As the fall 2013 semester draws to a close, I wanted to update the campus community on various happenings at the College and specifically in Academic Affairs. As in the past, I will do this in the form of answers to specific questions. This semester’s questioner is a professor from the Psychology Department who is very interested in the cognitive abilities and processes of the Provost. All dialogue is strictly fictional and for the edification and entertainment of the CSI community.
Psychology Professor: Do you feel that CSI is moving forward as an institution?
Provost Naider: I believe that progress is being made on many fronts. The faculty seems quite energized and continues to strive to meet their personal goals in teaching, scholarship, and service to the College. Our faculty is receiving recognition both at the College and on the national stage. A selected listing follows:
-Professors Sylvia Kahan and Tom Tellefsen were honored at the Above and Beyond Gala.
-George Odian, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry received the Paul J. Flory-Polymer Education Award from the American Chemical Society. A symposium will be held in his honor in Dallas in spring 2014.
-Jiazhuo (George) Wang, Associate Professor of Business, was invited to write and edit a series of books in collaboration with the HSBC Business School at Peking University.
-Ying Zhu, Professor of Media Culture, was featured in the LA Times.
-Distinguished Professor Sara Shulman has been on a tour of Russia showing her film United in Anger: A History of ACT UP.
-Jonathan Peters was appointed in October 2013 to an expert panel of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Science.
-Soon Chun, Associate Professor, School of Business, was a General Co-chair of the 27th Annual WG 11.3 Conference on Data and Applications Security and Privacy.
-Dr. Irina Lyublinskaya, Professor of Education, was invited as the plenary speaker to an international conference, “Engineering Culture: From School to Industry,” held in St. Petersburg in November 2013.
-Dr. Alan Lyons, Professor of Chemistry received a Phase II SBIR Grant from the National Science Foundation.
-Patricia Smith, Professor of English, won the Robert L. Fish Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the best debut story of the year.
-Ming Xia, Professor of Political Science, was named among the top 100 Public Intellectuals in China for 2013.
-Mark White, Professor of Philosophy, was elected President of the Association for Social Economics.
-Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, Assistant Professor of Psychology, had her work on cross-species gesture and language cited by Discovery News.
-George Emilio Sanchez, Professor of Performing and Creative Arts, wrote and performed in the piece PARA-DICE (Stage 2) presented at Danspace Project.
-Emily Rice, Assistant Professor of Physics, was awarded her second major grant from the National Science Foundation.
-Mark Lewis, Assistant Professor of History, won the Fraenkel Prize, administered by the Wiener Library, London, UK, for an outstanding new publication in 20th-century European history.
On the curriculum front, our MSW program received State approval and will admit its first class in the fall 2014. A BS in Electrical Engineering was approved at the State level, allowing students to obtain a degree in this highly contemporary degree. Our BA in Geography was approved by the BOT. We are in the process of developing a Master’s in TESOL, a BFA degree, and a certificate in Large Data analysis. All of these degrees represent the outcome of faculty-led initiatives. The new schools have launched and the faculty in these schools have shown a strong commitment to their success. The IPC has recommended the formation of a School of Health Sciences and this recommendation was approved by the Faculty Senate and the College Council.
Finally, on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, we submitted our Monitoring Report to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This process was spearheaded by Interim Dean Susan Holak, Associate Provost Syed Rizvi, and Professor Catherine Lavender, with a strong input from Eileen Gigliotti, Warrick Bell, and Lacey Sloan. The campus is truly indebted to all of these individuals, especially Cathy who was responsible for the lion’s share of the writing. We expect to hear from Middles States in March of 2014.
Psychology Professor: What are the areas that concern you?
Provost Naider: This year, I am focusing on scholarly activities and development of pedagogy by the faculty. I have indicated that money is available for initiatives in these areas and I await faculty proposals. I am paying particular attention to CUNY discussions and decisions on the doctoral programs.
Psychology Professor: Many faculty members feel that CSI will be prevented from participating in doctoral programs at CUNY. Do you feel that their anxiety is justified?
Provost Naider: I myself am anxious about certain developments at CUNY. However, the President and I are strong advocates for a continuing role for CSI faculty in doctoral programs. We have transmitted our positions to Interim Chancellor Kelly and Vice Chancellor for Research Small. They have assured us that they will enable qualified CSI faculty to continue to participate in doctoral-level education. We have a team headed by Dean Chigogidze and including Professors Kruk and Oganesyan who represent our campus in CUNY-level discussions. My belief is that by increasing our scholarly profile through publication in prestigious journals, the writing of top-level books and review articles, and application for national fellowships and extramural grants, we can best position our campus to be included in the CUNY doctoral picture.
Psychology Professor: Some of my colleagues question your true dancing abilities, shouldn’t the Provost concentrate on something he/she really does well?
Provost Naider: The Provost needs some diversion to break the tension of the position. Life should be filled with lofty aspirations and fun. I have tried to show the CSI community that the Provost enjoys his job. I believe we should view our work at CSI as an opportunity to perform at the highest possible level while maintaining a sense of excitement about the opportunities we have at the College. Finally, in terms of my dancing acumen, I refer you to a quote attributed to Ginger Rogers, “Part of the joy of dancing is conversation, trouble is that some men can’t dance and talk at the same time.”
Psychology Professor: What would you say are the controversial issues that have been navigated this semester?
Provost Naider: I have learned that every issue is controversial, at least to some campus stakeholder. However, clearly the most controversy is related to ROTC at CSI, to the creation of new departments and schools, and to the continuing difficulties experienced with CUNYfirst. I am pleased to say that we conducted a very thorough campus-wide discussion on ROTC, where input was received from all campus sectors. My understanding is that the President has not received a specific request from any department or program to house ROTC and therefore, at this time, no decision need be made on this issue. As far as the schools and new departments, after significant debate, it was gratifying that the Faculty Senate voted to enfranchise the new departments. The new schools of Business and Education are moving ahead with great enthusiasm and energy under the leadership of Deans Holak and Gold. I expect that these new structures will have a positive impact on CSI.
I believe that CUNYfirst remains a concern and that this is not specific to our College. I have been collecting campus-based feedback and will use these to generate an action plan to overcome the remaining difficulties. In the meantime, I encourage people to continue “kvetching” because the issues must remain on our radar screens.
Psychology Professor: How do you justify the formation of these schools and the proposed formation of a School of Health Sciences? Will this not redirect resources and weaken our Liberal Arts and Sciences tradition at the College?
Provost Naider: To the contrary, the creation of these new structures has resulted in new money coming to the campus and has not impacted the other departments. This year, we are doing 19 searches for new faculty members–all in the liberal arts and sciences. Four additional searches are in Business and Education and this comes from new money. Without these funds, fewer searches would have been conducted in the humanities and sciences. Money to the liberal arts departments remains undiminished, travel support for the faculty remains at historic highs for the College, and investment in academic affairs has been increased. Thus, the evidence does not support those who question creating new departments and schools. From the procedural perspective, all of these actions were initiated at the departmental level with the overwhelming support of the members of these departments. This is why I, as Provost, supported these actions.
Psychology Professor: Some concern is being heard that the Provost does not believe in shared governance nor value the opinions of the faculty. This belief has led to an erosion of the fragile relationship between the liberal arts and sciences faculty and the administration.
Provost Naider: I find this perspective particularly hurtful. I can’t recall one case where I have not conducted extensive discussions relating to decisions made in Academic Affairs. This is true concerning administrative appointments, allocation of resources and lines, and major decisions such as those on the creation of departments and schools. In many cases, these discussions caused me to reconsider my original position. The statement that there is a “fragile relationship” with the faculty is not borne out by meetings I have had with large numbers of faculty over the past year. These meetings have been open; have led, in my opinion, to collegial exchanges; and have helped me to hear the faculty perspective. I believe that the actions taken by my office and by the Deans reflect the fact that I value and seek out the faculty viewpoint and champion it at all levels of this institution.
Psychology Professor: Are there any College initiatives that you would like to highlight?
Provost Naider: I think that the opening of the Residence Halls has had, and will continue to have, a major impact on the College. In the spring, we will provide faculty members with reassigned time recognizing their scholarly achievements and commitment to their disciplines. The awarding of this reassigned time involved input from the departments and the final recommendations reflected the deliberation of a committee composed of the four academic Deans and three members of the Faculty Senate Research Committee.
Psychology Professor: Any closing remarks?
Provost Naider: I hope my responses have indicated that my present cognitive abilities have not been terribly impaired by serving as Provost for the past year and a half. (My science is another matter). I am very confident about the future of this institution and see tremendous opportunities on the horizon. We have a terrific faculty and they are being augmented yearly by wonderful new hires who are enthusiastic and excited about being at CSI. In conclusion, I remain both optimistic and hopeful and want to leave you with one last thought “half the lies they tell about me aren’t true” [Lawrence Peter Berra].