volume 42, number 4
Temple UniversityFaculty Herald

Editorials

 

 

 

Restructuring and “One Related Matter”: The Common Theme
—By David Waldstreicher, Editor

 

The university has been presented with a number of changes this season by Provost Englert. We all know that there are many good arguments for restructuring colleges at Temple: if there weren’t that wheel wouldn’t have been re-spoked as many times as it has in the past.
    It is also apparent that while the Provost has gone forward with consolidation plans despite reservations offered by faculty in several colleges (most notably Boyer, Tyler, and the School of Education), he has decided against other possibilities he had put out in the December 15 White Paper, including folding colleges and programs into the already overstuffed College of Liberal Arts. The Provost spent time listening to faculty concerns—not enough for some faculty, but enough to inspire him to mention “one related matter” in the final restructuring proposal. The related matter is that the process of consulting with faculty on restructuring was inefficient, and by implication had something to do with the delay in releasing the white paper and the final proposals; perhaps faculty governance itself needs to be restructured for the sake of efficiency (see the final section, entitled “One Related Matter,” of the Report to the Faculty on Proposals for Restructuring the Provost’s Portfolio).

   So what does it all mean? Among other things, we apparently have a sanctioned opportunity to reexamine faculty governance, perhaps a good idea in and of itself. But that good idea needs to be considered in light of the implications of the restructuring plan – and the process – for faculty governance.
    A common theme of the spring bloom of documents is the increasing power of deans. Reading them put me in mind of one of the provost’s responses, at a Faculty Senate meeting, to the question of why restructuring now? His answer was that the vacancy of several deanships presented a unique opportunity to restructure those very colleges. Apparently deans are so powerful at Temple that rather than being temporary managerial staff or meta-faculty, they have vested, proprietary rights in their colleges – a kind of deanly tenure. And the restructuring plans add more power. In the Arts they will create a new Director-level administrative structure answering to a mega-dean (or as some have called it, dean-of-all-things). It goes without saying that these new directors, like the new deans, will be recruited from outside.
    A similar logic appears in the document produced by the presidential committee on workload. In many ways this carefully written policy statement codifies existing practices. But it does so in such a way as to make it easier for deans to set and change workloads according to their interpretations of the policy, rather than departmental preferences (or the TAUP contract).
    All this is consistent with long term trends. Faculties no longer produce deans for domestic use from among their best and brightest and/or administratively ambitious ranks; they export them. (The same seems to be true for councils of deans, who export provostial and presidential timber.) This very situation is an obstacle to faculty governance. Deans are likely to be more interested than ever in accruing power and claiming credit for clearing, if not cleaning, house: that’s how they move up and out. They have less incentive to build and rely on relationships with faculty, who are mere worker bees – not their constituency so much as a set of more or less willing drones.
    So the “one related matter” that really needs rethinking is the relationship between deans and college faculty. Perhaps it is that which makes the process of communication between upper-level administration and the faculty seem cumbersome. The real issue is perhaps not Faculty Senate procedures and university-level committees but what those procedures have historically presumed, and what we once had but no longer have in many colleges: a collegial assembly system that is run by faculty and expressive of faculty concerns.
    The Faculty Senate Steering Committee has for two years attempted to propose a new template for collegial assembly bylaws that would take back faculty ownership of its deliberative bodies from the deans who, in a number of cases, now run (or run by proxy) the assemblies in what can most politely be called a top-down fashion. We are publishing these Guiding Principles for Collegial Assembly Bylaws for the first time in this issue — see page 4. Seeking approval of the proposed template from the President and the Provost, we are told the process has stalled thanks to objections from the university’s legal counsel. We hope that the Provost will recognize what he would call the “holistic” link between the effectiveness of the Senate and that of the collegial assemblies, and in doing so help us accomplish the streamlining he has advocated.

 

 

 

 

The Faculty Herald remains dedicated to promoting a dialogue with and among the faulty of Temple University and invites readers to write the editor in response to anything in this or a previous issue, or on other topics of interest and import to Temple Faculty. New letters sent to the editor will be published to a prominent place on the Herald’s website (www.temple.edu/herald) within one or two weeks of the editor receiving them and will be included in the next issue of the Herald. Readers are also welcome to post comments on select articles presented on the new Faculty Herald blog at http://www.facultyherald.blogspot.com.

 
Letters to the editor should be emailed to David Waldstreicher at facultyherald@temple.edu