Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

FRC report calls for retainer of ancient Greek and most other proposed cuts

Published: March 4, 2005
Section: News

The Faculty Review Committee (FRC) released its long anticipated report just prior to February break evaluating Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffes proposals to change the Brandeis Curriculum. The report will act as a recommendation to the Provost, Marty Krauss, on which, if any, of Jaffes proposed changes she should implement. Yesterday marked the beginning of week three of a four week public commenting period designated by the Provost before she acts on Jaffes proposal.
The 34 page report, released Feb. 15, was a result of several months of deliberations by Chair Prof. Richard Parmentier (Anth) and seven other faculty members appointed to the FRC by Krauss in consultation with the Faculty Senate Council.

In his original proposal, among the program reductions Jaffe recommended were the phase out of the graduate program in music composition, the linguistics major, and the teaching of Greek;

the narrowing/focusing of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS);

the shrinking of Physics;

and the restructure of PhD programs in the Social Sciences, possibly including seeking outside funding.

The report generally recommends against most of the changes Jaffe proposed, including the elimination of Ancient Greek, a proposal which has sparked a wave of dissent from students, faculty, and alumni alike over the past several months.
As part of their review the FRC checked Jaffes statistics, gathered additional data, collected comments from the community and drafted a report.

Understandably, most input from the University community concerned the proposed cuts in faculty positions and curricular programs, although no one proposed alternative cuts, other than in jest, the FRC report reads. Most of this input was constructive and encouraging, although some input sharply challenged the committees legitimacy, composition, and procedures.

The two concepts central to Jaffes proposal were Full Time Equivalences (FTE) and core faculty. According to the FRC, Core faculty are faculty who regularly perform core functions in a department or program;

they may be tenured, tenure-track or long-term contract faculty. FTE is a way of measuring employee contribution. One FTE is equivalent to an employee giving a full-time contribution. Point-five FTE is equivalent to a half-time worker.

In 03-04 there were 351 FTE Arts and Sciences faculty: 313 FTE core faculty (including 193 tenured, 43 tenure-track, 77 other core faculty) and 38 non-core FTE. Any department or program that attempts to cover too many of its core functions with non-core faculty is, in Dean Jaffes view, doing a real disservice to students.

In creating his proposal, Jaffe created a wish list of resources that in his opinion are needed at Brandeis. The cost of this list far exceeds the available finances. As a result, Jaffe recommended cuts in certain areas along with additions in others.

Even the most superficial glance at the wish list posted as Competing Resource Challenges reveals the high cost of other projected annual increases, such as $8M to fund increased financial aid in order to matriculate a class with an average SAT score 29 points higher than the current 1351, and $5M to build financial reserves needed to back up the new debt for the building program, The FRC report reads.

The FRC fears that the Deans recommendations for cuts might injure the institutions reputation to the extent that even an annual increase of $8M for undergraduate financial aid might not yield an entering class stronger in the distinctive personal and intellectual qualities that characterize Brandeis liberal arts students.

And we question whether the administration has thought about the trade off between, for example, retaining an additional $1M for academic initiatives vs. using those funds to increase financial aid from, for example, $7M to $8M. We believe that a prospective high-scoring applicant to Brandeis might be deterred from matriculating because we have decided to contemplate cuts in these traditional liberal arts disciplines.”

The FRC concluded that Brandeis as a scholarly community cannot build toward the future without teaching ancient Greek, linguistics and the composition of music.

We think that, as any community needs to communicate in order to thrive, the Brandeis community must nurture these three modalities of communicationan ancient tongue, a universal cognitive capacity, and an art that unites us all by transcending articulate speech, the report said.

Proposals to discontinue Greek, Linguistics, and Music composition have caused us to reflect, perhaps more deeply than before, on the fact that to be a connected community requires the preservation and enhancement, through distinguished scholarship and engaged teaching, of the very communicative tools that make that connectedness possible.

The FRC also concluded that certain aspects require further study.