Wednesday, May 5, 2010

As the Semester Winds Down

So the Faculty Senate met yesterday for its last full meeting of the academic year. The body was visited by two new members of the Board of Trustees. I am hopeful that the new trustees will invigorate the Board by establishing relationships with more constituents than university administrators. Their willingness to attend a Senate meeting characterizes the spirit of service that I expect of a Board member. This is the first time in my 12 years in the Senate that any Board member has attended a meeting. To Trustees Samuels and Rozier, thank you.
During the course of the meeting Devi Potluri, our body’s re-elected Vice President invited the Trustees to consider putting CSU in the running to host the Barack Obama Presidential Library. The University of Chicago has apparently already hired a lobbying firm to assist them in securing the right to host the Presidential Library after his term of service ends. For all of the issues that Devi and I agree on, this is an issue that I could not support him on. Unfortunately, our university does not have a good history as far as libraries are concerned.
Let’s travel back in time a bit. In the bad old days, whenever budgets needed to be cut, those cuts often came at the expense of the book acquisition budget. This would often happen when there was either no Library Dean or an interim dean. Later during the period when the university was discussing the impending construction of our library, one of the complaints from academic faculty and library faculty was the number of non-library activities in the library and in Douglas Hall. Fast forward to our last accreditation visit from the North Central Association and some of you will recall the university was told that our library was problematic because it wasn’t a single use facility. There were many programs, projects, centers and offices located in the Douglas Library. The HLC was assured that the new library then under construction would be a single use facility that would be the focal point of the university. The goal was to focus the academic attention in the new building while providing more space for the other various and sundry programs elsewhere on campus. Slowly but surely, non-library creep set in. The Black Legislators exhibit and office space was just the beginning of what is becoming a flood of non-academic uses of the still unnamed Academic Library. And what are the future non-academic uses of the library going to be. Apparently the plans are either in the works or already approved to cut up the Academic Library like the Douglas Library was cut up years ago. That history is repeating itself isn’t surprising. What is disturbing is that faculty were not consulted in a decision that ultimately affects us in our scholarly activities. This wouldn’t be an issue if scholarly activities were being downgraded in importance. I only say this because there has been a change in the way research CUEs, and sabbaticals are awarded. The current library dean is on sabbatical and I would be interested in what he thinks of the new regime’s plan to reconstitute the library space. Is the new regime going to continue to ignore the body that retains the corporate memory of the institution or will they begin to engage in actual shared governance and not just mouth the words?

1 comment:

  1. And of course big decisions concerning library space beyond those mentioned here are happening in the absence of Dean McCrank who has been "on sabbatical." Why isn't the Senate's Library Committee involved in discussions about changes to the building? One of the concerns librarians' have expressed for years is that they themselves are not asked for input on changes that occur to the library building or its organization. We know CSU is not a democracy, but even the veneer of shared governance and transparency is missing in these actions.