6.0674 Women's Studies at Univ. of Oklahoma (1/103)

Thu, 15 Apr 1993 14:48:38 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0674. Thursday, 15 Apr 1993.

Date: Wed, 14 Apr 93 23:31 CDT
From: Vince Liesenfeld <AA1727@UOKMVSA.BITNET>
Subject: WS at U OK

The WS Program at the U of OK is facing the most serious
threat in its 17 year history. Over the past year it
has suffered disproportionate cuts even in tight budget
times. More important, the administration has broken
agreements made in full faith and attacked WS' status
as an independent, continuing academic program. The U
is undertaking a strategic planning process from which
we are omitted; it is also facing severe budget cuts for
next year which may easily be used as a pretext for
decimating the Program.
When the last Director announced her resignation
in Fall 1991, the faculty unanimously urged the Dean
to restore the job from a half-time, 12 month position
on the 5 year contract that is standard for all Chairs
and Directors to its previous terms: 5 year, full-time,
12 month position on the five year contract that is
fully budgeted in Women's Studies. We also urged a
national search for the next director. In Spring 92
the request was denied; we conducted an internal search.
The new Dir. was named in May 1992 and introduced at a
public meeting of other Chairs and Directors. In
August, the Dean left the University. Despite our
repeated appeals to the Interim Dean and the Provost
that the appointment was made according to standard
procedure and carried the full faith of the University,
they refused to honor it. We were to await the selection
of a new Dean even though other appointments were put into
effect. In Oct., the Director was offered a three year
contract. Back pay for summer months worked but not
compensated as promised. As of April 1993, no appointment
papers have been processed, and the terms of the appointment,
number of months, teaching load, etc. for the next two years
have not been clarified.
The University administration is considering moving the
Program from its space, a library/resource center and four
offices in an academic building, and eliminating its only
continuing staff member, a half-time administrative assistant.
The Program could be housed adjacent to the Parking and
Transport Office with seven other programs: African-American
Studies, Native American Studies, Asian, European, Latin-American
and Russian Studies, and Film and Video Studies. In our
most recent meeting with the Dean he has said that he will
not move us, but none of these issues are finally resolved
and no guarantees are yet in writing. It is also possible
that all these programs would have to share one full time
secretary, budgeted presumably by taking away the half-time
administrative assistant from Ws and the half-time secretary
from African-American Studies. The administration has also
considered adding a new layer of bureaucracy to coordinate
these diverse academic units.
Such actions would cripple these programs, as it appears
the administration intends. It sends a clear signal that they
are no longer at the heart of the intellectual and academic
enterprise of the university. Women's Studies and the other
interdisciplinary programs would be forced into direct compe-
tition for scarce resources even as it becomes obvious that
they are indistinguishable in the mind of the administration.
Women's Studies is a distinct area from the other programs.
We support them in contributing to a more diversified curriculum,
and intend to continue the cooperative relationships we have
built and maintained with other academic units. Under this
scheme, we could go through an additional layer
within an administrative structure already unsympathetic
to interdisciplinary and non-traditional programs to make
our needs and accomplishments known. The integrity of these
programs, their ability to set curriculum and standards, will
be compromised at the least. As there is no Women's Center
on campus, faculty and women students will lose their only
room of their own.
Women's Studies is the largest interdisciplinary program
in the College of Arts and Sciences at the U of Ok. It has
a 20 person faculty distinguished in both teaching and research
who have brought in over $2 million in external funding for
Women's Studies projects over the past two years. The Program
offers an area of concentration, and its proposal for a major
has been approved through extensive internal reviews. It
serves 2,000 students each year in its courses. It serves many
more women students for whom it is the first point of contact
with the university and the one sympathetic office to which they
can turn. Through its public programs, its lectures, panel
discussions and other events, it contributes to the
intellectual life and diversity of the university and the wider
The cuts of the past few years have already greatly increased
the workload of the faculty and director; each broken agreement
has consumed more precious time and energy. A half-time
secretary/administrative assistant has never been adequate, but
we also lost the position of Asst. Dir. when the incumbent
retired, and G.A. time has been slashed. Budget cuts are
supposed to be implemented differentially with strong units
being rewarded. Instead, we have suffered repeated dispropor-
tionate cuts already despite the distinction we have gained,
student demand for the Program, and the national trend toward
enhancement of Women's Studies Programs. The treatment of
the Director's position and the proposal to take away our
assistance, our space, and our independence will not only add
further burdens, it will effect the marginalization of the
central academic program for women at the university.
Further information may be gained from Jane Quaid Rickman,
AA0383@UOKMVSA.bitnet. Comments may be sent to
Dr. Richard Van Horn, President, University of Oklahoma, Norman
Dr. J. Kimpel, Provost, University of Oklahoma, Norman
Dr. David Young, Dean, Arts and Sciences, Norman, OK 73019