Faculty Meeting Five Short of Quorum

The sparsely-attended December 5th faculty meeting included updates about the proceedings of the Office of Institutional Diversity (OID), information from Student Life regarding student care resources, as well as end-of-semester reminders from the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and the Associate Dean of Faculty. Upon President Audrey Bilger’s commencement of the meeting, a vote was taken to move into executive session in order to discuss confidential matters. The Quest was not present during this session, as it was exclusive to faculty and relevant members of staff, but anonymous sources have alleged that the discussion centered around Paul Currie’s recent resignation following an investigation that showed no violation of policy. 

When the executive session was completed and the regular faculty meeting resumed, President Bilger called on Phyllis Esposito, Vice President and Dean of Institutional Diversity, to provide updates on behalf of OID. Esposito announced that a webpage entitled “Where We Stand” was being updated to include the recent actions taken regarding the office’s 2022 commitments. This webpage had been created to make communications about OID’s progress and plans more visible and open in order to invite conversations about the office’s role on campus. Esposito went on to note that multiple positions within the office are currently being hired for, as the Staffing Associate to OID had received 34 applications and the Associate to the Dean of OID had received 20 applications. As these applications get reviewed, Esposito shared plans to onboard these new hires, generate divisional plans, and maintain transparency about actions within OID. Moreover, Esposito stated that OID had plans to go on a retreat in order to ideate and plan OID’s goals and mission. Esposito closed her report by mentioning that the faculty and staff campus climate survey had been open and received 160 respondents, and she encouraged faculty and staff to include their voices in the survey. She stressed that the survey was confidential and outsourced to a different body, and the information from this survey would help OID make decisions to best serve campus groups.

Karnell McConnell-Black, Vice President and Dean of Student Life, provided updates on student support and care. He noted that an unusual number of students had been receiving care referrals and taking leaves of absence, and many students had been coming to the Student Life Office with concerns surrounding how mental health and stress were taking a toll on their lives. Student Life has been working on individual solutions to best suit individual students’ needs, whether that be taking a leave, receiving an incomplete, or getting connected to appropriate resources. McConnell-Black stated that Student Life staff has been spending the vast majority of their time and energy working directly with students to navigate individual concerns. He then encouraged faculty to feel free to reach out to Student Life staff with any questions, whether that be with insight about how students are feeling, or with efforts to better collaborate with Student Life.

Mary Ashburn Miller, Professor of History and Humanities, then spoke on behalf of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). Her report began with the theme of gratitude, as she requested that every member of the meeting shout out the name of an individual that helped them become a better person in the classroom. In line with this expression of gratitude, Miller thanked the 12 attendees of the Advising Workshop, the 8 attendees of the Inclusive Pedagogy and Teaching Workshop, the 4 members of the CTL Reading Group, and the 9 faculty working in the Student-Teaching Consulting Program for their commitment to engagement in the classroom. Miller went on to invite all faculty members to work with CTL in the spring semester by attending workshops, participating in or recruiting students for the Student-Teaching Consulting Program, or joining the CTL Reading Group, which will be reading bell hooks’ “Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope.” More immediately, Miller also encouraged faculty to come together in the CTL office on the Thursday of exam week to grade in community. Miller also noted that faculty members can look forward to Paideia events, including the annual syllabus exchange and the embodied pedagogy workshop. As a final reminder, Miller also noted that syllabus revision resources would be available come January, and she suggested that faculty consider asking students to annotate syllabi at the end of the semester as a tool for future syllabus revisions. Miller rounded out her report with her monthly tidbit, where she asked faculty to consider how to pivot the focus of the end of the semester away from “summative assessments,” and instead toward “formative assessments,” allowing faculty members to consider how they’ve grown and how further improvements can be made.

In line with Miller’s end-of-semester ideas for consideration, Associate Dean of Faculty and Associate Professor of Political Science and Humanities, Tamara Metz reported on key parts of the faculty code that could be relevant to the upcoming final exam week. Metz first noted that final exams should be scheduled for a period between one and four hours, regardless of whether the exam is in-person or take-home. After a question from a faculty member, Metz clarified that this does preclude untimed finals. Metz then brought up a part of the code that she had recently discovered, which provides a recommended distribution of grades across a class, such that 25 percent of students would receive As, 45 percent of students would receive Bs, 25 percent of students would receive Cs, and 5 percent of students would receive Ds. The final reminder that Metz provided was that the faculty code does not allow work to be assigned over fall, spring, or winter break, inclusive of work due within the first week of return to classes, unless with a prior announcement in the course syllabus.

The rest of Metz’s report as the Associate Dean of Faculty included updates on committees, a research showcase, and a congratulatory note. Metz stated that she and Kathy Oleson, Dean of Faculty, would be initiating an audit of faculty committees in order to optimize practice and revise inefficiencies. She also noted that the Academic Success Committee had been focusing on reworking the faculty advising system, and they had collected data to find a common mission and goal. The committee identified two key issues to be addressed in early spring, namely the timing of new student advising and registration, as well as unifying how 4 and 8-week comments are to be used. Metz then invited the faculty to a December 13 faculty research showcase, in which Matt Pearson, Professor of Linguistics, and Yalçin Özkan, Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology, would be presenting quick, eight-minute presentations. Metz also stated that there was a free spot in the showcase, and any faculty members with an eight-minute presentation in their back pocket were free to take it. Lastly, Metz congratulated 34 new faculty members, 10 of whom are tenure-track professors, for completing their first semesters at Reed.

During Metz’s report, a faculty member raised a question regarding the campus climate survey conducted in early 2022 with Tony Boston, the former interim Vice President and Dean of Institutional Diversity. The faculty member asked if the Student Success Committee was still working on processing that data, or if faculty members had access to that information. They stated, “We’re good at generating data. Some of us want to use it.” President Bilger responded, stating that the team was still sifting through the data alongside Institutional Research, and the data was not yet available to faculty. Bilger also noted that to reduce the endeavor’s complexity, the committee had begun working with an outside provider for future campus climate surveys.

Jolina Kwong Caputo, Associate to the Dean of Faculty, made an announcement representing the Paid Leave Oregon Working Group. She noted that beginning January 1, 2023, a new 0.6 percent tax would be implemented. She went on to say that in September 2023, faculty would be able to receive paid leave for birth, sexual assault, harassment, stalking, and other events. Caputo stated that more information would be available in the coming year.

Kara Cerveny, Chair of the Committee of Academic Policy Planning (CAPP), then began to provide committee updates. However, Cerveny was quickly stopped by a question asking what the meeting’s quorum was. A quorum was determined at 59, and after a few rounds of mental math, followed by a verbal counting off of every voting member in the room, the number of voting members was found to be 54, just a few members short of having quorum. At this point, the meeting was temporarily adjourned so individuals could search Vollum for faculty available to attend the meeting as voting members. This search was fruitless. Thus, the faculty meeting was adjourned, and all remaining agenda items were pushed to the next month’s meeting.

By Nina Gopaldas.

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