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Knowles Asks Faculty to Revive Involvement

By Elizabeth T. Bangs

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) must revive its involvement in areas of institutional policy and administration, Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles said in a report to the Faculty this week.

"These changes have two goals consolidation and local control," Knowles wrote. "[In] addition to efficiency, the benefit of consolidation is that it can allow faculty involvement in the distribution of funds, money, space and personnel."

In the letter, which will be presented at the full Faculty meeting on Tuesday, Knowles describes the improving financial health of FAS, positive trends in the College and problems facing the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).

This year's letter marks a dramatic increase over previous reports in its description of the social, as well as the financial, health of FAS.

Knowles' final section, titled "Continuing Concerns," reflects the Faculty's outrage last fall with the review of health and retirement benefits, which are being phased in over 1995.

"The changes were designed to remedy a chronic annual deficit of $10 million in the benefits 'pool,'" Knowles wrote. "Subsequently, members of the faculty expressed considerable dissatisfaction with the decision-making process and with some of the recommendations."

At Tuesday's meeting, Professor of Sociology Peter V. Marsden will present the findings of the Standing Committee on Benefits, which was commissioned last fall to examine the benefits review and the changes.

Faculty complaints have centered on the proposed pension reductions and the lack of Faculty participation in the review process. The Task Force on Benefits, which proposed the changes, was headed by former Provost Jerry R. Green and consisted entirely of administrators.

"There has been an inevitable tendency to emphasize centralized decision making, and to rely upon staff who are well-qualified in their specialities but are more removed from the core academic activities of the faculty: teaching and research," Knowles wrotein his letter.

The dean urged faculty members to become moreinvolved in this decision-making process.

"With such involvement, we can ensure that thetalent and expertise of our colleagues shape thefuture of the FAS," he said.

Financial Health

Knowles reported that the FAS budget, whichreached a deficit of nearly $12 million in 1990,may be balanced by the next fiscal year, "wellahead of the federal government."

The budget deficit for FY1994 was less than $2million, its lowest since at least 1987.

But Knowles warned that the recent costcontainment and increases in income which made thedeficit reduction possible may not continue. Hecited reports of economists that the country is onthe brink of an inflationary period.

"Investment managers urge caution, and remindus that the returns of the past decade willprobably not be sustainable in the long run,"Knowles said. "[We] must brace ourselves for aperiod of lower returns."

Knowles wrote that a reduction of 20 staffpositions by FY1996 will likely be necessary tocompletely eliminate the deficit. A FAS hiringfreeze which continued through 1994 was offset bythe increase in computer support personnel.

Finally, Knowles expressed concern aboutprojected reductions in federal support forscience funding and expected "Contract WithAmerica" reductions in student aid.

Knowles praised the work of the EducationalPolicy Committee, the new Committee on EthnicStudies and those involved in the newEnvironmental Science and Public Policyconcentration for working to improve theundergraduate educational experience.

"I am pleased to report that over the pastthree years we have built a group of facultydeeply engaged in curricular issues and ablewisely to address these matters bothphilosophically and in detail," Knowles said.

In particular, the dean mentioned increased andwidespread concern about student-facultyinteraction and advising.

But Knowles also expressed concern about GSAS,particularly the "weak" job market for new Ph.D.sand the decline in graduate student aid

The dean urged faculty members to become moreinvolved in this decision-making process.

"With such involvement, we can ensure that thetalent and expertise of our colleagues shape thefuture of the FAS," he said.

Financial Health

Knowles reported that the FAS budget, whichreached a deficit of nearly $12 million in 1990,may be balanced by the next fiscal year, "wellahead of the federal government."

The budget deficit for FY1994 was less than $2million, its lowest since at least 1987.

But Knowles warned that the recent costcontainment and increases in income which made thedeficit reduction possible may not continue. Hecited reports of economists that the country is onthe brink of an inflationary period.

"Investment managers urge caution, and remindus that the returns of the past decade willprobably not be sustainable in the long run,"Knowles said. "[We] must brace ourselves for aperiod of lower returns."

Knowles wrote that a reduction of 20 staffpositions by FY1996 will likely be necessary tocompletely eliminate the deficit. A FAS hiringfreeze which continued through 1994 was offset bythe increase in computer support personnel.

Finally, Knowles expressed concern aboutprojected reductions in federal support forscience funding and expected "Contract WithAmerica" reductions in student aid.

Knowles praised the work of the EducationalPolicy Committee, the new Committee on EthnicStudies and those involved in the newEnvironmental Science and Public Policyconcentration for working to improve theundergraduate educational experience.

"I am pleased to report that over the pastthree years we have built a group of facultydeeply engaged in curricular issues and ablewisely to address these matters bothphilosophically and in detail," Knowles said.

In particular, the dean mentioned increased andwidespread concern about student-facultyinteraction and advising.

But Knowles also expressed concern about GSAS,particularly the "weak" job market for new Ph.D.sand the decline in graduate student aid

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