University of North Carolina at Asheville

Special Meeting of the Faculty Senate

Minutes, September 17, 2006




  Members:       L. Atkinson, B. Butler, P. Downes, M. Harvey, H. Holt, B. Hook, B. Larson, D. Lisnerski,

                        J. McClain, C. McKenzie, G. Nallan, B. Sabo, B. Wilson, J. Wood; Chancellor Ponder.

                         Alternates: C. Bell, R. Bowen, B. Holmes.


Excused:          G. Boudreaux, K. Cole, S. Judson, M. Moseley.


Visitors:       E. Adell, M. Bettencourt, T. Brown, P. Caulfield, J. Daugherty, V. Derryberry, E. Gant,

                   M. Epstein, V. Frank, A. Hantz, A. Huang, K. Krumpe, S. Malicote, M. Manns,

                   L. Mathews,      P. Nickless, R. Palmisano, C. Riley, R. Sousa, G. Trautmann.  



I.        Call to Order

          Dr. Gary Nallan called the special meeting of the Faculty Senate to order at 12:25pm and welcomed Chancellor Ponder, Senators and guests. 


II.       Discussion/consultation

          Chancellor Ponder explained that consultations about the long-term leadership of Academic Affairs and the search for that leadership will occur later.  Today’s consultation is what we should do in the interim.  As everyone knows, Mark Padilla had the opportunity to visit with many people individually and with a number of constituent groups including the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate.  He is appropriately ambitious and has decided to move on; we need to think about how we will administer and lead Academic Affairs between now and the time that we figure out what we will do more permanently. 


Dr. Ponder posed questions to consider: 

·         What should the interim duration be?  Spring semester? Or spring semester and next year, in that it would give us options about the pace of a search. 

·         Who – and from what experience?  Should it be one of the Deans?  A senior faculty member with pertinent experience?  Someone from General Administration?  Someone from outside?  Are there blended or alternative options that should be brought forward?


About a dozen individuals have had their names mentioned or have self-nominated.  She is two-thirds of the way through consulting with groups and is leaning toward taking a longer rather than a shorter period of time.  Her rationale is getting in at the right time of the search season, being clear about what we are looking for, and having time for a highly participatory search.  She wants all the advice she can get.  There are a number of processes and procedures – including evaluations – to resolve what we will be doing during this interim time.  Although Mark Padilla will be in this role through the end of this calendar year, her goal is to resolve this by the end of this month or shortly thereafter.  What are your views?


     The following comments/suggestions were made during discussion:

  • Several faculty members supported an 18-month interim period.  No one present voiced support for the short, spring semester interim.
  • Favored choosing the best person for the position, wherever they are from.  Consider Deans first as they were chosen from faculty and have some experience.  There are several retired presidents and chief academic officers near Asheville.  An interim from General Administration would be last choice. 
  • We have two choices – to find someone to fit a clearly defined position or to seek someone to redefine the job.  Which option we choose depends on how comfortable we are with the current structure, functions and performance of Academic Affairs.  We need a careful and systematic review of the division’s performance – preferably by someone from the outside who is familiar with UNCA’s mission and history (Roy Carroll, Sam Schuman, Larry Dorr, Doug Orr) who could help us evaluate our current system and thereby assist in the review.    
  • Supported reviewing Academic Affairs.  When the structure was put into place Mark Padilla promised there would be a review.    
  • Favored folding the review of Academic Affairs into the search process.  Preferred a smooth, peaceful transition that a Dean could provide.  Someone that Chancellor Ponder is comfortable working with who will be a tactician and get the job done without challenging the division that should come from the Chancellor’s office.  Have an open search with a lot of faculty input.
  • Someone from outside campus will have less baggage and will be more objective in evaluating Academic Affairs.    
  • Although it is good to look at what we are doing now, it is really about how do we get to where we want to be in light of the strategic planning process?  Will someone on campus help us to move in that direction better than someone off campus?  Strategic planning puts assessment in a different light. 
  • Agreed that where we want to be should be tied with the strategic plan.  We also need to know where we are – many are confused with our current structure and its purpose and function.  It makes sense to review Academic Affairs now – it is the core and should be the centerpiece of a strategic plan.  The interim should be who is best capable of helping us do a good job of evaluation.  The ideal mix is someone connected very well with higher education generally but also is very familiar with UNCA. 
  • Whether it is called an evaluation or a preliminary part of the search process, it needs to look forward.    
  • Favored having the new Provost involved in strategic planning.  That could be an argument for short term but a short term is not favorable.  By evaluating where we are, we are telling the new Provost – this is the way it is and we want you to fill the role the way we want it to be.    
  • It is a question of the degree to which we want someone to fit our impression of where we are and what we’re hoping to be as opposed to someone helping us identify that.  The Provost will be involved in strategic planning but may not be involved in planning Academic Affairs.   
  • A strategic plan is a living document and is evaluated cyclically.  It is not unusual to bring in an individual while a plan is in place; the person gives input during the next cycle of evaluation. 


Chancellor Ponder did not want to suspend strategic planning to wait for a new Provost.  Strategic planning is cyclical and she imagined that the new Provost would come in during the implementation stage of the cycle.      


  • We need someone who is familiar enough with the university to get other people thinking to help contribute to the strategic plan. 
  • Supported evaluating Academic Affairs and individual departments.  We are in a unique situation – not like our private peers.  As a member of the state system, we have to respond to the demands of General Administration, the Board of Governors, and the legislators.  It would be asking too much of the interim person to do what is required in the Provost position while also evaluating and running a self-study of Academic Affairs.  If we want a self-study of Academic Affairs, we should have another mechanism to do that – whether it comes out of the Faculty Senate or a Task Force. 


Chancellor Ponder had thought about the possibility of having some shared responsibility for leadership in this area in the interim.  Some of the individuals involved in leading the area could have different, specific assignments -- essentially, not embody the entire responsibility for coverage and transition in one individual.  What do you think about that?


  • That model will be as successful as the people that are in it.  If you go with shared governance, the people have to be able to work together.   
  • When we restructured Academic Affairs and added the four Deans, the agreement that was reached in the Faculty Senate with the Provost’s office was that those would be evaluated after all four Deans had served a full term and that is not until the end of this year.  Evaluating the structure is not due until the end of this year.  Reviewing the structure could be done with the Faculty Senate and Academic Affairs and would not take that much time. 
  • Preferred leaving the Deans where they are – doing their jobs.  Having a Dean as interim Provost creates more turmoil because then there are two interims – an interim Provost and an interim Dean.   
  • Having Academic Affairs and Student Affairs under one structure was a fairly recent change.  Dr. Padilla went from being the Vice Chancellor to the Provost.  Are we replacing a VCAA or are we replacing a Provost?  And what is the difference? 
  • When Jim Mullen combined the two positions that was the justification for creating the position of Provost.  If the positions are not combined, that is something to look at. 


  • There are advantages to both sides – whether you’re bringing in an outside person or someone who is already on campus – one thing is to have someone involved in the strategic planning process for the future who is not going to be part of that future.  Maybe there is an advantage to that.  But there also may be an advantage to having someone involved in that process even though they are going to step down eventually but nevertheless will be part of that future.  He was leaning toward someone who would be part of that future -- they would know the university, have been here a while, and also would have a sense of what they wanted to be a part of. 


Does the faculty have views about whether you want the leader of the division of which you are a part to be a Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs or a Provost?


  • What is the difference in a VCAA and a Provost besides the title?  Now that Student Affairs and Academic Affairs have split, clarify the differences in the duties and responsibilities between a VCAA and a Provost – that would help us determine who we want.


There are two questions – what we need in the short run – and then what the title and the portfolio of who we want in the long run.    


  • Preferred the label of VCAA – it is more descriptive and it is the first among equals.  Having “Academic Affairs” in the title says a lot.   
  • The head of Academic Affairs in the whole state system is called Vice President for Academic Affairs – not Provost.   
  • Our tradition has been that the VCAA has been the first among equals.    
  • Whoever is appointed for the interim cannot help but do some evaluation of how the structure is working.  Whether we have a formal evaluation or not, you will be conversing regularly with that person and will be asking how things are working.  That will give you and the campus a sense of where changing and tweaking should happen if needed.   
  • It is an odd position to put a Dean into.  It may be okay to use a Dean for the evaluation portion, but not as interim in Academic Affairs. 


One of the most acute assignments of the chief academic office, regardless of title, is evaluation – especially of faculty at moments where that is important.  Do you have views about that?


  • Faculty who are coming up for tenure are worried about being examined by someone from outside campus.  Our most important resource is our people. 
  • Any interim worth their salt would defer to the recommendations of the Tenure Committee.  We have gone through several interims that they have yielded to the Tenure Committee recommendations.


This points to the element of shared governance that we as a faculty and as a university share.  There is an extra responsibility for the Promotion and Tenure Committee during a time of transition because there is anxiety in folks coming up for tenure.    




Could you talk more about objectification? 


  • Objectification in the sense that we assume that we all know what we are talking about rather than negotiating through discussions.  There should be debates between the Deans and the Senate – they should be parallel structures.  Talk about strategic planning in the concrete – what would it mean?  What would that entail for the Senate?  What will the Senate do for and on behalf of faculty, students and everyone else?  That also implies coming to terms with what we are as a Senate.  This is important.  We need to think outside the box as we go through the process of finding a replacement. 
  • There is a Senate voice – it will have to come to agreement on the voice of the individuals.
  • Regarding how faculty feel about a Dean moving into the interim Provost position, he would have no hesitation in having Kathy Whatley in the interim position.  He has worked with the other Deans on a limited basis and based on those interactions nothing would sound alarms if any of the other Deans were appointed as the interim.    
  • The Deans are intimate with the position of Provost, having worked with Mark in that role for several years; the promotion of one of them to the interim position would be a natural progression.  He would have no problem with Kathy Whatley filling that role.  Any Dean should be able to move into that position.
  • Regarding the possibility of a team-based position with shared responsibilities, one fit into that is the very collaborative nature of the Deans’ offices.  Collaboration is important as we move forward.  It would be a natural move for a Dean.


The shared responsibility as an idea occurred to Chancellor Ponder in reflection over the weekend and, given the consultations she has had over the first part of this week, she has not yet rejected that as a possibility.


·         We need to consider the value of experience and we need to consider the chaos that a learning curve would cause if we pull someone from too far away from responsibilities that are currently going on. 


Chancellor Ponder agreed, adding that she knows the liberal arts but is new here.  Having a set of colleagues that I work closely with including academic administration who have some continuity and recent history with the university is very valuable because I don’t possess that personally. 


·         Having experience is essential.  The Deans have had that close experience and they collaborate well with each other.  If we have a Dean in the interim position we want someone who has worked well outside the circle as well as inside the circle of Deans.  And it might be Kathy Whatley.    

·         We should not break up the current Dean structure if people are comfortable with it.  We could distribute some of Mark’s duties to the current Deans and that would solve the concern with experience.  Then bring in a coordinator to re-evaluate and study of the administrative function and personnel that seems to be necessary.  An interim Dean is going to have a learning curve and the person moving up to interim VCAA is going to have a learning curve – it is the worst of both worlds.   

·         We need an inside person – but there should be an understanding from the outset that the interim will not be a candidate for the job.  The Deans might be most interested in the job permanently.  It is asking a lot to say to someone who has experience and who is on this career path – “you can be the interim but you cannot apply.”  Whereas another senior faculty member who has some experience – and we have other people who have dean-like experience here – could do it and might not be interested in the job permanently. 


Let’s talk about the prohibition of whoever serves not being eligible to be considered for the permanent position.  There are at least two ways to look at that – both from the inside of the perspective candidate and that being a curb on behavior during the interim structure.  It also turns those times into the world’s longest search because everyone is torn – it is fraught with awkwardness.  What is your view as a faculty about that?


  • We should take inside candidates seriously but the interim should not be a candidate for the permanent position.     


Is that view shared?


  • Agreed that the interim would not be a candidate.  What would be your reasons?
  • It is very hard to turn down an interim who we all know and who has been on the job for a year.  It is particularly difficult for the search committee to be objective.  It also limits the pool of applicants if they are competing again the person who is in the job and who has been there for a year. 
  • Frankly, we have had some bad experiences with interims becoming candidates.
  • These are interims that did not get the job and they were angry for decades.


Would there be a similar difficulty with someone who is a senior faculty member or a Dean who comes into the interim role and then returns to the faculty?


·         Did not believe this would be a problem. 

·         It would not be a problem if it was understood from the outset.  

·         Concurred with this perspective.

·         There is value in finding an outsider who knows the campus – like Sam Schuman, Larry Dorr, Roy Carroll, or Doug Orr – they would solve the problem.

·         Supports keeping the Dean structure intact.   

·         Though we had a bad experience with an interim who applied and didn’t get the job and was frustrated, we also had an interim who was not a candidate and smoothly moved back to the faculty with no problem whatsoever.

·         An interim acts differently – the person is doing the job that needs to be done versus trying to appease certain elements of the campus so as not to upset anyone or alienate any group because you want to have that support.

·         Did you have an idea of whether you were going to specifically target an outside provost for the new position – or is it up to the search committee to consider whether to have inside candidates or not?


The only decision Chancellor Ponder has made about that is that it should be a full and open search to find the best candidates wherever they are.  That could be outside – that could be inside. 


·         Agreed with the sentiment expressed.  Tell whoever is going to be the interim – if you have aspirations to be the VCAA then do not accept the interim position appointment and apply for the job.  That has the fewest drawbacks and the most benefits.

·         The short list could be everyone who is one to two years from retirement and does not want the job.   


Chancellor Ponder was very pleased that several members of the faculty and university community decided to join the Faculty Senate for the open meeting.  Everyone was encouraged to offer comments and suggestions by the end of the week when most of the consultation will be completed.     


III.      Adjourn

          Dr. Nallan adjourned the meeting at 1:30pm.


Respectfully submitted by:   Sandra Gravely

                                           Don Lisnerski