The board of trustees unanimously voted to approve the new governance model on Feb. 24, 2007, despite the narrow margin of faculty disapproval during the December vote. Twenty-six approved, 27 disapproved and 4 abstained.
The Middle States Commission of Higher Education mandated that revisions be made to chapter one of the Faculty Handbook in their exit report in March 2005 and gave the college an 18-month time frame.
The board approved the chapter with one amendment that states, “Any substantive changes to the Faculty Handbook must be forwarded to the Board of Trustees through the president”
“I think the board would be better served if there was a more open line of communication from the faculty and from the student body to the board. Currently, all information is filtered through a few administrators. The board would be more knowledgeable and Cabrini would be better served,” Dr. Sharon Schwarze, professor of philosophy, said. Schwarze served on the faculty handbook committee for a number of years.
“In the course of the Board’s decision-making process, I did share the results of the December vote of the faculty and all correspondence I received from the Faculty Senate,” President Antoinette Iadarola said in a letter to the faculty.
“We [board of trustees] believe that the new governance model reflects best practices in higher education, incorporates the core values of the College and broadens meaningful faculty participation in decision-making,” Margaret Duprey, the chair of the board of trustees, said in a memo to the president on Feb. 27.
The new governance model eliminates the faculty senate, academic council and the president’s faculty meeting. Instead, the approved model includes the Faculty Assembly, a committee composed of all full-time faculty members, the president, the vice-president of academic affairs, dean for academic affairs and dean for graduate and professional studies.
The Faculty Handbook Steering Committee, minus administrators, along with Dr. Anthony Tomasco, professor of psychology, and Dr. Sheryl Fuller-Espie, associated professor of biology, will oversee the appointing and voting of officials for the new model. Faculty are currently submitting recommendations. Fuller-Espie was the chair of faculty senate in the former governance model.
“The board did not rubber stamp the chapter because the president approved it. They carefully read all the material from the AAUP [American Association of University Professors] lawyer and the concerns submitted from the faculty senate,” Dr. Jolyon Girard, professor of history and political science, said. Girard was the co-chair of the Faculty Handbook Steering Committee.
Within the new governance structure, faculty will no longer have the option to speak without an administrator present at major committee meetings, which has sparked debate among the faculty.
“A majority of the faculty rejected the governance model so the faculty cannot be happy. The faculty, however, has no choice but to try to make the best of the situation in order to keep a voice in governance. Right now their voice is only a squeak,” Schwarze said.
The board vote signified closure on chapter one for the faculty and administration after months of discussion over the proposed governance model.
“We commend the hard work of all involved in this Handbook project and the robust debate surrounding these important issues. We thank the Steering Committee and the President for bringing this matter to closure,” Duprey said.
“Get it off the desk so we can focus on the issues that affect the men and women we teach here,” Girard said.
The remaining chapters of the Faculty Handbook are currently in final drafts, will be voted on by the faculty and sent to the board of trustees.