Committee Minutes

Faculty Council 09/13/2010

New York University

The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Faculty Council

Monday, September 13, 2010, 9:30-11:00 a.m.


 Present:  Astuto, Berg, Borisoff, Buchwald, Hammack, Lang, Lu, Ruiz, Stage, Voelbel, Wesbrooks

 1.     Welcome & Introductions – Bill Wesbrooks, Chair

 2.     Faculty Council & School Senate Priorities – Bill Wesbrooks, Chair

The Council, Senate, and governance committees spend most of our time putting things into context and perspective – and that’s what we should do to make sense of what is going on.  Bill came to that conclusion in large part because of his particular NYU history.  He started as an adjunct.  Then Michael Steinhardt gave the naming gift and he was asked to direct the ceremony.  This was particularly interesting because a committee had been working for some time on our history and the convocation, but he soon found out that the committee had not really done anything.  So, Bill began working closely with Ann Marcus on what history to present and not present and it became clearer how those choices were made and why.  Then he had the unenviable job of chairing the music steering committee that grew out of the Task Forces, another example of administration wanting NYU to work together in a particular way and put things in place to demonstrate what we are about.  Those things – meaning making and demonstrating what we’re about – also occur to a certain extent in the Council and Senate and faculty meetings.

 This year it is important to have our conversations in Council lead us to make decisions about what issues we want to address and how we want to address them.  It’s important to make requests for information and if requests are ignored, we can ask again.  If we are going to have any effect on where the university is going – to the extent that anyone knows or that anyone can know – it is important that voices be heard at the school level.  The Faculty Council is the only place where this is just faculty and we ought to be able to assume that these meetings are confidential, that this is a forum where we can speak freely, and what comes out of the Council are things that the Council has agreed to bring out of the council.

 3.     Committee Structure: Purposes, Priorities & Processes

Faculty Academic Affairs: Because FAAC discusses and acts on curriculum and program recommendations and requests that come from programs and departments, issues arise about the nature of its authority and the extent to which its role is advisory – especially in a somewhat decentralized school with many differences among the departments.  FAAC has three subcommittees, each of which discusses issues and make recommendations about policy or practice.  For example:

Undergraduate Affairs Committee discussed expository writing and decisions were made to have writing taught with a Steinhardt course number.  There was never any discussion of CAS.  There is a new Steinhardt “expository writing” course.  To what extent and in what way should the Council request that the decisions made in these committees come back to FAAC and then to Council and Senate for review and discussion and reporting to the faculty?  We need to bring subcommittee reports to the Council so we can track those recommendations or decisions and identify issues that are in progress.

Doctoral Affairs Committee is considering many changes in doctoral study.  It seems that some directions regarding doctoral study are coming from central administration and from Steinhardt administration with limited circulation among or feedback from the faculty.  The Council needs to keep asking questions and bringing issues forward to ensure open deliberations.

Faculty Affairs Committee: We’ve had some trouble focusing the work of FAC.  Our intention is for this committee to become more active, not simply responding to recommendations from administration, but also being proactive in addressing important faculty issues.  The committee should have representation from tenured/tenure track and clinical faculty, junior and senior faculty.  This summer in the course of a meeting with Mary Brabeck and Beth Weitzman, we mentioned the problem with no longer having an associate dean for faculty affairs; subsequently, Beth Weitzman’s title was changed to Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs.

Student Affairs Committee: This committee deals with anything related to students – policies, practice, and student life.  The description in the Bylaws is somewhat limited to discipline and appeal procedures – not usually the focus of SAC.

School Planning: This committee’s greatest challenge is incorporating faculty direction and faculty voice.  SPC has helped establish priorities and asked probing questions regarding budget and facilities.  In many ways its purpose is about keeping people in the loop rather than making decisions.  Most of the planning is actually done by Steinhardt administration in response to central administration and implemented through the chairs.

 4.     Continuing Issues/Discussions

  • Budgets 
  • Doctoral Program Policies
  • Faculty “Work Load” – Interim Report: This report is focused on tenured/tenure track faculty.  In part, this is due to the assumption that the “contract faculty guidelines” deal with the “work load” issues.  That may not be the case.  If the letter of appointment is the operative contract document, contract faculty workload is different depending on negotiations.  There seem to be issues of fairness that depend on the ways in which “work” and “load” are defined.  

In terms of the Interim Report document itself, there are values, assumptions, and assertions of fact that are likely to be contested by faculty depending on individual program and department experiences and responsibilities.  Rather than responding, we recommend as a Council that the document be distributed to all faculty and that we go back and discuss it in the departments.

 Clinical Faculty Guidelines: Since the guidelines have gone to the Provost there have been no significant changes.  Why approval is taking so long is a mystery. There are implementation issues to be considered.  For example, how would evaluation occur in relation to the appointment letters specifying work?  Although the promotion policy has been expanded, implementation processes are still vague.  Some “work load” issues have not been resolved, e.g., private lessons.

 5.     Next Steps

  • We should make a point of summarizing the key issues after each meeting so that we can all go back to our departments and follow through on discussions.
  •  Report to the deans on response to “work load” Interim Report: We will use the committee structure to identify issues and other feedback – so this will be one of the first items for the Faculty Affairs Committee.  We will also follow up on who will send the report to the faculty.

 6.     Other Items – for future discussion

  • Student Course Feedback Forms
  • Annual Merit Evaluation Forms
  • Distinguished Teaching Award
  • Follow-up on Questions regarding Grade Inflation


Respectfully submitted,

Terry Astuto, Faculty Secretary