The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate voted to approve and adopt three reports on the planned residential college expansion, faculty conduct standards and parental-leave policies at its monthly meeting Thursday evening.
The quick-fire approval of the three reports follows months of work by various subcommittees in the senate. The college expansion report had been discussed at a previous meeting, and following minor revisions, the final draft was approved in an up-or-down vote at Thursday’s meeting. The faculty conduct standards and procedures were also the subjects of discussions at previous senate meetings, and the final, approved report contains six resolutions that summarize the senate and the FAS’s stance on the contentious issue. The parental-leave policy, which clarifies faculty expectations and calls for equity between genders and faculty ranks, was the only new report, and it too was approved without much contention.
The FAS Senate is only an advisory body and has no actual policymaking power. Its reports help inform FAS members about current issues and offer recommendations to the administration for future action.
“There were three reports that were up for discussion and voting, and we voted to adopt all three reports,” FAS Senate Chair and history professor Beverly Gage ’94 said. “The plan is to send these reports out separately to the faculty and administration over the next few weeks.”
The parental-leave policy report, which has not yet been made public, is a broad and comprehensive evaluation of Yale’s parental policies, according to ad hoc report committee chair and history of science professor Bill Rankin. Gage said the report sheds light on the inconsistencies between how parental-leave policies are officially defined and how they are handled in practice. For example, she said, a ladder-faculty member can have his or her tenure clock stopped for a year during parental leave. However, this pause in the tenure clock may work against the candidate during a future tenure review, as it may raise expectations for the candidate’s productivity.
Many of the report’s recommendations speak to fundamental questions about the relationship between the University and its faculty, between parenting and the tenure process, and between the ladder and non-ladder faculty, Rankin said.
“Our goal is for Yale to have the most competitive and progressive parental policy of any university in the country,” Rankin said. “We compared Yale’s policies to those elsewhere, identified a number of specific concerns, and issued point-by-point recommendations for revision.”
Rankin said though the committee was especially mindful of the importance of these policies in the recruitment and retention of female faculty, it considered faculty of all genders, as parenting is not exclusively a women’s issue.
The other two reports that the senate approved had already been discussed at previous meetings, but required revision before the body would approve it for distribution to the larger FAS faculty.
The new college report is intended to summarize professors’ concerns with a lack of transparency in the planning of the two new residential colleges. There were three revisions to the report since it was last presented at the February FAS Senate meeting: an update of the count of FAS ladder faculty members from 660 to 651, a new section about the expected difficulty of maintaining the size of small seminars with the planned 15 percent increase in the undergraduate population, and the inclusion of more ideas from various senators about the colleges in general in the report’s conclusion.
The main themes of the report remained unchanged, and it still criticizes the University’s plan to accommodate 800 new undergraduates without significantly altering the academic structures and resources currently in place.
The approved conduct standards and procedures report, which addresses criticism of proposed mechanisms for addressing faculty misconduct, contains six resolutions and a series of more detailed summaries and recommendations. While the report has also not yet been made public, Gage gave the News a summary of the six major points.
The first states that “the conduct standards themselves as currently formulated and the draft procedures are inadequate and unacceptable to the FAS faculty.” The report also notes that while the senate accepts the need for some kind of standards to govern faculty behavior, the final standards and procedures must be better tailored to target specific, identified forms of misconduct.
The resolutions also state that, should a new committee be convened to review the standards and procedures in light of faculty criticism, the committee should be chaired by a member of the FAS. Other FAS members on the committee should be appointed in consultation with the senate, the report says. This potential committee should be empowered to revise both the draft procedures and the standards themselves, the latter of which are already approved and printed in the Faculty Handbook. The existing, administratively appointed committee that drafted the current draft procedures is made up of mostly faculty members from across the schools, not just the FAS, and it is already chaired by a FAS member: psychology professor and Trumbull College Master Margaret Clark.
Another resolution reiterates the senate’s stance that the final drafts of the standards and procedures should be brought to the FAS body for a binding vote; the new standards were approved by top administrators without full faculty consent last fall, drawing ire from several faculty members. Still, Gage acknowledged that giving the FAS faculty final say on the procedures may be potentially complicated, as the standards and procedures are currently University-wide policies, not just FAS-specific ones.
The final resolution suggests that this committee should describe the specific kinds of misconduct that the standards are being used to address, in order to clarify how alleged misconduct by faculty members will be adjudicated.
“The report is really an attempt to synthesize faculty opinions and the process by which we can move forward regarding this issue,” Gage said.
The senate will have its next meeting on April 14.