Decanal term and (re)appointment

James N. Porter (
Sun, 11 Jan 1998 16:44:53 -0500 (EST)

People - I forward the following reflections of Phillip Silver,
current Chair of the Council of the Faculty of Fine Arts. I hope they may
aid in your consideration of procedures for the Faculty of Arts.
In solidarity - James Porter, Associate Professor of Sociology
Faculty of Arts

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 11 Jan 1998 13:35:34 -0500
From: Phillip Silver <psilver@YORKU.CA>
Reply-To: York University Faculty Association List <YUFA-L@YORKU.CA>
Subject: Please tell me...


Today is a hectic tidy-things-up day preparatory to heading to Winnipeg,
but I think your very direct question to me on Jan 8 deserves as mush of
an answer as I can give now, with perhaps some elaboration at a future

You asked if I was REALLY satisfied with the current process for the
decanal search. The answer is both "yes" and "no".

YES given the point of departure, the info we had when we started, the
support faculty members have given to the process and the result, which is
a committee that both in numbers and distribution is far more
representative than previous committees have been. My personal judgment
is that it will be a balanced committee with strong
representation from various points of view. James Tenney's e-mail gives
some indication of faculty council's support for the process. And I guess
that, to some extent, my satisfaction with the process is secondary to
theirs. As I pointed out in my first YUFA-L, I was not and still am not
aware of FFA council (YUFA) members who were unhappy with the way we

NO because, as we proceeded, we did discover things that were not as we
came to think they should be, or were the subject of alternate
interpretations. It seems to me that the composition of any search
committee should be unassailable so that their eventual
recommendation(s) will also be seen as unassailable (or at very
least, valid as an expression of the will of a majority of faculty).

There have already been some informal discussions as to the changes we
might make for the next time. I hope that before this term is over our
Council Executive will be able to draft motions for debate in Council on
these items. To give some idea of what some of us now feel should be
in place:

- The current York decanal reappointment process seems to start at the
President's level, with the Pres asking a Dean if s/he wishes to continue
into a second full or partial term. If the answer is "Yes", the Pres
then asks Council for its support/non-support, with whatever votes,
letters, forums, etc. council establishes to ascertain that support. Our
Council has shown interest in procedures that essentially are an
assumption of a FIXED five year term for a Dean, with the COUNCIL
initiating the request to the President for an extension or renewal. This
obviously has to happen at a predetermined time in the Deans' term, so
that the timeline for the possible search is sufficient.

- There was very little in our Faculty records that clearly stated the
search committee routine, and as we have already discussed, the contract
and "search procedures" documents leave too much potential for
interpretation. I hope that Council wil be able to draft procedures that
clearly outline the actual numbers, the distribution of reps and the
methods for election among faculty, staff, grads and undergrads, as well
as how we should put forward our recommendations to the President for
her/his appointees. There are obviously several parties to all this and we
will work with them to assure that their independence is protected and
their input is assured. All of this would have to be clearly within the
letter and spirit of 12.28.

So to sum up, from where we started to where we are, I do think the
process has created a committee that will serve the faculty and the
Faculty well. I don't think the proposed improved procedures would
have found a better group of individuals, but it would have made
their election a cleaner process.

Phillip Silver
Department of Theatre
York University
Phone: (416) 736-2100, ext. 44019
Home Phone: (519) 273-3760 Fax: (519) 273-4651