CLAS Executive Committee Meeting Minutes (May 2023)

To: Departmental Executive Officers
From: CLAS Executive Committee
RE: CLAS Executive Committee Meeting Minutes (May 2023)

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Tuesday, May 2, 2023
8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
240 SH

Present: Mark Blumberg, Chris Cheatum, Raul Curto, Christine Getz, Cornelia Lang, Teresa Mangum, Roland Racevskis, Ana Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Michael Sauder, Alberto Segre, Joshua Weiner, Deborah Whaley, Rachel Young

Absent: Ben Coelho, Monica Correia, Sara Sanders

Guests: Tiffany Schier, Becca Tritten

1. Approval of Minutes
The minutes from the April 25th meeting were approved.

2. CLAS Charges and Structure – Continued Discussion
Associate Dean Cornelia Lang led the continued discussion regarding the CLAS charges and potential structural changes across the College. The discussion began with a 1999 policy document, “’Department’ and ‘Program’ as Titles for Administrative Units in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.”

That document defined a department as having “at least 5 permanent tenure-track or tenured faculty appointments, including at least 2 in which the unit is the primary or sole unit of appointment” and either one or the other of the following: “A department regularly engages in the processes of tenure-track faculty recruitment, appointment, mentoring, development, and promotion” or “A department offers at least one graduate program (masters or doctoral level) and one undergraduate major program.” In some cases a department is called a school.

A program may have tenure-track faculty, but “ordinarily has affiliated faculty whose tenured/tenure-track appointments reside in other departments.” A program “usually administers an interdisciplinary academic major or a certificate program” through cross-listed courses with other units. It may “exist to offer courses only” rather than offering a major or certficate.

Given that several groups of units, including current departments and programs, are considering reorganizing into larger constellations, the Deans asked the EC to review these 1999 definitions and also to consider clarifying descriptions of a division. We also considered what roles within these different units would be appropriate for a division head, a DEO, and a program director.

The discussion will continue next week.

Meeting adjourned.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023
8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
240 SH

Present: Mark Blumberg, Chris Cheatum, Monica Correia, Raul Curto, Christine Getz, Cornelia Lang, Teresa Mangum, Roland Racevskis, Ana Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Sara Sanders, Michael Sauder, Alberto Segre, Joshua Weiner, Rachel Young

Absent: Ben Coelho, Deborah Whaley

Guests: Tiffany Schier, Becca Tritten

1. Approval of Minutes
The minutes from the May 2nd meeting were approved.

2. Adjunct Promotion Cases
Dean Sara Sanders and Senior Director of Administration Becca Tritten provided Executive Committee (EC) with an overview of how CLAS handles Adjunct promotion cases. The overview included the Office of the Provost policy regarding adjunct promotion cases and then the current CLAS policy. EC was supportive of working to simplify the Adjunct promotion process in CLAS. An added benefit is that the policy will then be in closer alignment with the current guidelines provided by the Provost.

3. CLAS Charges and Structure – Continued Discussion
The Dean provided an overview of the EC’s discussion thus far about the distinctions among a department, school, division, and program, noting questions that remain unanswered. She also noted that though an attempt had been made to define these structures in the 1999 document discussed in last week’s minutes, that document had not been put into practice. EC then turned to a proposed update of 1999 of the criteria for academic programs and administrative units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, working carefully and systematically through not only the definitions but how they would affect units, including new organizations of units that are being proposed by departments.

The discussion will continue next week.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023
8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
240 SH

Present: Mark Blumberg, Chris Cheatum, Ben Coelho (zoom), Christine Getz, Cornelia Lang, Teresa Mangum, Roland Racevskis, Sara Sanders, Michael Sauder, Alberto Segre, Joshua Weiner, Rachel Young

Absent: Monica Correia, Raul Curto, Ana Rodriguez-Rodriguez

Guests: Becca Tritten

1. Approval of Minutes
The minutes from the May 9th meeting were approved.

2. CLAS Charges and Structure – Continued Discussion
The Dean provided Executive Committee (EC) with an update to the proposed criteria for departments, schools, and divisions. The EC continued to work carefully and systematically through not only the definitions but how they would affect units, including new organizations of units that are being proposed by departments.

The discussion will continue next week.

Meeting adjourned.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023
8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
240 SH

Present: Mark Blumberg, Chris Cheatum, Christine Getz, Cornelia Lang, Teresa Mangum, Roland Racevskis, Ana Rodriguez-Rodriguez (zoom), Michael Sauder, Alberto Segre, Joshua Weiner, Rachel Young

Absent: Ben Coelho, Monica Correia, Raul Curto, Sara Sanders

Guests: Becca Tritten

1. Approval of Minutes
The minutes from the May 16th meeting were approved.

2. CLAS Charges and Structure – Continued Discussion
Associate Dean Cornelia Lang led the discussion with Executive Committee (EC) around the next draft of criteria for departments, schools, and divisions. The EC continued to work carefully and systematically through not only the definitions but how they would affect units, including new organizations of units that are being proposed by departments.

The discussion will continue next week.

Meeting adjourned.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023
8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
240 SH

Present: Mark Blumberg (zoom), Chris Cheatum, Ben Coelho, Monica Correia, Christine Getz, Cornelia Lang, Teresa Mangum (zoom), Roland Racevskis, Ana Rodriguez-Rodriguez (zoom), Sara Sanders, Michael Sauder, Alberto Segre, Rachel Young

Absent: Raul Curto, Joshua Weiner

Guests: Becca Tritten

1. Approval of Minutes
The minutes from the May 23rd meeting were approved.

2. CLAS Charges and Structure – Continued Discussion

Dean Sanders opened the meeting by reviewing changes the EC had proposed to make to the 1997 description of collegiate units thus far.

Definitions The EC members then continued to discuss how we define a department, a school, a division, and a program. At the heart of the document are these assumptions:

1) That departments—whether individually or collectively organized as a school with a shared department chair—form the foundational academic structure of the College. (Programs are housed within departments.)
2) That the department chair is the conduit between a department (or school) and the College.

In the revised document, divisions are groups of departments that choose to collaborate informally to advance shared interests.

Joint appointments across departments During the discussion, joint appointments sparked the greatest difference of opinion. In the revised document, one of the requirements to be a department is that a unit must have at least five 75% tenure-track faculty members.

A majority of the members of the EC endorse the value of joint appointments but also believe that every department in a Research 1 level institution like ours should have a critical mass of tenure-track faculty (e.g., at least five) with 100% appointments. (Joint appointments of instructional-track faculty were not discussed.) These EC members made the case that departments require the full-time commitment of a cohort of faculty members in order to meet departmental service (including promotion reviews) and teaching needs fairly and effectively. They also observed that faculty members in joint appointments are often overburdened with service and meetings. Some EC members said interdisciplinary collaborations can be an organic extension of the work faculty engage in without the need for joint appointments. For example, as a routine matter, members of different units across our college and campus often work together on grant-funded projects without any change in their departmental affiliations.

Speaking in support of joint appointments, one member of the EC advocated for 50% appointments and made the case that the study of complex problems can benefit from multi-disciplinary collaboration. This person noted that some faculty members find the productive tension of multi-disciplinary departments energizing and inspiring. In addition, their research projects often question the limits of disciplinary knowledge. One other EC member expressed support for this perspective.

Though these two perspectives were not reconciled, the majority of the EC members accepted the 75% requirement as a compromise.

At the end of the meeting, after offering further suggestions, the committee voted unanimously to accept the revised document (with one faculty member asking to go on record in the minutes as supporting the overall document but not the 75% requirement).

The resulting definitions offer a bare bones description of academic units within the College, which will be discussed in greater detail in the MOP, which is currently in the process of being revised.

Meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,
Teresa Mangum, Secretary