Multi-departmental/college graduate programs
(Afterthoughts from meetings on a new Policy unit—
A newcomer's attempt to identify problems and make proposals of wider relevance)
22 November 2002
The first problem for faculty and staff in multi-departmental/college graduate programs or in Centers and Institutes outside the college structure is to get support to be productive with less time consumed in distracting and dispiriting battles over resources.
Small multi-departmental/college graduate programs achieve amazing things at UMB, but to hold the programs together some (many?) of their faculty members have to take on inequitable workloads, spend time petitioning a changing cast of administrators, and postpone taking leave. Vulnerability to resource decisions that chairs and deans can make with little consultation and insufficient regard to past agreements is paralleled by the vulnerability of faculty members in personnel evaluations and promotion decisions. Basic responsibilities that administrators should have to Graduate Programs and their students are not acknowledged or codified.
The basic responsibilities to small, multi-departmental/college graduate programs should include, as a minimum, that:
- a) Major changes in the direction of a program should arise only from scheduled and systematic Program reviews that allow problems to be identified and faculty to respond before any new arrangements or proposals for Program elimination are implemented;
- b) Between reviews, programs should be allowed to follow their AQUAD plans. Program faculty should be consulted in any interim, belt-tightening measures; resource reductions should not be allowed to jeopardize a program without proper and open review;
- c) Faculty members should be able to apply for medical, sabbatical or research leave without fear that resources provided to cover their absence would be insufficient for the Program to remain viable or would result in unsustainable workloads for the remaining faculty members; and
- d) No pre-tenure faculty member should not be put in the position of choosing between extra service to maintain a Program's viability and their research and publication.
Proposal re: review procedures
At the time of hiring or assignation to a program (or other non-departmental unit), it would be established in writing that:
- a) ad hoc personnel review committees would consist of one member of the faculty member's department and the remainder would be proportionately drawn from the different units in which the faculty member's responsibilties lie; and
- b) merit and promotion decisions at levels higher than these review committees would respect the responsibilities and expectations laid out as part of the hiring or assignation. The provost would have responsibilty for ensuring that these agreements were honored even when there is turnover in administrators.
Such "hybrid" reviews would be a positive step for faculty members in interdisciplinary and intercollege programs whether or not the person's line is moved into any new unit (School, Center of Excellence).
It would allow assignation of a faculty member to a new unit without the college of origin losing the line.
Conversely, faculty members would be protected from the possibility that a chair or dean could review their work negatively so as to be able to divert their line to something else.
This review arrangement could be extended to professional staff where needed.
Proposal re: resources
At the time that a program affiliates with or moves to a new unit, the resources allocated to that program would be established in writing. During times of budget cuts and belt-tightening there may be grounds for rationalization of resources but this would be done with consultation and respect the basic responsibilities above. If chairs or deans made decisions with insufficient consultation or regard to past agreements, the Director of the unit would be expected to advocate to the Provost for the programs and the Provost would see that the basic responsibilities above were upheld. If additional resources were needed for a program whose primary affiliation is with the new unit, the Director could advocate to the Provost for these resources and avoid asking multiple colleges to provide a share of resources.
If both these proposals were implemented, it would be possible for a Policy unit to be created without moving any personnel or programs.
Even if a new college-like unit were created, there would be greater flexibility of the timing or nature of participation—creation of a new unit would not boil down to (or bog down again in) an issue of who is in, who is out; who gets resources, who misses out.
Indeed, a program could have a secondary affiliation with another of the new units—after all, there are faculty and staff whose work links policy, environment, and/or health disparities.
Finally, the issue of a home for Public Policy and Public Affairs may get simpler—its official home could be the Politics Department in CAS, but it would be affiliated with the new Policy (Policy and Practice?) unit. Faculty members from other departments and Colleges could be assigned to Public Policy and Public Affairs and thus to the new unit without those departments or colleges feeling that they lost resources , had less control over these Programs than the Politics department, or could now shrug off past commitments.