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After Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith announced the names of the six newly elected members to the Faculty Council at Tuesday’s Faculty meeting, he pointed out a commonality.
“They are all men,” he said.
The six members—Astronomy professor Edo Berger, Romance Languages and Literatures professor Sergio Delgado, Music professor Vijay Iyer, Philosophy professor Sean D. Kelly, Economics professor Jeffrey Miron, and Economics professor Elie Tamer—will begin their three-year terms on the Faculty of Arts Sciences’s highest-elected body in July.
Of the 20 members currently serving on the Faculty Council for the 2016-2017 year, five are women. The six additions for the next year will not move the Council closer to gender parity.
“We must find a way to make sure that we do not lose the richness of perspectives that our Council has enjoyed in the past,” Smith said. “It is time for us to redouble our efforts in this space.”
Smith said he has asked the FAS’s Standing Committee on Women to look into the issue.
Faculty Council member David L. Howell mentioned the all-male slate in his remarks about the Council’s most recent biweekly meeting.
“We look forward to welcoming our six new colleagues to the Council next fall, but we share the surprise and alarm that most of you no doubt feel that no women were elected to the Council this year,” he said.
Smith said that a record number of Faculty members cast ballots in the election. Candidates for Faculty Council seats are nominated and voted on by the entire faculty.
Another point of concern for some Faculty members at the meeting was a proposed "Thinking with Data" course requirement.
Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris presented a motion proposing that a committee be formed to study the implementation of the requirement, which would focus on skills such as data analysis and acquisition.
According to materials distributed to attendees before the meeting, courses in this category could be created from scratch or reshaped from introductory Statistics department courses.
“We are convinced that all of our students need to have these skills,” Harris said.
After Harris presented the motion, several professors raised concerns about its mission and implementation.
Two mathematics professors questioned whether the requirement was drawn too narrowly. One of the professors, Joseph D. Harris, also asked how the FAS would manage the large amount of infrastructure required for a class that all undergraduates must take.
“Where are we going to get the faculty at a time where most departments are being told that they can’t hire because of lack of money?” he said.
Two professors in the social sciences said they felt that the definition of “data” used in the report and the requirement was too vague.
In his responses, Harris said questions like these would be explored by an implementation committee for the requirement.
The Faculty’s first opportunity to vote on Harris’s motion will arrive at the May Faculty meeting.
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