Ashley He/Sun Staff Photographer

The Faculty Senate meets in March 2020.

November 11, 2021

Faculty Senate Discusses Tenure, Global Hubs in Wednesday Meeting

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The Faculty Senate met on Wednesday, Nov. 10, to discuss two new resolutions related to professor tenure and one regarding Cornell’s global hubs.

The meeting began with a presentation by President Martha Pollack, who addressed recent faculty accomplishments, the class of 2025, the endowment and ‘Do the Greatest Good,’ the University’s most recent fundraising campaign. Pollack also briefly mentioned the bomb threats and shelter-in-place orders from Nov. 7 and 9, respectively. 

Prof. Tracy Stokol, population medicine and diagnostic science, proposed the two tenure-related resolutions intended to increase the transparency of tenure dossiers.

The first resolution regards no-contact lists. It proposes the ability for tenure candidates to place individuals in a no-contact dossier with their justifications in doing so. The applicant’s department can still request a letter from people on the no-contact list, but they must provide a reason, which the dossier will also document.

The second resolution regards external reviewers — individuals who evaluate tenure candidates but do not vote in the process. It proposes that both the tenure candidate and their department create individual lists of external reviewers. The department could then pull reviewers from both to compile a final list. The final list must indicate whether each reviewer is candidate-chosen, department-chosen or both.

Prof. Eric Cheyfitz, American Indian and Indigenous studies, proposed the third resolution, which would compel the administration to consult the Faculty senate before developing future global hubs. 

Cheyfitz said that though he is not against global hubs, he thinks faculty should be involved in making decisions about partnerships for academic programs.

Some faculty expressed confusion at the administration’s refusal to hear the opinions of the senate in establishing previous hubs, as the administration would still have the ability to make all final decisions regarding global hubs.

“I’m a bit flabbergasted by the insistence coming from Day Hall to try to avoid any public discussion and any public opinion being formulated by the faculty through the senate,” Prof. Laurent Dubreuil, comparative literature, said.

Cheyfitz said that some of the University’s international partnerships, such as those in Qatar and Israel, were not vetted by the Faculty Senate before their implementation, as is mandated in Article XII section 2 of the University bylaws.

Many faculty members voiced concerns about the ethical implications of certain global hubs. Cheyfitz noted that the Cornell global hubs’ criteria for selecting a partner does not mention any of the standards regarding academic freedom, tenure and human rights set by the American Association of University Professors. The University holds itself to these standards of academic freedom on its American campuses. These standards include freedoms to engage in research, to express oneself and to protest peacefully. However, Cheyfitz argued that these standards are not held within the University’s international programs. 

Prof. Risa Lieberwitz, ILR, the General Council of AAUP, stressed the importance of adhering to AAUP standards as the University expands abroad.

Prof. Richard Bensel, government, made observations about Cornell’s role in the environments fostered at host institutions.

“For a decade now, there has been a very strong positive correlation between the expansion of Cornell’s collaborative programs and the increasingly repressive environment of the host institutions with which we are involved,” Bensel said. “It seems almost lock step that if oppression goes up, so does Cornell’s involvement abroad.”