Decanal...(5 of 8)

James N. Porter (
Sun, 11 Jan 1998 17:21:50 -0500 (EST)

as promised - James

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 11 Jan 1998 15:17:29 -0500
From: Martin Thomas <androgyn@YORKU.CA>
Reply-To: York University Faculty Association List <YUFA-L@YORKU.CA>
Subject: Re: Please tell me...


I'm in complete agreement with the three objectives you describe.

With respect to the first, I wonder if the proposed solution is optimal.
The bias introduced into the process by the President first asking an
incumbent if (s)he would like to stay, and then advising a Faculty
Council of her (the President's) preference should be eliminated, but
ending this practice doesn't require the prohibition of reappointments.
Rather, I think, we should strive to have the process begin with an
expression of the preferences of the members of the faculty. Your
proposal would unfortunately also preclude the reappointment of deans
who enjoy the confidence and respect of members of the faculty. On the
other hand, your proposal would certainly be attractive if there were a
high probability that the President would disregard the views of the
members of the faculty.

One other issue is the extent to which either approach can be
implemented without the acceptance of the Administration. Both
approaches can be partially instituted unilaterally, though they
probably differ slightly in how acceptable such implementation would be
to the members of the various Faculty Councils. I suspect that a policy
opposing all reappointments might not pass as easily as one which simply
put the appointment initiative in the hands of the faculty.

Marty Thomas

Luigi M Bianchi wrote:
> Phillip,
> you write:
> "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."
> It seems to me that the very possibility that incumbent
> administrators may be reappointed should be questioned.
> Why not having a general, university-wide rule that no
> administrator can succeed himself? If we were to couple
> this provision with the annual review of administrators
> that has also been proposed, I believe we would have
> much more integrity across the board.
> With regard to the composition of decanal search
> committees, since the president essentially can pick
> (subject to BOG's approval) rather freely from the short
> list submitted by the committee, it would make sense
> for the composition to be determined more heavily by
> the constituency/ies
> Finally, the question whether a search should be limited
> or not to internal candidates, ought to be decided by the
> interested faculty. In particular, it should not be simply
> a financial matter.
> /luigi
> Luigi M Bianchi
> Date: Sun, 11 Jan 1998 13:35:34 -0500
> Reply-to: York University Faculty Association List
> From: Phillip Silver <psilver@YORKU.CA>
> Subject: Please tell me...
> Paul,
> 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
> time.
> 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
> proceeded.
> 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
> e-mail:
> Home Phone: (519) 273-3760 Fax: (519) 273-4651