Eric Reilly/Sun Staff Writer

Faculty discussed tenure track, gynecology care and global hubs at a Wednesday Faculty Senate meeting.

February 16, 2023

Faculty Senate Discusses Tenure Tracks, Gynecology Care, Global Hubs

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The Cornell Faculty Senate met in Schwartz Auditorium at Rockefeller Hall on Wednesday to discuss three proposed resolutions — standardizing tenure tracks, implementing a permanent M.D. gynecologist and guaranteeing free speech at global partner campuses — which they will vote on via online ballot from Feb. 16 to March 2.

First, Prof. Suzannne Shu ’90 M.Eng. ’92, applied economics and management, who is also dean of faculty and research, discussed harmonizing tenure tracks for faculty within the same areas in the S.C. Johnson College of Business.

Most colleges within Cornell utilize a six-year tenure clock, where tenure is allocated to faculty based on their scholarship, teaching and service during their first five years of work.

In 2012, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution to extend the Johnson Graduate School of Management’s tenure clock to an eight-year period. This move was made based on competitive pressures, with other business schools opting for longer pre-tenure periods.

Last year, the S.C. Johnshon College of Business restructured its tenure process to align faculty under research areas, rather than under their respective schools: the Johnson Graduate School of Management, the Nolan School of Hotel Administration and the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

However, Nolan- and Dyson-affiliated staff still see six-year tenure clocks, while their Johnson colleagues see eight-year tenure clocks. According to Shu, this discrepancy has caused recruitment issues.

“We are up against a competitive set that has been moving to longer tenure clocks, anywhere from seven to nine years,” Shu said. “And our candidates we’re bringing in know this — they prefer longer clocks.”

During the meeting, Shu also commented that the majority of current faculty supports a switch to an eight-year clock.

Next, Arielle Johnson grad, a Ph.D. candidate in the school of integrative plant science, who is also the co-founder and current treasurer of Pelvic Pain Association at Cornell, discussed a resolution to implement an M.D. gynecologist at Cornell Health.

According to Johnson, gynecology care on the Cornell Ithaca campus is performed by nurse practitioners with expertise in gynecology. Although many students have had positive experiences seeing nurses at Cornell, others need extended care not offered by the University.

“Currently, students are referred off campus for common pelvic pain conditions and to get basic diagnostic care like ultrasounds,” Johnson said. “These off-campus referrals are especially an issue here at Cornell, because we are relatively isolated in Ithaca. And most M.D. gynecologists are only focused on pregnancy, which doesn’t cover all of the needs of our student population.”

According to Johnson, an M.D. gynecologist would provide students with more efficient diagnoses and care for common conditions including Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, endometriosis and ovarian cysts. Currently, peer institutions — including Harvard and Yale — provide this level of care to students.

Johnson called on her own personal experience with endometriosis, a common condition that affects approximately 10 percent of women. After being referred to an M.D. gynecologist by Cornell Health, she went to many gynecological practices in town before finally getting diagnosed by an M.D. gynecologist in Rochester.

Johnson acknowledged that as a white, cisgender woman from a wealthy background, she was able to access a high quality of care where she was respected and trusted by health professionals, unlike many minority and underserved individuals in similar positions.

“I have effectively only been able to get good healthcare and continue with my degree because of my privileged position,” Johnson said. “I shudder to think about what’s probably happening to other students right now, if they’re forced to leave their gynecological health issues untreated.”

Finally, Prof. Richard Bensel M.A. ’76 Ph.D. ’78, government, discussed a proposal to protect academic freedom and freedom of speech throughout the Global Hubs system.

Cornell’s Global Hubs program was established to increase opportunities for Cornell undergraduates to directly engage with student peers at partner institutions, while students who attend the schools that serve as Hubs can study for a semester or year at the University.

While the University expands its academic programs in China and other nations with authoritarian regimes, the proposed resolution states that the Faculty Senate should guarantee the same academic freedom and free speech rights to those in the Cornell community and those who teach in classes and programs sponsored by the University. Similarly, his proposed resolution calls on the University’s central administration to take all necessary action to protect the academic freedom and free speech of students in the Global Hubs system.

Bensel said that arguments in favor of Cornell’s neutrality on foreign nation policies are flawed, as Cornell has already stood against the actions of countries like Russia. On March 2, 2022, President Martha Pollack announced Russia’s deplorable invasion of Ukraine.

“If you take a stance on one country that does deplorable things and you’re silent on another country that does deplorable things, you create an imbalance in which the silence looks like the consent or legitimation of the second country’s policies,” Bensel said.

Bensel also emphasized that the proposed resolution would not remove Cornell programs in the addressed foreign nations.

“[This resolution does not impinge on] individual faculty in conducting research, or teaching in an authoritarian nation,” Bensel said. “[However,] the resolution does remind us that academic freedom and freedom of speech are fundamental values wherever Cornell creates or maintains an academic program.”

Correction, Feb. 16, 11:05 a.m.: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Arielle Johnson’s name. The article has been corrected.