Dean of Faculty may replace President as head of COC
The Dartmouth College Committee of Chairs met Monday to discuss a report from the Committee on Organization and Policy that seeks to change the role of the Dean of the Faculty. A proposal before the Committee of Chairs, based on the COP's report, aims to make the dean of the faculty chair of the Committee. Currently, the President of the College acts as chair of the committee.
The Committee of Chairs consists of the chairs of all of the College's academic departments and programs. The committee usually meets once or twice per term to discuss issues pertaining to the faculty.
In a meeting closed to the public with the exception of student representatives and certain members of the press, committee members opposing the proposal argued that removing the President from the position of chair of the committee would hurt the faculty's representation.
Under the current system, the President presides at all meetings of the Committee of Chairs. If the proposal is ratified, the Dean of the Faculty will replace the President as chair of the Committee of Chairs, strengthening the deans position and leaving some faculty concerned that their representation within the College will be compromised, as the President will most likely not attend meetings regularly.
Media organizations are barred from quoting or paraphrasing individual comments or printing the names of individuals who spoke, according to committee policy.
Supporters cautioned committee members to be mindful that future presidents might not be as knowledgeable about the inner workings of the College as President James Wright, who has experience working with every rank of College bureaucracy. In that instance, COP members argued, the faculty would benefit from a strengthened dean with a strong, institutionalized relationship with the faculty, which is what the proposed change seeks to foster.
Additionally, supporters emphasized the fact that the President would remain chair of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, retaining a direct link between faculty and the president.
Advocates of the proposal also suggested that these changes will strengthen the position of both the Dean and the representation of the faculty by allowing both parties to play a greater role in agenda setting and drive the discussion of a broader range of issues. Some COP members felt that making the Dean of Faculty chair of the COP as well would make the Dean more personally invested in the committee's accomplishments.
The report also suggests replacing the Subcommittee on Agenda with a Faculty Coordinating Committee, which caused some confusion among chairs over the extent to which the Dean would remain involved in smaller committees such as the Committee on Instruction.
COP members said the Faculty Coordinating Committee would strengthen the relationship between the Dean and the faculty.
Finally, some chairs argued that the COP might experience more success in ratifying the report's suggestions if the Committee presented the proposal to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as separate entities, avoiding the potential that the whole document would be negated based on issues with a particular section. The faculty will vote on the proposal on May 23.
The COP proposal also includes changes in the dean search process and limitation of the Dean's term of office to five years. Both initiatives kept with procedures at Dartmouth's peer institutions and were not contested issues.