BCAAUP Discusses Provost Search Committee, Faculty Representation
Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 31, 2013 03:10
“We haven’t been fixing all the problems, but we’re heading in the right direction,” said Susan Michalczyk, assistant director of the A&S Honors Program and president of the Boston College chapter of the American Association of University Professors (BCAAUP), the day after a BCAAUP Chapter meeting that took place this Tuesday at Fulton 230. Adding onto the heated hour-and-a-half long discussion from Tuesday afternoon, she reinforced the organization’s key missions and clarified the struggles she and her colleagues have been going through since the organization’s inception in 2010. Despite low turnout, the meeting addressed several critical issues that directly influence both the faculty and student body of the University.
A discussion of the provost search with Catherine Cornille, co-chair of the provost search committee, marked the beginning of the conversation among faculty members in the room. Cornille gave a brief overview of what the committee has been focusing on and how it will be operating in the near future before leaving the meeting. While emphasizing the fact that the committee is still in its beginning stages, she explained that although there will be no open meetings for faculty members to take part in the election, through a thorough selection process, three or four candidates will become part of the committee in early December. Several points were made by the listeners, including Michalczyk, who showed dismay at the lack of faculty governance options at BC.
“We may be small in number, 103 or so, but many of our members are also in various University committees … so we do represent larger faculty votes,” Michalczyk said. Paul Gray from the sociology department agreed.
“I hope that the person, whoever she or he is when hired, will feel a sense of importance or urgency about getting to know many of us and what our concerns are,” he said. Other listeners also engaged in the conversation as they expressed their hope for effective two-way communication and transparency. They asked for a sympathetic and respectful communicator to be selected so that they could feel reassured about the policies made by the committee.
Following the discussion was a faculty survey report by Gray. Introducing it as the third survey completed since the acknowledgement of the BCAAUP in 2010, Gray shared the results and expounded on the implications of each statistic. He stated that the faculty members as well as the BCAAUP members are members of the larger community who wish to provide constructive criticism for the betterment of all those who are part of the University, including students.
Among different statistics, Gray pointed to the extremely low level of satisfaction of faculty members in their participation in decision-making. While 66 percent of the faculty surveyed was satisfied at the department level, only 27 percent and 19 percent felt satisfaction at the school and University level, respectively.
“What you find is the closer to home the decisions are, the more satisfied people are,” Gray said. He also discovered that 50 percent of the faculty surveyed found the leadership and administration at the University level to be dissatisfying while 26 percent expressed dissatisfaction with the leadership at the school level and 15 percent at the department level.
Addressed for the first time in the 2012 survey, retirement planning, an issue directly related to the faculty’s future decisions, turned out to be a widely unknown policy, with 95 percent of the faculty members answering that they did not know or were unsure whether there is a standard retirement plan. Other questions included physical environment, classroom facilities, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Only 14 percent believed faculty morale has improved, which Gray noted seemed not to match the prestige and popularity of the University itself.
“This is a big, very popular, prosperous university that has high hopes for the future,” Gray said. “How can it be that only 14 percent of its own faculty think that morale has improved?”
The phenomenon of bullying, which was also addressed in the survey, accompanied some criticism from the surveyors, suggesting that bullying is a loaded concept that should not describe the way any professional treats others.