Getting tenure is really, really cool: You don’t have to worry about money or being fired for the rest of your life. For academics, it’s the ideal job, though only a select few can attain it. That’s why Universities painstakingly vet potential candidates.
That’s what Provost Robert Groves made clear in a blog post earlier today discussing the the imprecise mechanics of granting tenure. While he makes no specific reference to the it, his arguments amount to a University defense of the decision to deny tenure to the well-respected Arab Studies professor Samer Shehata, who recently publicly alleged that his case was subject to procedural irregularities and violation of academic freedom.
Groves notes that academic fields are growing increasingly competitive as more PhDs compete for fewer job openings. As a result, he stresses that decisions to grant or deny tenure are “taken seriously,” saying that “thousands of person-hours” are spent evaluating each case. Each person is judged on three criteria: “scholarly product, teaching quality, and service to the profession and the university,” which, he says, can only be measured qualitatively and subjectively.
Specifically, he writes that teaching quality is hard to judge, saying that large classes yield lower evaluation scores than small, discussion classes. Shehata reportedly excelled at teaching and received glowing reports. Groves writes: “But the lasting impacts of teaching on students are not commonly measured; we need to get better at this.”
Last week in his blog, Provost Robert Groves tackled the issue of diversity, pledging to work on bringing more diversity and unity to Georgetown’s campus. He mentioned the release of the Student Commission for Unity report in 2009 which launched President John J. DeGioia’s Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness.
Noting progress in areas such as hiring more diverse faculty, larger and more diverse applicant pools, and the creation of a Diversity Fellows program, Groves applauded Georgetown’s previous efforts in the area.
However, he stated that more could still be done and said at the end of his post: “a great university’s work is never done in this domain. We must work together and continually renew and recommit ourselves to these efforts.”
The Provost’s blog is just one way in which Groves hopes to have student input during his time at the university. Last week students received an email from the Provost’s office inviting them to apply to the Provost’s Student Advisory Committee, where students will meet with the Provost once every month or so to discuss issues facing the university.
Many students in their comments on the blog have commended this choice, and from the responses on the blog, it appears that the Provost will have many students interested in discussing issues such as diversity with him.
While commenters on the post were in favor of bringing more diversity to campus, they pointed out that the progress that the Provost mentioned was not actually very successful.
As student Antony López commented, “The recommendations from the SCU reports are far from being accomplished, much less initiated.”
In an email sent to students, the new Provost Robert Groves announced the inaugural post of a blog he will maintain throughout the semester. He titles the first post “Our Moment in Time,” in which he discusses the future of research and innovation at Georgetown. He reflects on the introduction of online courses and other advancements in the education over the past years, stressing Georgetown’s need to balance the use of “new techniques” and “traditional methods.”
“Georgetown needs to remain focused on the end, not just the means. Its legacy consists of students as whole persons filled to their individual capacity with knowledge and skills in the service of others,” Groves wrote.
He encourages students to follow his new Twitter, as well, which he says he will update whenever he posts a new blog entry. He added that he hopes students will comment in response to each blog post.
“We lucked out,” Groves ended his first post. “We got to be at Georgetown at a time of unprecedented opportunity.”
Replacing outgoing Provost James O’Donnell, Professor Robert M. Groves has been named Georgetown’s next Provost and Executive Vice President, effective August 20. Groves has been the director of the U.S. Census Bureau since 2009, and prior to that he served as a professor at the University of Michigan for more than three decades.
His primary field of study, in contrast to O’Donnell’s classics background, is survey methodology. At Michigan, he was the direct of its Survey Research Center. Groves completed his master’s and doctoral work at Michigan after receiving a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth University.
“The depth and breadth of Bob’s experience and scholarship will make an extraordinary impact within our community,” President John J. DeGioia said in a statement. “We are excited to welcome his innovative leadership as we continue to strengthen our academic programs and fulfill our educational mission in Washington, D.C. and beyond.”
The choice highlights the priorities of the search process. At a town hall in January, the head of the search committee declared a commitment to Georgetown’s Jesuit identity as one of the committee’s three priorities in their considerations. Indeed, prior to Groves’ appointment, only one provost in University history was neither a Jesuit nor a Catholic. However, DeGioia’s email to the community making the announcement does not mention the University’s religious identity or Groves’ commitment to it. At the time of publication, Groves’ religious affiliation was not immediately known. The identities of the other two options the committee presented to DeGioia are unknown.
Earlier this semester, DeGioia targeted April for the completion of the search for a new provost. The August 20 start date is approximately fifty days after DeGioia’s expressed wish for the new provost to begin on July 1.
DeGioia’s complete email to the University community after the jump…
In August, approaching the end of a ten-year term in office, Provost James O’Donnell announced his decision to step down from the position at the end of this semester. Last night, the University’s provost search committee convened a town hall of students, faculty and administrators to discuss its search for a new provost. The town hall was organized to provide students with an opportunity to provide input in the search process. At least thirty students were in attendance.
Professor Wayne Davis, the President of the Faculty Senate, the Chair of the Philosophy Department and the head of the search committee, began the event with a long description of the various qualifications necessary to become the provost of the University, as well as the responsibilities the job entails. The provost has a hand in nearly every important department at Georgetown. He or she is a part of the President’s cabinet and is responsible for making sure the main campus operates within University policy. Other responsibilities include deciding where tuition is spent, approving appointments for both tenured and non-tenured faculty, meeting with the deans of each school, receiving direct reports from the Office of Admissions, the Registrar, the Financial Aid office, Student Affairs, the libraries, the Office of International Programs, and many other departments.
Davis highlighted several important qualifications the search committee expects from candidates for the position. The group is primarily searching for academic excellence. “Given that the provost has the ultimate responsibility for hiring faculty and deciding on priorities for spending money on various initiatives, I would want somebody who had lived the life of a successful scholar,” Davis said. The second important requirement is experience with administration, and the third priority is “an academic leader who can represent that and embody…Georgetown’s Jesuit identity”. Although Davis mentioned that they are open to non-Jesuit candidates, only one provost in the University’s history was neither a Jesuit nor Catholic.
Executive Vice-President and Provost James J. O’Donnell will conclude his ten-year term as a member of Georgetown’s administration at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, according to announcement from University President John DeGioia.
“I am truly grateful for all that Jim has done to expand and enhance Georgetown’s standing as a leading research University,” wrote DeGioia in an email to the student body. As Provost, O’Donnell oversees Georgetown’s various academic offices and often serves as a face of the university in the absence of President DeGioia.
O’Donnell earned his bachelor’s Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton in 1972 and received his doctorate from Yale in 1975. O’Donnell’s biography notes that he has previously served on the faculties of Catholic, Cornell, and Bryn Mawr College. Prior to his appointment at Georgetown, O’Donnell served on the University of Pennsylvania’s faculty for 21 years as a professor in the classics department and as a Vice-Provost and Faculty Master.
Early last night, Provost James O’Donnell notified the campus community that Kathleen Noel Benz (COL ’07) died Saturday in a traffic collision while visiting rural Alaska for a friend’s wedding.
“As an undergraduate, Kathleen was very active in Campus Ministry and served as a retreat leader, liturgical minister and Vice-Regent of the Catholic Daughters,” O’Donnell wrote in the e-mail. “After graduation Kathleen served three years as the Executive Assistant to Associate Provost Marcia Mintz.”
According to the Anchorage Daily News, Benz was riding in a car driven by Anchorage resident Daniel Fairchild when an oncoming truck crossed the center line of the road, causing the fatal collision.
“She brought so much warmth and life to the Provost’s office–whenever I was working at the front desk, she would invariably take a break from her work and come out to sit with me,” Paul Courtney (COL ’11), a student employee in the Provost’s Office, wrote in an e-mail to Vox. “We all loved and adored her. The world needs more people like Kathleen Benz; words cannot even begin to describe the tragedy of her loss. She will be sorely missed.”
A Memorial Mass will be held next week in Kathleen’s memory.
UPDATE (Wednesday, 9 p.m.): The Memorial Mass will be held on next Wednesday, June 9 in Dahlgren Chapel at 4 p.m.
We have class on Monday, albeit on a liberal leave schedule. And if the Facebook group made in protest of the decision and comments section of our blog post are any indication, people are very, very pissed.
Many students are complaining that it’s unfair and that they already have plans for Monday. So Vox is curious—come Monday, what are you going to do?
In an e-mail that he has just sent to the student body, Provost James O’Donnell has announced that classes will be held on a liberal leave schedule President’s Day, Monday, February 15.
The University will make every effort to open on Friday, he said, and he has asked the Council of Associate Deans to offer a make-up day of class later in the semester. From his e-mail:
We will make every effort to be open as far as possible on Friday: there will be a separate announcement tomorrow, but watch the weather and the roads and assume that we will be trying hard to hold classes.
Classes *WILL* now be held on Monday, Presidents Day, with liberal leave for those who cannot attend, because after almost a week without classroom work, the need to get back in the routine is urgent. I have also asked the Council of Associate Deans, working with faculty leadership, to recommend one further make-up day later in the term. I hope to be able to announce that date next week, once we know for certain how much we have lost this week.
Georgetown Provost Jim O’Donnell is ever diligent in his (rather unpopular) efforts to keep Georgetown despite the record snowfalls that have forced campus to close for three days in a row. In an e-mail he just sent to Georgetown faculty, he has provided a link to a website created by the Georgetown Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship that has information and suggestions about how to keep in touch with students—even hold classes—via the Internet.
“Make the Most of the Closure,” the website reads on its main page. While some of its suggestions are pretty basic—e-mail students to review what would have been covered in class—there are instructions on how to hold digital class using the electronic blackboard on Blackboard, how to arrange online quizzes and exams, how to use audio conferencing to hold remote office hours with students, or how to use it to hold class remotely.
In addition Diana Owen’s real-time blog class, the website reveals that other professors have been holding class, too: so far, it boasts the story of physics professor Earl Skelton, who has “held class” every session despite the snow over the last few days.
“It’s still snowing,” O’Donnell wrote in his e-mail, which he shared with the Voice. “We don’t yet know just how much of this week’s face-to-face instruction we will lose, but we’ve lost a lot already. We are focused on safety as first priority and academic progress a very close second.”
In the e-mail, he also says he hopes to have an announcement ready about “tomorrow’s plans” by early evening.