Faculty Senate on position changes

Dear editors of the Collegian,

Thank you for inviting the faculty senate to respond to the Sept. 18 Collegian article, “Administration decide faculty, staff cuts.” 

The Faculty Senate has two primary responsibilities: (1) defining, formulating and reviewing the college’s instructional program and (2) formulating and reviewing policies related to the professional performance and status of faculty. While we cannot comment on staff cuts, we are happy to provide some background information and commentary on the recent cuts to the college’s instructional programs and faculty.

Last April, the college’s Board of Trustees announced to faculty that the following programs were to be consolidated or eliminated: Communication Studies, Art History, International Relations, Diplomacy and Negotiations, Digital Design and Development, Publishing, and Journalism. 

While faculty were not involved in these decisions, the affected departments worked with the administration and the Faculty Senate to consolidate programs wherever possible. The Communication Studies major was consolidated from multiple focused emphases to one general major, and the International Relations major/minor and Diplomacy and Negotiations minor were consolidated with the Political Science major/minor. The Art History, Digital Design and Development, Publishing, and Journalism programs were eliminated entirely, though courses from those programs may continue to be offered in the future.

Faculty from the affected departments also implemented plans to ensure that students who have already declared those majors will be able to finish their degrees. Current Hastings College students should not be affected by these program changes.

In response to the Board’s further request to streamline curriculum, the Faculty Senate has created a working group to gather data on and review the college’s new 2.0 curriculum. The Student Association has been invited to elect student representatives to this working group, which will include faculty, students and staff. Work is likely to continue throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. 

Questions about curriculum or program changes may be directed to the chair of the Faculty Senate’s Curriculum Committee, Dr. Ben Waller, associate professor of English.

In addition to program consolidations and eliminations, the contracts of eight faculty members were terminated last spring. Following appeals to the Oversight Committee of the Board, several of the affected faculty — in collaboration with the relevant department chairs, associate deans, and faculty senate officers — were successful in reversing the administration’s original decisions. 

In total, three faculty members have left the college as a result of contract terminations: an assistant professor of painting, the director of the JDAC art gallery, and an instructor of English and Journalism. As a result of restructuring Perkins Library, Susan Franklin, formerly a professor of Library Sciences and the Director of Libraries, is now a professor of English in the Department of Languages and Literatures. 

Two faculty members, Dr. Sabina Hilaiel and Dr. Eric Kennedy, received short-term contracts for the fall 2020 semester as part of a $300,000 grant the college received this summer from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant, proposed by Dr. Rob Babcock, professor of History, focuses on retaining Humanities faculty at HC to develop hybrid and online courses. 

In addition to supporting the salaries of Humanities faculty, the grant also provided summer stipends for a large group of faculty in the Humanities and related fields to participate in pedagogical training on HyFlex and hybrid teaching methods. Dr. Matthew Duperon from Susquehanna University supported these faculty in designing hybrid and HyFlex courses that preserve the faculty-student interactions so valued at HC. 

The faculty who participated in this training offered workshops for other professors at the college to share tools and techniques that will support flexible teaching modes this fall. Many students have already benefited from this grant as faculty across the college have begun experimenting with hybrid and HyFlex teaching methods.

Again, thank you for inviting the faculty senate to respond and provide additional information. We understand that students may be anxious about recent changes at the college, especially in these uncertain times. We are committed to being transparent and inclusive, and welcome feedback from and collaboration with students.

The Members of the Faculty Senate 2020-21

Jessica Allen-Pickett

Amy Black

Moses Dogbevia

Stephanie Furrer

Jessica Henry

Patricia Oman

Eleanor Reeds

Amanda Solem

Pedro Vizoso

Ben Waller

Jesse Weiss

Ben Wuthisatian