College of A&S Strategic Planning Committee begins following faculty backlash Sunday, Mar 6 2022 

By Joe Wilson — 

Interim Provost Gerry Bradley is acting on his promise to restructure the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). Bradley announced on Feb. 28 that the A&S Strategic Planning Committee would begin meeting this week. The first meeting took place Mar. 4. 

The A&S Strategic Planning Committee is a new task force intended to plan and implement structural changes to the College of Arts and Sciences. While the objectives of the committee are still unclear, members plan to talk through their ideas of reorganizing A&S. After these preliminary discussions, the committee will circulate a report of the proposed changes to A&S Faculty. The committee hopes to present its final plan to the upcoming Faculty Assembly meeting.

The announcement included the names of the A&S faculty members who have been chosen to serve on the committee:

  • Avery Kolers – College elected faculty member 
  • Natalie Polzer – College elected faculty member 
  • Glynis Ridley – College elected faculty member 
  • Aaron Rollins – College elected faculty member 
  • David Schultz – College elected faculty member 
  • Matthew Church – College elected staff member  
  • Danielle Dolan – College elected staff member 
  • Craig Grapperhaus – Dean appointed faculty member 
  • Latricia Best – Dean appointed faculty member 
  • Edna Ross – Dean appointed faculty member  
  • Juli Wagner – Dean appointed staff member 
  • Brandon McCormack – Provost appointed faculty member 
  • Karen Freberg – Provost appointed faculty member 
  • Ann Hall – Provost appointed faculty member 
  • Rick Graycarek – Provost appointed staff member 
  • David Owen – Ex officio member 
  • Douglas Craddock – Ex officio member 
  • Sarah Lopez – Ex officio member 
  • Ian Norris – Ex officio member 

The selection of committee members comes roughly a month after Bradley first announced the creation of the A&S Strategic Planning Committee. Elections were originally scheduled to occur on Feb. 3. However, after A&S faculty balked at the rapid election process the provost delayed the formation of the committee until now.

Bradley’s efforts to restructure A&S have generated controversy among faculty and staff. Several A&S faculty members have expressed fears that the restructure will result in the reduction of departments in the college. 

Outside organizations have also expressed concerns over the new committee. The United Campus Workers of Kentucky (UCW), a group that represents campus workers from across the state, sent out an open letter that criticized the committee. In the letter, UCW demanded that there be no staffing, instructional or departmental cuts as part of the restructuring. UCW also demanded that departments not be combined, additional funding is provided to A&S and that if cuts must be made, they should be made first to upper executive salaries and unnecessary capital projects.

The letter read in part, “We call upon the UofL community, including faculty, staff, students, and other community members who have an interest in maintaining a vibrant and diverse community at UofL, to join us in demanding that restructuring efforts prioritize the stability of jobs, workloads, and well-being of current staff and faculty. This will translate into a more resilient employee base that can better serve our students, in keeping with the Cardinal Community of Care and Accountability principles.”

The provost’s office plans to send updates regarding the committee’s progress in the coming weeks.

Logo Courtesy // U of L College of Arts and Sciences

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Dean Owen indicates no change in course delivery policy Wednesday, Jan 12 2022 


By Madelin Shelton — 

College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean David Owen responded to the uproar from faculty over the university’s policy of mandated in-person courses and reaffirmed the university’s stance.

After U of L Interim President Lori Gonzalez sent out an announcement to the entire university community informing them that the semester would be conducted as originally planned for both in-person and virtual courses, Owen sent out a reminder on Jan. 7 to A&S faculty reminding them to conduct courses how they were described in the Schedule of Courses.

A&S faculty began voicing their frustrations to the dean in an email chain over the weekend.

Owen sent a note to A&S department chairs on Sunday, Jan. 9. “I told them it was their responsibility to make sure these courses were taught as they were advertised,” Owen said. He said he expected faculty to abide by university policy, and failure to follow said policy could result in accountability, including disciplinary action.

Some of the deans and faculty viewed this as Owen threatening the faculty with punishment if they failed to teach the courses through their original method. He acknowledged that some individuals perceived this note as a threat, but Owen claims he was simply referring to the expectation that faculty abide by university policy.

Faculty complained the policy is inflexible for individuals who are, for example, vaccinated themselves but have young children at home who are unable to get one. When asked about this type of specific circumstance, Owen referenced U of L’s ability to maintain face-to-face courses throughout the pandemic the last year by implementing health protocols like masking and social distancing. He also mentioned the university’s vaccination rate of over 90 percent.

“Nothing has changed really in this occurrence,” he said. “You know, it’s a particular spike of a new variant but we’ve dealt with spikes in variants before while remaining on campus.”

He continued, “If faculty or staff have particular health concerns, whether it’s with their own health or health of family members in their household, whether they’re children or parents that might be living with them or somebody who’s immunocompromised, we have a family medical leave policy that can account for that. Folks have applied for that in those circumstances.” Faculty are not permitted to teach, even virtually, should they choose a family medical leave option.

Owen said the university crafts policy that prioritizes equity and accounts for all faculty, staff and students. However, some individuals have criticized this policy as detracting from equity. Dr. Tracy K’Meyer, a Professor of History at U of L, spoke on this point.

“In the dean’s note, he referenced treating everybody equitably. Part of it is that’s kind of a misuse of the term equitably. Equity doesn’t mean treating everybody the same, it means treating people based on their own circumstances.”

More than just faculty have spoken out against the university’s policy. A petition opposing it sponsored by the U of L chapter of United Campus Workers has over 1,500 signatures from faculty, staff, students and other community members.

The U of L chapter of the American Association of University Professors and the College of A&S Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee have released statements in opposition to the policy.

Owen did clarify that faculty were never given the autonomy throughout the pandemic to teach courses in a way that diverged from the chosen method listed in the original Schedule of Courses, unless they were exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19 and temporarily needed to move instruction online. During periods when all courses were taught virtually due to the pandemic, it was a university-wide policy.

When asked if the university planned on changing its policy in response to the significant pushback it has received, Owen said “My understanding is there is no intention to change the policy at the university level and that is what I will follow.” However, he did mention that President Gonzalez and her team were constantly monitoring the ever-evolving circumstances of the pandemic and could change policy when deemed necessary.

Photo Courtesy // University of Louisville

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Faculty bristle at mandated in-person instruction during COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday, Jan 11 2022 

By Madelin Shelton — 

U of L started the Spring semester in controversy this week, as the administration has received pushback for requiring faculty to teach in-person.

College of Arts & Sciences Dean David Owen sent a reminder to faculty Jan. 4 of the university’s COVID-19 policy. Included in the policy was a refusal to allow faculty to change the modality of the courses. That’s the way courses are delivered as set out in the Schedule of Courses, such as face-to-face or virtually.

Dozens of faculty expressed outrage at the perceived lack of flexibility in the policy, as it doesn’t appear to allow professors to switch from teaching face-to-face to online —even temporarily—unless they must isolate due to COVID exposure or illness.

Faculty members expressed concern for colleagues with children who are not old enough to receive the vaccine, and who see switching to online instruction as the best way to protect their families.

Dr. Tracy K’Meyer, a Professor of History at U of L, described her initial response to the policy. “This idea that we would, across the board, have no flexibility sparked a gut reaction in me that said that’s not fair, that’s not right.”

K’Meyer also said that as far as she knew, there was no appeal or exemption process for faculty to follow. One of her colleagues requested to conduct the first two weeks of classes online because she had a baby too young to be vaccinated, but her request was allegedly denied by university administration.

Owen is reported to have contacted the department chairs in the College of A&S Sunday to tell them that in-person classes were not to be moved to an online format and violating that policy could result in disciplinary action.

At a regularly scheduled College of A&S meeting on Monday that included Owen and A&S faculty, Owen reiterated that he was taking the stance on the policy that Interim President Lori Gonzalez had taken and that there was “no wiggle room.”

There is a petition signed by more than 500 professors, staff, students and other U of L community members opposing the policy.

“The University of Louisville Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) fully supports the autonomy of University of Louisville Faculty and their right to make flexible choices concerning course delivery modality for the Spring 2022 semester,” the U of L AAUP chapter said in a statement. “Foregrounded in academic professionalism, the desire for flexibility is intended to promote student learning and success in these times of anxiety and uncertainty.”

The College of A&S Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee also came out in opposition to the policy. “The College of Arts and Sciences’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee stands in support and solidarity with A&S faculty, staff, and students’ right to teach, work, and learn in any modality that supports their health and safety. In conjunction with A&S leadership, any change to course, work, or learning modalities will uphold ‘our mission of providing an excellent education for our students while also ensuring the health and safety of everyone in the process.’”

The Louisville Cardinal reached out to Owen for an interview that was scheduled for this past Saturday concerning this issue, but it was canceled by his office. Further reporting on this issue will take place after a rescheduled interview.

Photo Courtesy // The Courier-Journal

 

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A&S Dean search put on hold after candidate declines offer Monday, Jan 18 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville announced last week that it would be putting the search for a new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on hold. This decision comes after the candidate who was selected for the job during the first search declined the offer.

“Given the current complexity of the Arts and Sciences role and the need for a leader with a demonstrated history of success in a similar role, we have made the difficult decision to conclude this search process, to recalibrate and to restart a new search sometime after Provost Gonzalez begins her new role this spring,” U of L President Neeli Bendapudi and Provost Beth Boehm said in a Jan. 13 email.

David Owen, the current interim A&S dean, will continue in his role until the search is able to resume again and find someone long-term for the position.

The announcement concluded by thanking the members of the search committee for their efforts during the first search.

In an interview on Jan. 13, the Editor-in-Chief of The Louisville Cardinal Joseph Garcia asked Bendapudi if the decision to pause this search would be good in the long-term for the university community.

“I think so, and I’m 100% on that,” Bendapudi said. “Because leadership is something where it’s not about a good person or a bad person, it’s about best. And I really believe that. Meaning, that at any given point in time making sure that the person we get aligns with our priorities and where we need to go.”

File Photo//The Louisville Cardinal

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University concludes interviews for new A&S Dean Thursday, Dec 3 2020 


By Madelin Shelton — 

The University of Louisville has concluded its campus visits with finalists for the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) dean. The candidates consisted of four individuals who met with A&S stakeholders.

Candidate one, Georita Frierson, visited U of L Oct. 29-30. She is the current Dean and Full Professor of the School of Arts, Science and Education at D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY, where she oversees a school of over 60 faculty and seven departments.

Candidate two, David Owen, is the current Interim Dean of U of L’s College of A&S. He met with A&S stakeholders Nov. 5-6. Prior to this role, Owen was the Chairperson of the Department of Philosophy here at U of L from 2015-2019.

Candidate three, Christopher Snyder, visited the university Nov. 17-18. He is currently serving as the Founding Dean of the Shackouls Honors College at Mississippi State University where she oversees the honors college’s curriculum, recruitment, admissions, budget, student activities, housing and fundraising.

Candidate four, Deanna Dannels, visited campus Nov. 19-20. Dannels is the current Associate Dean of Academic Affairs of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at North Carolina State University. In this role, she is responsible for academic leadership, management, strategic planning, policy development/regulation and administrative academic oversight within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The last candidate, Ronald Jackson, visited U of L Nov. 23-24. Jackson is a Professor of Communication at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and has previously served as the Dean of the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences at UC from 2012-2013.

The U of L College of A&S Search Committee is expected to meet this Friday, Dec. 4 to decide who will fill the position.

File Graphic// The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L suspends all nonessential research activity Wednesday, Mar 25 2020 

–By Eli Hughes

Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation Kevin Gardner announced in an email March 24 that the University of Louisville’s nonessential research will be required to temporarily stop all activity.

This announcement comes after Gardner requested March 15 that nonessential research projects slow down their activity.

Gardner expressed in the email that this decision would affect U of L’s research projects. “We recognize the significant impact that this suspension of non-essential research activities will have on the progress of your research programs,” Gardner said.

“However, it is critical that we minimize our on-campus research density at this time in order to prevent the continued spread of the coronavirus and to protect the health of ourselves and of our university and greater community.”

This suspension requires researchers to stay away from their on-campus workspaces and stop research activity completely by March 26.

Under these guidelines, researchers are not permitted to remove research materials from campus without permission from the dean or vice president of the department. Researchers are permitted to work from home using lab notebooks and data from computers.

Exceptions to this research suspension apply to research that would lose valuable data or pose a health or safety risk if suspended. A full list of criteria for suspension exceptions can be found on the College of Arts and Science’s emergency resource website.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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College of Arts and Sciences announces new graduate school policies in response to COVID-19 outbreak Tuesday, Mar 24 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville’s College of Arts and Sciences announced March 23 changes that have been made to the department’s graduate program due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Associate Dean for Graduate Education David Brown made the announcement in an email and went over how the policy changes would affect current graduate students, incoming graduate students and faculty.

One new requirement is that graduate thesis and dissertation defenses will take place online for the rest of the semester. Any student who would like to request an exception must make those requests through Brown.

Graduate school admissions will also be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Graduate Record Examinations have been canceled, so departments that normally require GRE tests for admission will be allowed to accept students without the GRE test.

This will only apply to students starting graduate school in the summer 2020 or fall 2020 semesters who meet all of the other requirements necessary.

Any forms that graduate students need to fill out will now be required to be completed online. Those forms, as well as further information about the graduate school’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, can be found on the graduate website.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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College of Arts and Sciences creates emergency resource page for COVID-19 outbreak Tuesday, Mar 17 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville’s College of Arts and Sciences has created an emergency resource section on their website to help make sure students, faculty and staff stay informed during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

 The resources include travel guidelines, information on working from home, resources for professors moving courses online, departmental emergency plans and tips to stay healthy.

The website also contains links to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 resources and the Campus Health Services site. 

The resources can also be accessed by clicking on the banner on the Arts and Sciences homepage. 

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

 

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Interim A&S College Dean is looking to make a positive impact Monday, Jan 13 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

After one week on the job, Arts & Sciences College interim Dean David Owen feels like he is already settled into his new position.

“I think she [Kempf-Leonard] left the college in solid shape,” said Owen. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t any work to be done. Owen shared his goals for his tenure Jan. 2, and one of them is keeping morale in a progressive state.

Kempf-Leonard focused on this during her five-year tenure. Owen said that although this area can be challenging, the place the College is in right now gives him a lot to work with and maintain this progress.

“They’re happy that we’re going to really do some intentional work on morale,” said Owen. “So I’m hearing feedback, positive feedback about that.”

He said he’s also fortunate that there hasn’t been any mention of budget cuts so far. “We don’t know yet exactly about [budget cuts], but everybody seems to be anticipating more or less a steady state budget, which is good news,” said Owen.

While keeping morale at a good place is a major priority, Owen wants to pass off the College to the next dean in a good place. “I need to be sure that I hand to the next dean a College that’s in as good shape as possible,” he said. “And that means having a good budget for next year.”

As the University of Louisville moves to a new budget model this year, Owen knows this is going to be a challenge he faces, but he is already praising his associate deans and staff for being helping hands along the way. “We have really great associate and assistant deans, [and] great senior staff over here,” he said. “They’ll make sure the college keeps running smoothly.”

Owen also wants to focus more on retention within the A&S College. One of the ways he plans on doing that is by becoming more visible to the students in the College. “My job is to make it so that students can flourish in their educational career,” he said.

Since he has already been serving as chair of philosophy, this won’t be as much of a challenge for him. “I do know a lot of students, and it’s nice to walk across campus and talk to students,” said Owen. “I think that’s helpful to know students, and I’m teaching this term, so getting to learn, getting to meet and get to know some newer students in my class [will help].”

Similar to Kempf-Leonard, one of the reasons he took on the role as interim dean was to help others. Along with teaching this semester, he said that he feels taking on this role will re-energize him while also making an impact on the College.

“I think we’re prepared to grow and move into the 2020s,” said Owen.

Photo Courtesy of The University of Louisville 

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Interim Arts & Science College dean shares goals for 2020 Monday, Jan 6 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

After Arts & Science College Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard submitted her early retirement in December, the announcement came that David Owen would serve as the interim dean. Owen sent an email Jan. 2 to the college detailing his goals for his interim appointment.

“I am honored to have been appointed interim dean of A&S and I look forward to working together to fulfill the A&S mission,” said Owen. “The core of A&S is its people – from engaged students, to talented staff and brilliant faculty – and we must be sure that we recognize the valuable contributions each of us makes to the success of the college.”

Owen said that his main goal during his tenure as dean is to pass on a strong and vibrant college to the next dean. In the email, he listed what he wants to achieve:

  • Take positive steps towards improving morale amongst staff and faculty;
  • End the fiscal year in the black and with the college on sound financial footing;
  • Prepare a FY21 budget that maximizes our ability to fulfill the A&S mission and enables a strategic investment in college priorities;
  • Guide the transition to the new budget model and ensure that department chairs and Dean’s office staff have a comprehensive understanding of the new model;
  • Develop and implement a communication plan that promotes transparency;
  • Build on our on-going efforts to increase retention of A&S students.

“We have exceptional leadership already in place in the college—associate deans, assistant deans, department chairs, and others—who will ensure that A&S can continue to provide exceptional educational opportunities to students,” said Owen.

He is also the Chair of the Philosophy department in the A&S College. His interim term is set to last through the Spring 2020 semester, while the A&S College searches for a full-time replacement.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with you as we strive to achieve these goals,” said Owen. “And I am very appreciative of the contributions each of you make to our mission.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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