Adamany seeks minimum
graduate faculty standards
At the May 10 meeting of the Board of Trustees, President David Adamany addressed a growing concern: establishing minimum standards for membership in Temple’s graduate faculty, the instructors who supervise all doctoral dissertations. According to Adamany, the issue may require the board to consider amending an unusual, 30-year-old policy about the governance of the Graduate School.
The graduate faculty had recently voted down a proposal from the Graduate Board requiring graduate faculty members to demonstrate a record of scholarly activity in order to supervise the dissertations of doctoral degree candidates. The proposal also would have established four-year appointments for graduate faculty, after which members would be reviewed to see if they met reappointment standards.
“Such a requirement for graduate faculty membership and for periodic renewal of that membership is commonplace in American universities,” Adamany told the board. “Students ought to be assured by the University that those who supervise research activity are themselves active in and knowledgeable about research.”
The rejection of the proposed standards by the graduate faculty exposed a quirk in Temple’s governance policies, Adamany told the trustees. A 1975 policy approved by the Board of Trustees gives the graduate faculty “final authority” with respect to all policy proposed by the Graduate Board.
“Unfortunately, the administration does not have any authority to enter into policy making in the area of graduate policy,” Adamany said. “The administration is now stymied from taking steps it deems necessary to significantly improve the quality of Temple’s graduate program, many of which are solid but lack national distinction.”
The 1975 policy makes it impossible for the administration to pursue counterproposals that could resolve the issue, Adamany said. As an example of this type of constructive intervention, he cited the administration’s role last fall in breaking logjams that had delayed the Faculty Senate’s approval of a new program for general education. The Faculty Senate had rejected a faculty proposal for a new gen-ed program in May 2004. If the Board of Trustees had not maintained the authority to review policies recommended by the Faculty Senate, a new gen-ed program might still be an unfulfilled goal.
“I would like to express concern about a University policy that puts [Graduate School] matters beyond the normal process of review by the Board of Trustees, whose fiduciary responsibilities reach to the quality of the University’s academic programs just as surely as to the University’s financial health,” Adamany said.
Adamany told the trustees that he and Provost Ira Schwartz were considering asking the Board of Trustees “to amend the 1975 Graduate School policy to give the graduate faculty the same scope of authority as the Faculty Senate — namely, to consult, recommend, review or ratify,” with the Board of Trustees holding final authority.
– By Hillel J. Hoffmann