Board offers faculty chance to undo True Commitment, offers new plan

Despite restrictions on time and data, administration and faculty senate leadership are hopeful for this new alternative.

It has been a tumultuous few weeks for TU’s administration, beginning with the Faculty Senate’s vote to hold TU responsible for violating their constitution and ending with its ramifications: a mounting prospect of a no-confidence vote against Provost Janet Levit. In response to these setbacks, alternatives have been offered by the University’s Board of Trustees in lieu of True Commitment. In the past week, the death of True Commitment became a far-flung possibility when three options were presented.

First, the faculty could accept and implement True Commitment. Secondly, the faculty could propose an alternative plan, with some stipulations. There have been rumors of a third option presented to the faculty, but it was not broached in the Faculty Senate meeting on Sept. 19.

Announced in the Faculty Senate following an apparent apology from President Gerard Clancy and Provost Levit, faculty members were presented with a tempting path to officially kill True Commitment: research, select cuts and construct a new plan — all within the next 30 days. Although the implications of this substitute are considerable, the details regarding what constitutes an acceptable alternative are murky at best and rules are exceptionally, and arguably intentionally, restrictive.

When asked about the final product to be presented at the end of the 30-day period, there were no concrete answers. As of yet, it appears as though the 30-day timer began on Tuesday Sept. 17 the day that the Board made their offer; this is in spite of the fact that it was only just presented to the Faculty Senate on Thursday.

Additionally, it is unclear what will constitute a successful effort when time expires. No indication was given as to whether the goal is a report on par with that of True Commitment or even a vague idea regarding where new cuts should take place. The lack of communication regarding these expectations is of immediate concern for the viability of this recourse.

An additional area for concern lies in that the new proposed cuts must be from academics; this immediately removes the possibility of athletic, administrative or any other auxiliary cuts in this new plan. Many faculty are concerned that the implications of deep academic cuts undermine the university’s mission; this could potentially undercut the feasibility of any proposal that shares True Commitment’s goal.

All of these issues have arisen in a situation where timing is essential, underscoring the unusual circumstances that have preceded this ultimatum.

Despite these obstacles, there is a considerable amount of optimism on behalf of faculty leadership regarding the ability of the Faculty Senate’s assorted committees and task forces to provide a workable foundation for the replacement plan.

Faculty Senate President Scott Holmstrom characterized the prospect as a welcome one: “It’s a step in the right direction… I’m hopeful that our work over the next month will help build trust across the university and ultimately identify an agreeable path forward as an institution.”

This optimism is mirrored somewhat within the administration. When asked for comment, President Clancy lauded the decision, describing it as “a promising opportunity to explore new options.”

Provost Levit declined to comment.

Post Author: Chris Lierly