Faculty committees make suggestions to influence university governance

Nicole Brown, News Editor

via nyu.edu

Throughout the past academic year, NYU President John Sexton has established faculty committees to advise the administration on university decision making.

In Sexton’s email to the NYU community in August, he referenced the University Space Priorities Working Group, the Faculty Committee on the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education at NYU and the Faculty Advisory Committee on NYU’s Global Network as groups aiding in university governance.

Each of these groups have met a number of times, written reports that suggest steps for the university to take and will continue to meet and make recommendations as the semester progresses. A detail of their history and roles are below.

University Space Priorities Working Group

The Working Group has met 17 times since it was created in September 2012 and issued the University Space Priorities Working Group Interim Report this past July, outlining research and recommendations regarding the university’s expansion plans in New York City. The report focused on the the NYU-owned land from West Houston Street to West Third Street and Mercer Street to La Guardia Place. Bleecker Street divides the area into a north and south region, which are known as the superblocks.

Construction on the superblocks are part of the entire NYU 2031 plan, but the New York City Council has not approved the entire plan. The university has permission to construct or renovate up to 1.9 million square feet, above and below ground, on the superblocks.

The Interim Report primarily focused on construction on the south block, as the construction on the north block will begin no earlier than 2022. The report did not specify when construction will begin on the south block, but said Sexton has declared that construction on either superblock will not begin until the after the Working Group submits its final report, which is scheduled to be complete in December.

During the period, the Working Group expects undergraduate enrollment to the New York City campus to increase at an annual rate of .27 percent, tuition to increase at an annual rate somewhere above the annual rate of inflation and faculty salaries to increase less than the rate that tuition increases, but still maintaining market competitiveness.

Chair of the Working Group and associate professor of Media, Culture and Communication Ted Magder is pleased with the feedback the group has received from the administration and hopes faculty influence will continue.

“Our Interim Report recommends that the university create an ongoing committee, with broad-based representation, to participate further in the decision making and planning for any construction in and around the core,” Magder said.

Faculty Committee on the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education at NYU

The Faculty Committee on the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education at NYU was established in December of 2012 to recommend principles and parameters for the university to follow regarding the use of technology in education. They issued their Interim Report in July.

The committee explained the technology-enhanced education continuum as beginning with the traditional classroom, moving to hybrid classes, which incorporate some technology, and ending with Massively Open Online Classes, which are entirely online. The traditional and hybrid classes are credit-bearing, but the MOOCs are non-credit.

While there is already technology-enhanced education at NYU, the committee was established to develop university-wide guidelines for future use of this type of education.

In their report, the committee recommends four conditions for conducting pilots that will be the base for future projects. The first is that any teaching done online must be done at the highest possible quality. The second bullet is that the faculty, departments and schools are not required to take part in the pilots. The committee’s third point is that the pilots must include a development, research or evaluation component that produces more than anecdotal conclusions. Finally, in order for a course to be offered for credit, the faculty governance of the specific school must approve it.

“While this committee can provide guidance to the schools about the range of options that exist and about best practices in TEE, it is faculty who are ultimately responsible for deciding which directions their schools will take in this area,” the report said.

But the committee also recommends that there be an Open Application Process for all faculty, departments and schools to use when proposing online or hybrid courses in the future.

The committee said they have not made decisions on whether NYU should offer MOOCs or how the university would partner with other schools or companies to provide these online courses.

Co-chairs of the committee, vice president for University Enterprise Initiatives Richard Matasar and professor of classics Matthew Santirocco, said the committee will continue to work closely with the faculty this semester as it works on its final report.

“At the end of 2013, after incorporating feedback from the NYU community, in keeping with its charge, the committee will prepare a final recommendation to the president and provost for them to implement under the appropriate school and university governance processes,” Matasar and Santirocco said in an email.

Faculty Advisory Committee on NYU’s Global Network

The purpose of the Advisory Committee, established last April, is to assess the academic state of NYU’s Global Network, which includes the 11 global study abroad sites and the Abu Dhabi and Shanghai portal campuses.

The Advisory Committee’s last report was issued before this summer after they met with Vice Chancellor for Global Programs and University Life Linda Mills, Dean of Arts and Humanities at NYUAD Judy Miller, Dean of Arts and Science at NYUSH Joanna Waley-Cohen and members of the Faculty Senate Council’s GNU Committee to better understand the quality of the global programs and the opinions of the faculty.

“We are committed to ensuring … that all NYU departments and units have on-going and appropriately supported opportunities to consider and propose their preferred modes and models of interaction [and] integration with the global network,” the report said.

The Advisory Committee also established subcommittees to further asses the collaboration between the global sites and NYU, the development of the curriculums at the global sites, graduate programs and faculty research at the global sites, growth of the global network and student enrollment and experiences at the global sites.

Co-chairs of the Advisory Committee, Eliot Borenstein, a professor of Russian and Slavic studies, and Una Chaudhuri, a professor of English, drama and environmental studies said committee with need full participation from the faculty at each global site as they move forward with suggestions for the university.

“[Our goal is] to ensure the academic quality and disciplinary integrity of all NYU’s global programs,” Borenstein and Chaudhuri said in an email. “Secondly, to ensure that NYU faculty, no matter where in the world they teach and no matter what kinds of contacts they have, have the appropriate support, resources and protection.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 3 print edition. Nicole Brown is a news editor. Email her at nyunews.com.