This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

More candidates sought for vice provost position

Published: October 21, 2004

Contributing Editor

The search to fill the newly created position of vice provost for faculty affairs, limited to internal candidates within UB, has attracted "many more nominations than we've had applications" for the position, the search committee chair told the Faculty Senate Executive Committee yesterday.

R. Nils Olsen, Jr., professor and dean of the Law School who chairs the search committee, said that although 14 persons have been nominated as possible candidates from within the UB community, only two candidates actually have applied for the position. Olsen attended the FSEC meeting in an effort "to encourage more applications" for the position.

"We don't have a large pool to draw from; we have maybe five or six people, and I think it would be better if we had more," Olsen said. "It's certainly possible, even at this late date, to solicit further nominations."

Nine of the 14 were nominated in the first week of the search, and of that group, three have agreed to become candidates for the job. The committee is canvassing five nominees whose names were submitted past week to determine whether any of them also will become candidates. Olsen said one of the five appears to be a probable candidate for the job.

The vice provost for faculty affairs will be responsible for coordinating the faculty promotion/tenure-review process, as well as for creating and delivering services to assist in retention, development, special hiring initiatives and recognition programs for faculty. The Center for Teaching and Learning Resources will report to the vice provost for faculty affairs.

Kenneth Levy, professor of psychology, is serving as interim vice provost for faculty affairs as the search proceeds. Olsen said because the job description includes "is a much broader position" than the current job and "is envisioned to go far beyond the promotion and tenure and faculty-recognition process."

The "fairly demanding administrative post" would be a three-year appointment, with renewals available upon request at the discretion of the provost, Olsen said, adding that "everything else (the provost) has left to negotiation with the candidates, which would include whether or not the job would be full-time or part-time, administrative remuneration and any other issues that you might identify."

The 10-member search committee is scheduled to make a recommendation to Satish Tripathi, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, during the first week of November. "We'll probably give an unranked list of three or four names to the provost," Olsen said.

In other business at yesterday's meeting, the senate's Teaching and Learning Committee presented two recommendations regarding distance education at UB: that the provost establish a process for the monitoring and assessment of all credit-bearing distance education at UB, and establish a committee to determine a university-wide policy that offers guidelines for the conduct of distance education at the university.

Committee member Phillips Stevens, Jr., associate professor of anthropology, said that in making its recommendations, the committee considered "true learning as a three-way process: between instructor and student and back, but also among students, and looked at how distance education could accommodate these three modes of transmission of information." As a result, "we're using the term 'distance education,' rather than the older 'distance learning,' recognizing that this is at least a two-way—if not a three-way—exchange of ideas," he explained.

The committee consulted with David Penniman, dean of the School of Informatics, who attended yesterday's meeting along with committee chair Patricia R. McCartney, clinical professor in the School of Nursing. Penniman told members that a committee on distance education at UB would help address several concerns he has about current programs here.

"First, we all aren't talking about the same thing when we talk about distance education. Secondly, we're not all talking to each other about what we know. I think if we all knew what we knew, we'd probably do a much better job," Penniman said.

"Finally, as a result of not talking with each other, there is not only no institutional policy, but I'd say no strategy of how UB wants to pursue the use of this technology that makes it possible to reach a variety of students we have not reached before or to reach them in a way that we have not reached them."

Penniman said that without a central strategy, UB "runs the risk of being blindsided" by programs at other schools, including the University of Washington, which offers an accredited master's degree in library science "totally online.

"That's, of course, one of our bread-and-butter degrees within our school, with over 300 graduate students in that program. If they would choose to do this online instead of coming here, that would be a terrible blow to us. So we have to be aware of what I would call disruptive kinds of products and services that would really change the nature of our programs."

Gayle A. Brazeau, associate dean for academic affairs for the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, asked whether distance learning is included within the new "UB 2020" strategic plan for the university. Olsen, who is a member of the UB 2020 academic planning committee, said that distance education has not been a part of any proposals submitted to that committee.

"The way this thing is progressing is through the proposals, so I doubt there will be any broad-ranging consideration or relevance of distance education at all" in terms of UB 2020, Olsen said.

However, there exists a distance-learning program called the SUNY Learning Network and "there is continuing dialogue about why UB is not actively participating in that," Olsen said, adding that some are hesitant for UB to join because the infrastructure of the network already has been created.

In response, Stevens said that question and others concerning ownership of online course content and overall costs of distance education "are the kinds of questions I would hope such a committee would deal with."

Following a revision of the wording of the first of the two recommendations—in which the phrase "course content" was changed to "course conduct"—the FSEC voted to endorse the recommendations as its own, and to present them to Tripathi.

In another matter, Marilyn McMann Kramer, head of the Cataloging Department for University Libraries Central Technical Services and chair of the Faculty Senate Governance Committee, said that group examined the procedure to evaluate or assess deans and "has come to the conclusion that the procedure has fallen into disuse."

Peter A. Nickerson, professor of pathology and chair of the Faculty Senate, noted that with a new university administration now in place, the present is "an opportune time" for the committee to review the procedure and make recommendations to the Faculty Senate, as well as to the provost because "we're more likely to have success if the creation of a new procedure is a done as a collaborative effort with the new administration."