” is indeed what needs to happen – and if that process is to have any chance of succeeding, the first step in that process must be the departure of Robin Forman.

    • Y U So Sad Forman?

      Maybe he’s just trying to protect Michael Giles, who just happened to co-chair the committee that hired him and also chaired the FFAC. One thing is clear about Forman: he clearly knows what side his bread is butter on.

    • Anonymous

      Comparing Wagner to Laney is a bit of a mistake. Laney was one who treated education as purely an education and valued the faculty above all else…not education as an enterprise.

      • Laney Has a Voice Why Doesn’t He Use It?

        This does reflect on Laney’s legacy however – and he has been on campus and knows what’s going on. indeed, at the homecoming meeting #emorycuts protestors attended, Laney waxed grandiloquent about outreach to poor Atlanta schools – values which these cuts, through obliterating the DES, effectively trample on. But rather than answer activists questions about this, he and Tedesco hustled out of the room as fast as they could. His legacy is very much at stake here – especially since the administration seeks to advertise his imprimatur on their “education iniatives for the 21st century.”

  • Sad Days at Emory

    Even as a member of a Division that has done extremely well by these cuts – we have been informed that our endeavors constitute a “Center for Excellence” and that we’re safe for the foreseeable future, and that we’ll in fact get expanded funding lines – I have no faith in the leadership of Robin Forman and even less trust in his “vision.” Moreover, I’m deeply troubled at his apparent conviction that faculty members and departments can simply be played off each other as a way of buying time and avoiding scrutiny. No matter how many private and semi-public accommodations I and my colleagues may receive from the Dean, we know better than to trust him – and we’ve all accordingly begun looking for work opportunities at other institutions in the meantime. What Forman has done strikes directly at the vitality of Emory as a network of scholars and as a professional community. He needs to resign.

    • Resign, Dean Forman

      Forman seems to have set the stage for a great poaching endeavor by other colleges and universities who would love to have their choice of our disgruntled faculty. This is a disaster. Who will fix it?

  • Concerned for Emory

    What we have here is the equivalent of a constitutional crisis at Emory, concerning the core principle of shared governance. According to Emory’s bylaws, power is supposed to be shared between the dean and the faculty: the dean’s responsibility is to “exercise leadership in the development of educational policies and programs” (Article IV, Section 2), while the faculty has “responsibility for….and jurisdiction over” curricula and the instructional programming (Article IV, Section 1). It has become clear that this process was shredded. The “confidential” (i.e. secretive) work of the Financial Advisory Committee in no way formed adequate consultation with the faculty. We now know that this very important committee intentionally did not keep a record of its activities, and whether or not its work was communicated to the Governance Committee (this is not clear), the full faculty knew next to nothing about what it was doing. The deepest and most extensive programmatic cuts in the history of the College were imposed, not produced through meaningful discourse with the faculty.

  • Forman’s hypocrisy

    Dean Forman: RESIGN!

    • Sad Days at Emory

      Maybe he just needs a secret committee to decide to fire him.

  • Pingback: Get your cringing muscles limbered « Stop the Cuts at Emory

  • Emory alum 07

    Let’s get this straight: the committee that made the determinations that led to these cuts did not take minutes to document its rationale or ensure its transparency and accountability to the Governance Committee? And most of the faculty on the committee were administration appointmees?

    Given the information shared above, we have to wonder what would have happened had the administration been transparent about the purpose and authority of this committee from the beginning. It seems too convenient that the lack of volunteers led to administration appointments. There is no way that faculty would have not either more aggressively questioned the purview of this committee or tried to join if it had been clear that it would have the ability to make recommendations that would then lead to an executive decision on the part of the dean to eliminate programs.

    • Sketchy Dealings Everywhere

      You know else? The Chairman of the Faculty Financial Advisory Committee, Michael Giles, was also the Co-Chair of the Search Committee that hired Forman in the first place (link below). Giles has already admitted – on the record to The Wheel! – that he spent years “lying” to his colleagues about the committee’s operations. No wonder Forman is so upset about the “vitriol” FFAC committee members have encountered – his patron ranks chief among them.

      http://www.emory.edu/EMORY_REPORT/erarchive/2009/June/June8/TakeNote.htm

      • Wake Up Rise Up

        Nice detective work, SDE. It only supports what I’ve come to realize over the last few years — Emory is still very much governed by a “good ole boys’ club.” Yes, there’s Dean Foreman and President Wagner and Dr. Giles, but look at the folks who are really running the show: of the 44 Members of the Board of Trustees, 35 are either CEOs or lawyers, 89% are white, 75% are male. Should it really be much of a surprise that our university is being run like a corporation? No. However, the more important question is: Can oppressive, undemocratic governing structures, which are built and maintained by human beings, also be restructured and transformed by human beings into more equitable, just, and democratic ones? The answer is yes, absolutely.

  • Wake Up Rise Up

    First they intimidated cafeteria workers,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a cafeteria worker.

    Then they arrested graduate students,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a graduate student.

    Then they lied to prospective students,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a prospective student.

    Then they fired faculty members,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a faculty member.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/EmoryAAUP Emory University AAUP American Association of University Professors

    The Emory University AAUP )American Association of University Professors) http://www.facebook.com/EmoryAAUP has posted links to key minutes of the College GovCom that concern the activities of the GovCom and CFAC.

    • Readng Deeper

      We read from the GovCom minutes of February 11, 2009:

      “The Governance Committee has passed a motion to formally constitute the College Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC) as a sub-committee to be appointed by, and report to, the Governance Committee.”

      And just what did this this obligation to report to the GovCom amount to? What do the GovCom minutes tell us about CFAC’s work?

      The most extensive report on CFAC to GovCom between spring 2009 until spring 2012 is Eric Weeks’ “short report” on Sept 30, 2009. Cutting programs and departments is not mentioned.

      The November 10, 2010 meeting specifies only two qualifications for new members of CFAC: “credibility” with faculty and the dean, and “the ability to keep strict confidences.”

      The Feb 2, 2011 meeting includes a statement by Robin Forman suggesting that the CFAC’s mandate be expanded from meeting “short-term necessity to strategic, long-term trajectory.” This statement gives the lie to Dean Forman’s claim that he simply accepted the CFAC as it was originally constituted under Dean Paul.

      The April 20, 2011 meeting contains a prescient question from a member worried that GovCom is responsible for CFAC but is being “kept in the dark” about its work. Also in this meeting we have more evidence of Dean Forman’s role in expanding the scope and mandate of CFAC.

      The Aug 31, 2011 meeting contains a review of the history of the CFAC. It is not clear whether the true work of CFAC is communicated to GovCom or not. The phrase that describes CFAC’s work as studying “the allocation of resources in a manner consistent with scholarly priorities” can be read either as code for cutting and closing programs and departments, or as an obfuscation to the GovCom itself.

      The April 18, 2012 meeting contains yet another review of CFAC’s history. This is the first meeting in which overt discussion of cuts appears in the minutes. Also, in this meeting we read the same litany of “criteria” that Dean Forman has since presented publicly.

      The September 6, 2012 minutes indicate that the GovCom was informed of the dean’s announcement approximately a week before the rest of the College.

      Altogether, to Dean Forman’s argument that GovCom functioned as an adequate conduit of information between the CFAC and the rest of the faculty, the minutes seem to make the opposite case. They strongly suggest that CFAC never reported on its activities in any substantive way, and that the GovCom neglected its obligation to obtain such reports.

      • Forman Needs to Go

        Let’s juxtapose the above to Forman’s statement to the Wheel that he is “committed to this notion of shared governance and collaborative decision making.” Let’s also note that his statement that: “There are lots of possible ways to structure the decision-making process as well as the communication process … It’s not hard to imagine alternatives, and I have to tell you for two years I’ve been questioning everything … Ultimately, I feel it’s not at all clear to me that there was a better process.” At which point it appears undeniable that, for Forman, “collaborative decision-making” means interacting only with individuals that he has pre-determined to be “credible” and selected by virtue of their ability to “keep the strictest confidences” – and that this is the *best* of all possible processes that he can envision. The Emory community deserves and must demand far better than such a deeply misguided individual at its helm.

  • Disappointed.

    Every aspect of this process reveals an arrogance of leadership and a haughty disregard for participatory practice. Forman claims that there weren’t enough volunteers for a faculty committee that would consult upon the elimination of entire university departments. More likely, the role of that committee was never elaborated upon such that faculty would understand that something was at stake. Governance Committee minutes reveal a sense that the Central Administration was not historically transparent about its operations and decisions. Probably, if faculty were unwilling to step up it was because they had disengaged from a paper tiger governance process that would have merely taken time away from departmental obligations, research, and teaching. If administrators felt that there wasn’t enough faculty participation, the proper response would have been to work for a greater dialogue about governance. Instead, they chose to seize upon that vacuum, fill it with their hand-chosen spokespeople and reference that process as evidence of faculty control when they implemented a drastic plan to reorganize the College. Shame on Dean Forman and shame on every member of the administration who sought out, trusted, and even now continues to support his leadership. What will they do the heal the gash they have torn in the fabric of our community?

    • someone

      applause!

    • Preach It

      Amen!

  • playing yourselves

    you all know you won’t do anything about the cuts that would actually be effective. because of your unwillingness to takes risks and be direct in your confrontation, the cuts will go through as proposed. right now, this is just another issue about which you can feel righteous in your indignation, because good conscience is what it’s all about for you folks anyways. prove me wrong, emory, i dare you.

    • Be the Change

      Will you be at Tuesday’s SRC meeting? That’s a place to start. 6PM. A lot of us have already spent hundreds of hours, a good deal of money, and taken serious professional risks to fight these cuts. Join the fight!

  • I used to support the cuts.

    But this is the 3rd time the administration has changed the story

    First, this was a “reallocation of resources” because the college didn’t need cuts.

    Then it turned out the college had been running deficits for four years and that, with the cuts, it would finally break even.

    Now, Forman is saying that the goal was NEVER to break even?

    For cripes sake, GIVE ME A REASON TO BELIEVE YOU!

  • what a joke

    don’t worry, there’s a task force on cigarettes.

  • reprehensible

    The entire process behind these cuts has been reprehensible. Heads need to roll, starting with Forman’s. The sooner that happens, the sooner this whole mess can be fixed

  • Dishearyened….

    I do not know if anyone will read this, a week later… but what was striking at the Oct 3 mtg was that, while the dean put forward a long defense of his cuts and suspensions (stating repeatedly that they were the result of a legitimate governance processes and consultation), one department chair or representative after another challenged that description. They included colleagues from affected departments and from departments not “on the list.” For those not familiar with the College faculty’s general temperament, the faculty sometimes objects to policies, raises questions or occasionally votes them down. Instead, at this meeting, colleagues differed with the dean over every piece of his argument—they read from notes from individual meetings with him; they read from their departmental review letters; and they rebutted his every point. The range and depth of their refutations were as close as I have seen to an Emory College faculty saying to the dean that his presentation was disingenuous and even, well, dishonest. (The only thing that compares, to my mind, was the spring 2001 confrontations with the former president and the College faculty). The enormous takeaway from the Oct 3, 2012 standing-room-only attendance and the comments was both that the process so flawed as to call into question moving ahead with the cuts; and that for many a bond had been severed with the dean.
    What chair, what department will trust anything said from here on out? How many colleagues feel they must stay quiet because they suspect their departments narrowly dodged this bullet, but might be hit by the next one? Certainly an atmosphere of fear and mistrust has descended. This was not what colleagues expected when, in the Sept 12 mtg, the dean said repeatedly that there had been a long process of consultation. Many of us left that meeting with the assurance that no department would be caught unawares. Within 48 hours, we knew that was not the case. By the end of the Oct 3 mtg, we had numerous examples directly and publicly stated by our colleagues, rather than via the rumor mill.
    Moreover, any confidence in College faculty governance had been shaken, if not completely shattered. The GovCom was largely silent during the mtg. Even the chair of the CFAC, who was present, said nothing. A reading of the GovCom and College Faculty meeting minutes makes it difficult to identify any legitimate process of consultation. Reading through the minutes that are available publicly online makes it harder still to see a process. One the one hand, the CFAC chair said he wanted openness and transparency at a College faculty mtg, and then reported to The Wheel after the fact that he had lied to colleagues throughout. At various points in the minutes, one senses an attempt by some GovCom members to question the process, to wonder, for instance, if there were two tracks of governance underway (re the Re-Visioning commission). But one does not see very much in the way of reporting to the GovCom or to the College faculty about what actually was being discussed. Even the statement in the GovCom minutes about discussing the process *with the departments that were “on the list”* seems to have had no impact.

    But where is the GovCom now? What do they plan to do now? Do they support what was done (largely) by their predecessors? Did the former GovCom members know what was being done in their name by a committee that they had sanctioned? Do the (now) former GovCom members support the process and the outcomes? Is there a report from the Re-Visioning Committee anywhere? A number of years ago, as faculty dealt with one ill-founded university policy after another, there was an oft-repeated demand that university and College processes of consultation be “inclusive, transparent and democratic” (Laurie Patton’s words – I believe that I have that right, from maybe 2001 or 2002—but now that does not feel like ancient history…). Has this latest experience only added to the “portion of bitterness” (Faculty Council, Oct. 2003)? What happened?

    • AngryAlum

      I read it a week later! Thank you for this.

    • Forman’s hypocrisy

      Thank you for writing. Understanding the exact nature of the governance breakdown is crucial. There has been a release of GOVCOM minutes due to pressure from faculty the AAUP, but continuing denial of any release of CFAC minutes. The administration is even asserting that no CFAC minutes exist! The spinning off of the CFAC from GOVCOM, its expansion of power by Forman, and its total lack of accountability with its parent governing body, GOVCOM, is highly problematic and most likely illegitimate. Another important datum here is that Michael Giles, chair of CFAC, was also co-chair of the search committee for Forman. And as I stated above, Forman then changed CFAC from a temporary to a permanent governance committee.

      We all need to pursue, in whatever channels we have at our disposal, full disclosure from the administration on the proceedings of CFAC from its inception. If there are CFAC minutes, they must be disclosed in the name of transparency. If there aren’t any documentation of CFAC minutes, the breakdown in record-keeping needs to be addressed. Either way, the lack of accountability and abuse of power by the CFAC-Forman dyad needs to be challenged and censured.

  • Pingback: Minutes Reveal Administrators’ Influence « Evan Mah