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Super-committee announced

Published: September 9, 2011
Section: News

Provost Steve Goldstein announced an expansion of the University Advisory Committee at his inaugural faculty meeting Thursday, calling for an “expansion of faculty representation” and new-found powers for the faculty to be “more involved in the governance of the university.”

The UAC is currently a group of administrators, chaired by the provost, with six ad-hoc faculty members—also appointed by the provost. Goldstein promised the packed auditorium of faculty members more than a merely consultative role for the newly enhanced committee and the revamp will include the addition of seven more faculty members.

The committee is currently underused, with much faculty “advising” done through personal relationships, direct questioning at the monthly faculty meetings, and especially through a large and ever-changing alphabet soup of committees. The past few years have seen a CARS committee (academic restructuring), the Brandeis 2020 (as in goals to accomplish by that year) and any number of ad-hoc committees.

Goldstein called this new group his “sort of faculty cabinet” and promised that this committee would “implement the good ideas of other committees.”

“We have an aggressive agenda as a faculty and the UAC will be more central in the affairs of the university,” the provost said. While the UAC exists already, Goldstein said that the change in membership—in addition to the change in leadership by both he and President Fred Lawrence—would alter the committee to one of real importance. The new UAC will attempt to become the predominant advisory body for faculty outside the Faculty Senate.

The additional faculty members will be added on a pilot basis only for now, but new legislation may be introduced at the end of the year if the changes are seen as positive, according to Professor Tim Hickey (COSI), who chairs the elected Faculty Senate. In that position Hickey is already one of the members of the UAC.

The seven new members will be the chairs of the four school councils (Humanities, Social Sciences, Creative Arts and Sciences) and the faculty who lead the three ad-hoc committees of Admissions and Financial Aid, Budget and the university institutes.

Several faculty members questioned Goldstein at the end of his remarks on the fact that none of the faculty on the empowered committee, even the new ones, will be elected. Hickey and Professor Sabine von Mering, a former Senate leader and the Institutes committee chair, recommended that elected positions be included in the potential legislation if the committee pilot performs well.

Questions about its qualities remained, with Goldstein defending against “stacking the deck” intimations; several professors compared the attempted approach to a use that could and perhaps should, in their view, have been given to the all-elected Senate.