Provost Philbert discusses tenure policy revisions, arts initiative at SACUA

Monday, October 7, 2019 - 8:21pm

SACUA Assembly Chair Joy Beatty leads the discussion at a SACUA meeting September 30.

SACUA Assembly Chair Joy Beatty leads the discussion at a SACUA meeting September 30. Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

Provost Martin Philbert joined the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs to discuss the creation of a faculty group to recommend amendments to policies on the dismissal of tenured faculty, as well as President Mark Schlissel’s new arts initiative. 

Philbert said the faculty group will review two Regents’ Bylaws, 5.09 and 5.10, that involve dismissal procedures and severance pay. The group, comprised of faculty from all three campuses, will recommend revisions to the policies in light of recent controversies involving tenured professors. According to the University Record, the group will recommend revisions by Feb. 28, 2020. 

The University began the process of firing tenured School of Music, Theatre & Dance professor David Daniels in July. Daniels has been on paid leave since August 2018 when baritone singer Samuel Schultz accused Daniels and his husband of sexually assaulting him in 2010. In January, Daniels and his husband were charged with second-degree criminal sexual misconduct. The case is still ongoing. 

The Daily’s reporting revealed the University awarded tenure to Daniels in May 2018, despite the Office of Institutional Equity learning of alleged sexual misconduct in March 2018. 

Philbert emphasized the bylaws’ importance in terms of protecting academic freedom and employment, but said revisions are needed to prevent against faculty wrongdoing. 

“The Regents, the President, myself, the EOs, [and] all the way through the faculty are dedicated to the idea that the fundamental tenets of 5.09 not be threatened,” Philbert said. “That academic freedom, freedom of thought, freedom of expression are enshrined and remain so forever ... We have to be very careful and thoughtful, and quickly amend the bylaws to protect tenure and to protect our faculty and to protect society from the bad behavior that is frequently in the headlines.”

The other part of the meeting involved Schlissel’s arts initiative. The initiative was introduced by Schlissel in the 2019 Leadership Breakfast and is about bringing the humanities into STEM-related majors through means of creative and inclusive processes. 

Philbert reflected on his own experience as a musician and why he believes it is important to incorporate these ideas into STEM fields.

“One of the things I hope that we avoid, that President Schlissel said in his leadership breakfast remarks, is that we don’t simply view the arts as an instrument,” Philbert said. “We don’t look at the benefit of the arts and medicine, or the utility of the arts in becoming a better engineer, but that they actually take a life of their own. That we understand that the arts themselves have value in being able to explore those things that are difficult to explore. ”

SACUA Assembly Chair Joy Beatty, associate professor of management studies, introduced the first motion of creating an e-voting system for the Senate Assembly. There was heavy debate about using Qualtrics or Canvas to implement an e-voting system. The motion was withdrawn with the conclusion that they would use a test trial of BlueJeans, a video conferencing website, at the Senate Assembly on Oct. 21.

SACUA and Senate Assembly member Ivo Dinov, professor of computational medicine and bioinformatics, expressed his concern about using Qualtrics as the e-voting system.

“Qualtrics is a very silly,” Dinov says, “So we have to be careful with this … If we go with something or recently screwed up, I guarantee you there won’t be anything like this in the next two decades, because they’ll be fingers pointing to the failure case … And we should all try to weigh in, what are the pros and what are the cons because there will become potential of going to something like this.”