Administration does not renew Dean Farrar’s 4-year contract

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Margaret Farrar, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, has not been offered a full renewal of her contract.

As Farrar was approaching the expiration of her current contract, the vast majority of faculty assumed that she would be offered a renewal in full, as was reflected in the unanimous vote of confidence in Farrar during the faculty meeting on Wednesday, March 20.

Earlier in the year, a survey was sent to faculty, asking them to review Farrar’s performance. The questions, according to several faculty members, were open-ended. No numeric form of data was presented to form an empirically solid reason for the termination of Farrar.

“I don’t know why this decision was made. I would assume it was made by the president because who else would do it? But there has been no indication as to what cause or what reason or what was wanted in the dean’s performance,” said Dan Kilbride, the head of Faculty Council. “So I hope we will receive some feedback and information as to why this happened.”

Administrators have been calling Farrar’s non-renewal a “resignation,” citing her rejection of the one-year contract extension the University offered her. “They want her to stay while candidates for her position are interviewed,” said an anonymous source. “It would be humiliating.”

Farrar’s effective termination as dean comes during a vulnerable time for faculty, as the University plans on implementing academic prioritization. The dean of the College of Arts and Sciences plays a crucial role in the academic prioritization steering committee, voicing the faculty opinion and ensuring that the voice of professors is heard.

Now, as the University prepares for major critical evaluations and potential restructuring, the position of Dean is vacant, leaving the faculty without a key voice during a pivotal moment of change.

“It’s just really unfortunate timing,” said Angie Canda, head of the Honors Program. Canda continued to say that she did not believe that this termination of Farrar was an act of malice towards professors, but rather a coincidence that should not halt the progression of the University’s new strategic plan.

Some, however, view the vacancy of Farrar’s position as a calculated action that serves to silence a strong faculty voice during academic prioritization. The vote of confidence by faculty on March 20 supports this claim, as that unanimous vote for Farrar appears inconsistent with the nonrenewal of her contract.

“Anything that is personnel issues we can’t be privy to, but if this is related to the dean’s performance, which I expect it is, then we need to understand why this decision was made,” said Kilbride. “Because the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences were shocked, as you could tell by the vote.”

When asked for comment, Mike Scanlan, executive director of Strategic Communications, stated that the administration cannot comment on matters regarding personnel.

The reason for Farrar’s termination remains unclear. Multiple people vehemently supported Farrar and the work she’s done.

“She has done a great job bringing people together, trying to get new initiatives going. The decision made reflects a multitude of issues, not simply faculty evaluations of her performance. … Any problems noted really had to deal more with institutional structural issues that Dean Farrar inherited, moreso than her abilities,” said Canda.

When asked if the academic prioritization and Farrar’s termination were related, Canda responded, “I would hope not. I think there are probably a bunch of factors at play that most people aren’t aware of. I would say, unless Dean Farrar says so, I’m going to assume everything is speculative in nature. Sure, there are political things going on all the time, but I would prefer not to be working in an environment where that is the case. So I choose to believe they’re unrelated.”

However, other faculty members speculated that the two are linked. “Among a lot of people, with the relative lack of information and these two things happening together — prioritization and the dean being fired — (people) might have surmised or hypothesized that Dean Farrar was not all in favor of academic prioritization. For that reason, maybe among other reasons, she was let go. I don’t know if that is the case, but certainly some faculty were connecting those dots,” said Kilbride.     

The Carroll News reached out to Farrar, but she was unavailable to comment.

The results of the survey are confidential, providing no proof for or against a legitimate reason for Farrar’s termination. As academic prioritization continues, Farrar’s position will be unfilled, leaving the faculty with weaker representation than they otherwise would have.

Editor’s Note: As more information is released about this process, The Carroll News will publish updates.