Arts and Science Faculty Board passed the following motion in its meeting today:
- that Faculty Board require that the Deans and Associate Deans in future abide by the by-laws of Faculty Board and by the “Purpose and Functions of Senate,” and more generally that they consult with both Faculty Board and Senate on any academic decisions that affect the continuation of whole units or programs; and
- that the Deans immediately and publicly affirm the resumption of admissions to the BFA for 2012-13, provided that such admissions may eventually be frozen on the recommendation of the committee that has been appointed to consider the matter, and with the approval of Faculty Board and Senate.
The motion was moved by Mark Jones (Department of English) and seconded by Scott Straker (Department of English), and was eloquently supported in statements by BFA and other students and faculty.
Jones also read the following statement on behalf of its many signatories:
We, the undersigned:
1. Object to the Deans’ having announced an admissions-freeze to the BFA program on 9 November 2011 without first consulting or advising Faculty Board;
2. Object to Faculty Board having been cancelled on 11 November 2011, when it should have had opportunity to meet and discuss the admissions freeze;
3. Remind the Dean(s) and Faculty Board of the following “Functions” of Faculty Board, as provided in the FAS By-Laws, pp. 1-2:
- “D) to control registration subject to the approval of the Senate;” and
- “G) to make such recommendations to the Senate as the Faculty may deem expedient for promoting the efficiency of the University;”
4. Declare that in our view the freezing of all admissions to any program is, among other things, an academic matter and therefore subject to approval by Senate, and also falls under Faculty Board’s Functions (D) and (G);
5. Ask that these views be recorded in the minutes of Faculty Board.
Arts and Science Dean Alistair MacLean observed that in his view the Deans had followed the By-Laws of Faculty Board. He said that Function (D) of Faculty Board, to “control registration,” is a different matter from controlling admissions, and that to freeze admissions was not to control registration. He also reiterated the view that he expressed in Senate on 22 November, that in cases involving resources, Deans have “managerial” authority to act without consultation of Faculty Board or Senate, even if their actions have academic implications or consequences.
He reminded Faculty Board that Diane Kelly affirmed his decanal authority to act independently of Senate and Faculty Board in April 2009, when a similar Faculty Board motion was passed requiring the Deans to “withdraw” decisions concerning programs with enrolments of 25 or fewer students.
In that case the decisions never were withdrawn. It remains to be seen whether the Deans will follow the direction of Faculty Board in this case.
If they do not, and if the Administration’s theory that it has unilateral authority in cases involving resources is allowed to stand, it will have to be asked whether Senate actually does have the authorities that seem to be provided by the document “Purpose and Functions of Senate,” and in particular the authority to “determin[e] all matters of an academic character that affect the University as a whole.” It will likewise have to be asked whether Faculty Board actually does have the authority that seems to be provided by its By-Laws, as quoted in the collective statement above. For further discussion of these questions, see this Preface to the 2009 Faculty Board motion, and Mark Jones, “The Reason of Dubious Legal Authority.”