February 2012
Vol. 5, issue 7 The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Faculty E-newsletter  

Frederick J. Antczak, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Many are the stars I see but in my eye no star like thee.

~traditional ring engraving

February is the perfect time to write the College a Valentine.  Though it is the depths of what has been oddly shallow winter, there is so much to celebrate. Let me count the ways.  Last week we heard that our School of Communications (Film & Video) colleague Deanna Morse had not only been given a platinum Pixie (I am tickled to report that the trophy for this important award looks like Tinkerbell) for her animated film "Breathing Room", but she was also named the artist-in-residence at the Everglades National Park, Florida (for May and June).  Last week we also celebrated the fact that 15 of the 20 Faculty of Distinction named in honor of the 20th anniversary of our Omicron Delta Kappa Chapter were from CLAS: Peter Anderson, Craig Benjamin, Shawn T Bible, Austin Bunn, Grace Coolidge, Jodee Hunt, Karen Libman, Shaily Menon, Azizur Molla, Charles Pazdernik, Tim Penning, Dawn Richiert, Jennifer Stewart, Merritt Taylor and Danielle Leek.  Congratulations, everyone! Meanwhile the Autism Speaks Foundation has announced that Amy Matthews on behalf of the Autism Education Center at GVSU will receive $24,000 for the project: START Building Your Future.  Austin Bunn (Writing) wrote an article which appeared in the New York Times Magazine about his play Rust.  A local interview of Erika King (Political Science) on the subject of Mitt Romney  was picked up by the international media, and we continue to receive electronic clippings about it in various languages.  Craig Benjamin was elected vice president of the World History Association.  Paul Murphy's book The New Era just came out and will expand our understanding of modernism. Our students are having great success, too.  Our dancers performed in a collaborative performance which brought together the programs of five universities.  Our theatre students have a very interesting project in the works-look for more information about the world premier translation of Antona Garcia in coming days and weeks. And the other day, a student riding the elevator with Monica Johnstone, seemingly engrossed in his smartphone, looked up to say, "I don't know you, but I have to tell you that I just got into graduate school at MSU!"  He went on to sing the praises of his lab preparation in Chemistry and the great reputation GVSU students have with graduate programs. This is the stuff of midwinter celebration! I'd like to thank so many of you who are working very hard in ways too numerous to count to make our classrooms better places to be.  For a recent instance, several CLAS faculty have joined the FTLC's learning community on gender expression and identity.  I look forward to the suggestions that you will bring back on language we can use in our syllabi, hurdles we can remove for our students, and awareness we can pursue as members of an increasingly welcoming community. Thank you also to all the search committees who are hard at work bringing in exciting new colleagues to share our enterprise. It is said that of the real Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14 very little is known.  For all of you who are shining your lights far and wide, that is not the case.  Thank you for the work you do!  

What the Deans are Doing in February

It's a short month but a full program for Fred: "The personnel process really "digs in" in February, but lots of other things happen as well.  Of course I'll attend the Faculty Awards Convocation on the 2nd, to celebrate all the excellence in our College (and beyond).  I'll take the "refresher course" for Inclusion Advocates.  I haven't been down to the Psychology labs recently, so I'll be touring them to see how our new equipment is used in teaching and advances research.   I'm looking forward to the Academic Advising winter forum, to the deans' committee on Academic Advising, and in the wake of a fabulously successful colloquium on climate research, am looking forward to the February 16 CLAS Faculty Colloquium.  Then we'll welcome in our external consultants who are assisting Anthropology in planning strategically from their recent Self Study.  We'll have a couple CLAS Faculty Council Meetings in the month and two unit head meetings.  I'd love to serve you some chocolate at Indulge in a Cause on the 23rd.  And there will be candidate interviews sprinkled in.  About one event I'll have decidedly mixed feelings: our fabulous Pam Kellogg will have her retirement party on Thursday, March 1, in the Thornapple Room at KC from 3:00-5:00.  But more on that to come." AD Mary Schutten will be supporting student success by continuing to work with Records to create efficiencies. She will participate in the site visit for NCATE review (teacher preparation program), the pilot program for ED 431, and continues as a member of the PTEAC committee. She will be coordinating the curricular proposals related to the ED 431 pilot program.   She continues to implement and assess degree cognate substitution requests, support the work of the CLAS curriculum committee as ex officio, support the work of the CLAS Academic Advising Center, interviewing candidates for various CLAS positions, and serve as coordinator for the School Health Education minor for Movement Science.  She will attend the annual inclusion meeting and participate in the RCR boot camp. AD Shaily Menon will wrap up interviews of search candidates, facilitate a new faculty seminar on career mapping and scholarly publishing in the digital age for 2nd and 3rd year faculty, participate in external evaluator visits, attend a semi-annual inclusion advocate training session, and attend CLAS faculty colloquium and Evolution for Everyone meetings. She will attend two conferences related to funding opportunities for faculty: an NSF day conference in Lansing and a Grants Resource Center Workshop in Washington D.C. As part of supporting college outreach, she will attend a meeting of the Pierce Cedar Creek Advisory Board on a Saturday in Hastings, Michigan. AD Gary Stark will interview candidates for Anthropology, Film & Video, Latin American history, and Spanish positions; facilitate the CLAS election; facilitate the personnel reviews and salary adjustment process; collect and analyze visiting positions and other staffing requests for 2012-13; facilitate the work of Faculty Council; and recruit faculty for Awards of Distinction Scholarship Competition.

Faculty feature

How CLAS Prioritizes the Budget and Resources

Each year, CLAS provides the faculty with an overview of how budget priorities are assigned and with information about the scale and general landscape of the CLAS budget. "Budgets are a way of expressing over time a community's values and aspirations within the limits of resources," says Dean Antczak. "So it's appropriate that the CLAS community know how our resources get distributed." The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has an Annual Budget in FY 2011 of $58,609,090, of which 93.13% is dedicated to personnel expenses (big ticket benefits such as health for CLAS faculty and staff are included in the personnel allocation). Student wages represented roughly 1.44% of the budget. The Operating Budget is 4.64% of the Annual Budget for consumables, supplies, services, and maintenance (now you know what "CSSM" abbreviates). The final .79% is earmarked for equipment. It's only with this last 7% that most discretionary decisions are made. "Personnel" in CLAS means the 659.63 fiscal year equivalent (FYE) regular faculty, APs and COTs (2011-2012) in our college. There were another 9.04 FYE positions funded from designated or restricted funds, which are a separate budget.  In addition, from the personnel allocation comes what is known as the Adjunct Overload Budget. In simple terms, any money available from vacant positions and from sabbatical and other leave is used to fund adjunct and visiting instructors. This is a constantly moving target; this figure is difficult to determine at a given moment because of sudden decisions to retire, faculty members giving short notice of a leave or departure, intended full-year sabbaticals not receiving anticipated grant funding which suddenly become half-year sabbaticals, the salary level of faculty covering summer courses, and other unavoidable fluctuations in who is available to teach at any given time and the exact amount of funding needed to provide that coverage. To complicate matters, even a sudden drop in the stock market can change the pattern of anticipated faculty retirements in a given year. "Since we can only squeeze our budget to the maximum for the College each year if we plan on such patterns," says the Dean, "such a change in the outside world can present us with conditions to which we must adapt on the run." In addition to the Annual Budget is a small, annually variable Working Budget. Assistant Dean Pat Haynes notes that "we were allocated $35,182 for 2011-12. The amount allocated each year is very variable." From this working budget the College office squeezes funding for one-time spending requests such as special events and one-time purchases. Examples of this type of funding include support for  licensing for Athletic training, career day and experimental lab supplies for Statistics, lab supplies for a Physics lab in Grand Rapids, and cameras for visual communications. And for the last three years, the College has been fortunate to have, through the support of private donors' (including many faculty; thank you!), the CLAS Fund for Excellence from which the Dean can assist several projects annually. The Fund for Excellence supports College programs for faculty and students which are exemplars of our mission. Director for Communications and Advancement Monica Johnstone worked with University Development to establish this fund. "I wanted Fred to be able to say yes to more of the many worthy student and faculty initiatives," Johnstone said. "We also do what we can to suggest germane sponsors to match our funding when that is appropriate so that we can do as much good as possible with the fund." Within these constraints, the Mission Statement of the College and the CLAS Strategic Plan are used as guiding principles for decision making. In general terms, this means maximizing the benefit to students, selecting to fund high-(and wide-) impact projects, and helping the faculty and staff to do their jobs increasingly well and efficiently. In some cases, there is an added layer of urgency associated with a specific request to support compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or safety standards. These can be seen as part of our commitment to an inclusive, healthy, and sustainable environment for the faculty, students, staff and all visitors to our college facilities. While many mundane or mechanical matters are dealt with independently by the College Office, those most directly relevant to the teaching mission are conducted in close consultation with the Unit Heads and faculty governance. For instance, to prioritize a limited number of faculty lines that the University can sanction in a given year, such consultation is critical. Units are provided with enrollment and staffing statistics for prior years to help them set their internal priorities based on a firm foundation. Units then submit a prioritized list of new or replacement faculty positions (including affiliate positions) requested for coming year, with justifications. The CLAS Associate Deans and your elected CLAS Faculty Council independently review and prioritize position requests and both submit these prioritized lists to the Dean. The Dean reviews all of this input and sends the Provost a final prioritized list of all CLAS faculty position requests for the coming year. All of the participants in this winnowing process base their prioritizing on enrollment and staffing trends; areas of highest student demand; curricular, accreditation, and certification requirements; impact on liberal education; retirements and resignations; availability of adjuncts; and efficient use of the existing staff. For obvious reasons, a clearly articulated and compelling rationale for each requested position is vital to its success. For those interested in seeing how this process plays out over the year and in each of the several separate processes, a calendar of CLAS's prioritizing process for budget and resources is available online. While a dean cannot by individual fiat approve new personnel or erect buildings or reconfigure classrooms shared by all of the academic units in the university, the Dean and Associate Deans have seats at the table where such priorities are set. They provide information that makes its way to legislators, Trustees, donors, and the senior management team of GVSU. In short, they become the voice of CLAS in the larger planning and resourcing processes of the university as a whole. Of course, funding from the college and the university is only part of what it takes to fuel our values and aspirations. External grants, private donation and gifts-in-kind play a larger role each year. Elbow grease never shows up on the CSSM spreadsheet, the dedicated hard work of students and faculty isn't easy to quantify in the bottom line, our increasing credibility with the general public that can be detected in newspaper articles and anecdotally from our neighbors is impossible to assign a dollar value, but all of this goes into the equation the sum of which brings us more and better students, a greater impact on our community and a trajectory towards the future we have planned.