Reports from the Standing Committees
|This Month's Issue|
|Message from the ASCSU Chair|
|Report on the ASCSU 50th Anniversary|
|Reports from Standing Committees|
|An Update on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA)|
|Report from the Faculty Trustee|
Faculty Affairs Committee
Kevin Baaske (Los Angeles), Chair
At its March meeting the Faculty Affairs (FA) Committee investigated several issues important to CSU faculty. First, we met with Associate Vice Chancellor John Swarbrick to discuss the implementation of the new state law, the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA). As you undoubtedly know, the Chancellor’s Executive Order 1083 designated all CSU employees as mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect even though the law only required reporting by those “whose duties involve regular contact with children.” The Chancellor’s Office also asked CSU employees to sign a form acknowledging that each had been informed of his or her reporting obligations even though no training had been provided. The Executive Order also established procedures for reporting suspected cases of abuse and neglect disciplinary experts thought ignored best past practice.
FA sought information and guidance from AVC Swarbrick so as to determine how the Committee wished to proceed. A lengthy conversation with AVC Swarbrick revealed the high likelihood that the Executive Order would be re-written taking into consideration faculty expertise in this area, where the suspected abuse occurred, and the process of reporting suspected cases. CSU is still committed to providing maximum protection to children, and providing its employees with the training necessary to fulfill their roles as mandatory reporters even though such training is not mandated by the state law. FA expressed its support for changing the Executive Order and decided against writing a resolution at this time.
FA also met with both Andy Merrifield of the California Faculty Association and Margy Merryfield of Human Resources at the Chancellor’s Office. We were interested in their views regarding the challenges of recruiting and training department chairs (or equivalent positions). Both acknowledged the increasing importance of department chairs in the management of curricular programs and admitted that finding effective chairs can be challenging in some departments. We provided Margy Merryfield with suggestions of topics that ought to be covered in the next annual New Chair Orientation (which will be the 17th such annual event) and supported her efforts to create online training modules that HR intends to post on its website. We also encouraged her to highlight best campus practices in ongoing chair training.
FA discussed the importance of research, scholarship, and creative activities in the teacher-scholar model, but the lack of such activities being detailed in the 15 WTUs that describe our workload. There are also limitations on the designation of space on CSU campuses as “research” space. These anachronisms to an era when CSU focused nearly exclusively on teaching no longer accurately describe the CSU professoriate—if they ever did. FA encouraged the CSU and CFA to address this situation explicitly in the future.
FA discussed whether or not it is desirable for the CSU to create a tenure-track position along the lines of the “clinical professor” position common at some Research I institutions. Such positions focus predominantly although not exclusively on teaching and sometimes lab supervision or other related duties. We learned from both Margy Merryfield and Andy Merrifield that there is nothing preventing campuses from creating such positions under the current contract. So if you think such a position would be desirable on your campus, you can pursue it.
Margy Merryfield also shared some disappointing faculty numbers. As of last fall, on a headcount basis, 61% of the faculty was tenured/tenure-track. This is the lowest level in quite some time and is the result of fewer new hires than the number of faculty leaving the CSU. I am sure you all remember that the CSU committed in its Access to Excellence Strategic Plan to increase the proportion of tenured and probationary faculty.
Finally, FA extensively discussed the proposed legislation by Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (AB 520) that calls for the use of online courses, perhaps from private entities, to enable students to overcome curricular bottlenecks and expedite time to graduation. FA expressed its serious concerns about the review process for approving such online courses. As currently envisioned, nine faculty from California’s three public higher education segments—three each from the CSU, the UC, and the CCC—would be tasked with reviewing these course proposals. FA strongly believes that the faculty responsibility for educational integrity necessitates that disciplinary faculty with the appropriate expertise conduct these reviews. FA shared this perception with the ASCSU leadership.