From the Senate President
In many ways we welcome a very new year, with lots of good changes in store for the Temple community. The fall semester began with an important change in the promotion and tenure guidelines, and more importantly, a signal to the faculty that the new President was interested in hearing from us—her colleagues—on matters that directly concern us.
I had asked President Hart to address faculty concerns about the promotion and tenure guidelines even in the summer, and she responded by forming a committee that was half faculty and half administrators, one that included faculty from the “Super Tenure” committee, TAUP, and the Faculty Senate Steering Committee. Under the Interim Provost's leadership, this group discussed openly and frankly (as diplomats say) the hard issues about defining the process of awarding tenure and promotion. If you had been able to read a transcript of the proceedings that did not identify the speakers, you would have been hard pressed to guess who was a faculty member and who was an administrator. The group rewrote the older guidelines in a fair and balanced way; President Hart must have agreed, as she used the document as the basis for her revision of the promotion and tenure guidelines that she issued this fall. I urge any department that has a tenure-track faculty member to pay particular attention to this new policy; I also urge any tenure-track faculty member to make sure that you understand the new policy, and, if you have any questions, to seek clarification from your department chair, dean, or the Vice-Provost for Faculty. In the meantime, Schools and Colleges are developing their local guidelines, which will be used in deliberation by the “Super-Tenure” committee, which will continue to advise the President on tenure cases.
The Committee on Administrative and Trustee Appointments (CATA) was also busy over the summer; they met with President Hart before submitting names of faculty to serve on the Provost Search Committee. The Search is proceeding even as we speak, and the committee expects to begin airport interviews before long. They fully expect to be able to bring finalists to campus for interviews later this spring. CATA also provided a faculty member name for the search for the Director of the Teaching and Learning Center.
The Faculty Senate Steering Committee charged the Handbook Committee to continue revising the Handbook; the amended paragraph on emeritus status, which was formed in discussions with the faculty on the Handbook Committee, the Interim Provost, deans, the Vice-Provost for Faculty, and legal counsel, will soon go to the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees for approval. As a personal note, I am relieved that my peers who have served Temple well for at least 15 years, and who are Associate Professors, Associate, Senior, or Distinguished non-tenure-track faculty will be able to apply to the Council of Deans for emeritus status. As part of the Temple faculty, it is fitting that they have access to being so honored upon retirement.
If you have come to a Senate meeting, or even just paid attention to the faculty listserv, you will know that the Handbook Committee also suggested alternative language for membership in the Senate. I have tried to remain neutral on the topic, but can admit here to a great deal of sympathy for the inclusion of non-tenure-track faculty in the Senate. They are already working hard on Senate committees, involved in undergraduate curriculum decisions, and teaching or doing research that benefits Temple. I hope that the tenured faculty will vote to allow them public voice in the Senate.
The Faculty Senate Steering Committee has also been working with the Educational Policies and Procedures Committee (EPPC), the General Education Executive Committee (GEEC), the Provost and the President as we move forward in bringing this new program to the undergraduates. I wish that each faculty member could sit in on one GEEC meeting, as I have had the chance to do. Each issue that is brought before the GEEC is highly complex, and any proposed change is like moving a piece on a three-dimensional chessboard. Terry Halbert, the Director of GenEd, and the GEEC should all be commended for the hard work, thought, and time that they have put into this program. If you haven't yet looked at the course descriptions on the Blackboard site, I would urge you to do so – we have imaginative faculty who have thought hard about issues of pedagogy and their discipline, and so have come up with exciting and innovative courses. And there is still time, if you are interested in developing a GenEd class, to do so yourself. By the time this appears, the President will have met with the GEEC and members of the EPPC to talk about implementation changes, changes that are needed to allow the GenEd document to be used in a way that will make the GenEd experience better for the undergraduates. These changes were first proposed by the GEEC, and brought to Dick Englert, Interim Provost. Dick continued to research the issues by speaking to faculty and administrators, and suggested to President Hart a number of changes to the original document, so that that document can be used more flexibly to provide for the needs of Temple undergraduates and to address the concerns raised by the faculty.
As you can see, the faculty are becoming involved in a way that we never have before. Our new president has often noted the need to work closely with the faculty, especially through the Faculty Senate. Senate committees on (for instance) International Programs mounted an impressive conference this fall; the newly-formed Community Learning Committee provides opportunities to network for faculty who are providing lots of local initiatives concerning the community. The Investiture Committee has put together an exciting day of panel discussions that will center on the place of the urban institution in relation to urban space, community health, literacy, and the arts in the city (save the date, March 23). And do thank Lewis Gordon, our new editor of the Faculty Herald, who has plans (among other things) to put the newspaper online. And so, we look expectantly to the future, when faculty have an influence on shaping the identity of Temple. Come with us—volunteer for a committee that interests you (look on the Senate website), propose an article for the Faculty Herald, come to Senate meetings—we look forward to hearing from you.