There was an air of newness surrounding the first regular faculty meeting of this school year. The faculty meetings have a new buzzer system for voting, and the new President, Teresa Amott, gave her first report.
This might have been the president’s only oral report to the faculty. In the future, she intends to give formal written reports, but didn’t this time because she has been busy with alumni events since assuming office.
She listed her various fundraising activities, which are seemingly laying the path to a refurbished Alumni Hall. She talked about moving services there, out of the congested areas in which they currently reside.
“Can we use that to alleviate some of the pressures? … The auditorium limits the ability to decant the other buildings,” Amott said.
In other words, her plans are far enough along that considering getting rid of the auditorium is already relevant. Sustainability was also on her mind as she said she would like the new Alumni Hall to be LEAD (Leadership for Environment and Development) certified, and she said she would also like to reconvene the sustainability task force soon.
The punch line of the president’s report was the news that Dean of the College and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lawrence Breitborde will be stepping down at the end of the following school year.
It had long been rumored that he intended to return to a teaching position in the Anthropology/Sociology department. This was the first public confirmation of that intent, and Amott further confirmed that he would like to step down as soon as possible. The search, however, will not begin until next year, in part to give the new president a full year to transition.
Following reports, the main event of the meeting got underway, and the reason for the clickers became very apparent. Traditionally, the first regular faculty meeting of the year is the agenda-setting session. Faculty members propose items of business that they would like addressed.
Usually, the executive committee takes the ideas and assigns them to the other standing committees or takes them on itself if a concerted effort is necessary. This time, after a discussion of each proposal, the faculty members used their clickers to rate the importance of each item, according to the scale “high,” “medium,” “low” and “no importance.”
The first proposal came from Professor of Classics Stephen Fineberg, who disapproved of “the slab of concrete in front of Seymour” and wanted it demolished. Chair of the Faculty Committee and Professor of History and Co-chair of Religious Studies Penny Gold interpreted the target of his comment to be the newly paved area outside of the Founders computer lab. Others, including Professor and Co-chair of Classics Brenda Fineberg and Professor and Chair of Art Mark Holmes, agreed that little design considerations were made and thought that the process under which construction decisions are made needs scrutiny. The topic was voted a medium-high priority.
Assistant Professor of History Catherine Denial made the next proposal, which was to look into student support, such as TRIO and other services offered by the Center for Teaching and Learning. The question was not so much about how effective they are, but what can be done to adequately fund them. This topic got very high support.
Professor of Political Science Daniel Beers asked about the importance of independent study regarding evaluations, which received medium-high priority.
Associate Professor and Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies Magali Roy-Fequiere proposed an assessment of gender issues on campus, to which Denial added the topic of sexual assault. This topic was rated a medium-high priority.
The topic of the mental health of the student body was given a high priority.
Lastly, Philip Sidney Post Professor of English Robin Metz wanted to address co-curricular activities. This was interpreted to mean funding for cultural events and was given high priority.