A unanimous decision by faculty to restructure committees at Bowdoin will combine and cut some existing committees, as well as establish temporary working groups to target specific issues at the College.

The change, initially proposed by the Committee on Governance (COG) and voted on at the February 4 faculty meeting, seeks to more efficiently utilize committees at the College.

"The restructuring involves the combination of some committees that have overlapping responsibilities in the present system," Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd told the Orient. "For example, the new Governance and Faculty Affairs Committee will do the work presently handled by the Committee on Governance and the Faculty Affairs Committee."

The reforms will officially take effect on July 1, 2008, after the election and appointment of committees for the 2008-2009 academic year. Once the change has been implemented, the number of faculty spots on committees will decrease from 142 to approximately 90. (The new number is an approximation, since slots on some committees?like the radiation safety committee?can be filled by either a faculty member or a staff member.)

There are also a number of committees which will no longer serve as standing committees once the changes have taken effect. "Their work has been taken on by other committees or will be handled [by] working groups," Judd said. The disestablished committees total six: admissions, academic computing, financial priorities, first-year seminar, student affairs, and student awards, according to Judd.

One aspect of the change is in working groups?temporary committees that will be implemented by the Governance and Faculty Affairs Committee (GFA) to deal with specific policy issues. In the past, these ad hoc groups were established by the President, the Dean of Academic Affairs, and the Dean of Student Affairs. In the new framework, however, the GFA will be allowed to appoint these groups.

Chair of the Music Department Mary Hunter, a COG member, thinks the working groups will allow faculty members to tackle relevant, specific policy issues that the College needs to address.

"The tasks [on the working groups] will be more focused," Hunter said.

Hunter also said she does not think that the decision to allow the GFA to appoint working groups will necessarily lead to more red tape.

"A lot of big issues take time anyway," she added.

During the initial drafting of the proposal to restructure committees, the COG consulted with other committees and also addressed the concerns of students.

Judd said she does not think that the new committee structure will take the student voice out of the decision making process.

"I don't anticipate that the new structure will in any way diminish the role that students play on committees here at Bowdoin," she said.

Hunter agreed, noting that the changes apply equally to both students and faculty.

"We haven't taken students off of committees where they were there before," she said.

Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) President Dustin Brooks '08 said he thinks the COG took student considerations sufficiently into account.

"I brought up a couple of issues and they did answer the most important one, namely the process for appointing students to working groups," Brooks said.

BSG Vice President of Academic Affairs Sam Dinning '09 said he thinks that the new changes could be effective provided that working groups operate efficiently and give students?even those not on a committee?the opportunity to articulate their concerns on a particular issue.

"As long as the new process of forming working groups occurs in a way that allows concerns to be heard and responded to in a timely fashion, I cannot say that there are any particular issues I have [with the restructuring]," Dinning wrote in an e-mail to the Orient.

But Brooks underlined the need for input as the changes move forward.

"We'll have to be extra vigilant about making the student voice heard as we move into the new system," he said.

Built into the new committee structure is also an assessment after three years.

"The review will ask whether the restructuring accomplished its goals, among them rationalizing and equitably distributing the responsibilities for shared governance among the faculty and ensuring that committee work offered meaningful engagement for faculty in the process," Judd said.

Judd said she expects that the review, like the restructuring process, will also involve feedback from other committees (in addition to the GFA) assessing the merits and problems of the new system.