Knowles Commends Benefits Committee

Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles yesterday praised the work of the Faculty Standing Committee on Benefits, whose chair, Professor of Sociology Peter V. Marsden, will present the committee's findings to the full Faculty this afternoon.

Marsden's report may bring an end to a five-month battle between faculty members and University administrators over changes to fringe benefits.

Knowles's comments came during a discussion of his annual letter to the Faculty, which calls for increased faculty participation in administration and decision making. The dean will also present his letter at today's Faculty meeting.

Knowles yesterday cited the benefits committee as an example--along with the humanities planning committee, the Committee on Information Technology and the Library Committee--of successful recent Faculty involvement in University affairs.

"You have to read it [positively]," Knowles said. "it's really...driven by the recognition of things...that are being made better because of careful scrutiny by the Faculty."


He said there are likely other issues in which faculty members could become similarly involved.

"We've got to look around and see what isn'tworking right," Knowles said.

He identified benefits changes as one of thosethings. Faculty complaints and outrage resultedfrom their general lack of participation, and whatsome considered insufficient consultation, in lastyear's benefits review process.

"We have very able people on this Faculty,"Knowles said. "And somehow without increasing theload, we have to tap that talent and expertise."

He emphasized that this work needs to be morethan service on "warm-body committees."

"We need to make sure the hours and minutesthat are spent are really helpful and productive,"the dean said.

Other Issues

In the interview yesterday, Knowles alsodismissed concerns that eliminating the words "inGeneral Studies" from the Cum Laude in GeneralStudies degree will provide a disincentive forstudents to write theses or apply to honors-onlyconcentrations.

"I should be awfully surprised if what isstated on the diploma, a document not read bythousands, could [affect] the education choices ofany of our undergraduates," he said.

In response to an Undergraduate Councilresolution passed last night that would requireteaching fellow (TFs) to attend each lecture ofthe class they are teaching, Knowles said that insome instances that could be an unreasonablerequest.

"I can imagine situations where well-known,basic material is covered in standard ways that itcould be better not to have the TFs doing theirown work at the back of the class," he said.

He also said that in his own experienceteaching in the chemistry department, it wentwithout saying that TFs were to attend lecture.

"In the courses at Harvard that I evertaught...all the TFs were present at all thelectures if one was teaching a large undergraduatecourse," Knowles said. "Then it was important forthe TFs to know what was said and how concepts hadbeen explained