Faculty Affairs (FA) Committee
Manzar Foroohar (San Luis Obispo), Chair
The last meeting of the Faculty Affairs Committee was mostly spent in reviewing the progress we have made in meeting the goals and priorities we had established for our work in the beginning of this academic year. One of the priorities set for FA in 2013-14 was making recommendations for increasing the recruitment of tenure-track faculty. To address the progress made on this issue, Dr. Margy Merryfield, Senior Director of Human Resources in the Chancellor’s Office, reported to us that in 2013-14 campuses conducted 774 tenure track searches, which would result in around 650 successful recruitments. The numbers are much higher than average recruitments in the past four years, a very hopeful sign, but still far from replacing all recent separations due to retirement, resignation, or denial of tenure. The work must continue, and the ASCSU needs to maintain a strong voice in advocating for tenure-track hiring.
Our second priority was enhancement of support for faculty research, scholarship, and creative activities. A written report submitted to us by Dr. James Till, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Initiatives and Partnership, summarizes his work on this issue in 2013-14, including working with the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees to reinstate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities (RSCA) funds. Although we appreciate the reinstatement of the program, the funding at the current level of $2.4 million is more like a drop in the sea. We need to work harder to increase the support for faculty research to a level more compatible with actual CSU faculty scholarship.
While we are happy to be able to report these small steps in faculty hiring and support for faculty research, we are disappointed in the lack of progress in meeting our third priority, which was drafting recommendations for an enhanced and comprehensive policy on academic freedom. The committee worked hard and drafted the recommended policy to be discussed with the administration, but special circumstances prevented us from achieving any measurable success. The first half of the academic year the office of General Counsel was in a transitional mode due to the retirement of the former General Counsel and later, when the new General Counsel began his work, the office was not responsive to our repeated requests for meetings and consultation on the issues of academic freedom. This is an indication of the hard work ahead of us. Following long discussions on the best approach to improve the situation, Faculty Affairs is recommending that the new Senate leadership form a special committee on academic freedom to draft an enhanced and comprehensive policy to replace the existing outdated policy, which was approved in 1971 by the Board of Trustees. This special committee could also be charged with formulating academic freedom guidelines for local campuses. A more focused work on the issue of academic freedom is especially important at this point because of recent developments in higher education, 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. These changes have posed new challenges to academic freedom, challenges needing immediate attention.
The Committee also reviewed and discussed the Chancellor’s Office’s formal responses to our resolutions. We were satisfied with the Chancellor’s response to three FA and FA-cosponsored resolutions, but we found that his response to another resolution, AS-3160: “Selection of Faculty Representatives in Shared Governance,” which FA had cosponsored with the Executive Committee, far from addressed the ASCSU concerns about the erosion of shared governance due to the selection process of faculty representatives for committees and task forces. This response is indicative of the administration’s lack of attention to shared governance, another reason for the ASCSU to intensify its efforts to enhance faculty voice and representation in different aspects of the CSU operation.
Another issue for discussion was faculty concern about students videotaping classroom lectures and discussions. We concluded that the existing CSU policies have addressed this issue and at a previous FA meeting in 2012 the former General Counsel, Christine Helwick, had clearly stated that: “…faculty control their classrooms, so the matter of classroom recordings is up to the faculty instructor…you might add a statement to your syllabus stating students must obtain permission to record a class lecture or discussion and that without prior permission the student can be reported for academic misconduct.” (FA report in Faculty to Faculty Newsletter, December 2012)
I would like to extend my gratitude to the members of the Faculty Affairs Committee, whose hard work resulted in a very productive year.