Thursday, September 10, 2009


The institution I affectionately call Cow State Santa Claus seems headed toward some kind of catastrophic meltdown. Relations between faculty and administration are not merely untenably volatile, they are as close to violence as could be without actual physical attacks.

I tire of recounting and documenting the strife. I'm also now, for the first time in a very long time, actually worried about retaliation for being candid. (I'm on the tenuous track - a non-tenurable lecturer.)

At the campus president's "state of the university" address today, he informed the audience that the problems at the university are the fault of faculty leadership. This parallels the recent comment of CSU Chancellor Charles Reed that the problems at Santa Claus are because the faculty here are "toxic."

The "problems" are as follows:

1) For several years, the university has been running a $4 million deficit. Suddenly, last academic year, the administration decided to solve the deficit all at once, while facing deep cuts from the California state budget crisis. Faculty objected. The administration did it anyway. Result: 187 tenuous-track faculty had their work cut or eliminated (out of 250) for this year. 114 classes were cut this fall.

2) Several junior faculty, still working through the anxious years prior to getting tenure, have received letters from administrators telling them that they are not meeting scholarship expectations, despite those faculty getting strong support from their departments and colleges. The faculty have objected, saying that this is a teaching institution, that the mission of the university and the workload of faculty must mean that research demands cannot be made to look like a Research-1 university.

3) Faculty involved in budget committees have asked, repeatedly, for several years, for budget and financial reporting information that clearly accounts for how the university spends money. Several of the faculty involved in those committees have been accounting professors. The faculty have been told, variously, that the information was already given to them, or that it does not exist, or that they do not need it, or that the information they have is sufficient already.

The president is right that faculty leadership hasn't changed all that much in the last few years - certainly not as dramatically as administration has changed. We've had 4 provosts, 4 vice-presidents of business and finance, 3 vice presidents of university advancement (the foundation leader), and countless deans, over the past 5 years. Perhaps if faculty leadership changed as rapidly as administration, faculty would have a perspective more like administration's.

[As I was writing this post, I quipped to my loveliest that I was writing a post that could get me fired. She suggested that was somehow unwise. I replied that, given the way the CSU is budgeting, I'm as likely as not to be fired, anyway. Time, undoubtedly, will tell.]

Kiss kiss.

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