The University is really pushing you to RSVP to the engagement party.
President John DeGioia announced via email this morning a new initiative with the vague title “Designing the Future(s) of the University.” Vox isn’t quite up on her string theory, but she’s pretty sure you can only have one future. In any case, the goal of the initiative is to address the questions: “What do we value about Georgetown that we don’t want to lose? What do we believe we should give to our students? And what could it look like to expand the formal boundaries of education?”
“This effort will engage the whole Georgetown community in an exploration of issues facing higher education and active experimentation with new ways to deliver the education we value into the future,” DeGioia wrote. The first part of the initiative will take the form of a “candid conversation” with DeGioia and Provost Robert Groves on Nov. 20 in the Fisher Colloquium, which is apparently in Hariri. Other events will include public talks from higher education experts. Aside from that, the email neglected to give any specifics on the sort of engagement students will participate in.
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.”
The election was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. 311 of the 650 eligible voting members participated in the election, and 72 percent voted in favor of forming a collective bargaining unit. Georgetown joins American University and George Washington as part of a larger SEIU initiative to unionize the part-time professors in the District.
This vote comes after an extended campaign, launched in Oct. 2012. Provost Robert Groves wrote to the faculty about the unionization process, citing the Just Employment Policy as an important aspect of Georgetown’s partnership with its workers. As per the policy, “all working members [at Georgetown] have the right to freely associate and organize, and that the University will respect the rights of employees to vote for or against union representation without intimidation, unjust pressure, undue delay or hindrance in accordance with applicable law.”
After the election, there is a seven-day period for objections to be filed, and the results cannot be certified until any objections are resolved. Once the results are certified, SEIU Local 500 will represent part-time, non-tenure line faculty on the Main Campus. Neither faculty of the the Law Center campus nor the Medical Center, which includes the NHS in this case, will take part of the union at this time.
David Rodich, Executive Director of SEIU Local 500, spoke favorably of Georgetown’s administrators. “This was a respectful process between the union and Georgetown University,” he said. “The administration made a point of putting their social teaching into practice … I hope that other institutions will look at how Georgetown put its just employment policy into practice and that they will view this as a model for how universities should handle organizing campaigns.”
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.”
This semester, Service Employees International Union commenced a unionization campaign with Georgetown’s adjunct professors. Last Friday, Provost Robert Groves sent an email to faculty at Georgetown acknowledging the possibility of unionized adjunct professors and encouraging faculty to report any safety concerns to the Department of Public Safety.
“Like representatives of other outside organizations, representatives of SEIU Local 500 are allowed on our campus and in our buildings that are open to the public,” Provost Groves’s email read. “[H]owever we expect that representatives of SEIU Local 500 will respect the wishes of individual faculty members during their organizing campaign.”
Provost Groves also added that adjunct professors should be certain to research SEIU and be aware of their rights under federal labor law. He also cited the Just Employment Policy, which states that employees have the right to “freely associate and organize…which includes voting for or against union representation without intimidation, unjust pressure, undue delay or hindrance in accordance with applicable law.”
American University adjunct professors joined the SEIU Local 500 union in mid-February of this year. The issue remains divided amongst Georgetown professors at this point. Earlier this month, Senior Fellow at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute Pablo Eisenbergwrote an op-ed for the Huffington Postexpressing his views on unionized adjuncts. “Fortunately, adjuncts are beginning to realize that, unless they organize with the help of sympathetic faculty and administrators, labor unions and professional associations, nothing will change,” Eisenberg wrote.
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…