Academic Senate
article image
This Month's Issue
Front Page
Message from the ASCSU Chair
Report of the Faculty Trustee
Reports from Standing Committees

Academic Affairs
 
Academic Preparation &
   Education Programs
Faculty Affairs
Fiscal and Governmental
   Affairs

Capitol Watch
The Chancellor's General Education Advisory Committee (GEAC)
The California State University Emeriti and Retired Faculty Association (CSUERFA)
Senator Spotlight
Resolution Summaries

Senator Spotlight

Michael Ritter (San Francisco)
Michael Ritter
San Francisco State University

How or why did you become involved in the Academic Senate?
I believe as the academy continues to evolve to meet the challenges of the 21st century shared governance is essential for maintaining a university that truly reflects the values of academic excellence, access for our students, and social justice.

What is the most pressing senate-related issue on your home campus?
Tenure density and faculty workload are certainly pressing issues as is a sense that the state has left CSU to rely on funding from non-public sources.


What is the most interesting statewide senate issue to you, personally, and why?
The impact of shared governance on important decisions. I’m not sure that the current administration, both at the statewide and campus level, actually values the opinion and guidance of faculty leadership. The CSU Academic Senate is crucial in providing leadership in this area and in holding the CSU administration accountable.

Our mission in the senate is to ensure academic quality across the CSU. How do you know academic quality when you see it?
For me academic quality implies that we as a university provide our students with the skills and tools to succeed and lead in a complex and ever-changing world. Academic quality assumes that student leave well-rounded and highly knowledgeable about their field of study with the ability to think logically and critically. With this said, in order for our students to become the kind of leaders who impact our world in truly meaningful and innovative ways, we must nurture in them a desire and ability to think outside-of-the-box and to believe that they have the power to change the world in ways that benefit humanity no matter what their field of stu
dy.

 

Ann Stram (Stanislaus)

Ann Strahm
CSU Stanislaus

How or why did you become involved in the Academic Senate?
I was encouraged to run for this office by colleagues.  I have been active in governance on campus and am deeply honored that my colleagues thought I was worthy of their trust.  I have deep respect for staff, faculty, administration, and students at CSU Stanislaus.  There are so many amazing things happening on my campus – all due to ingenuity, collaboration, and tenacity.  There are also some concerning trends and patterns that reflect ongoing tensions and that are the result of external forces.  I want to make sure that not only are the positive things happening being noticed, but that the negative issues are dealt with in positive ways.  I want to ensure that academic freedom remains protected, I want to work to ensure faculty and staff are compensated appropriately, I want to work towards continued classroom innovation, and, amongst many other goals, I want to push CSU leadership to hold legislature’s feet to the proverbial fire so that The People’s University remains just that – a university system that educates the most amazing tapestry of humanity.

What is the most pressing senate-related issue on your home campus?
I believe there are many pressing issues.  The one that is terrifically concerning is tenure density – there has been an unusually deep reduction of tenure track faculty on my campus.  The ratio of TT to Lecturer is far below where it should be (from my understanding it’s not been this low since the 1970s) and this portends negative consequences.  My home campus is also working to come out of a very negative time where, for years, there was a deep distrust in the faculty with the administration.  While there has been marked improvement, there remain issues of unilateral decision-making and attempts to undermine shared governance at the administrative level.  These issues continue to impact the morale of faculty and has cause us to lose some excellent faculty along the way.

What is the most interesting statewide senate issue to you, personally, and why?
I am a first-generation college student and I am the daughter of a single mother.  I did horribly in my K-12 years and never thought of myself as “college material.”  Returning to college as a non-traditional student was quite intimidating.  I found that the classes and professors who peaked my interest and whose classes I performed best in were the ones who engaged me in unconventional (innovative) ways.  Some of my best learning happened because the faculty members gave me the freedom to nose around, demanded that I question everything because there were no “sacred cows,” and who insisted that I give “it” a try (no matter what “it” was).  Much of the learning I engaged in was not something I would have been able to do had there been the assessment or “accountability” schemes in place that we see creeping into higher education.  “Standardization,” “quality control,” “deliverology,” “accountability,” “data-driven methods,” etc., are all seemingly innocuous terms that carry with them the potential for complete destruction of our education system.  I have to work hard to deprogram college students from the cult of assessment that that overlaid much of their K-12 experience.  I have to spend a great deal of time helping them unlearn learned helplessness brought about by teaching to the test schema, I have to spend inordinate amounts of time deprograming thoughtlessness and rote memorization and replacing it with critical and creative thinking.  It seems that the policy decisions being made about higher education are being made by people who have no concept of what a college education’s purpose is, or they know exactly what a college education’s purpose is and they seek to destroy it because a knowledgeable citizenry is far less easily led around by the nose.

Our mission in the senate is to ensure academic quality across the CSU. How do you know academic quality when you see it?
I know academic quality when I see students invested in their learning.  I know it when I see students excitedly debating issues long after the course is over.  I know it when I see students go on to graduate school.  I know it when I see students begin successful careers.  I know it when I see thank you notes from students years after they’ve graduated.  I know quality education when people who are educated in an institution that respects diversity of people and thought become actively engaged in their civic life and work independently and collectively to transform their communities in ways that are inclusive, democratic, and value everyone.