Administrators address Faculty Senate concerns

By Alexandra Kukulka

At its meeting Dec. 7, the Faculty Senate had an open discussion with college deans and top administrators to address concerns about transparency that the Senate raised in a Nov. 27 letter to administrators, as reported by The Chronicle Dec. 3.

The discussion focused on the merger of the Marketing Communication and Arts, Entertainment & Media Management departments, the possible split of the School of Fine & Performing Arts and the search for a permanent dean of the School of Fine & Performing Arts.

Senior Vice President Warren Chapman, one of the six administrators at the meeting held in the Alexandroff Campus Center, 600 S. Michigan Ave., told the Senate that no decisions have been made about these issues and that only discussions have taken place.

“This is a dynamic moment,” Chapman said. “We are not trying to squash the imagination and the ideas. We are trying to allow people into the room to have those discussions to come up with what they are going to come up [with].”

Other members of the administration who attended the meeting included Louise Love, interim Provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; John Green, interim dean of the School of Fine & Performing Arts; Robin Bargar, dean of the School of Media Arts; Deborah Holdstein, dean of the School of Liberal Arts & Sciences; and Debra Parr, chair of the Fashion Studies Department and the Chairs’ Council.

Alton Miller, a faculty member in the Marketing Communication Department, said he was surprised the administration was considering combining the Marketing Communication and AEMM departments because President Warrick L. Carter’s prioritization recommendations suggested to “increase resources” for the Marketing Communication Department.

“That is a structural recommendation that is meta curricular and ought to come before some venue here at the college with the provost at its apex, or the president, but its a process that involves fact finding …. before it’s presented to a department and they are asked to implement [the recommendation].”

In response to Miller, Bargar said that increasing resources for a department and asking it to combine with another department are two different things.

“Increasing resources is increasing resources,” Bargar said. “Asking people to work more closely with others administratively might actually make it more possible to increase resources, so let’s think of those as separate things and not conflict them.”

Green said the prioritization process inspired a series of discussions that took place this fall among the chairs and faculty members in the School of Fine & Performing Arts about the possible split that would create a School of Fine Arts and a School of Performing Arts. Green said he has been working with other members of the school to ask various departments to discuss this plan.

Green clarified that the idea for the split did not come from Chapman or Love but from various chairs and faculty members in the school. He admitted that sharing information about the split had been “slow.”

“This is because I was in a position where I had to check both ways,” Green said. “I had to make sure that all the chairs were on board with whatever we agreed and … I had to check back with [Chapman] and [Love] to make sure we can get to the next step.”

For the split to become finalized, a formal recommendation has to be presented to the administration, which will present it to the Board of Trustees for consideration, according to Chapman

When asked about the next steps in the search for a permanent dean for the School of Fine & Performing Arts, Chapman said it will be a lengthy process  that will require another year and a decision to be made about splitting the school. Once the decision is made, the school will begin defining the role of the new dean and reviewing candidates, he added.

“There is a lot of engagement here,” Chapman said. “There are a lot of agreements that have to be made.”

Some members of the Senate expressed thanks for the discussion and the six administrators who attended to answer questions.

“I am pleased that the Senate could provide a forum for communication across departments and schools and between faculty and the administration,” said Pegeen Reichert Powell, Faculty Senate president and an associate professor in the English Department. “I think we must all work hard to build the processes and structures that allow for this type of communication, and I hope it continues.”