Academic Senate

Reports from the Standing Committees:
Faculty Affairs Committee (FA)

Manzar Foroohar (San Luis Obispo), Chair
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Resolution Summaries

The Faculty Affairs Committee had a very full agenda for our March 2nd, 2016 meeting. A large portion of the committee’s time was focused on discussing issues of shared governance. We revised the FA resolution Reaffirming the Principle of Shared Governance within the California State University. The resolution was sent to the plenary as a second reading item and was approved unanimously.  The resolution reaffirms the principle of shared governance as cited by Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA), “The Legislature recognizes that joint decision making [sic] and consultation between administration and faculty or academic employees is the long-accepted manner of governing institutions of higher learning and is essential to the performance of the educational missions of these institutions….”  and requests that the Chancellor clearly articulate in writing how the principle of “shared leadership” to which he has often referred either conforms with, or differs from, both the HEERA statute and the American Assocation of University Professors' (AAUP) Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities.

We also discussed a new resolution on Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities (RSCA) funding, and requesting support for improved funding for faculty research. The resolution was sent to the plenary as a first reading item and will return in May for discussion and final approval. Background: The ASCSU approved a resolution in January 2016 requesting that RSCA funding become a “baseline” item in the Academic and Student Affairs budget. The resolution was accepted by the Chancellor’s Office, but the funding remained at $2.5 million, which is much below the original recommended amount of $14.5 million in 1987. With changes in the CSU since 1987, $2.5 million is woefully inadequate. The new resolution urges the Chancellor’s Office increase funding for RSCA programs to a level commensurate with the original intent of and assumptions behind the program, the amount of external funding faculty research brings to the CSU, and the fact that lecturers, as well as tenured and tenure track faculty are now eligible to receive RSCA funding.

Another resolution discussed by FA was Concerns about Administrative Communications regarding Classroom Discussion of Possible Strike Action, which FA co-sponsored with Academic Affairs and Executive committee. This resolution was sent to the plenary with a request to waive the first reading and was approved by the ASCSU without dissent. This resolution affirms the primary role of faculty in determining the relevance of material discussed in the classroom, expressing concerns about recent administrative statements prohibiting faculty to discuss the upcoming California Faculty Association (CFA)-led faculty strike for a fair contract. 

The committee hosted several guests. The Human Resources (HR) representative, Assistant Vice Chancellor Margy Merryfield reported on faculty recruitment in 2014-2015. She also discussed the HR policy on background checks. Based on her report there are no revisions in the policy and the Chancellor’s Office has not received any reports from local campuses about any negative impact of the policy on faculty hiring.  A joint administration-ASCSU work group, which was formed last year to gather information on potential negative impacts of the policy on the hiring process, and recommend necessary revisions to the policy, has not met since December 2015. The ASCSU has two representatives in the work group, but it doesn’t seem that they have been involved in the work of this group at least since December 2015.  This is another example of exclusion of the faculty in decision-making even when the Chancellor’s Office agrees to involve faculty in the process.

The committee also received a report from the Chancellor’s Office liaison, State University Dean Leo Van Cleve.  CFA liaison, Jen Eagen, also attended the meeting and reported on the potential faculty strike beginning on April 13th, 2016.

For more information, please contact Academic Affairs Committee ChairManzar Foroohar