Online note publishing, construction, provost search debated at Faculty Senate
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
The Faculty Senate discussed the ongoing search for a provost, voted on legislation to protect the intellectual property of professors and listened to acting Provost Nancy Brickhouse’s report on current and future construction at the university during their monthly meeting Monday.
The senate passed a resolution that recommended the university conduct the Provost’s search and other high level searches in a “reasonably open manner” with 43 members in favor, nine opposed and two abstentions. Faculty Senate President Sheldon Pollack and Brickhouse both voted against the resolution.
According to Pollack, the private search firm Spencer Stuart and the 17-member provost search committee are looking for the new provost confidentially.
Pollack, who is a member of the search committee, left the meeting during the discussion. Before the vote, he said he originally favored a more open search process, but the search committee and university President Patrick Harker have since convinced him of the benefits of conducting the search privately.
“If three people come to campus, two people are not going to get the job,” Pollack said. “Those people are afraid that they are going to back to their home campus and have their careers ruined. The argument is that you will get a bigger pool of people to participate.”
Physics and astronomy professor John Morgan said two major universities, University of Minnesota and Temple University, have both recently conducted successful public searches for high-level administrative positions.
“There certainly are recent cases where very good universities have successfully done relatively open searches for provosts and deans,” Morgan said.
Pollack reminded the senate that they will not be able to create more transparency in the current provost search because it is already underway, but their vote will change the way the university conducts future administrative searches.
Biology professor Deni Galileo said he thinks the search is too confidential and does not give professors the opportunity to thoroughly screen candidates. He said the search team cannot talk to the candidate’s colleagues and gather sources properly because of the lack of openness.
“How can the search firm contact the home institution and gather information without letting the cat out of the bag?” Galileo said.
Pollack said the university is intensely screening current candidates for provost and Spencer Stuart has contacted candidates’ colleagues at current institutions.
The senate also passed a policy, 41 to three, that will allow teachers to include language in their syllabi to prohibit students from sharing class notes on online forums. Students posting notes online against their professor’s wishes would violate the university’s Code of Conduct under the new rule.
Pollack said although he didn’t mind his own students posting his notes online, other faculty members were worried about students getting paid while violating their professors’ property rights.
He said the senate did not want to make posting notes online a violation of the code of conduct but rather help faculty members who are concerned with protecting their ideas.
Brickhouse then updated the faculty on the construction of the $140 million Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Lab, which she said is the largest project currently underway on campus.