The College of Arts and Sciences changed its by-laws Nov. 5 to establish a new seven faculty member governing council.
Formation of the council is the response of many Arts and Sciences faculty members who felt they were “ disrespected” by the administration following the vote of no confidence against Provost Alden Reimonenq in October.
The negativity originated when Fred Yaffe was asked to leave his position as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences without prior consultation with the faculty, said Hector Delgado, professor of sociology, and chair of an ad hoc six member arts and sciences committee that reviewed the dismissal of the dean and set the groundwork for the governing council.
According to Delgado, the vote of no confidence showed that there must be a more effective, respectful way to speak of interests on behalf of the faculty.
“We were outraged about the way the situation was treated, and we became even more outraged by the way we were ignored by the president,” Delgado said.
President Stephen Morgan said the situation was handled properly and with due respect.
“Within a few days of the vote of no confidence from the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences, I sent a memo to all La Verne faculty telling them how seriously I took the vote and informing them that I would move immediately to implement steps to improve communication and trust with all La Verne faculty, but particularly with those in the College of Arts and Sciences,” Morgan said.
“Immediately, after sending the memo, I invited department chairs in the College of Arts and Sciences to join me in my office for a series of meetings to discuss their concerns and the steps we could take to improve communications and trust between the administration and the faculty. Those meetings were attended by many of the department chairs, and I found them very helpful and informative,” Morgan said.
Even prior to the vote of no confidence, Delgado said there had been talk of having some sort of committee to represent the faculty, but the recent circumstances surrounding Yaffe’s termination led to the immediate construction.
“We must have an impact as a group, speak as one voice and create a vehicle to express the sentiments of the faculty as a whole,” Delgado said.
Primary objectives of the college council are to represent the voice of the school and to run monthly faculty meetings in conjunction with the dean. In addition, the council will work to defend academic freedom, promote shared governance, promote unity in the College of Arts and Sciences, and create a climate conducive to teaching, research and scholarship toward the free and open exchange of ideas.
“This is the first, big step,” Richard Gelm, professor of political science and chair of the Faculty Senate, said. “ It is a positive step in getting more faculty engaged in adopting policies of the University.”
Council members were elected by the faculty during this month’s college meeting. The seven members represent the three divisions of the college: fine arts and humanities, natural sciences and social sciences.
Four members will initially serve two-year terms, and the remaining three will serve one year. After this election, faculty will vote all members to serve two-year terms, Delgado said.
Voted in last week, the two-year Council members include Jeanne Flora, associate professor of speech communication; Jay Jones, professor of biology and biochemistry; Christine Broussard, associate professor of biology; and Ernie Thomson, professor of sociology.
One-year term members include Gitty Amini, associate professor of political science; George Keeler, professor of journalism; and Keith Lord, associate professor of art.
One of the changes to the College of Arts and Sciences will be how the monthly meetings, held on the first Wednesday of the month, are executed.
Until last week, monthly gatherings were informational meetings called by the dean to relay to the faculty the recent policies of the administration. The topics included information pertaining to budget, academic policies and general academic direction. The meetings tended to be reactionary in nature, not proactive.
Gelm said that it is the faculty’s shared belief that they have wanted more involvement and representation with the administration.
“The faculty wants a greater role for setting the agenda for faculty meetings, so the elected seven will work with the dean,” Gelm said.
The newly drafted council will not seek to replace the role of the dean. Meetings will be called by the council chair and will still function with the consultation of the Arts and Sciences dean.
A separate committee was elected to serve as a search committee for a new dean after Yaffe concludes his service at the end of the academic year. Yaffe holds academic tenure as a professor and plans to join the ULV behavioral science department Fall 2009.
The dean search committee consists of seven faculty representatives from the College of Arts and Sciences.
Included are Richard Rose, associate professor of religion and philosophy; Bill Cook, professor of English; Jason Neidleman, associate professor of political science; Jeff Burkhart, professor and Fletcher Jones chair of biology; Felicia Beardsley, associate professor of anthropology; Jay Jones, professor of biology and biochemistry; and Trish Long, associate professor of psychology (graduate programs representative).
Additional outside representatives will be considered by the search committee in consultation with Reimonenq.
College of Arts and Sciences dean applications will be reviewed starting Jan. 15. The new dean will begin his position on July 1.
“We all hope the new dean will become more involved in fundraising and will work with the council,” Delgado said.
The school will face structural changes over the next academic year, but Gelm said that the important aspect is that the council is a way for the College of Arts and Sciences to weigh in their decisions.
“ Now we have a body to measure the will of the college and a way to represent that will to the administration,” Gelm said.
The governing council will hold its first meeting Nov. 21 when a chairperson will be elected.
Lesley Michaels can be reached at email@example.com.