Moody-Adams’ reasons for resigning probably surrounded decisions made by the Policy and Planning Committee (PPC) of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). Executive Vice President Nicholas Dirks focused his reaction to the dean’s condemnation of FAS on defending the PPC and stressing that whatever Moody-Adams found objectionable has not been set in stone. We’re still investigating exactly what these objectionable proposals were, but understanding the origins and function of the PPC sheds light onto the process of the College’s consolidation with the wider Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
The inception of the PPC can be traced back to a document prepared by the FAS Academic Review Committee (ARC), a FAS advisory committee that is more administrative than strictly academic; it aims “to assess program quality and effectiveness, to foster planning and improvement, and to provide guidance for administrative decisions.” In its March 2010 report, “Faculty Governance in the Arts & Sciences,” ARC set out to solve a critical problem plaguing FAS, excess bureaucracy: there were duplicate committees, consistent miscommunication, and a lack of transparency. A select quote from the report about the organization of FAS reveals it all: “We tried to obtain a clear flow chart of administrative offices and responsibilities: it proved impossible. Indeed it was not even clear whom to turn to in order to obtain one.”
And so how do bureaucrats fix problems? By creating more committees! ARC recommended scrapping the previous vague yet formidable Executive Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in favor of a new one, the PPC. According to the report, the PPC could ideally improve communication and cooperation between constituent schools of and committees within FAS. However, looking at its actual implementation and influence, we do begin to see the roots of Moody-Adams’ concerns. PPC could appear a mechanism to consolidate power under FAS and leave individuals schools like the College with substantially less control over their matters.