Comments and Questions from Listening Session with Bruce

History Department

Are we planning to grow as a university? 

Each of us could say what we think is role of history, but increasingly, humanities seem to be left aside.   Humanities play essential role in preparing citizens.  Worried about ability to stay funded in the current environment.

We’re under pressure to produce more SCH, though squeezing more students into classes is fundamentally in conflict with pressures to succeed – eg: with move to more writing requirements.  How do we ensure that quality is a measure?

Students don’t understand need for humanities.   Parents want widget making.  Important for President to emphasize need for liberal education from your bully pulpit.

For the last 4-5 years, too many of our large history sections have been taught by PT faculty who get paid very little.   We need to convert more adjunct assignments into FT faculty positions.  

We hope that you will increase the proportion of the academic budget as a percent of the budget.  

Frightened about how metrics are used – measures of success need to take into account different ways of teaching across campus.   

When the college was formed we were told that there would be an Associate Dean who would raise funds for us.   We really need better base funding.

We should turn down big money for legislatively defined high demand fields and tell the legislature we need it for core ideals. 

Why do we spend so much on football?  Very few of my students attend games. 

Concerned with first year programs.  Not enough faculty (too many student life staff) are  teaching FIGS.  General studies seems to gather people who can’t  pull together the grad requirements.   FIGS classes are doing silly things – no longer academic.  

What we should do is give every first year student a 25 student class.   If students take that excitement home at Thanksgiving, it will affect public perception which may translate into legislative support. 

Research opportunities are one reason we are enthusiastic about teaching and writing.   Good we still have full sabbaticals.  Research paradigm follows science model that brings indirect costs.   We need soft money to encourage us, as external grants dry up for humanities. 

The library is our lab and is our version of start up funds.  Need primary sources.  We get less than $700 per person. 

With many admin changes, am concerned about health of college, which is viewed by some as “the college of everything else.”  We need to market a clear identity and need a dean who will help us achieve that.  We are not just a service component for the U.  

Under a lot of pressure to work across disciplines, but it is hard to team teach even within a department. 

We are under pressure to collaborate in research with students, but that is more a science model.  Much of what historians do is very individual. Our students do present papers at conferences.   If collaborative research with students is a key criterion for internal grants, we are effectively out of range, can’t compete.  Summer research grants – criterion to generate external funding is difficult

Phi Alpha Theta is most active society in region.  Our students win the lion’s share of prizes. 

This is an extremely strong department that prepares students very well, and we may not communicate that well where it matters for funding. 

What we do is very much tied into the library.  We have gotten some funding for library and have a grant that needs matching funds.

The department pulls its weight for university service.

Fearful that we’re painting too rosy a picture.  Over 30 years, most faculty feel beaten, battered, misused by admin.   History department has suffered as result of issues with administration.  


Page Updated 11.27.2013