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Some faculty miffed over Franks degree

During a Faculty Senate meeting Wednesday night, some senators expressed discontent regarding an honorary degree that will be awarded to retired Gen. Tommy Franks.

Pending approval from the Board of Trustees, Franks will receive an honorary doctorate degree from USF during the spring commencement ceremony on May 1. The BOT will vote on the recommendation for Franks’ award on Feb. 26

Afterward, senate president Elizabeth Bird sent out an e-mail to senators.

“… The senate vote indicated that there is some substantial sentiment that the Doctorate of Humane Letters is not an appropriate award to make to Gen. Franks, especially without clear endorsement from an appropriate disciplinary area, as required under the degree guidelines,” the e-mail said.

The recommendation for the degree came from the Faculty Senate Honors and Awards Council and was subsequently accepted by President Judy Genshaft.

According to the Faculty Senate Web site, this council is in charge of recommending persons whose accomplishments are sufficiently meritorious to receive various academic honors and awards granted by or through USF. It also states that the committee is made up of faculty, students and alumni members.

During the senate meeting Wednesday, some faculty members did not completely agree with the council’s recommendation of Franks, Bird said.Some faculty members argued that since he was in the military that the award might not be the appropriate one for him to receive, Bird said.

Bird said that although there were some disagreements regarding the honorary degree nomination, she said the recommendation was approved by a majority of the Honors and Awards Council.

Regarding the process of recommendation of a nominee for this type of award, Michael Reich, USF media relations director, said that USF President Judy Genshaft was not involved in the nomination process; instead Genshaft is in charge of merely approving the recommendation made by the Honors and Awards Council.

“It’s a Faculty Senate procedure, and the president accepted their recommendation,” Reich said. “President Genshaft can confer with the faculty, but she is the one who accepts the nomination. And she has never declined a nomination made by (this committee.)”

At the end of the meeting, the Faculty Senate decided to have the committee change Franks’ honorary degree to a different doctorate because of concerns raised by some Faculty Senate members on Wednesday.

“Gen. Franks will continue to be a nominee,” Bird said. “Now, it’s just a question of which doctorate he will get.”

The alternate doctorate degree bestowed upon Franks this upcoming May will be discussed by the Honors and Awards Council during the next senate meeting.

“The nomination material will be changed to represent the committee’s decision more accurately,” Bird said in the e-mail.