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SENATE 2006-2007
May 22, 2007, Volume 53, No. 34

Report of the Faculty Senate Committee on Faculty and the Academic Mission (SCOF)

May 16, 2007

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Charges for 2006-2007

• Conduct an examination, in conjunction with the Deputy Provost, of the present contours of non-standing faculty at the University, the range of appointment titles now used in the schools, their teaching, research, and administrative functions, their numbers, and to the extent possible trends along each of these lines. Review past reports of the Senate Committee on the Faculty (including 1998 subcommittee reports) to help identify concerns, research questions, and possible avenues of data collection and organization. 

• Review current practices and procedures involved in Senate review of proposals from the Schools for Handbook changes to faculty categories, along with past Committee and Subcommittee reports bearing on protocol for handling such requests. Work with Deputy Provost Janice Bellace to develop recommended guidelines, for consideration by the Senate Executive Committee, pertaining to the form that such requests should take, their timing, and the manner of their handling by the Senate.

Examination of Non-standing Faculty

The first item the Committee attempted to deal with, in consultation with Deputy Provost Janice Bellace, was developing a better University faculty and staff database. Unfortunately progress on this front came to a halt with the resignation of Barney Lentz, Director of Institutional Research. This problem of collecting information in a suitable form is not a crisis, but should be addressed in the near future.

School of Design Senior Lecturer Proposal

The next item the Committee took up was a proposal for creating a new category in the Associated Faculty of the School of Design (SOD). The SOD wished to use this new position, that of Senior Lecturer, for retaining exceptional faculty, not members of the standing faculty, who had already served as lecturers. It claimed they were needed to convey to the SOD’s students real world knowledge and skills required by them as they prepare to enter the workplace.

SCOF viewed the proposal favorably, urging however that it be formulated in a manner such that it could be incorporated into the already existing framework of other schools’ appointment to Senior Lecturer, as described in the Faculty Handbook. We also requested that the SOD’s percentages in this category be subject to limitations in line with the percentages appointed to similar positions in other schools. After consulting with Deputy Provost Janice Bellace, we recommended the Faculty Handbook be modified to include such SOD appointments. A wording was developed that was satisfactory to both the SOD and the Provost.

Disclosure of a Prior Criminal Record for

All Prospective Faculty Members

The third item SCOF took up during the year, by far the most difficult, was responding to a request from the Provost for advice on the matter of imposing on prospective faculty members a requirement of self-disclosure of a previous criminal record.

The Provost’s chief concerns, outlined in a letter to SCOF, were:

• The need to protect the safety and security of the University community

• The need to consider the relevancy of the past record, the qualifications, the expected responsibilities and campus access of past offenders

• The need to avoid unwarranted stigmatization (i.e. unfairness) to any member of the University community, including prospective members

The Committee also felt, and the Provost concurred, that an argument for a policy of self-disclosure could be made on the basis of establishing equity between faculty, students and staff, assuming that all prospective members of the latter two categories were asked to follow such a policy. It is true of course that the three categories are treated very differently in many ways and for perfectly justifiable reasons, but if it could be ascertained that inequity in this matter is a source of rancor, it might be appropriate to have a common policy.

The Committee had many meetings on the subject of mandatory self-disclosure of criminal records, including one with Wendy White, University Counsel and a separate one with the Provost. Having wrestled at length with the difficult issues, SCOF was unable to provide a definite set of proposals at this time, but its deliberations produced a set of considerations that should guide policy development in this area.  It felt that any further action should await a careful study of the precise means by which the University would gather, and more importantly use, data bearing on criminal records. 

The issue had however not yet reached the point at which it would be fruitful to have full discussions with either/or both the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and the full Senate Executive Committee.

Recommendations for Next Year’s Committee

• Vigorously pursue the examination of non-standing faculty at the University that the Committee was unable to undertake this year.  Success will hinge on successful collaboration with the new Director of Institutional Research and Analysis and new Associate Provost, and depend upon our ability to extract necessary data.  Toward this end, close monitoring of the implementation of the newly developed faculty information system will be important.

• Continue offering advice to the Provost, as needed, on the issue of disclosure of a prior criminal record for all prospective faculty members.  In particular, should the Provost undertake, as recommended, a collaborative study with some of our Ivy peers, SCOF should play a central role.


2006-07 Committee Members

Gino Segre (School of Arts & Sciences/Physics) Chair
Emily Blumberg (School of Medicine)
Jackie French (School of Medicine)
Frank Goodman (School of Law)
Donald Silberberg (School of Medicine)
Donald Voet (School of Arts & Sciences/Chemistry)

Ex-Officio Members:

Faculty Senate Chair Vincent Price (Annenberg School for Communication)
Faculty Senate Chair-Elect Larry Gladney(School of Arts & Sciences/Physics & Astronomy)

Almanac - May 22, 2007, Volume 53, No. 34