Sunday, April 12, 2009

Various and sundry thoughts

So how did we get to this chapter in our history? How did we get to the last three university presidents “leaving under a cloud” and the next one “entering under a cloud?” How did we get to “wear black in solidarity?” How did we get the media attention that has damaged our reputation and made it difficult to recruit the types of students that will improve our graduation rate? When do we get to work at a place without drama? Creative tension and workplace conflict in the academy is often a good thing. Drama isn’t! When will we be able to close the chapter of incompetence, malfeasance, and absence of leadership and begin the chapter that transforms the university into what many of us believe it can be??? Can we start that chapter tomorrow by addressing the Board selected candidates and letting the Board know that by selecting these two they have violated their fiduciary responsibility to the university community. Come to the on campus visits, wear black, ask the hard questions, and show who is the core of the university.


I bet there are a lot of you who have been working here, doing things and getting no additional CUEs, bonuses or compensation. I know this isn’t AIG where you would get a bonus for running the company into the ground but don’t we deserve some compensation for the additional things we do? I think I found a way. You may know that this blog is a “Rumor Central” of sorts and when rumors are floated, we give people who would know them to be true can post a response and refute the rumor.

Many of us know about the Peter Principle, people being promoted to the level of their own incompetence. So what if we all went to the President wanting say a $17K pay raise, and when the President turns us down (as he should), we go to the Board and get our pay increase over the objection of the President? How many of you are in? Oh, the only snag is that you have to be able to repay the favor later by, maybe hiring someone that a board member wants hired. If you are willing to do that, then maybe we are on to something here. Forget about collective bargaining. Overstepping the chain of command works better.


Thirty-two American universities are currently engaged in campaigns to raise $1billion or more within the next six years. If CSU were able to mount a fund raising campaign of $100million by 2015, that would be a significant accomplishment. The interest on an amount that large could fund many scholarships for our students, enabling us to attract different students from farther a field. The interest could provide the university with enough money to reduce our teaching loads for a couple of years. The interest on that amount could begin to help us make a dent in some of the critical deferred maintenance issues we have. I will be asking some questions in upcoming weeks about university fund raising in advance of the family campaign which starts soon. I would like to know why we can’t be like other universities and set large goals and achieve them. More to follow......


So a colleague recently asked me about consultation as outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and I decided to review our contract and see what constitutes consultation. The contract states in Article 2 that”...employees who have supervisory responsibilities must have regular personnel meetings with employees who report to them to discuss and clearly communicate job-related tasks and responsibilities.” For faculty that usually means what and when are we going to teach. There are other duties like department service that I suspect there is consultation about. The language of Article 2 is a surprisingly vague provision that leaves much to the imagination. Does an email from a department chair constitute consultation? What about a voice mail message or a Post It Note® left in a departmental mailbox or a text message sent to a cell phone? Does any personal contact need to occur to satisfy the contractual requirement for consultation, especially when the administrative out is “programmatic need.”

Why consult if in the end, it is all about programmatic need and that trumps a faculty member’s want? It seems like it was a good idea and then the practicality of it got lost because the contract doesn’t have teeth. Maybe consultation was a concession arrived at in the collective bargaining process but like much of our contract where the rubber meets the road there is no consequence to the administration for violating our contractual rights. So what if the university had to pay a faculty member one month’s salary for each violation to their rights? Would that be enough of an incentive to read and follow the contract. Of the grievances filed by faculty, the UPI seems to win most of them. That is unproductive to the university. Time is wasted by both administrators and faculty in filing grievances. Hard feelings build up especially after multiple incidents. The workplace atmosphere becomes tainted. And there is no consequence for creating that situation.

I suggest the UPI begin to bargain to put some teeth into our contract. I believe that even the most anti-faculty administrator, one who would force a faculty strike for example, would not be willing to pay faculty more money for administrative mistakes made in executing the contract.


Finally, congratulations to our students who attended the BOT Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting Thursday. They came prepared to express their displeasure at being left out of the conversations about the selection of the next President. They were respectful, unflappable, and represented themselves well. Faculty could take a page out of their book and attend BOT meetings and have our voices heard as well.

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