College Governance

CLAS Assembly Minutes

February 27, 2006
4:10 p.m. in the Keene Faculty Center

  1. Dean Neil S. Sullivan, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Professor of Physics, called the Assembly to order shortly after 4pm. He introduced Janie M. Fouke, the new Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Florida.
  2. Provost Janie Fouke introduced herself, and gave a brief summary of the main issues she has focused on in the past six months since she has been in the office. They include (but are not limited to): increasing standards of undergraduate education, increasing freshmen enrollments and addressing the problems related to low course load taken by undergraduates; reducing the cost of and optimizing the technological infrastructure; search for the Dean of Graduate School with the goal of improving CLAS Graduate Programs. As far as improving the Graduate education, the Provost proposes to address the following among its key ingredients: competitive stipends for graduate students, development of the alumni fellows program, improvements in the domain of health insurance and admission fees, and honorary Ph.D’s.
    1. Faculty Question: Given that the resources for the growth of graduate students are lacking, how can we address the growth and improvement of graduate education?

      Provost Fouke’s answer: Early admissions and change in the admission infrastructure will be a part of the solution.
    2. Faculty Question: Why should we strive for having a robust graduate school?

      Provost Fouke’s answer: Having strong graduate school, comparable to that of Georgia Tech, Duke, Michigan, among others, is instrumental for attracting and retaining top faculty.
    3. Faculty Question: Recruiting of top graduate students is jeopardized by the fact that the budget is determined late and hence the admission letters are also sent out quite late.

      Provost Fouke’s answer: The admission of graduate students must take place earlier.
    4. Faculty Question: Given the retirements and new recruitments, how do we insure that we have sufficient start-up funds to offer to new faculty in short-term to compete with other schools?

      Provost Fouke’s answer: We must be able to better predict the availability of funds, given the current late allocation decisions by the Dean’s Office.
    5. Faculty Question: The strategic work plan draft for the future of UF emphasizes hard sciences, and barely mentions humanities. Why is this the case?

      Provost Fouke’s answer: This is just a draft, and this point is subject to changes.
    6. Faculty Question: There is a certain disparity between the desire to improve the graduate education and the fact that the new draft for the future of UF explicitly mentions programs like Dance, Film among others, that is, programs and departments generating a small number of PhD’s, as opposed to CLAS, which does generate a number of PhD’s but is not given sufficient attention. Why is this the case?

      Faculty Question: In connection with the previous question, we need a more inclusive strategic work plan for UF.
    7. Faculty Question: There is a problem with the desire to increase the course load taken by the undergraduate students, given the unfavorable student-faculty ratio.

      Provost Fouke’s answer (to the last three questions/contribution): The plan needs to be reworked to take all these points into consideration. The new undergraduate Provost will specifically deal with the issues related to undergraduate education.
    8. Faculty Question: Can the budget for the library be increased? Right now, we cannot order all the best books in a a given field.

      Provost Fouke’s answer: UF only has state money, which also depends on the enrollment growth. Hence, our budget is restricted.
  3. Dean Sullivan concluded the meeting with a few remarks. They included a reassurance that CLAS is not disadvantaged, and the current strategic work plan draft contains a certain ‘overcorrection’ in emphasizing ‘hard sciences’, and downplaying humanities. There will be a humanities task force established which will formulate suggestions for modifying strategic work plan.

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