Reports from the Standing Committees:
|This Month's Issue|
|Message from the ASCSU Chair|
|A Report from the Faculty Trustee|
|Reports from Standing Committees|
Faculty Affairs Committee (FA)
Manzar Foroohar (San Luis Obispo), Chair
Besides the committee’s work on two second reading resolutions that were then passed during the March plenary (and summarized elsewhere in this newsletter), the committee worked on a first reading of the resolution “Eligibility Status for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Awards (RSCA).” This resolution is part of our ongoing advocacy of enhanced support for faculty research. Our earlier resolution requested the reinstatement of Chancellor’s Office funds, discontinued during the budget crisis; in response, in January, RSCA funds of $2.4 million were reinstated. Our current resolution commends the Chancellor and Board of Trustees for doing so, recognizes RSCA’S value for student learning, and encourages campuses to allow faculty of all ranks to be eligible to receive RSCA grants.
We also heard reports from invited guests and had fruitful discussions with our Chancellor’s Office liaison Leo VanCleve, Human Resources representative Margy Merryfield, California Faculty Association (CFA) liaision Andy Merrifield, and new General Counsel Fram Virgee. Dr. Margy Merryfield provided us with an extensive report on faculty recruitment that included historical employment trends through Fall 2013; five-year salary trends; average salaries by departments and ranks; recruitment and separation summaries; and data on diversity, demographics, and workload. We urged her to make the report available to all senators and to post it on the CSU website.
Some Thoughts and Recommendations on Academic Freedom
An ongoing discussion of the committee has been the issue of academic freedom. The recent amendment to the ASCSU constitution, which has made upholding academic freedom one of the responsibilities of the ASCSU, has generated new interest in this core value of higher education. Further, recent developments such as the globalization of the curriculum, diversification of faculty and the student body, and the application of advanced technology for educational purposes—including an intense push for online instruction—have posed new challenges to academic freedom, challenges needing immediate attention. Traditionally, the Faculty Affairs Committee has dealt with issues relating to academic freedom as one of its 12 charges. We have discussed the need for revisiting the ASCSU committee structure in order to establish a more efficient system to meet our new constitutional responsibilities and to confront ongoing and increasing challenges and issues threatening academic freedom in the CSU.
At present there is no specific entity within the structure of CSU shared governance to focus exclusively on academic freedom. In contrast, most universities with shared governance frameworks have established specific structures to deal with issues of academic freedom. Their tasks include:
- Study and report on any conditions within the university and beyond with potential impact on the academic freedom of faculty, students, and the university as a whole;
- Deal proactively with issues arising from new conditions, including new educational delivery methods, electronic communications, social media, political pressures, etc.;
- Study and report on any violation of academic freedom brought before the committee by faculty, students, and the administration;
- Recommend revisions to the university’s policy when new issues arise.
We hope that the ASCSU will intensify its work on academic freedom by creating a new entity to focus on this core value of the university.