The highest governing body of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) yesterday cancelled the Faculty’s scheduled Feb. 28 meeting—which initially had two motions challenging University President Lawrence H. Summers’ leadership on the docket—in the wake of Summers’ resignation Tuesday.
The Faculty Council cancelled the meeting to give Faculty members “time to settle” after Summers’ resignation, said Weary Professor of German and Comparative Literature Judith L. Ryan, a member of the Council.
The Faculty will have a “non-regular” meeting of voting members on March 7 to share “ideas and feelings” about University governance, according to 300th Anniversary University Professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, who chaired yesterday’s meeting of the Faculty Council.
We need to “let people talk this through,” she said. “There are unresolved issues that people need to share.”
But the Faculty will return to its previously-scheduled business—discussion of the curricular review—at its next regular meeting on March 14.
And Professor of the History of Science Everett I. Mendelsohn, also a Council member, said the Faculty Council will again focus on the search to replace Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby.
While the motion for the seconda Council member, said the Faculty Council will again focus on the search to replace Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby.
While the motion for the second no-confidence vote of Summers’ presidency—placed on the Feb. 28 docket by Ryan—has been withdrawn, a second motion calling for the Board of Governors and the Harvard Corporation to “collaborate” with the Faculty to ensure effective governance of the University may still be on the March 14 docket.
“Automatically any motions now go on the agenda” for the next meeting, said Professor of Physics and Applied Physics Daniel S. Fisher, the motion’s author. “I hope that after that [March 7 meeting] the motion will be moot.”
The March 7 meeting will not follow the strict format of official Faculty meetings and will be limited to discussion, with no votes taking place.
“There will be attempts to have further discussion of what we’ve learned about this governance crisis and what it tells us about how we ought to look to the future,” Mendelsohn said.
AN EMPOWERED COUNCIL
Faculty Council members said that they are reaching out to members of the Corporation and incoming interim University President Derek C. Bok. “We are asking, ‘how can we contribute in this interim period?’” Ulrich said of the Council.
“We’ve been empowered to conduct some preliminary discussions with Derek Bok to see what might be the best procedure,” Ryan said.
The Council will create a search committee to advise Bok on the dean search. The search committee will also consult with Summers, Mendelsohn said.
When asked whether the new dean would have interim status, Ulrich said it would be “pretty hard to pick a dean without a president.”
The Council stalled the dean search last week, releasing a statement that said it would be difficult to find a candidate who could work with both Summers and the Faculty.
“I happened to speak today with a member of the Corporation who said that Derek Bok will be coming into Cambridge and will be...trying to figure out how best to make [the FAS dean search] work,” Ryan said. According to Ryan, Bok will visit the University “at some point this spring.”
Council members stress that the dean search process is still in its early stages.
“Details of the process will be worked out in the days to come,” Assistant Professor of Visual and Environment Studies and of English J. D. Connor ’92 wrote in an e-mail.
Council members said that the Harvard Corporation will continue to be active in resolving the governance crisis.
“The Corporation has said that they are going to get moving quickly,” Ulrich said of the searches for president and dean. “I think that has been a strong feeling.”
Even though Summers and Kirby will not see the conclusion of the review they began, Ulrich emphasized that ultimately “the Faculty is really responsible for curricular review.” Several Council members said they are “enthusiastic” and “eager” to advance the review.
On March 14, the full Faculty will meet in University Hall to review the recommendations of the curricular review’s Educational Policy Committee (EPC).
“We will...be resuming our discussion of the EPC’s proposals to change the date of concentration choice and to establish optional secondary fields,” Berkman Professor of Psychology and Council member Elizabeth S. Spelke wrote in an e-mail.
Ulrich said the review is progressing at a “grassroots level now” and that individual professors need to develop a stake in the review before legislation reaches the full Faculty.
“Nothing is going to happen until individual departments sit down and ask, ‘how is this going to affect us?’” Ulrich added.
No vote on the EPC recommendations is expected at the March 14 meeting, although a vote at the next meeting—scheduled for April 4—is possible, Ulrich said.
Kirby said in the fall that several of the curricular review committees’ proposals could come to a vote this semester. Now, only five meetings remain for the full Faculty to discuss and approve the curricular review before the academic year ends.
“I am personally hoping that we can get some of those issues where we are closer to agreement and try to work on those to get them firmed up and legislated,” Ryan said. She added that Council members who also worked on curricular review committees “would really be disappointed if there were no action on a goodly number of these things.”
Council members recognized, however, that the review is far from complete.
“There are, of course, real issues to be reckoned with and real differences of opinion,” Connor wrote in an e-mail.
Although the regular Feb. 28 Faculty meeting has been canceled, Faculty members will gather for a required degree meeting that same day.
—Staff writer Allison A. Frost can be reached at email@example.com. —Staff writer Samuel P. Jacobs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.