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CS CARES Committee

CS CARES Committee: Governance

Although CARES is a committee of the CS department, it operates independently of the department administration, similar to the current Advisory Committee. The autonomous operation is to increase the trust of all community members and affirm that CARES commits to offer support only in the best interests of the people who report concerns. CARES governance seeks to strike a balance in acknowledging the need for such autonomy, while also the need for support and stewardship by the department. 

Committee Structure

The CARES committee will consist of a chair, a vice-chair, a past chair, and several committee members. There must be at least: two faculty members from each of the three tenure-track levels (assistant, associate, full); two members from the specialized  faculty; two staff members; one graduate student; and one undergraduate student. The committee, as a whole, must represent, to the extent possible, the diversity of the CS community, including, but not restricted to, gender, ethnicity, and race.

To provide a tighter connection with the department governance, one of the committee members (and preferably no more than one) is an elected member of the Advisory Committee (chosen by consensus of the chairs of the CARES and the Advisory Committees). 

A representative from the department’s human resources team will serve on the committee in an advisory role.

It is usually expected that at the end of their term, the vice-chair will be the new chair of the committee and the current chair will serve as past chair. The vice-chair is therefore expected to play an active role in the committee during their term and the past chair is expected to primarily play an advisory role.

Committee members normally are invited to serve for a 2 year term, with a maximum of 6 years served consecutively, and a minimum of 4 years away from the committee before serving again.  Committee members who serve as vice-chair, chair, or past chair may serve longer in these positions.

Committee Member Appointments

The members of the CARES committee are chosen largely for their commitment and record on the issues covered by the Code. Because of the gravity and personal nature of the issues that may appear before this committee, ensuring committee members are empathetic, trustworthy, and discreet is of the utmost importance. 

At the end of each academic year, the department will solicit recommendations for new members of the CARES committee from different constituents (faculty, staff, and students) and convey them to the current CARES chair. The CARES committee will vet these recommendations (e.g., with the Advisory committee chair, student organization representatives, and collaborators of the nominee) and prepare a final candidate list by consensus. The CARES chair will convey this list to the head of the department. The Head will invite new members from this list, balancing other faculty load and CARES’ diversity considerations. There is no maximum limit on the number of members in the committee.

At the end of each academic year, the CARES chair, vice-chair, and past chair will review the service of each committee member that has completed their two year term and if a renewal for another term is appropriate, add them to the list submitted to the department head above. It is intended that members will desire to renew their terms at least once, with the goal of rotating no more than a quarter of the committee each year (of course, this is unlikely for undergraduates).

The chair must be a full professor of the CS department. At the cadence of every two years, in the summer in which their terms expire, the chair and vice-chair nominate (one or two) candidates for the next vice-chair (from the committee membership for the subsequent year). The vice-chair and chair seek input on these nominations from the rest of the committee for the current year and from the chair of the Advisory committee to make the final decision on the new vice-chair.

A committee member may be removed from the committee by consensus of the chair and vice-chair if any problems arise (e.g., breach of confidence). The head of the department is informed of the removal, but confidentiality reasons may not permit sharing the reasons for removal. Removal of the vice-chair must occur in consultation with and approval of the Advisory committee. If problems arise with the chair, then on the petition of more than half the members of the CARES committee, the advisory committee may consider removal and replacement of the chair.

Reporting and Oversight

Although CARES will work autonomously, the final responsibility for its appropriate functioning rests with the department. The CARES chair will submit an annual report to the department's Advisory committee. Individual reports of concerns and conversations with committee members are unequivocally private.  The goal of the CARES report is to summarize the nature and scale of climate related concerns within the department, but without inappropriate or confidential details. The CARES and Advisory committee chairs will discuss this report with the Head, with the goal of further surveying the department climate, discussing mechanisms to improve the climate, and providing training materials to CARES and community members, as deemed necessary.