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Dean Rosovsky said yesterday he will decide before the fall semester whether to create an executive committee on Afro-American Studies to oversee the appointment of tenured Faculty in the department.
"Creating the executive committee would be a demonstration of Dean Rosovsky's determination to strengthen the department," Phyllis Keller, associate dean for academic planning, said yesterday.
The Faculty Council discussed the possibility of the committee with junior Faculty in the Afro-American Studies Department two weeks ago, "as one course of action which might remedy problems in the department," Keller said.
Richard J. Herrnstein, professor of Psychology, said the proposed committee "is not an unlikely thing to think of in a department having trouble attracting Faculty members for tenure."
The department now has only two tenured Faculty: Ewart Guinier '33, professor of Afro-American Studies, who is semi-retired, and Eileen J. Southern, professor of Afro-American Studies and of Music, who is on leave.
Herrnstein said the proposed executive committee would be an interim measure until enough senior Faculty are appointed to the department to form their own committee.
Guinier said yesterday that the Faculty Council does not have the power to decide how the department chooses its Faculty. He said any such action would violate a 1973 Faculty resolution which gives Rosovsky and an interdepartmental committee power to search for tenured Faculty in the Afro-American Studies Department.
"Obviously Professor Guinier is not clear about our procedures." Rosovsky said, adding that the decision about an executive committee is under his jurisdiction.
Keller said the Faculty Council "is very supportive of the proposed committee, as are junior Faculty in the department."
Several junior Faculty members of the department refused comment yesterday.
"The executive committee formula is one that has been used with success settling similar problems in departments." Keller said. She cited actions in the Astronomy and Visual and Environmental Studies Departments over the past ten years as examples.
Keller added that the committee would "eliminate the difficulty of a single person making the decisions in the department."
Keller said the visiting committee studying whether Afro-American Studies should have its status changed from a department to a committee will probably not present its recommendations until the fall.
Herrnstein said he saw changing the department's status to that of a committee as unlikely, "since the Faculty as a whole would have to vote to eliminate the department."
"Personally, I've seen no indication of pressure on Faculty members to undo the department. I can't see anything happening to the department in the near future," Herrnstein added
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