Faculty Meeting News and Notes: Sept. 21, 2023

By Laken Franchetti, Editor-in-Chief

President Bob Iuliano began Thursday’s faculty meeting by recognizing how members of the Board of Trustees were in attendance. He thanked them for what they do for Gettysburg College and for being present at the meeting.

Iuliano then acknowledged that a $1.5 million endowment was gifted to the college in order to establish the Ann McIlhenny Harward interdisciplinary fund for culture and music. This gift is dedicated to the intersection of humanities and humanistic sciences.

Iuliano recognized the Summit on the Future taking place this weekend for alumni, college partners and key stakeholders to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the new strategic approach that the college launched in February 2023. The approach is called Living Our Promise: The Strategic Direction for Gettysburg College. Iuliano thanked the faculty members that would be taking part in the Summit.

Provost Jamila Bookwala then took to the podium and began by thanking the staff members that had signed up for informal conversations over lunch, which will be occurring every other Thursday starting next week. Bookwala also thanked the faculty for their patience while the restructured Provost office learns procedures and conventions for the college.

Combating Budgetary Pressures

Bookwala then began to discuss the budgetary pressures that the college faces. She said that these issues have grown not due to a lack of effort to solve them yet due to external factors such as the smaller size of incoming classes. Bookwala stated that managing the budgetary pressures is one of her most urgent priorities.

A large proportion of expenses are in the form of fixed costs associated with faculty salaries and compensation. Bookwala suggested reducing expenses by limiting the hiring of non-tenure track faculty. Decreasing reliance on non tenure track faculty then means that the college must rethink how they structure and deliver the curriculum and how they allocate teaching power.

She stated that no decisions have been made as of yet, and opportunities will be provided for faculty to share their opinions and ideas.

Chairperson of the religious studies department Deborah A. Sommer’s questioned why the college was spending so much in the direction of study abroad programs and the Center for Global Education (CGE).

Bookwala answered that Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Jeanna Hamming has been working with CGE to change how the college has offered and performed opportunities to study abroad. Bookwala said that the office is looking to explore having more homegrown programs led by faculty as well as shorter programs that could take place in May, August or January.

Faculty Governance Review Commission Progress Report

The Faculty Governance Review Commission (FGRC) gave a progress report and detailed their next steps. FGRC Chair and Professor of English Christopher Fee first spoke about what the commission accomplished last fall. The FGRC investigated what they were doing according to their handbook, worked with IT to see how committees could have their work facilitated through technological means, and consulted with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office.

Fee then detailed what the FGRC accomplished in the spring: accumulated answers and feedback from faculty through a survey that investigated items such as the college’s governmental structures and what committees should be deemed most important.

As for next steps, the FGRC is looking to amend the Sabbatical Service Cycle and to streamline committee assignments by reducing the number of committees or adjusting committee sizes.

An Update from the Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning

The Director of the Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning (JCCTL) and Professor of health sciences Josef Brandauer gave a generative AI update. Brandauer thanked Lecturer in English Melissa Forbes for her continued assistance with the JCCTL. The center has run about 20 genAI sessions and their genAI website has received over 10,000 individual visitors and 30,000 page views.

Brandauer reminded faculty to clarify their genAI policy in writing for students. He stated that the Honor Commission is not equipped to review AI cases if the instructor has not clarified their genAI policy and rules in their syllabi. Brandauer also gave a recommendation against the use of genAI detectors.

To reduce Honor Code violations, Brandauer gave a set of recommendations: create a high-trust environment in classrooms, communicate the genAI policy clearly, have low stakes assignments, give meaningful and valid assessments, provide consistent assignment structures, use direct observations such as oral exams and utilize “alternative” grading methods.

Brandauer reminded faculty that the JCCTL offers grants to fund research work. Additionally, his term as Director ends at the conclusion of this academic year, so Brandauer encouraged faculty to apply.

CGE Affiliated Programs and Provost Request

There were motions to approve multiple CGE affiliated programs. This was delayed so they could be voted on at the next faculty meeting.

The Provost Office requested to delay the curriculum implementation to the fall semester of 2025 rather than 2024 as originally established. This vote was also delayed to take place at the next faculty meeting.

Professor of history Michael Birkner questioned who pays the cost of the CGE study abroad programs that were brought to the faculty’s attention. Iuliano answered by saying that it depends on the financial aid status of the student. If the tuition received from the student is less than the cost of the program, the college pays the remaining amount. If the tuition received from the student is more than the cost of the program, then the student is covering the remaining amount.

Chairperson of the political science department Caroline Hartzell questioned if one of the CGE affiliated programs that was to be voted on was already active.  Interim Director of CGE Jesse Phillips answered that these motions were left over from last year, so that program is active and open.

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Author: Laken Franchetti

Laken Franchetti ’24 serves as the Editor-in-Chief for The Gettysburgian. She has previously served as News Editor, Assistant News Editor and as a staff writer for the news and arts and entertainment sections. Laken is an English with a writing concentration and history double major. On-campus, she is the Editor-in-Chief for Her Campus, the Nonfiction Genre Head for The Mercury and a user services assistant at Musselman Library. Laken is also a Lincoln scholar and spent the Fall ’22 semester abroad in London and Lancaster, England. In her free time, Laken is an avid film fan and enjoys reading.

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