Blaise Pascal, PenseĆ© 347: “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this. All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.”

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Provost's Response to the Academic Senate Resolution on Cohort Hiring

Below, in Black type, is Provost Covino's response to the Academic Senate Resolution on Cohort Hiring, which passed in the Senate last semester by a vote of 35 to 10. Since it was a pdf that could not be copied, I typed it out by hand for this blog entry. 

I do not understand why a letter of such importance to the faculty as a whole cannot be distributed to the faculty as a whole on the date it is written--here, May 21. The letter was recently distributed to Senators. (I don't know the exact date, but will revise this when I get that information.) From what I can tell, it still has not been made available to the faculty as a whole and I do not see it on the Academic Senate site under "Senate Documents," although there I did find Chris Henson's response to the Provost's response.

Date: May 21, 2012

To: Professor Lynn Williams
        Chair, Academic Senate

From: William A. Covino
             Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Subject: Academic Senate Resolution on Cohort Hiring Through the Office of the Provost

I have carefully considered the Academic Senate Resolution on Cohort Hiring Through the Office of the Provost and wish to make the following observations:

The Resolution is based at some points on inaccurate information, assumptions, and implications:

First “Whereas”: the $900,000 to $1.2M gap that you cite is not a base budget gap; rather it is the estimated amount to be met through the use of reserves through 2011-2012. Please see the chart that I presented at the February Provost’s Forum, at

Second “Whereas”: This is incorrect, as Dean Harper indicated during the Senate discussion of the Resolution, and as is evident in the January 28 AABATF Revised Recommendations, which call for the following:

Generate greater efficiencies in centrally funded programs and offices that report to you (original reduction 3). In making this recommendation we recognize the continuing and ongoing need for faculty development and support of critical initiatives in Academic Affairs. We also note that you have reduced the number of MPP positions by 11.

Third “Whereas”: This is correct, but is a condition that the cohort hiring initiative, along with non-cohort hiring, seeks to improve.

Fourth “Whereas”: The effects of further cuts have not been determined.

Fifth “Whereas”: As I explained to the Senate, the cohort categories were advanced by the School/College Deans as representative of areas that can encompass crucial needs in a number of departments.

Sixth “Whereas”: The first step in developing proposals for faculty has been  and continues to be consultation with the faculty. Cohort hiring is not intended to skip this step.

Seventh “Whereas”: Searches in areas of critical need have not been denied in favor of cohort positions.

Eighth “Whereas”: All current cohort searches have been confirmed as essential by the Deans and Department Chairs.

First “Resolved”: The suspension of future cohort searches would disrupt the process of filling positions determined as critical needs by Deans and Departments. To reiterate information I provided in somewhat more general terms on the Senate floor: I have at this point authorized 48 faculty searches for 2012—2013. Some of these (20) positions are positions requested as cohort hires for which I will provide partial funding; others (6) are positions requested as non-cohort hires for which I will provide partial funding; and the rest (21) are positions that will be funded by the School/College.

Second “Resolved”: The Level B funding model in place before cohort hiring began was not designed to allocate faculty positions and would distribute the amount available according to multiple formulaic inputs that may not be relevant to faculty hiring needs. In other words, as I explained to the Senate, formulaic distribution does not effectively take particular Department/College hiring needs into account (student demand, number of faculty lost in a particular area, programmatic sustainability, accreditation requirements, research and teaching priorties, etc.)

With these observations I would suggest that some elements of the Resolution were not fully consideration or verified, and note that no consultation was sought with me for clarification or to promote patient collegial dialogue and inquiry, apart from occasional questions from the Senate floor, whose answers prompted no revision or reconsideration of the elements addressed above.

I would also like to respond to some of the points and questions that were raised during discussion on the Senate floor:

The funding provided for cohort hires reflects base dollars, not one-time dollars. Therefore this funding will remain available for the life of the position, and will be reflected in the recurring annual budget of the School or College that holds the position. No School or College is expected or required to replace central funding provided for tenure-track faculty positions.

The Level B funding model currently under revision in consultation with the University Budget Committee will include cohort funding as a line item for the annual budget of each School and College, along with other line items for which the Schools and Colleges receive dedicated funding, in order to promote transparency.

I discussed the plan for cohort funding with the University Budget Committee on March 28. No concerns were raised by the Committee at that meeting.

My office has supplied supplementary funding for both cohort and non-cohort positions, as I indicated in the Senate, and in my response to the first “Resolved” above.

The cohort program is evolving, and will continue to take shape and improve as it matures.

The cohort categories currently speak to broad areas of interest that can accommodate much-needed positions, and address the priorities of the University Strategic Plan endorsed by the Senate.

Thank you for affording me the opportunity to respond to this Resolution. We will be moving forward with the searches authorized for 2012—13, if additional budget reductions do not warrant reconsideration.

c:          President John Welty
            Academic Deans
            Deans of Undergraduate Studies and Graduate Studies
            Associate Vice President for Continuing and Global Education
            Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs.

No comments:

Post a Comment