Why I am Running for the Faculty Chair of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service

C. Christine Fair

Date: 14 February 2022
To: SFS Faculty
From: C. Christine Fair
Re: Fair’s Statement on the Incoming Faculty Chair’s Priorities

Dear Esteemed Colleagues:
I am writing to you today to seek your support for my bid to become faculty chair. I recognize I
am not the most obvious choice for this important post; however, I believe am the right person
to represent you due to my commitment to transparency, accountability, and integrity. For many
years, our faculty was collaborative and our governance transparent. Regrettably, over the last
several years, I have watched with dismay as our transparent governance retrenched and our
once cordial and collegial faculty became fractious and contentious to the detriment of the
school and the students we teach.
Below, I identify several issues that require immediate redress that I resolve to tackle as faculty

  1. Opacity of Governance: The governance of this body has become increasingly
    opaque and unaccountable to faculty members. Concomitantly, we are requested to
    endorse decisions and processes that have already been initiated. This is orthogonal
    to legitimate faculty governance wherein faculty are responsible for debating both the
    outcomes and the decision-making processes. Much of the current discord among
    our faculty stems from these suboptimal governance practices.
  2. Equal Access to Opportunities and Outcomes: In recent years, opportunities
    for service have not been equitably distributed despite claims to the contrary.
    (Analysis of historical SFS faculty minutes buttress this assertion.) While some
    faculty appear repeatedly in important committee assignments others are never
    afforded the opportunity despite demonstrable interest and explicit requests. For the
    last several years, this has been justified by the chair’s various prerogatives, which
    have never been elucidated. Consequently, important committees are simply
    announced and constituted without any discussion or debate. This opacity fosters
    distrust and resentment amongst the faculty.
  3. Diversifying this Faculty. There is an urgent need to diversify this faculty not
    only demographically, but ideologically and intellectually. If we wish to continue
    attracting promising undergraduate and graduate students, our faculty must
    resemble the student body we seek to attract.
  4. Commitment to Pedagogical Inclusion: Many faculty members have
    expressed reservations about the manner in which the SFS undergraduate program
    is administered. The absence of transparency and deliberation referenced above is
    often cited specifically as a reason why some faculty members feel excluded from participating meaningfully in BSFS deliberations even when their professional equities are at stake.
    I proffer that faculty governance that embraces transparency, inclusivity, and diversity is a
    necessary first step to restoring the amiability that previously characterized this body.

In this memo I introduce myself and articulate my vision for ameliorating the pressing challenges
that face our faculty.

About Me
I am an interdisciplinary scholar. I completed my Ph.D. in the Department of South Asian
Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Prior to that, I received an MA in
Public Policy, an MA in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and a BS in biological
chemistry, also from the University of Chicago. I read and translate stories and write editorials in
Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi. While I am moored in the study of South Asian languages, I have
become conversant in the tools of political science, which animate my work and my commitment
to the study of South Asian literature.

As a scholar, I have worked with an array of colleagues from the social sciences and
humanities, as my CV attests. (My scholarship is available at http://www.christinefair.net.) As such, I
do not privilege one discipline over another, and I understand and value the importance of
interdisciplinary research in scholarship and faculty bodies such as ours. As SFS faculty chair, I
commit to treating all disciplines and subjects of scholarly inquiry with equal dignity and regard,
consistent with my personal ethics and empirical commitments as a scholar. Scholars of all
disciplinary training should feel equally at home in the SFS and equally supported in tenure and
promotion procedures.

Owing to the University of Chicago’s notoriously hostile environment for students, I am
extremely sensitive to the needs of our students and ensuring that they feel safe and supported
in their academic, personal, and professional journeys. Nothing makes one appreciate
Georgetown’s commitment to cura personalis like being at an institution that does not hold
similar values. As a faculty member, I have demonstrated my personal dedication to the
development of our students. I have a long and demonstrable history of working with students
and ensuring that their efforts are reflected in author bylines on journal articles and edited

I also have a long history of service at Georgetown. Since 2010, I have had the privilege of
serving on the honor council as both an investigating officer and hearing board member on
innumerable cases. I have also served on the Honor Council Executive Committee several
times. While many faculty may view the honor council as a punitive body, I long ago came to
appreciate it as an opportunity to help students in most need of help. As a member of the honor
council, I have also worked strenuously to help protect students from biased detection
technologies and ensure that they are fairly represented in a process that can have grave

Since 2016, I have been the field chair for the undergraduate international politics (IPOL)
concentration, the largest in the BSFS. In my capacity as IPOL field chair, I employed innovative
marketing strategies to recruit a more diverse pool of adjunct faculty. I am also currently serving
on the SFS executive council and have served on numerous hiring and promotion committees. I
am proud of my record of service at Georgetown. However, like many of my fellow faculty
members, I would have liked to participate in other committees, but opportunities were not

Opacity of Governance
When I first joined this faculty in August 2009, important initiatives were discussed prior to
implementation. Faculty were given the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of important
initiatives, whether it was the choice of Blackboard over Canvas or the development of a new
MA program. Increasingly, opportunities to discuss important decisions that affect our abilities to
execute our obligations to our students, colleagues and community, ab initio, have been
curtailed. It is now the norm that the faculty chair presents decisions as a fait accompli. As such,
our votes are meaningless as we are left with the options of either acquiescing pro forma or
rejecting it as a form of procedural objection.

This approach is not the way this body functioned in the past and there is no reason why it must
continue to do so. As a self-governing faculty, we cannot merely ratify a singular choice
presented. It is the responsibility of this faculty to be engaged in processes from beginning to
end. The degradation of this basic norm of governance has had necrotic impacts upon the
morale and competence of this body. Equally important, failing to engage and mentor capable
and interested members of this faculty in important governance processes deprives the body of
capable future leadership. There is nearly always an absence of competition among competent
and willing members to serve as the chair of this body following the completion of the chair’s

As faculty chair, I will work with all of you to provide transparent governance that maximizes
opportunities for creative disruption and allows for healthy debate. For example, I will form and
staff hiring committees with faculty input. I will ensure that the expertise of the committee aligns
with the intellectual and other criteria required for a successful search. It is my hope that by
seeking greater initial buy-in from the faculty, we can better identify consensus candidates
through a collaborative process. In doing so, we can shape this faculty in ways that best serve the
interests of our students.

Hiring colleagues is perhaps the most important thing we do. It shapes the priorities of this body
for decades and the opportunities of our current and future students. While I respect the
academic calendar and the need for recuperative summer breaks, I resolve to reach out to
faculty over the summer to ensure the participation of those who desire to do so.
I also pledge to help restore the affability of this body and its members by rigorously enforcing
individual commitments to honor the confidentiality of this body’s deliberation on issues such as
tenure and promotion. Failures to honor confidentially in such proceedings erodes trust among
our faculty. As faculty chair, I will not demure from pursuing available remedies as identified by
our faculty handbook to disincentivize individuals from violating this fundamental value.

Equal Access to Opportunities and Outcomes:
One of the most obvious indicators of the decline of transparent governance has been the
empirically demonstrable unequal access to committee assignments both big and small. A
striking example of this deficit is this very process to identify the next SFS chair. Even as a
candidate, the committee has not communicated timelines, expectations or even articulated a
process by which voting faculty can fairly evaluate all candidates. Many faculty with whom I
have spoken believe that committees tip the scales in favor of a preferred candidate who better
satisfices the equities of select faculty. The non-transparent practices employed only serve to
heighten this perception of malfeasance in the committee selection process.
As faculty chair, I resolve to revert to historical and equitable practices of first announcing the
intent to constitute required committees before soliciting volunteers. I will ensure that all faculty
have equal opportunity to influence the future composition of this faculty through participation on
hiring and other committees that give faculty critical opportunities to develop institutional capital
in SFS. We must have equitable access to opportunities and outcomes to promote collegiality
among our diverse faculty.

Diversifying this Faculty
It is incumbent upon the SFS chair and all of the mainline faculty to remain steadfastly
committed to achieving Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) goals in order to remain a beacon of
intellectual and ethical leadership in this country. While it is difficult to rapidly change the
composition of tenure-line faculty, both non-tenure line (NTL) and adjunct hires present
opportunities for more expeditious and positive evolution. Due to the overwhelming reliance
upon adjuncts and NTL faculty in the School of Foreign Service, most of our undergraduate and
graduate students will encounter many such faculty throughout the course of their studies. In
many cases, NTL hires are not competitively hired. Furthermore, in nearly all cases adjuncts are
hired due to their relationship with members of this faculty. The result of these uncompetitive
processes has been an adjunct pool that is overwhelmingly Caucasian and male.
There are enormous opportunities to reshape the student experience and ensure the diversity of
the faculty reflects that of the student body by standardizing the quality and methods of
identifying and hiring NTL and adjunct faculty. One way of doing this efficiently is by
consolidating several adjunct positions into more manageable NTL-hires, which are more
comprehensively advertised and evaluated. Candidates for such consolidation are adjuncts
teaching courses that could or should be taught by mainline faculty. To identify such potential
consolidation of adjunct positions into NTLs, I will form a committee to evaluate adjuncts across
SFS. Per my commitment to transparency in governance, I will consult with this body about its
formation and size. I aim to collaborate with the Dean, field chairs, and program heads to
establish standardized business practices that will govern all aspects of hiring adjuncts across
the SFS including advertising and vetting.

All faculty, particularly the SFS chair, have an obligation to work with SFS DEI to continue to
identify new professional and academic organizations with whom we can partner to identify all
qualified persons. This may include cultivating relationships with Historically Black Colleges and
Universities to identify potential students and create mentoring opportunities for them. As SFS
chair, I will work with the Dean to identify sources of funding to create post-doctoral positions for
underrepresented scholars to further demonstrate SFS’ commitment to expanding the pool of
qualified potential faculty hires.

I wish to acknowledge much progress has been made since I joined this faculty over a decade
ago. We still have much work to do. As the IPOL field chair, I have undertaken similar efforts to
identify adjuncts that will offer our students pedagogical opportunities that align more
consistently with their identities and aspirations. I know firsthand that this is a difficult and timeconsuming process, but the results justify these commitments. It is important to recognize that this is not a process that has an expiration date but rather it is a set of evolving habits that should animate all our faculty searches at all levels.
As SFS chair, I pledge to remain committed to ensuring that we set tangible goals in creating a
body of faculty that aligns better with the needs and aspirations of all our students.

Commitment to Inclusive Pedagogy

Many of the concerns expressed by faculty members at our Faculty Council meetings pertain to
the manner in which the SFS undergraduate program is administered. This has generated
grievances among some faculty who believe decisions are undertaken without adequate
understanding of their pedagogical and programmatic equities. Recent examples include the
promulgation of minors without requisite due diligence in understanding the impact of these new
minors on current certificate programs. Faculty associated with these certificate programs were
particularly aggrieved that they were not even given the opportunity to discuss these changes
with the curriculum committee. In my capacity as IPOL field chair, I serve as a member of the
BSFS curricular committee that created these minors. I agree with the aggrieved faculty that the
committee has made decisions about minors and certificate programs, for example, without
adequate consultation with faculty whose students are most directly affected by them. This has
caused needless rancor and disappointment among the aggrieved faculty.

Some faculty have also raised specific questions of expertise as experts are often left out of
curricular and hiring decisions that will affect them and the work they conduct with their
students. I can attest to this firsthand: I have never studied international political economy, yet I
am the IPOL field chair. While I have done my best given my limitations, I am hardly a suitable
person to provide high-level guidance on matters related to the curriculum. This is also an issue
faculty members’ willingness to serve. Members of our faculty with appropriate backgrounds
should step up and embrace such service opportunities to the betterment of our programs and
students we seek to attract.

Lastly, there is an urgent need to dedicate attention and other resources to updating the BSFS
curriculum which has not been revised holistically in decades. We must continually strive to
connect curriculum content and pedagogy to evolving student needs.

Concluding Thoughts
While it is impossible to comprehensively address each of the important above issues within a
reasonable length constraint, I hope that I have provided you with sufficient information about
me and the issues I will prioritize as faculty chair.

I look forward to engaging with the other candidates for this position on these and other
important issues, hopefully in a public forum with all of our colleagues present prior to the vote.
I hope you find my candidacy compelling and support my effort to represent you as SFS faculty
chair and work with you to restore the trust we once had in each other and in the institutions that
guide us.

Should you have any specific questions and wish to have a personal discussion, please feel
free to email me at ccf33@georetown.edu or +1 202 460 9295.
C. Christine Fair

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