CONTACT: Stanford University News Service (415) 723-2558
Senate continues budget discussions
Faculty and administrators at Stanford should not lose sight of the university's commitment to diversity and multiculturalism, Prof. Pat Jones, biological sciences, told her colleagues at the Oct. 10 Faculty Senate meeting.
During another wide-ranging discussion of the university's budget problems and a senate committee's ideas of how to solve them, faculty members also heard one of their own challenge continuation of the tenure system.
Presenting additional preliminary recommendations from the Faculty Senate's ad hoc Committee on Education and Scholarship at Stanford (SC-ESS), Jones said that some preliminary budget recommendations, if carelessly implemented, could potentially reverse university progress in multiculturalism. Jones is deputy chair of the committee, which spent the summer developing a vision of what it thinks Stanford should be.
She also elaborated on the committee's earlier recommendation about the role of athletics: In the face of central academic program cuts, officials should seriously consider phasing out general funds support for Varsity II intercollegiate sports.
Varsity II sports are the non-scholarship "Ivy League" sports, such as crew, soccer and fencing, not normally played in the Pac-10.
Jones also suggested that the university in the near future initiate a detailed study of funding for the intercollegiate component of the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation.
Following Jones' presentation, the senate heard and discussed three task force reports - graduate and professional education, research and scholarship, and administrative services - that were the subject of an Oct. 3 open faculty forum (see Oct. 9 Campus Report).
Graduate and professional education
Substitution of graduate students for lecturers in the Cultures, Ideas, and Values (CIV) program, and the future of the Stanford University Press dominated discussion of the graduate and professional education task force headed by Prof. Herbert Lindenberger, English and comparative literature.
In light of upcoming budget cuts, Lindenberger suggested possibly training third- and fourth-year graduate students to take over teaching responsibilities of some CIV lecturers.
This drew criticism from English Prof. Ron Rebholz, who said graduate students in the third and fourth year are trying to get their dissertation topics finalized.
Asking them to take special training courses would slow progress to their degrees, he said.
The demands of CIV are such that only "rare people" have the wide-ranging knowledge "cutting across centuries, cutting cross-cultural areas, cutting across disciplines" to be successful as teachers.
The result would be to replace lecturers who teach "passionately and teach with a passion for excellence with grudging graduate students who probably would not be keen on teaching the course at all."
History Prof. Carolyn Lougee said that teaching CIV could be valuable for graduate students.
Stanford has been in the forefront with CIV as "one of the great intellectual experiments of national importance," she said, but graduate students now have little contact with it.
Prof. John Eaton, mechanical engineering, said Stanford graduate students -- among the best in the country - are "fantastic teachers" in their work as section leaders in science and engineering courses.
English Prof. George Dekker defended Rebholz, saying his colleague "believes in the excellence of our graduate students." However, teaching three quarters of CIV is very different from being a teaching assistant, Dekker said, and could be done only by some advanced graduate students.
Turning to the University Press, history Prof. Peter Stansky said he found it "positively chilling" that the parent committee has not supported the Press to the same degree as Lindenberger's task force.
The task force said loss of the Press, which receives a general funds subsidy of several hundred thousand dollars annually, "would be felt not only by Stanford but by scholars . . . nationally."
Jones agreed with Stansky that the Press is valuable, especially for humanists and social scientists. Because of the amount of money involved, though, the senate committee felt the Press had to be evaluated relative to other academic priorities, she said.
Lack of institutional support for the Press will set an "appalling example to other universities of a way of saving money," Stansky said. With the possible exception of the Harvard Press, no university press is totally self-supporting, he said.
On the subject of faculty job preservation, English Prof. Mary Wack asked Lindenberger if his task force had considered the fate of assistant professors.
He responded that the group was "primarily worried about what would happen to tenured professors."
Research and scholarship
Biological sciences Prof. Sharon Long's presentation from the research and scholarship task force yielded questions and comments about faculty early retirement.
Long said her task force had been asked to comment on whether the tenure system had become "outmoded," but the task force decided not to do so.
Political science Prof. Stephen Krasner said that it was "a little unseemly about us not looking at the abolition of tenure as an option."
"We might decide it's a bad idea," Krasner said. "But given how difficult the situation now is, it seems to me inappropriate to simply rule out this whole area as something we're not going to look at."
Krasner said he did not intend his remarks to be interpreted as criticism of Long, "who did an absolutely superlative job." The parent committee is not enthusiastic about such a study, he said.
Asked if Stanford could offer the kind of incentives for early retirement now offered by state institutions, President Donald Kennedy explained that Stanford's faculty early retirement program has had "limited success."
Provost James N. Rosse said that, on average, Stanford's program provides a cash benefit currently equivalent to approximately $250,000 per faculty member. Because its program is organized differently than Stanford's, the University of California has been able to offer greater financial incentives, Rosse said, and thus has had more takers.
In his report from the task force studying administrative services, Krasner displayed figures from a Chronicle of Higher Education survey showing staff growth in colleges and universities across the nation from 1975 to 1985.
He said the large increases in professional staff, as opposed to faculty, are attributed to increased government regulations and the fact that some things formerly done by faculty are now being done by others. Also, as more staff are added, more administrators are hired to supervise them.
"The figures do not provide any evidence that Stanford is lousing up," Krasner said.
Krasner repeated his comment from the Oct. 3 faculty open forum that staff are more solicitous of faculty at Stanford than at Harvard and the University of California at Los Angeles, where he also has taught. He asked for faculty compassion toward staff, who are much more vulnerable than faculty in the budget- cutting process.
Reinforcing Krasner's point, business Prof. Chuck Holloway said the university is for the most part served by a "very dedicated group. For every story of the plumbing doesn't work, you come up with stories of people coming early, staying late, working on weekends."
It is not always easy to understand what staff members do, he said, adding, to laughter, that because he is in the classroom teaching only 10 hours a week, "my mother doesn't understand what I do" to stay busy.
As head of a liaison team studying several units, Holloway said he believes "there are productivity improvements that can be made."
He pointed out that most administrative units were reduced about 20 percent during repositioning. An additional 15 to 20 percent is "pretty significant" in a period of a few years, he said.
Faculty members sought and received assurance there had been no backsliding on repositioning figures published earlier.
English Prof. Nancy Packer asked for an explanation of auxiliary enterprises and clarification about organizations that rent Stanford land.
Rosse said auxiliaries are self-supporting entities that carry out activities on behalf of the university, such as the Faculty Practice Plan, Housing and Food Service, Tresidder Union and the intercollegiate component of athletics.
"There are serious and important savings that can be made," he said. When auxiliaries cut costs, the savings can be passed on to other units. Officials, for example, are looking closely at Housing and Food Service and the role it plays in the overall cost to students of attending Stanford.
The Alumni Association, the Stanford Bookstore and the Carnegie Institution of Washington are examples of independent organizations that are located on Stanford land essentially rent free, Kennedy said. The agreements were made many years ago by administrators who considered the organizations valuable to the university, he said.
This is an archived release.
This release is not available in any other form.
Images mentioned in this release are not available online.