April 3, 2023 at 7:10 am #2308aaupjmuKeymaster
This past fall (2022), the Provost’s Office created, without input
from important stakeholders (the faculty!), a Core Curriculum Appraisal Task Force that was charged with reviewing the current GenEd program and making recommendations about potential changes.
While the AAUP lodged complaints about the Task Force, the Provost’s Office failed to yield. Rather, it has suggested that faculty will be consulted as the appraisal of GenEd curriculum advances. This
marginalizes instructional faculty from curricular processes and leaves foundational and irreparable problems (the manner in which Task Force, the administrator-majority membership, and the overall charge to the group) in place.
In an effort to draw additional attention to this matter and to ensure faculty primacy over curriculum matters, the AAUP’s Executive Committee submitted, through appropriate channels, a Faculty Senate
Resolution (Resolution Regarding the Dissolution of the Provost’s Core Curriculum Appraisal Task Force) calling for the Provost’s Office to immediately disband the Task Force and hand the responsibility
for GenEd curriculum back to faculty and the General Education Council. This request aligns with AAUP principles on shared governance and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) guidelines (pg. 17, 23) on curriculum development.
Please take a few minutes to review our “Resolution Regarding the Dissolution of the Provost’s Core Curriculum Appraisal Task Force” and talk with your faculty senator and other colleagues. The first reading of at the March 30 Faculty Senate meeting makes this eligible for debate, amendment, and vote during their April meeting.April 26, 2023 at 10:22 am #2402AnonymousAnonymous
“There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” (James Madison)
The past two years at James Madison University have been replete with moments of turbulence followed by fleeting flashes of hope that were quickly dashed. As one crisis bled into the next, the Provost’s Office consistently feigned attentiveness to faculty concerns, but failed to engage in any course correction that included real shared governance or transparency. Faculty have been unfortunately, but perhaps intentionally, positioned in a near constant state of uncertainty that raises anxiety and decreases hope for a sustainable future.
James Madison University’s Faculty Senate, the recognized deliberative body for faculty concerns, has been squarely thrust into the quagmire of administrative overreach and disdain for faculty rights. Several consequential resolutions that illuminate the lack of trust, shared governance, and transparency reached the Senate floor. Debates were rigorous, honest, and, at times, contentious – all part of democratic practices that shed light on the dark corners of authoritarian regimes.
The Faculty Senate’s voice seems clear. Shared governance, transparency, and respect for the professoriate have been abandoned in a quest for expediency and administrative supremacy. As the Faculty Senate considers yet another violation of faculty autonomy over curriculum (General Education), it is important to remember that the faculty do not carry blame for actions against their own self-interests. Lamentations for shared governance and improved transparency, when ignored, must not be quietened. Rather, calls for faculty rights must be lifted high on the wind so that they echo in each corner of the institution.
Faculty demands for transparency, academic freedom, and shared governance do not lessen the prestige of an institution. They are, in fact, the foundations on which institutions rise to greatness.
In considering the Resolution on the Dissolution of the Provost’s Core Curriculum Appraisal Task Force (TF), several key considerations must be addressed:
The Provost’s Office added, in response to the call for greater faculty representation on the TF, one additional instructional faculty member. The TF is now equally weighted between administrators and instructional faculty. Equal weighting does not, clearly, represent faculty primacy over curricular actions. Further, the TF’s charge and the faculty role remains ominously clear – faculty are not the determiners of curriculum but rather adjunct consultants.
Changes in the TF’s charge and composition were not a result of shared governance and/or input from faculty. They were top-down administrative changes that paid no heed to faculty considerations and expertise.
The approved process for reforms and updates to JMU’s General Education requires approval from the General Education Council (GEC). As noted in the GEC’s Curriculum Handbook “Proposals that could significantly modify the General Education program, such as reconfiguring clusters or altering total number of program credit hours, must be submitted to the Committee on Academic Programs (CAP) after approval by the GEC” (p. 18). This process has been vetted and approved by established and recognized policy-oriented processes.
In this case, it is clear that the Provost’s formation of and charge to the Task Force violated standard and approved JMU policy.
From conception to implementation, the Provost’s TF failed to include faculty, address policy requirements, and/or demonstrate adherence to basic concepts of shared governance, transparency, and faculty autonomy over curriculum.
It is clear that the process for forming the TF was flawed from the outset. It is equally obvious that the egregious errors made by the Provost’s office cannot be corrected with a few minimalistic changes to the TF’s composition and charge. And further, it is abundantly apparent that policies of James Madison University have been violated.
Basic AAUP principles on shared governance and transparency have been trounced. And, SACS guidelines for regional accreditation have been ignored. These facts are incontrovertible.
There has been, truthfully, an encroachment on the rights, privileges, and autonomy of faculty at James Madison University. It was a slow but gathering storm that continues to batter the ramparts of the institution and threaten the survival of faculty and quality educational programs for students.
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