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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Goals

From the 3/16 DoF candidate debate…

1. Promote Shared Governance

The bylaws are important, but are not enough to guarantee shared governance. Let’s focus instead on the root causes of the governance problem. I have four things to say.
  • Misconceptions about the Senate have to be addressed. There is a perception that the Senate is not representative of the faculty. There is a perception that the Senate is slow moving and obstructionist.These perceptions (right or wrong) promote a disregard for Article 13. One way to ice these perceptions is to make better use of various web-based technologies. If we get our act together in this regard, then the Senate can speed up its deliberations, engage more faculty, and run its own network of committees with greater transparency.
  • The DoF must act as a canary in the coal mine—not a regular canary but a smart canary who knows when to work behind the scenes, when to get the hell out, when to write a column for the Sun, and when to point the Senate in directions that matter.The way to defeat the practice of top-down management is for the faculty to anticipate the “next big thing” before anybody else. The DoF needs to work the campus visiting and learning from the faculty who are in the trenches doing the work. He or she needs to have a running dialog with Department Chairs, Academic Deans, and an array of Vice Provosts and Vice Presidents. The DoF must be inquisitive, energetic, and loud.
  • The DoF and the Faculty Trustees need to make it a habit of reporting back to us after every Trustee meeting, highlighting especially the doings of the Academic Affairs Committee. For this to be effective, the Trustees need to relax their definition of what is confidential. Let’s work with them on that issue.
  • The DoF must launch a dialog between the Senate and the administration on the merits of closed searches and their long term impact on the institution. If I am compelled as DoF to participate in a closed search, then I will play ball. But I will also say this to every single chosen candidate: before you sign on the dotted line, have the courage to share your thoughts in public in front of the faculty. The goal here is to filter for intellectual bravery.

2. Advance the cause of liberal education and basic research on behalf of the faculty.

New forms of practical education and commercially driven research have to be reconciled with what the Founders had in mind. I have the experience to lead this kind of inquiry, having participated in the creation of the CS Major in 1978, CIS in 1999, and Cornell Tech in 2011.

3. Broaden the conversation about faculty renewal.

I am a baby boomer and my age group now makes up about 20 percent of the faculty. The University has taken major steps towards the rejuvenation of the faculty, but we have a long way to go. If I am elected then I will be able to contribute to the dialog in a unique way because I become an emeritus professor myself on July 1. With that promotion I will bring credibility to any table where faculty renewal is being discussed.

We are a symmetric foursome: assistant, associate, full, and emeritus. Lesser views squander talent and jeopardize the whole renewal process. The DoF has a major role to play here and it is not just to advocate for the emeritus faculty through CAPE, although  that is very important. He or she must advocate for the long term well being of our profession and that means advocating for all those fresh PhDs who we would have loved to hire but couldn’t.  I am not saying that we should all retire at 70. I am not saying that we should only hire under-35s. I am saying that we should think out loud as a group about various career strategies and what they each imply for the next generation of scholars.

Last Updated: August 17, 2016 at 7:45 am