Gabriel Sistare, staff writer
Students demand answers from Pfeiffer
Students voiced objection to President Sandy Pfeiffer’s decision to restructure the Service Learning program at the Student Caucus meeting on Tuesday. Pfeiffer assured all 105 students present that leaving the dean position unfilled would be a “pilot project” that would be tested for two years.
“If it doesn’t work, I will be willing to return to the dean position,” said Pfeiffer.
Pfeiffer began the meeting by explaining his rationale for having current Interim Dean of Service Learning Franklin Tate take the role of associate dean, and report instead to Dean of the College and Vice President of Academic Affairs Paula Garrett.
“I don’t see nearly enough collaboration,” said Pfeiffer in regards to how the service and academics are often very separate issues.
Pfeiffer said he wanted to see what would happen if people were focused on working together without titular heads or deans.
Pfeiffer also acknowledged that due to the national economic downturn, he was forced to make a difficult budgetary decision.
“These aren’t supposed to be cakewalks,” he said. “There is no easy way to cut a budget.”
Sophomore Adrian Smith asked Pfeiffer if there was any way for students to collaborate with the administration to solve budgeting issues.
Pfeiffer responded by saying that such a decision is ultimately his to make.
“At the end of the day I make the budget decisions,” he said.
Tate’s removal from PAC Junior Reyhan Miller was concerned with Pfeiffer’s decision to remove Tate from the President’s Advisory Council (PAC).
After explaining that PAC is an advisory body and not a voting body, Pfeiffer said that decisions of this importance should be made by him.
“I am making sure that hard decisions are made for the College by me,” he said.
Pfeiffer further stated that along with the responsibilities of making these decisions, he is willing to take the blame for failure as well.
Regarding the removal of Tate from PAC, Pfeiffer said that he asked Garrett if she was willing and able to fulfill the mission of representing Service Learning on the council. Pfeiffer assured that Garrett was ready to represent Service Learning on PAC.
Senior Paige Heron seemed confused with Pfeiffer’s response.
“If it [PAC] is an advisory body and not a voting body, why wouldn’t you want Franklin [Tate],” asked Heron.
Pfeiffer explained that associate deans are not members of PAC, and seemed wary of having subordinates on the same advisory board with those they report to, in this case, Tate and Garrett. Pfeiffer said that Tate’s removal from PAC was in no way a reduction to the College.
“That is a logical fallacy,” said Pfeiffer.
Senior Laura French told Pfeiffer that she was concerned with the effect Garrett’s new responsibilities will have on academics.
“I haven’t tapped her [Garrett] out yet,” replied Pfeiffer.
What will happen with the budget
Miller spoke up again asking Pfeiffer about how the budget for service learning will now work.
Pfeiffer said that he wants to try to experiment with things to help save the College money, but he reminded everyone that he didn’t want to “cannibalize the budget,” though Pfeiffer announced that Tate would not have direct control over Service Learning’s budget.
“It ought to be a discreet budget, certainly under the purview of Paula Garrett,” said Pfeiffer. “Franklin will not have his own budget and will have to report to Paula Garrett.”
Referring to the College’s governance documents, senior and Caucus Co-Convener Gideon Burdick said that Staff Forum and Student Caucus need to be consulted on changes to the service program.
Pfeiffer thought that it would be dangerous to make this issue one of governance.
“You can’t manage a college with consulting 900 people,” said Pfeiffer. “I wouldn’t mind doing it if I thought it was a good idea.”
Citing the same documents, Pfeiffer said that he did not need to consult with either governance body before making his decision.
“The governance documents are pretty clear even though they are waffling all over the place,” said Pfeiffer.
At the Student Caucus meeting on Feb. 3, a formal statement was delivered by Sophomore Philip Hamilton.
Hamilton said that the students the statement represented felt unable to directly speculate as to what will happen to the Service Learning component of the Triad.
As he continued to read, Hamilton asked a number of questions that seemed poised to hold Pfeiffer accountable.
“Will there be true integration?” he asked. “Integration is working as two strong departments, aiding eachother in mutual goals: learning.”
Hamilton further articulated a concern for the future of service learning.
“We want to know why this happened, whether there is a plan, why [Service Learning Crew members] haven’t met with anyone involved in this shift, what is going to happen to [service learning's] role in the community, with the triad, and with our ability to function,” read Hamilton.
The concluding line from the statement was clear.
“These actions will not continue without a demand for answers.”
Towards the end of the meeting on Tuesday, Smith asked if students can receive feedback from Tate, Pfeiffer stated that he didn’t think it was a good idea to include Tate in these discussions.
“I am uncomfortable with bringing Franklin in,” said Pfeiffer, “most of all I want to hear from students.”