AAUP Open Forum with Dean Kazee
3 October 2007

Dan Sloughter, President of the Furman Chapter of AAUP, welcomed attendees to the Open Forum. Dan shared some basic information about AAUP, and issued an invitation to join the AAUP: while everyone (both members and non-members) reap the benefits of AAUP's work, it is the members of AAUP who carry this important work forward.

Dan then proceeded to the questions for Dean Kazee (these questions had been submitted by faculty to the AAUP for this forum). Dan did not read every single question, as they had been posted on the AAUP website already, but rather summarized each question in a few sentences. [In the following, the minutes reflect the full questions as posted on the AAUP website (questions are provided in italics).]

Question 1 - Search processes

On April 13, 2007, faculty received an e-mail from Brent Nelson (Search Committee Chair) announcing that six candidates for Assistant Dean for Study Away and International Education had been invited to campus for day-long interviews. Three of the candidates were Furman faculty and three were external candidates identified through a nationwide search. An open forum with each was scheduled for students and faculty and we were invited to attend.

The following Monday (April 16th, 2007), we received an e-mail from you announcing that Si Pearman would be returning to full-time teaching and that "Professor Lesley Quast, who has served very ably as the Acting Assistant Academic Dean this year, has agreed to accept the position of Assistant Academic Dean, beginning in Fall 2007."

These two positions seem parallel in nature, both falling under the purview of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean in Furman's administrative structure. Why were the selection processes so different? Is it the Dean's prerogative simply to appoint a qualified candidate instead of involving the faculty in an extensive search process? If so, can you share your reasons for choosing different procedures for these two positions?

What is the rationale for making the new dean, in the proposed administrative reorganization, an internal appointment (if that in fact has been determined), and what input will faculty have into deciding who will be appointed?

Dean Kazee pointed out that in the past appointment of the Assistant Academic Dean has occurred without a national search, but has been within the purview of the Academic Dean. The positions of Assistant Dean for Study Away, as well as the earlier search for an Assistant Dean for CTEL, which were filled through national searches are somewhat different in nature: whereas the former positions work in very close collaboration with the Dean, the latter two positions have a certain stand-alone character. However, Dean Kazee would not be especially resistant in the future to also have the former positions filled through a national search.

Dan Sloughter asked how the issues of internal search versus national search would play itself out in the restructuring process which calls for a search of a new Dean of Faculty.

Dean Kazee responded that he would address some of the issues related to restructuring later in the hour in the context of other questions on the list. Kazee emphasized that the search for a new Dean of Facutly aught to be based on "substantial faulty involvement." Dean Kazee has already contacted Doug Rall, Chair of the Nominating Committee, as well as Bob Fray, Chair of the Faculty, to ensure broad faculty input. Since the restructuring plan still needs the approval of the Board of Trustees (which it likely will receive during the next meeting at the end of October), for the time being, the restructuring is a slow process. Dean Kazee was hopeful that after a positive vote by the Trustees, the Nominating Committee in consultation with Dean Kazee would recommend a search committee to the President. The current hope was to implement the new structure by January 1, 2008, even if a candidate for the new position of Dean of Faculty is not in place by then.

Jean Horney asked whether there was any rationale for limiting the search for this position to internal candidates. Dean Kazee suggested that he was open to modifying the search process, yet there are good reasons to have an internal search: as Furman is undergoing a major transition of a new curriculum and calendar in the Fall of 2008, an internal candidate would ensure a degree of continuity in a time of institutional change.

Jean Horney followed up with a question about the level of position of various Assistant Deans, such as the Dean of Study Away, and the search procedures used to identify candidates. Dean Kazee pointed out that at the time of creation of these positions, the primary objective in the determination of the level (Assistant or Associate) had to do with the perceived importance of these positions vis-à-vis the academic program at large. The question of these positions relation vis-à-vis other Assistant Deans only arose later.

David Gandolfo inquired about the role the new Dean of Faculty would play in decisions of tenure and promotion. Dean Kazee replied that the Dean of Faculty would participate in Faculty Status Committee meetings (a function currently carried out by the Dean), yet the Provost would work closely with the Dean of Faculty; recommendations for tenure and promotion would move from Faculty Status to the Dean of Faculty to the Provost and then to the President and Board of Trustees. John Beckford inquired about the "job description" for the new Dean of Faculty. Dean Kazee replied that such a description would be drafted by the search committee.

Question 2 - Contingent faculty

I am very concerned about Furman's increasing reliance on non-tenure track faculty. What are your justifications for this phenomenon, and are there plans to rectify the situation? Do you expect a reversal of this trend under the new curriculum?

Dean Kazee took issue with the implicit charge that there was an observable trend in this regard at Furman, and emphasized that he has met annually for the past few years with representatives of AAUP to discuss the role and numbers of contingent faculty at Furman university. While not favoring an increased reliance on contingent faculty, Dean Kazee clarified that there are a number of situations where contingent faculty appear to be the best solution for a given need. Among the reasons cited were the following: Contingent faculty are needed as sabbatical replacements; currently nine contingent faculty at Furman serve in that role. Some departments have specialized, yet shifting, needs which are temporal, non-continuous; those needs are best met with contingent faculty. Certain departments (such as Music) have very highly specialized continuous needs, such as instruction in certain instruments, which do not warrant full time, tenurable faculty lines. Presently, 37% of contingent faculty serve in two departments, namely Music and MLL. While Dean Kazee is interested in converting contingent faculty into tenurable lines, such conversion can come at a cost: current contingent full-time (or 4/5th) faculty, who are sometimes spouses of tenured professors, may lose their jobs to national competition if these lines were converted to tenure track positions and opened up to national searches.

Dean Kazee predicts that over time, and with the new calendar and curriculum, Furman's reliance on contingent faculty will decrease, yet if Furman wants to retain a certain flexibility in planning and support of faculty development (CAP grants, sabbatical), some reliance on contingent faculty will be necessary.

Stan Crowe asked how Furman's reliance on contingent faculty compares to that of other institutions of higher learning. Dean Kazee replied that while the Associate Colleges of the South do not collect data on this, his impression is that Furman compares favorably in this regard to other ACS institutions. Possibly the AAUP may have comparative data on this issue.

Question 3 - Contractual employees

Tenured and probationary faculty are contractual employees who have legal rights to academic freedom and due process by virtue of references in their contracts to the relevant policies in the Faculty Handbook. Librarians who teach and at least some contingent faculty lack those protections because, lacking contracts, they are at-will employees under South Carolina law. Will you work to provide contracts for teaching librarians and contingent faculty that guarantee them rights of academic freedom and due process?

Dean Kazee expressed his support for making Library Faculty contractual positions. Librarians have been studying issues of their status, however, they have come to the conclusion that they would not like to convert their positions to tenurable positions. If the decision should be made to make Librarians contractual employees, most policies in the Policies and Procedures manual would apply to them, with the exception of those that refer specifically to tenure. If the Librarian positions are not tenurable lines, such would have to be made clear in the contracts, as such different status also may imply different benefits (such as the issue of sabbatical leaves, death benefits, etc.)

Dan Sloughter asked whether contingent faculty would also be considered contractual employees, and whether their situation is parallel to that of librarians. Dean Kazee responded that one would need to think through possible implications of possible parallel situations.

Question 4 - Endowed chairs

This next campaign will raise money for endowment. In the past, money given for "Endowed Faculty Chairs" seems to have gone into the general fund, while a very small portion of the interest is given to the recipient of the Chair for "professional expenses" or a small salary supplement. This makes it impossible for Furman to attract distinguished scholars with the offer of a real Chair. Do you think this procedure is honest to the donors, and do you think it is the best way to build a distinguished faculty?

Dean Kazee asserted that negotiations with donors are always carried out in a most forthright fashion. The new capital campaign will focus on endowed chairs, yet the question as to whether Furman would be in a position to attract highly distinguished scholars through endowed chair positions is complex. Dean Kazee pointed out that presently we cannot hire faculty with a guaranteed tenure up-front. While in the past this has been finessed, the hired professor has had to place a certain amount of trust in the institution. Yet, there are also significant financial considerations: An endowed chair that pays a salary of $100,000 plus benefits plus an expense account requires an endowment of approximately 3 million dollars; most endowed chairs at Furman, however, are endowed with less than half a million dollars. The new capital campaign envisions a tiered system of different levels of endowed chairs, beginning with ca. half a million, all the way to a three million endowment. At present, moneys generated from the endowments flow into the general budget; were one to channel the proceeds from these endowments into a separate budget, one would loose flexibility.

Ty Tessitore asked whether Furman has endowed chairs which carry expense accounts with them. Dean Kazee responded that the majority of endowed chairs at Furman work in this fashion, whereas only a few carried a salary supplement.

Question 5 - Sustainability

It is readily apparent that Furman is looking to become more environmentally sustainable. Just what does that mean, what is it going to cost, and will our efforts in this arena be of much significance?

Dean Kazee emphasized that we recognize that our resources are finite, and we recognize that Global Warming exists. We will pay a price if we fail to make our students aware of these facts, and we have a responsibility both to our natural resources, as well as our human resources, that is, students, as we are stewards of both. President Shi signed the climate commitment in recognition of this responsibility. At this point, Furman does not have concrete information of the budgetary costs this commitment would incur, though we are working in consultation with other institutions. While carrying this task, we have to ensure that we are not deviating from our overall educational mission. We do know that it is possible to take positive steps to improve the environment, as the example of Lake Erie shows.

Question 6 - Travel expenses

Currently, and for a number of years now, we are allowed up to $1500 in reimbursed expenses for travel to conferences. Do you see this amount increasing soon? Can you give us some figures on the overall amount of money available for conference travel and a) at what point in the year does that pool dry up, or b) how much goes unused by the end of the year?

In a typical year, Furman budgets $150,000 toward Faculty travel expenses; since Dean Kazee took his position, Furman has been over budget every single year. Dean Kazee would very much like to increase the amount, as frequently individual faculty are asking him to increase the per-trip allowance of $1,000 which limits faculty's ability to attend international conferences. According to Dean Kazee, Furman's present policy compares favorably to that of other ACS institutions.

Question 7 - May experience

Will there be financial resources available to support faculty planning May Experience courses that involve travel and to provide scholarship assistance for May Experience study away courses to students whose families might not be able to afford additional travel costs?

The May Experience aspect of the new Calendar and Curriculum is as of yet the most unfinished part. While the prospect of travel study during the May experience seems to be the most promising opportunity, as of yet no concrete plans of funding the exploration of such opportunities have been made. Dean Kazee hopes that funds will become available to support travel study experiences in general. The Study Away committee called for a $10,000,000 endowment, and Dean Kazee is very interested in a specific reference to Study Away in the upcoming Capital Campaign, as Study Away is already referenced in the new strategic plan. Five years from now we probably will have sufficient, regularized funds to support Travel Study; our focus needs to be on the interim.

Question 8 - Meritorious Teaching Award

A primary instrument for recognizing distinguished teaching at Furman is the Meritorious Teaching Award. Yet, because the nomination procedure simply calls for letters from students and faculty, it is especially vulnerable to manipulation by departments, especially those with large numbers of majors. Other schools use measures that restrict such manipulation (for example, asking alumni five or ten years out to nominate or vote, rather than current students and faculty); will you consider such changes at Furman?

Dean Kazee agreed that the present description of the Award is problematic; yet a change of that description might be constrained by the original donor's agreement / gift agreement through which the award is funded. After consulting with President Shi, who did not believe that Furman is confined by the language of the gift agreement, Dean Kazee is entertaining the idea of identifying an appropriate, existing Faculty Committee to look at the policy and award; should no appropriate committee exist, Dean Kazee will form a new committee to study the issue.

Question 9 - Administrative reorganization

Please explain the proposed administrative reorganization. What were the motivations for the reorganization? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the new structure, as you see it? In general, how will you and the new dean divide the work that you currently do as dean? What impact do you expect the reorganization to have at the level of the academic departments? Why was there so little consultation of faculty before proposing this reorganization?

According to Dean Kazee, there were two main rationales for the reorganization. A first, "president-centered" rationale, attempts to free up the president for the upcoming capital campaign. Experts in organizational theory suggest that if significantly more than seven positions report to a higher position, that higher position becomes overloaded; the reorganization would shift some of these reports to the Provost, yet many of the positions external to the academic enterprise proper still will continue to report to the President (Business / Athletics / etc.)

The second rationale has to do with the place of academia within the overall organizational structure. At present, the Academic Dean is on the same level with, and, theoretically, "competing with," other "external" Deans who report to the President as well; a Provost would not be in such competitive position, but rather the Provost position would re-focus emphasis of academic concerns within the organizational structure.

The Provost would be thoroughly involved in academic affairs of the institution, as s/he would regularly meet with departmental chairs, continue involvement in the ITF committee, interview candidates for tenure track positions, and be involved in decisions of tenure and promotion.

Dean Kazee took exception to the charge that there had been "little consultation" of faculty. Dean Kazee argued that the chair of faculty, department chairs, senior members of faculty all had been consulted; additionally, two open forums had been offered on this issue. Dean Kazee further argued that per constitution the president of the university carries the responsibility for the academic program, of which this reorganization is a part. Furthermore, Dean Kazee argued, the model is open to modifications: recently, Janis Bandelin, Director of the Library, successfully argued that the director of the Library should report directly to the Provost, and the organizational structure was amended to reflect this. Dean Kazee emphasized that a large part of his daily work is really of administrative nature; out of ca. 80 e-mail he answers any given day, only ca. 10 carry any strategic import – the restructuring would allow for a greater focus on the strategic side.

Marty Cook wondered whether the restructuring is yet another indicator of Furman University loosing its uniqueness among peer colleges. Dean Kazee argued that the arguments for restructuring are sound; Furman does not need to fear losing its unique stature as long as faculty continue to have a voice in the academic program, and as long as Furman continues its unique programs. The direction of the institution, including the new calendar and curriculum, is driven by faculty; the reputation of the institution has risen because of substantive improvements. Dean Kazee expressed a strong optimism for the future of the institution.

Question 10 - Administrative reorganization

The proposed administrative reorganization will apparently necessitate substantial revisions in the Faculty Handbook, since many policies refer to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean. That position will no longer exist as it was conceived when those policies were written. Some of the policies that mention the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean and that will therefore require revision are so-called "contractual" policies listed in File 100.1. Revisions to these policies require faculty approval. What will happen if the administration and the faculty cannot agree on the revision of these policies—that is, cannot agree on the appropriate supervisory roles of the new provost and the new dean with respect to faculty status, benefits, and performance?

While Dean Kazee agreed that the reorganization would require substantial revisions of a number of policies, he did not expect a lot of disagreements during the process of revision between faculty and administration. Kazee expressed his confidence that even in cases where there might be initial disagreement, faculty and administration would eventually be able to reach reasonable consensus.

Question 11 - Centers and institutes

One of the obvious trends in the recent history of Furman is the creation of new administrative units—"centers" or "institutes"—to support the academic enterprise. Proponents of this strategy might argue that such units are necessary to coordinate efforts across departments and to enable "nimble" responses to rapidly changing conditions. Opponents might argue that centers potentially divert institutional energies and resources from the core of the academic program—that is, from the activities of the departments.

From the perspective of the AAUP's doctrine of shared governance, another obvious point emerges: the directors of the centers or institutes are in general administrative appointees, directly responsible not to academic departments but to administrators. Furthermore, when faculty committees are involved in "supervising" or "advising" the center or institute, these committees might also be administratively appointed committees. A center or institute might thus become an administrative mechanism for setting academic policy without general faculty approval.

My question is not whether you think this is happening or how well you think any current center or institute is working. It is, instead, a question about your educational philosophy. Should Furman, and perhaps other institutions, move in the direction of creating more such entities, as they might be needed to respond to new social problems and new educational needs? Will such entities gradually supplant academic departments as the centers of energy in the academic program? If so, how can we guarantee that the faculty retain effective control of academic policy? If, on the other hand, the academic departments are to remain at the heart of the academic program, then how can we make the centers and institutes accountable to the departments and avoid diverting too many academic resources to the centers and the institutes?

Question 12 - Vision for the future

The trustees have the responsibility to determine the general direction of the institution and its overall mission. But as the chief academic officer, you are in a position to influence trustees—and after the proposed reorganization, your influence with trustees might increase. What will you say to them? Is Furman more like a comprehensive university now, and should we move more intentionally in that direction? If we are to remain a liberal-arts college, what does that mean? What is the nature and function of the liberal-arts college in the United States at present? Should Furman attempt to reclaim in any formal sense its religious identity? If we are going to be a liberal-arts college, should we do anything to look more like one than we do now? How should we be similar to, and different from, our "competitors," and who are those? In short, what is your vision for Furman?

Due to the advanced hour, Dan Sloughter and Dean Kazee agreed to combine the last two questions. Dean Kazee sensed a certain anxiety in the questioner of question 11 regarding the place of individual departments within the university at large, and pointed out that the trend in various disciplines over the past few decades had been toward greater multidisciplinarity / interdisciplinarity. Yet, Kazee argued, individual disciplines will continue to function as primary candidates of taxonomy. CTEL and other centers thus will not replace various departments, rather, argued Kazee, CTEL will promote the collaboration of disciplines and the integration of knowledge. Such interdisciplinarity had been envisioned by the CRC document. The various centers, such as CCLC, CTEL, and the Office of Engaged Learning are thus to be understood, so Kazee, as resources for faculty; ultimately, they should be driven and steered by faculty interests. If these centers do not perform well, they should be fixed. Kazee expressed confidence that departments would continue to be important places of teaching and scholarship, as they will continue to be the core foundation blocks of the university.

Addressing Question 12, Dean Kazee argued that we should not try to reclaim some formal affiliation or identity along denominational lines, yet neither should we be fully secular. Dean Kazee pointed out that he had previously worked at other institutions who struggle with similar issues, each of which had found a good compromise between a full formal affiliation and a fully secular outlook, rather valuing the religious heritage out of which it arose.

Kailash Khandke briefly observed that the Office for Study / Center for International Study is very much driven by faculty interests, as it's government structure includes the Study Away committee. Dean Kazee affirmed that a center should not set academic policy, which should remain squarely within the purview of faculty.

The open forum adjourned shortly after 5:00 pm.

Minutes submitted by Alfons H Teipen, Secretary of AAUP Furman Chapter.

Last modified: Tuesday 07 March 2017 14:01 UTC