April 12, 2001

Faculty React to Qatar Intiative

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Active discussions but no voting resolutions characterized yesterday’s Faculty Senate meeting, which reviewed everything from Cornell’s Qatar medical college initiative to professorial titles and female faculty salaries.

The Qatar initiative caught most faculty members by as much surprise as the general public when Rawlings first made the announcement on Monday, according to J. Robert Cooke, dean of the University faculty. Faculty members, therefore, used the meeting as an opportunity to ask questions of the administration and to address their concerns.

Some faculty wondered how the University will, “do its job to ensure that quality is protected in the overseas programs,” Cooke said in an interview.

Provost Biddy (Carolyn A.) Martin emphasized at the meeting that the University has, “complete control over all education aspects of the agreement,” including the admission of students and the appointment of faculty members.

The role that Ithaca faculty members may play in the Qatar initiative’s future was also discussed.

“Although little has been said about what roles the faculty members in Ithaca will play in Qatar, the tentative expectation is that 19 new faculty positions be available for the premedical program in Qatar,” Cooke said.

Cooke said that Ithaca faculty participation will be, “most necessary for the program,” and that most positions will be temporary, “longer than a sabbatical but not like a full career.”

“Financial inducements” and “the desire to go abroad” to act as a pioneer for the globalization of higher education may play a role in encouraging faculty to participate, according to David Robertshaw, a member of the planning committee and the newly appointed associate dean for premedical education.

Next on the agenda was a proposal for creating endowed senior professorial titles with “phased retirement,” according to Prof. Emeritus Robert Foote, animal science.

“The lack of a mandatory retirement age for faculty members in the endowed colleges has tipped the ratio of old to young faculty members,” Foote said. As a result, budgetary restraints have prevented the hiring of as many younger faculty members.

The aim is to devise a program with requirements for a, “phased retirement” where each individual faculty case is reviewed.

Lastly Prof. emeritus Francille Firebaugh, director of special projects, presented a progress report on a, “faculty gender salary equity study.”

A study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology inspired a University-wide endeavor with a series of faculty salary gender studies to be conducted individually for each college.

The next step is for the deans to review the output and to make changes for the next year in cases where women’s salaries fall five percent or below the average. Then a more comprehensive evaluation will take place over the summer.

“I have a hunch that there won’t be massive changes. Any discrimination that occurs is likely due to subtle factors that unknowingly may occur,” Firebaugh said.

Additionally, all public information will be kept very general, according to Cooke.

“Quality control will be maintained in the hands of the deans to protect the confidentiality of individual salaries. We will make no official announcement that will make it possible to trace individual salaries,” Cooke said.

Archived article by Jennifer Roberts