Faculty Forum Address

October 22, 2003

Edward Glynn, S.J., President

 

I see today’s meeting as a conversation, specifically a conversation about shared governance.  I’ll make some opening comments with the purpose of placing our conversation in the larger context of the mission of the University and our efforts to achieve successfully that mission.  At the conclusion of my comments we’ll have a period of time for questions, answers, comments, etc., i.e., a conversation.

 

My prepared comments I am taking from my August 1998 and August 2002 convocation addresses.

 

Every educational institution like every human person, city and nation is always standing in a particular present moment that is rapidly becoming the future under the influence of the past and in that ever new present moment through action and inaction is making choices that are helping to create that institution’s future.

 

Because of the hunger for meaning that we are born with and that constitutes us human persons, educational institutions like individual persons, cities and nations are thus continually involved in the ongoing, never-ending process of attempting in an ever new present to interpret successfully their past meaningfully to their future.  When an educational institution, a human person, a city or a nation can no longer successfully interpret its past meaningfully to its future, it ceases to be that institution, that person, that city or that nation.  There occurs a transformation as those elements that previously constituted the institutional, personal, civic and national foundations disintegrate and are brought together in a new identity and a new self-understanding. 

 

The integrating influence that has enabled John Carroll University to continue in ever new presents to interpret successfully its past meaningfully to its future is the Jesuit influence.  By Jesuit influence I don’t mean only the influence of men called Jesuits.  That particular type of influence is of course important because of the lived tradition embodied through the presence of such influence.  But here I mean more the influence of that profoundly Christian vision of the mystery of God, the world and the human race that is contained in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola and that has shaped the world-view of hundreds of thousands of men and women around our planet for more than 400 years. What makes an institution of any kind Jesuit is the fact that the decisions that are daily shaping the institution are themselves being shaped by the vision and values of the Spiritual Exercises.  Obviously to do this the decision makers need not be Jesuit nor Christian.

 

Today John Carroll is probably more recognized nationally for its excellence as a Catholic and Jesuit university than at anytime in its history.  Our recognized academic excellence and national prominence are not the achievement of any one person, of any one department or of any one school of this university.  Our academic excellence and prominence are the consummation of our past working together to create the reality that today is John Carroll University.  This reality of educational excellence that is today John Carroll need not continue.  As with any human creation of beauty and goodness, it need not be.  The perdurance of our academic excellence and national reputation is not guaranteed.  It is for us to secure for the future the academic excellence and national prominence of John Carroll.  It falls to us to reject the complacency and comfort of resting on past achievements of ourselves and others that have brought the University to where we are today.  Rather we stand upon those past achievements so we can look to the future, both immediate and far, as we create and contribute to John Carroll’s strong and rich traditions. 

 

In my August 1998 Convocation I once again expressed publicly what I had already told all those who interviewed me in the spring of 1998.  I have a passionate interest in institutional mission.  This passionate interest results from an abiding conviction that individuals shape institutions and institutions shape society.  As individuals, we are each responsible for the institution, John Carroll, that we are shaping. We are thus, also as individuals, each responsible for the consequential impact and influence that the institution makes as it fits itself in the larger society.  My passionate interest in institutional mission leads me to other ardent interests:  promoting shared responsibility for an institution’s actions and their consequences, advancing a shared understanding of what, how and why we do what we do, and encouraging the shared conversation that is necessary for achieving successfully a shared institutional self-understanding.

 

These convictions were not something I discovered upon arriving at John Carroll.  These are convictions I have publicly expressed and have sought to implement during four different decades of academic administration at different universities in different parts of the United States.  These are abiding convictions.  I act upon them.  Here at John Carroll to promote shared responsibility, to advance a shared understanding and to encourage a shared conversation I, as president, immediately in my first year persuaded the Board of Trustees to have a member of the faculty and a member of the student body serve on each of the standing committees of the Board.  I also began the practice of meeting monthly with the elected officers of the faculty forum.  In these conversations with the elected leadership of the Forum at least once each year I expressed the desire to have greater faculty participation in university governance.  We are an academic institution.  I desire greater faculty participation in governance.  Each year, for example, I talked about having faculty participation on the University’s budget committee and about having a University promotion and tenure committee made up only of faculty members.

 

When out of my abiding convictions I began expressing these desires and plans, I did not then know that the need for steps to be taken that would advance faculty participation in governance had been identified in the university’s 1984 North Central Association’s self-study and visiting team’s report and again in the 1994 institutional self-study and visiting team’s report.  The 1984 self-study identified among “points of ambiguity and conflict” a number of concerns, two of which were “The absence of faculty members on the Budget Council” and “The need of a committee(s) on rank and tenure.” (p.26)  These concerns were also noted in the 1984 Visiting Team Report.  Ten years later, in 1994, the self-study and visiting team report revisited the unresolved concerns about faculty participation in governance. 

 

For six years I have been advocating with the officers of the Faculty forum, academic department chairs and individual faculty members the establishment of a university committee on promotion and tenure that would be made up only of faculty members elected and appointed.  I am delighted to know that the appropriate committee of the Faculty Forum is now discussing this.  

 

In my 2002 convocation address I announced that I was establishing, effective immediately, a university budget committee of three administrators and four faculty members elected by the faculty.  The committee appropriately is chaired by the Financial Vice President.  The Academic Vice President appropriately will be an ex officio member of the committee.  The third administrator will be the University’s budget director.  The responsibility of the University Budget Committee is to provide budget guidelines for the President to propose to the Board of Directors for approval at their December meeting.  At the end of each fiscal year this committee also provides to the President recommendations to be brought to Board of Directors for approval regarding the use of funds resulting from any fiscal year’s operating surplus.  These recommendations of course are to be consistent with institutional priorities recommended to the President by the University Planning Group.

 

I also announced in that same August 2003 convocation address that I was increasing, effective immediately, the number of faculty members on the University Planning Group from three (3) to six (6).   In addition to the three elected faculty members who already serve on the UPG I have appointed three faculty members.  The University Planning Group is becoming increasingly influential and important in the life of the University as we move forward in adopting strategic actions steps to implement successfully the university’s strategic plan and in funding institutional priorities identified in the strategic planning process.  The University Planning Group is the vehicle for institutionalizing the university wide conversation that is necessary for successful strategic planning that enables us to active shape the university’s future rather than having its future passively shaped by factors not under our influence and control.  Last year and this fall I have arranged for similar faculty representation on two newly established bodies, the University Council and the University Committee on Marketing.

 

Let me conclude by repeating again.  I have a passionate interest in institutional mission.  This passionate interest results from an abiding conviction that individuals shape institutions and institutions shape society.  As individuals, we are each responsible for the institution, John Carroll, that we are shaping.  We are thus, also as individuals, each responsible for the consequential impact and influence that the institution makes as it fits itself in the larger society.  My passionate interest in institutional mission leads me to other ardent interests:  promoting shared responsibility for an institution’s actions and their consequences, advancing a shared understanding of what, how and why we do what we do, and encouraging the shared conversation that is necessary for achieving successfully a shared institutional self-understanding.

 

These are decades long convictions that I act upon.