The Ithaca College faculty council discussed a four-credit schedule and shared governance at the college at its last fall semester meeting on December 7.
During the open portion of the meeting, Laura Gras, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiotherapy, opened the conversation by raising the concerns of faculty members at the School of Health and Human Performance Sciences regarding the ‘potential evolution towards a credit of 4 timetable, where more lessons would be four credits.
In the “The form of the college” document, which was approved as part of the Academic Program Prioritization (APP) process, the Academic Program Prioritization Implementation Committee (APPIC) recommended moving the undergraduate program of courses primarily by three credits to four-credit courses, in order to create a fair faculty workload.
“We recognize that this type of program change may not be suitable for all departments or schools, some of which may choose to maintain a program based primarily on 3-credit classes,” the document said. âWhether a program of study consists primarily of 3-credit courses or 4-credit courses, 1-credit and 2-credit courses could still exist. “
Gras said faculty members were concerned about the impact of including more 4-credit courses the students which are in pre-vocational programs – such as the Pre-health professional program. She said professors were concerned about the impact of the schedule change on students’ ability to take other courses outside of their major and electives.
Other faculty board members from other schools in the college, including the School of Music and the Department of Dramatic Arts, have expressed concern about the schedule for four-credit courses.
David Gondek, associate professor in the Department of Biology, recommended that the Faculty Council open the conversation and invite the Liaison committee for curriculum review (CRLC) to attend a future meeting.
In her report, Acting Marshal Melanie Stein said she thinks the concerns of faculty members have regarding the four-credit schedule are valid, but reminded Faculty Council members that it will not be mandatory for departments to fully switch to a four-credit schedule.
âThe current task is for people to ask themselves if they want to change the balance in their departments and what kind of layout we might want to do in a grid to accommodate a change in balance,â said Stein.
Stein encouraged Faculty Council members to stay positive at the end of the semester, due to final season for students and teachers, as well as an increase in COVID-19 cases in college and large Tompkins County community.
The Faculty Council also discussed faculty representation on the Ithaca College Board of Trustees. Currently, there is a student, faculty member, and staff member on the board.
Thomas Pfaff, professor and chair of the math department, expressed concern about the lack of shared governance at the college. Pfaff noted he thinks college professors have no say in decisions made by the board.
“I’m pretty sure the board commissioned Shirley Collado to downsize the campus and [Thomas] Rochon was tasked with cutting costs, âPfaff said. âWe have nothing to say about any of these things. A symbolic representative of the faculty doesn’t really change that at all. Usually, we don’t even necessarily know what the president’s office is. And so I would say that if we’re interested in more collaboration and shared governance, we need to have more influence on the board.
Pfaff presented a list of suggestions he had for the board, which included increasing faculty representation on the board, allowing the faculty board to have a say in who was chosen to serve. to the board of directors and increased transparency on decisions taken between the board of directors and the chairman.
According to the board of directors, âThe Governance and Compensation / Assessment Committee of the Board is responsible for developing and recommending a slate of candidates for election or re-electionâ.
For students, faculty and staff administrators On the Board, Directors are recommended to the Governance and Compensation / Assessment Committee by other college governance bodies, such as the Ithaca College Alumni Association Board of Trustees, Faculty Council, Board of student governance (SGC) and the staff council. The Governance and Compensation / Assessment Committee then appoints a Trustee for the entire Board.
Directors are elected for an initial term of four years and may be re-elected for a maximum of two additional three-year terms. Directors leave the board of directors on a rotational basis for at least one year after their first three terms, after which they can be re-elected for a maximum of three additional three-year terms.
Steven Gordon, Associate Professor and ttelevision and rdirector of the adio program in the Department of Arts, Science and Media Studies, said he thought the best idea would be to have more faculty representation on the board. He asked what other colleges and universities are doing in terms of having faculty, staff, and students on a board. Syracuse University has two undergraduate students representatives member of its board of directors, which is made up of 45 voting directors. The Board of Trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) system is made up of 18 members and includes one student representing who is the president of the SUNY Student Assembly.
Ellen staurowsky ’78, professor in the Department of Arts, Sciences and Media Studies and former alumni administrator board member, said she thinks it is unusual for a college to have voting representatives from faculty, staff and student body. She said a larger question she has grappled with is how the campus community is holding ups its own responsible board of directors.
Pfaff said he believes there is no accountability on the board, which he finds problematic, given the college‘s tax status and how morale is low on campus.
Some Faculty Council members said they would like to see an increased representation of people who know more about higher education on the council, in order to decrease the corporate feeling of the council. Other Faculty Council members recommended meeting with the Tri Council – the Faculty Council, the Staff Council and the SGC – while others had ideas on ways the Faculty Council could provide. checks and balances on the board of directors by being able to veto certain decisions.
Pfaff said that while he liked the idea, he was concerned that the faculty board would not know what kinds of decisions the board of trustees is even making.
Courtney Young, an assistant professor in the Department of Theater Arts, said she feels faculty members are not valued in college, which has an impact on the student experience at college. She said she thought there was a lack of conversation between college groups and felt stuck trying to facilitate conversations that don’t happen through email or Zoom.
âI don’t even know who this board is,â Young said. âI can see their photos. I have no idea what they want. How do we communicate effectively with them and how do they communicate effectively with us? And do they care about communicating effectively with us? Are we naive in thinking that our veto would count? â¦ We can spend a lot of time pointing fingers and writing emails. We are not very efficient at this time. So what are we doing differently to move forward in a positive way? “
Charis Dimaras, professor in the Department of Musical Interpretation, said he believes there is a lack of information between the Board of Trustees and the Faculty Council, leading both sides to address the issues. from different points of view – the Faculty Council having a more academic perspective and the Board of Directors having a business perspective.
âThe lack of information potentially creates all of this tension, many aspects of which could potentially be alleviated by just talking to each other,â Dimaras said. “So again I agree 100% with [Young] from what she says. [Weâve] must go to the board. The faculty must do it. No ducts, no in-between, no filtering people, nothing. Just us and them.