Institute Rejects Program Suspension
Graduate students and faculty members in the Institute for Liberal Arts (ILA) formally rejected the recent suspension of their Ph.D. program, the Wheel has learned.
Shortly after Dean of the College Robin Forman announced that the College would be suspending admission to graduate programs in economics, Spanish and the ILA in mid-September, faculty members of the ILA met with Forman and made the announcement.
Kevin Corrigan, the director of the ILA, said in an interview with the Wheel that their graduate students first encouraged the rejection, feeling that the suspension hurt their chances in the job market and devalued their degrees.
In an effort to support students and express their own discontent with the process behind the decision, faculty members acted “in solidarity” with the rejection.
“We had no alternative but to say that we don’t agree with this [decision],” Corrigan said.
Faculty members and students plan to exhaust all proper avenues for expressing grievances, according to Corrigan.
Avenues include petitions within the Laney Graduate School (LGS) along with presenting their case to Forman and Lisa Tedesco, the dean of the LGS, the Governance Committee, the Faculty Council, humanities and social sciences chairs and the University Senate.
Forman and the College have faced intense criticism for a process that, many say, lacked due process and transparency.
Department chairs and program directors from visual arts, educational studies, journalism and economics said they were taken by surprise from the announcement, which, according to them, was made without their being consulted or at least warned.
Forman has taken a different stance on the matter, saying in a Sept. 14 story that “It’s a matter of interpretation” and that departments and programs “could not have been surprised that there were questions about how successful they were in achieving the overall mission.”
Corrigan said that while faculty members and students understand the rights of deans and the difficulty in the decision-making process, they simply wish they had been involved in the process.
Corrigan said he has pressed for evidence or documents used by the deans and the College Faculty Advisory Committee, which advised Forman on the department changes, but to no avail. Both Forman and Tedesco have cited confidentiality, he said.
“We have seen no data, no peer review, no evidence; this runs counter to all of our training and all of our instincts particularly in a democratic country,” he said.
In a special meeting with more than 100 faculty in early October, Corrigan pointed to a “blank void” between the LGS and the College and questioned how a committee within the College could make decisions about a graduate school program.
Corrigan has also wondered to what degree committees within the LGS were consulted.
“What we want here is not to be slaves or servants in a system which is run top-down,” Corrigan said, “but to be fully collaborative members in a system which recognizes the rights and dynamic potentialities of students, staff, lecturers, professors and administrators together in an overall community which can help create a better University.”
The Wheel contacted Tedesco for comment, but she would not agree to an interview.
— By Evan Mah