Monday, May 19, 2014

A Few Questions for the Provost Candidates

A faculty colleague asked me to post this tonight: 

In light of the announcement to the University community of the four candidates for Provost on a Friday afternoon after commencement on the last day of the academic year when most faculty will have departed campus, I invite my faculty colleagues to consider asking EACH of the candidates any one of the following questions (in no particular order):
  •  what is the role of the Chair of an academic department at a University?
  • what is the role of faculty (or a faculty member) at CSU?
  • how would you handle an instance of significant plagiarism by a graduate student?
  • do you think professional advisors improve academic advising?
    • And what departments (if any) should always have faculty academic advisors?
  • who is (should be?) responsible for academic advising at CSU?
    • And why is it housed currently in a non-academic unit under a non-academically trained Dean? 
    • what are the consequences of this decision (if any) for the perception this arrangement seems to indicate in terms of academic integrity?
  • how would you respond to a conflict of interest accusation?
  • how would you encourage faculty (in all their capacities) to create a positive “academic culture” at CSU in light of the events of the last five years?
  • how would you respond to the perception (if not the belief of some) that “some faculty are more equal than others” on our campus?
  • what would you do if a faculty recommendation for a faculty hire in an individual discipline differed from the Chair or Dean’s recommendation?
  • what is your vision of shared governance?
  • what has been the role of the faculty Senate historically at American universities?
  • when will a Union Contract for faculty be negotiated and voted on only by faculty?
    • And would you support faculty voting on their own contract exclusively?
  • in light of recent events in the  economics program, what is your vision of academic  program review at CSU?
  • how does one “empower” faculty and the academic enterprise at CSU?
  • are you familiar with or have you heard of the “faculty blog?

Additional concerns (time permitting):
  •  what academic discipline is the “department” of doctoral  studies teaching?
  • why are there so many programs in the College of Education and why do they keep changing their names and degree requirements so frequently? Is this common at other institutions you have been at or worked in?
  • what is the different between the fine arts? liberal arts? liberal arts education? and/or a a liberal education?
  • what should “equal opportunity at CSU mean?”
  • how will you respond to faculty who say they have not participated in (nor were they even notified of) any searches or campus visits for several academic Dean positions advertised this term?

 These are only a few questions posed by one faculty member who thought the faculty should really ask (or better, explain) each of these questions to the prospective candidates for Provost. In asking a few questions (usually permitted at an academic enterprise) the hope is these questions might inspire some conversation among faculty too. Please know that there are many other questions that could be offered as this list is not exhaustive. Perhaps our faculty colleagues will be able to come despite the late notice on each of the four days that the four candidates are present to hear their responses. The question now is will the current administration actually listen to (or value at all) the faculty’s impression of the candidates’ responses on these important concerns since there is an absence of a mechanism for faculty input into this important academic search?

So I guess we’ll see…. unless the “fix is in” and this is indeed a colossal waste of time for all concerned rather than an opportunity for campus dialogue and improvement. The timing and manner of the announcement suggest strongly the former. 

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