Faculty to Faculty December 2012
|This Month's Issue|
|Message from the ASCSU Chair|
|Report on SB 1440 (The STAR Act)|
|Report from the Faculty Trustee|
Message from the ASCSU Chair
At the November plenary, the Academic Senate passed six resolutions pertaining to the Chancellor transition, baccalaureate unit limits, proposed student fees, the Systemwide Nursing Policy, the Support Budget, and the Consolidation of Executive Orders on International Education. The ASCSU Chair’s Report to the Board of Trustees provides more detailed information regarding each of these items.
Thank you to the Faculty of the CSU
As my term as ASCSU Chair nears the half-way point, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of faculty who work with tireless dedication in the nation’s largest public higher education system. The system has regularly faced periods of trial—although the past five years have certainly been the worst that I can recall throughout my 30 years as a CSU graduate assistant, lecturer, and professor. Yet throughout these years marked by increasing class sizes, rising student-faculty ratios, furloughs, legislative mandates, and stagnant salaries, I am surrounded by colleagues committed to providing the highest caliber of teaching, scholarly/creative activities, and service. Our sense of professionalism perseveres and guides us through these challenges.
Systemwide Recognition of Outstanding Faculty Recommended
The excellence of CSU faculty—supported by the efforts of staff and administration—creates high-quality learning opportunities on our diverse institutions that contribute to students and the public good. For a decade, the Wang Family Excellence Awards “celebrated CSU faculty and administrators who through extraordinary commitment and dedication have distinguished themselves by exemplary contributions and achievements in their academic disciplines and areas of assignment.” Although this systemwide recognition of exemplary faculty was last awarded in 2008, individual institutions annually recognize one or more outstanding faculty members annually with campuswide awards. The ASCSU Faculty Affairs Committee has recently recommended that these outstanding faculty be featured on the system website, and I have forwarded this request to Executive Vice Chancellor Smith.
Efficiency and Academic Excellence
CSU Long Beach President F. King Alexander is a widely-recognized expert on higher education funding. In an excellent presentation last February at CSU Fullerton, he reviewed public policy changes in higher education and showed data on how cost effective the CSU is. The CSU is efficient: President Alexander noted that of 103 public universities with 15,000 students or more, the CSU has half of the lowest spending institutions per student in America. (He asked: How would you like to be told as a parent, “Come to our campus. We’ll spend less on your child than anywhere else in America.”). He also showed that ten CSUs have some of the highest percentages of Pell eligible students, students who may require extra resources to succeed; Fresno State has the highest at 50 percent.
As the primary purpose of the ASCSU is to promote academic excellence in the CSU, the ASCSU—as the official voice of the faculty on systemwide academic matters—spent considerable time this year examining two policy recommendations intended to increase efficiency in the CSU. The first, which involved a complete absence of consultation with the ASCSU prior to the posting of the item on the BOT agenda, proposed to eliminate upper division general education (GE) courses and to limit lower division GE to 40 units so as to give students more flexibility in choosing courses and finding open courses to graduate on time. This proposal failed to meet the guideline for our accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (CFR 2.2.a.), and a substitute item focusing on limiting the bachelor’s degree to 120 units was provided to the ASCSU during the final few hours of the September plenary and subsequently appeared on the BOT September agenda.
At its November plenary, the Academic Senate CSU spent a considerable amount of time discussing the Baccalaureate Unit Limit item on the agenda of the Board of Trustees (BOT) Committee on Educational Policy (begins on page 14). The proposal is to set a maximum for baccalaureate degrees at 120 semester/180 quarter units, and the BOT is scheduled to vote on this proposal at its meeting in January. We have serious concerns about the proposal, as stated in AS-3092-12/AA Faculty Consultation on Baccalaureate Unit Limits.
Ongoing decline in state support has led to less access to the CSU, necessitated dramatic increases in tuition, and will likely lead to increased time to degree and falling graduation rates in the next few years. President Alexander, in the aforementioned presentation, stated that California is at its lowest point in higher education support in tax effort since 1962, trailing states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, and Kentucky. CSU data show that as state funding per student has declined over the past several years, and student tuition has increased to offset (partially) the decline in revenue. Advocating for adequate funding to provide access and affordability should be the target of our joint efforts, not the watering down of academic quality.