The University Record, December 14, 1998
By Kerry Colligan
The circumstances involving a proposal to name a reading room for philosophy Prof. Carl Cohen and the newly initiated small-group faculty discussions were the focus of the Dec. 7 LS&A faculty meeting.
Interim Dean Pat Gurin informed faculty of the decision-making process she, Residential College Director Tom Weisskopf and others went through in halting the naming of a Residential College reading room after Cohen. Not one whit of the student protest or Carl [Cohen]s stance on affirmative action weighed in the decision, she began.
The process was halted because the proposed space is controlled by the Housing Division, not the Residential College, and because there were some discrepancies in fund raising for the project.
Last year, an anonymous donor gave the Residential College $10,000 to name a new reading room after Cohen. The plan was cancelled two months ago when it became apparent that, in addition to space and fund-raising problems, other administrative steps in the process were not followed.
The issues surrounding the proposed Carl Cohen reading room are among the topics faculty have been discussing in groups initiated by Gurin to find out how rank-and-file faculty feel about the College, whether they feel they have a voice in the College, how they see our collective future.
Responses to the discussion groups have been positive. Several faculty members offered remarks citing an informative environment, a chance to see different perspectives, and stimulating discussion.
Some faculty members were unclear about the breadth of representation in discussion groups, citing a higher proportion of senior faculty and department chairs. Gurin said that attendance across ranks has been proportionally equal, but that more senior faculty have been invited to-date than junior faculty.
In January, Gurin intends to hold sessions that are more targeted toward lecturers and assistant professors. Also, she is planning a meeting in February to include discussion about tenure review, the structures that reward excellent teaching, and how an organization rewards the multiple tasks that it asks people to do.
LS&A faculty next meet Jan. 11 in Room 2553, LS&A Building.