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Fac. Committee to release "deliberative" report on Jaffe's proposals Feb. 15

Published: January 21, 2005
Section: News

The Faculty Review Committee (FRC), established by Provost Marty Krauss in consultation with the Council of the Faculty Senate, is responsible for reviewing Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffes proposals to change various curricula within arts and sciences. The release of its report on Jaffes proposals will be followed by a two week public comment period.

Since the establishment of the FRC, several faculty members have privately questioned whether the committee is meant to be advisory or to serve the function, outlined in the Faculty Handbook, of giving faculty consent to the proposal.

According to FRC Chair Prof. Richard Parmentier (ANTH) the FRC was established by consultation between the Provost and the Council of the Faculty Senate pursuant to the Faculty Handbooks requirement that, if proposals are made for the additions or subtractions of programs, departments, schools, centers, and institutes, the Provost must establish an appropriate deliberative process to facilitate the review of the proposals.

According to the faculty handbook, a legal document govering the relationship between faculty and the University, the Provost will consult with the Academic Deans, the chairs of relevant existing departments and School Councils, as well as with the Council of the Faculty Senate to establish an appropriate deliberative process to evaluate proposals establishing or discontinuing departments, programs, centers, institutes and other academic units.

Parmentier said that the establishing of the committee alone does not fulfill the requirement for consultation. However, he said that the workings of a committee in consultation with all kinds of other groups departments, schools and other committees does.

Just because we exist, that doesnt fulfill the requirement. Its what we do that fulfills the requirement, Parmentier said. We are here to facilitate the required 'deliberative process,' which is multifaceted.

According to Krauss, however, the faculty has been continually consulted from the beginning. She said that before Jaffe submitted his recommendations, he asked each department to complete a detailed and confidential self-assessment. These assessments were used while the Dean prepared his report.

Krauss denied that the FRC was stacked with only those who support Jaffes proposal, saying that she did not ask anyone for their views prior to them being appointed.

I selected faculty whom I thought had the stature and commitment to Brandeis to be citizens of the University and to really give their best thinking on this, Krauss said.

All the member of the committee are Arts and Sciences full professors;

none is a member of a department in the list of departments where cuts have been proposed, Parmentier said. Our mandate was not to function as members of specific departments but to be citizens of the University. So in that sense, we are working in the interest of the faculty as a whole.

Parmentier said the review process is multifaceted in that proposals having to do with undergraduate programs require a formal review by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

The committee is advisory to the faculty and to the Provost simultaneously, he said. We dont make any decisions about things. We are here to evaluate, perhaps to rank, perhaps to pass on making an evaluation of something. Or, if we dont have enough information, we might recommend postponing a decision about something.

In describing how the FRC works, Parmentier said that it is operating under the twin conditions of confidentiality and transparency.

People need to be able to tell us things in confidence budgetary materials about certain programs and personal names need to be kept confidential, he said. So the committees internal deliberations are confidential. But we insisted from the beginning that the result would be transparent;

that is, is our report will be posted on the Presidents Integrated Planning website.

Parmentier confirmed that the committee had requested additional data and statistics from Jaffe to further evaluate his conclusions with regard to the so-called “academic structural deficit.” However, he denied that any of Jaffe's statistical analysis was incorrect.

According to Parmentier they, “commissioned a study of the interconnectedness of departments,” to better determine how different departments interact. “We have asked for a rearrangement of some of the data, allowing the committee to see changes in faculty size by department in three consecutive years,” said Parmentier.

“We have been extremely careful about statistics, since the Dean has put a lot of weight on the analytical validity of his document,” he added. “We have found that the Dean has been very, very careful.”

Jaffe claims that were the committee to recommend with regard to a specific change that there is an overwhelming consensus in the community that this would be catastrophic, he would drop the particiular proposal.

However, Krauss told The Hoot that in her position as Chief Academic Officers and under the Faculty Handbook she is the one who will ultimately make the decision, once the FRC releases its report, which is a non-binding recommendation, and after the conclusion of the comment period.

There is no millage in making decisions that go against the community, Krauss told The Hoot. So we are very serious in trying to get community input.

Parmentier refused to speculate on endgame scenarios, calling final decisions, and whether a faculty vote is required to implement some changes, questions that are outside the scope of the FRC.

We are advisory to the Provost and to the Faculty, he said. Hopefully, we will have done our work and enabled everyone to express themselves, and collected new data where necessary. I am sure the Provost and the faculty will have additional discussions and consultations.

The committee, operating on a tight timetable set by the Provost, expects to release its report on Feb. 15.