Faculty talks handbook amendments at last meeting
Faculty members convened for the last meeting of this academic year on Friday, conferring graduate and undergraduate degrees and discussing a faculty handbook amendment that focuses on the expectations of the ad hoc committee responsible for tenure appointments.
Provost Lisa Lynch began the meeting by announcing the retirement and transition of faculty to emeriti status at the commencement on Sunday.
With “deepest gratitude and appreciation,” Lynch named Mary Campbell (ENG), Peter Conrad (Heller), Shulamit Reinharz Ph.D. ’77 (SOC), David Roberts (PHYS), Jerry Cohen (AMST), David Hackett Fischer (HIST), Dian Fox (HISP), Walter Leutz (Heller), Rick Parmentier (ANTH), Ilan Troen (NEJS), Alan Berger (PHIL), Allan Keiler (MUS) and Trenery Dolbear (ECON).
University Registrar Mark Hewitt announced the results of degrees awarded to the Class of 2017 graduates. A total of 904 bachelor degrees were awarded — 635 in arts and 269 in sciences. Hewitt noted that 50 percent of the class were double majors, four percent were triple majors and only 16 percent had just one major — a decrease from last year. “Our students are overachieving right now,” he commented. Of the bachelor degrees, 53 percent of the class received Latin honors and 16 percent received departmental honors.
In graduate degrees, a total of 798 master’s and 86 doctorates were awarded. The faculty approved motions to proceed the graduate degrees for Sunday’s commencement.
The faculty then addressed handbook amendments, particularly the one focusing on the the ad hoc tenure committee. Dean of Arts and Sciences Susan Birren reminded faculty that a subcommittee is formed within the standing committee to evaluate candidates’ materials by members belonging to their discipline.
Faculty Representative to the Board of Trustees Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow (CLAS) reported a summary of the Board’s semester meetings and actions, such as the tenure and promotion of 12 faculty members. Promoted from tenure track assistant professor to associate with tenure were Stephen Van Hooser (BIO), Avital Rodal (BIO), Raphael Schoenle (ECON), Olivier Bernardi (MATH), Jennifer Marusik (PHIL), Aparna Baskaran (PHYS), Jeronimo Arrelano (ROM), Xing Hang (HIST) and Anna Scherbina (IBS).
Appointments of associate professor with tenure included Sebastian Kadener (BIOL) and Joel Christiansen (CLAS), and tenure associate to full-time professor was awarded to Albion Lawrence (PHYS).
Additionally, the Board of Trustees approved the budget for fiscal year 2018 — including the tuition increase — and the Board re-elected four trustees, and one trustee stepped down. The elected trustees are Jeffrey Flier, Martin Gross, Cynthia Shapira and Ronald Kaiserman.
The academic subcommittee of the Board also listened to a report from Emily Conrad ’17 about how students experience and understand financial aid, said Koloski-Ostrow.
For the faculty Senate, five senators were newly elected, with three senators outgoing. Prof. Susan Curnan (Heller) announced that she was re-elected as chair of the Senate for her third term.
University President Ronald Liebowitz delivered a short address that gave summaries on the Board’s progress on issues of concern brought up by the faculty: retirement benefits and divestment from fossil fuels. However, both issues are still in discussion and will be pushed until the fall for development, he said. Additionally, Liebowitz discussed the Task Force on Free Expression and said that the committee presented “a document that contains principles that begin a discussion on how we operationalize and really develop policy on free expression on campus.”
“The discussion was an interesting one,” said Liebowitz, who added that there was not a full consensus coming from the committee itself on all the issues and principles they put forth. The document will be distributed to faculty and select University groups to gauge the presented principles, though purely for opinion and feedback, as it is still in its early stages, said Liebowitz.
Profs. John Plotz (ENG) and Rajesh Sampath (Heller), faculty members of the Task Force, clarified in follow-up addresses that the document the Task Force is presenting is mainly intended to create a conversational framework.
“It’s not about governing; … [it’s] more about possibilities,” said Plotz. “Not a set of rules — just, ‘Here is what Brandeis thinks.’”