Elizabeth Hanson, On Faculty Board Restructuring (14 March 2012)

As emailed to campus lists, 14 March 2012 (links have been added):

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to add my voice to others who have written regarding concerns about the proposed re-structuring of Faculty Board.

First, I urge you to read carefully and think about the arguments that Jenn Hosek, Mark Jones, Roberta Lamb and Jordan Morelli have posted.

Second, I want to underscore the procedural issue that proposals for re-structuring of Faculty Board have been offered by the Dean in advance of any demonstration  argued at length and with evidence as would befit a university community that such a re-structuring is necessary.  In the absence of such a demonstration the conclusion is hard to avoid that the purpose of this measure is to stop Faculty Board from passing motions that oppose policies and actions which the administration of the Faculty wishes to undertake.

Third, I want to state why the claim that these motions are the work of “special interests,” a phrase sloppily transferred from the larger political arena, is both wrong and deeply objectionable.  Faculty Board is a mechanism for the collegial governance of the university.  Its members consist of the faculty, the administration and some representative students.  In this respect, all the members of Faculty Board already represent a “special interest”– that of the university as a community dedicated to research and teaching, functions which include conservation of knowledge as well as innovation, and critique as well as the development and passing on of technological know-how.  It is our job, as members of this community to ensure that our practices honor these goals.

Now think about what happened in 2009 when FB passed a motion blocking the Administration’s proposal to end programs with fewer than 25 concentrators.  A senior faculty member and former department head proposed the motion. It was seconded by another senior faculty member who was also a former department head.  Neither of these individuals were members of the affected departments. What was at issue was the proposition that the number of concentrators could not be the sole principle determining whether an academic program should be sustained, given the functions of the university as outlined above.  This motion was supported by over 2/3 of the numerous professors and student representatives who attended the meeting, many of whom did indeed attend for the purpose of voting on that motion precisely because they believed that these program closures for these reasons were not routine business but a matter of fundamental academic principle.

This is what collegial governance looks like.

Please attend the FB meeting on Friday.

Elizabeth Hanson

Professor

Department of English

Queen’s University

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