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Faculty Call For Increased Input At College of Business Open Forum

Faculty and staff emphasized the need for increased involvement in administrative decisions when discussing the College of Business initiative at an open forum Wednesday. Provost Michael Kotlikoff moderated deliberations about the administrative rationale for the decision at the forum. Although many have characterized the decision as sudden and surprising, Kotlikoff said discussion of the College of Business actually began in 2008. The provost called the creation of the College of Business a politically difficult initiative, explaining that this made the administration choose to bypass the faculty senate when making the decision to merge the colleges. “If we had entered an extended debate with faculty and alumni, it would have been tremendously resisted,” he said.

Faculty Say Bylaws Forbid Admins to ‘Circumvent’ Senate

Prof. Richard Bensel, government, said that the creation of the business college was in violation of Article XIII of the University’s bylaws, which state that, “The function of the University Faculty shall be to consider questions of educational policy which concern more than one college, school or separate academic unit, or are general in nature.”

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Shared Governance is a Sham

To the Editor:
Is the broader Cornell community seriously surprised by the decision of the trustees, including elected representative trustees and President Elizabeth Garrett, to approve the new Cornell College of Business and completely ignore Cornell’s representative assemblies? This decision has ample precedent at Cornell in the failed attempt of the provost in summer 2002 to dismantle an entire college without consulting faculty. More importantly, though, our campus needs to actually engage in dissent outside of shared governance bodies lacking actual impact on university decision-making: It is time to stop feeling ashamed of dissenting in ways that circumvent “the usual channels.”
After approving the new college at a meeting in New York City — over 200 miles away from the campus which these decisions would actually impact — President Garrett emailed to say that the vote “marks the beginning of an inclusive and crucial process” to “more fully define” the new college’s structure. Given the usual administrative lag for anything at Cornell, it seems likely that the true “beginning” of this process was months ago. President Garrett and Provost Michael Kotlikoff still aren’t concerned with our collective disapproval of this undemocratic process; rather, they simply wanted to rush their questionable agenda through to approval.

Talking it out | Provost Michael Kotlikoff addressed the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly who voiced their concerns, on the College of Business in McGraw Hall, Monday (Samantha Briggs / Sun Assistant Design Editor)

Graduate Students Criticize College of Business

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly voiced their frustration with the administration’s lack of transparency in the decision making process. Kotlikoff defended the Board of Trustees’ decision citing multiple past studies regarding the need for such a conglomeration of schools. These studies, Kotlikoff explains, have identified “fragmentation of our business programs as a liability for our University.”
“In many cases,” he said, “What’s happening is these programs are spending resources on those faculty that they would like to spend on their more specialized faculty and programs that distinguish the school, and that arises from the fact that we’re not leveraging our resources and allowing students to access resources across these schools.”
The provost described the need for the “most efficient organization” which would facilitate hiring of new faculty for business programs.
He maintained that preserving the identity and excellence of each individual school — one of the main concerns in response to the recent decision — will be a “major goal” in the upcoming process. Kotlikoff also discussed how faculty from each of the involved schools are “working together to determine the faculty governance process.” Various committees, including undergraduate and graduate student synergy committees, will also be involved in the governance process. In response, Nathaniel Rogers grad, GPSA vice president for operations, said it was “hard to say that the faculty felt like they were involved in the process.”
Rogers also said that some graduate students in the GPSA — an organization which gives them “the unique opportunity to impact how Cornell operates”— are frustrated because they do not feel that they are part of the process in making recent decisions such as the $350 student health insurance fee and the creation of the College of Business.