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Petition to Convene Special SAS Meeting

Submitted by Sherry Wolf on Mon, 08/28/2017 - 00:00

Short version: please sign the petition to convene a special meeting of the SAS faculty to discuss the deans’ plans to reorganize the administrative staff of our departments.

SAS appears to have a plan that will “realign” the work of department administrators (and therefore all administrative staff) in departments throughout the school. We first learned that a plan was afoot last Spring, when SAS deans began to tell some department chairs to expect a change in reporting structure. Instead of department staff reporting directly to the department chair, SAS deans said that administrators would soon report directly, through a “solid line” to the Dean’s office and through a “dotted line” to the department chair.

Several department chairs asked the administration for more information on multiple occasions. On August 3rd, SBS (Social and Behavioral Sciences) chairs and their department administrators sent a letter to Executive Dean Peter March requesting clarification. Later that day, JoAnne Williams, Vice Dean for Administration, made a cryptic PowerPoint presentation to staff that suggested far more might be afoot than just reporting structures, including four additional Vice Deans (two such “Directors of Administration” jobs have already been posted), and implementation of new non-departmental administrative “Service Centers.”

This puzzling set of slides raised more questions than it answered. Given this worrying uncertainty, we are petitioning Dean March to convene a special meeting of the SAS faculty. We hope you will add your name to this petition. The SAS bylaws provide for such a gathering when requested by 10% of the voting faculty in SAS. (Please do not sign the petition unless you enjoy voting privileges at SAS faculty meetings. Tenured and tenure-track faculty may vote, as may NTTs allowed to vote on any matters at in their department meetings.) 

The “realignment” merits a special meeting for a number of reasons. Departments function as well as they do because staff work closely with chairs and with directors of grad and undergrad programs. As you may have observed, Cornerstone and other new burdens force staff constantly to practice triage on their work. If in the future staff report first and foremost to deans, then they will likely be less available to faculty. So what is at stake here is the stability, smooth operations, and collegiality of our professional homes. And, if staff perforce shed academic tasks, some of them may fall upon chairs and other faculty. These outcomes would not be good for SAS, for Rutgers, for students, or for scholarship. 

We have also seen the effects of similar realignments elsewhere in SAS and in other schools across the university. As language faculty will recall, SAS attempted last Fall to cluster staff in the new Academic Building on College Ave. Faculty opposed that change, and it has not gone through.

We know too little now to reject the realignment out of hand. However, we must insist that the administration consult with faculty before they implement organizational changes that could alter our working relationships with staff and departments’ autonomy.

That is the purpose of the special SAS meeting we envision. So, please help us make it happen by signing the petition. And please try to attend the meeting when it is scheduled.


Nikol Alexander-Floyd, Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies and an Associate Member of the Political Science Graduate Faculty

Steven Brechin, Professor of Sociology, Graduate Program Director of Sociology

Charles Haberl, Associate Professor and Chair, African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures

David M. Hughes, Professor of Anthropology, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty union

Joanna Kempner, Associate Professor of Sociology

Paul McLean, Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology

Robert Scott, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Undergraduate Program Director of Anthropology

Kristen W. Springer, Associate Professor of Sociology, Undergraduate Program Director of Sociology

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