Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How could shared governance look?

As a follow-up to my earlier post on shared governance, here is how I imagine Chicago State could operate if a genuine commitment to maximizing the effectiveness of the university’s human resources existed here. Not to disappoint some of my colleagues, but shared governance is not participatory democracy. Rather, it represents an understanding of which decisions should be made by which university groups. As a 2001 article makes crystal clear:

“Faculty sometimes defend the principle of shared governance by invoking the democratic principle of self-government, but the primary justification for the need for shared governance is not deference to the ideal of rule by the people. A college or university is not strictly speaking a democratic polity. [However,] (n)ot all the constituencies of an institution of higher education are equally positioned to make sound judgments about what is appropriate or necessary when it comes to teaching and research. Consequently, the 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, which remains the AAUP’s principal policy document on the issue, premises its defense of shared governance on the assumption that faculty ought to exercise ‘primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process,’ because the faculty—not students, administrators, or boards of trustees—have the greatest expertise in these matters.”

“Inextricably Linked”: Shared Governance and Academic Freedom, by Larry Gerber. http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/academe/2001/MJ/Feat/gerb.htm

This quotation speaks to the underlying flaws in Chicago State’s version of “shared governance.” Here, faculty are not treated as experts in curriculum, teaching, or “faculty status.” As our recent history demonstrates, arbitrary decisions regarding curriculum and faculty retention ignore or do not seek the recommendations of “expert” faculty trained in specific disciplines, privileging instead the judgment of persons with little or no understanding of those disciplines. How could this be done better?

I would argue that the key is for our administration to recognize faculty expertise and substitute a collaborative, rather than a hierarchical para-military “we decide, you make it work” approach to curricular and personnel questions. Everyone on this campus has a vested interest in our success. If the administration has concerns about the rigor or questions about the requirements of specific programs why not ask the experts on those programs? My colleagues and I frequently make changes designed to improve the rigor of our degree programs–a process undoubtedly replicated by faculty across campus. Imposition of poorly conceived curricular and graduation requirements, elimination of programs (or colleges)in spite of overwhelming faculty support for their continuation, and unsupportable decisions to terminate tenure-track faculty, have a deleterious effect on students and faculty, sowing discontent and resulting in mistrust. This toxic mix contributes to an atmosphere of disaffection that a top-down management style only exacerbates.

I am not calling for some kind of revolution here. Rather, I am arguing that an effort on the part of our administrators to return (if it ever resided there) primary responsibility for their areas of expertise to the faculty would result in a healthier campus climate, and likely help assuage faculty concerns about their lack of influence in programmatic and curricular issues. While I believe that everyone is motivated only by a desire to improve the university, we need to try a different approach. Interestingly, Northeastern Illinois offers a model for us to consider. In curricular matters, their Senate constitution reads:

NEIU Faculty Senate Constitution


Each College and Resource Professional area is divided into departmental or other equivalent units. The embodiment of the University is the academic department. It initiates all matters regarding curriculum and must approve all curriculum proposals before they are considered by the appropriate College Academic Affairs Committee. Department/unit/program bylaws shall not be inconsistent with the Faculty Constitution.

It seems like this would work no matter how we are reconfigured.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shared Governance

At the end of the trustees meeting on Friday, several faculty had a chat with one of the trustees about the institutional role of the faculty at CSU and ways to improve communication between faculty and the board. While some board members(or faculty for that matter) may not be interested in either of these issues, it might be a propitious time to think about what shared governance should mean and what faculty in this institution find so demoralizing about our administrative culture.

A document from the University of Iowa supporting the 1966 AAUP definition of shared governance captures the dilemma of university governance quite well. First, Chicago State operates on sort of a diluted version of the "stakeholder" system. In this rendition, shared governance operates in a figurative sense: various constituent groups ostensibly have a "conversation" before the people in power make the final decision (or in some cases, have arguably made the decision before the "conversation" occurs). Theoretically, the opinions and ideas of the various "stakeholders" are considered, and because decision makers have sought "input" they believe that "governance is said to be shared." As the Iowa document underscores, this version of shared governance "incorporates This understanding of shared governance incorporates two suppositions: (1) when it comes to important issues, final decision-making power belongs to the president, and (2) all subordinate campus constituents are pretty much equal, regardless of function and expertise (the insidious implication of the term “stakeholder”)."

In contrast, the 1966 AAUP "Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities" articulates a vision of governance in which "faculty not only possess the right to be heard in institutional decision-making; they actually possess 'primary responsibility'—or authority—for reaching decisions in their areas of expertise, namely, “curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.” The text of that 1966 document is available here: http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/governancestatement.htm. The Iowa document here: http://www.uiowa.edu/~aaupweb/shared_gov.pdf

Thus, the 1966 governance statement recognizes faculty preeminence in certain areas. For example, "the delegation of primary responsibility to faculty in academic matters is founded upon the assumption that faculty are not merely employees, but professionals with special training and knowledge, and thus distinctly qualified to exercise decision-making authority in their areas of expertise." A final note on the 1966 statement: It represents more than a unilateral declaration by university faculty, since it results from the collaborative efforts of the AAUP, the Association of Governing Boards of American Colleges and Universities (AGB), and the American Council on Education (ACE). Chicago State University belongs to both the AGB and ACE.

The preceding material serves as a preface to the question of what changes that CSU faculty would like to see occur in the area of university governance. What follows will detail how the “stakeholder” system of shared governance at CSU has worked in the recent past. I would argue that curricular and faculty retention issues are presently more important to the efficient operation of the university than issues of hiring. In that regard, I would remind everyone that during the past two years, the administration ordered two major curriculum changes: the mandatory senior thesis and the mostly mandatory master's thesis. It seems that the administration presented both these changes as "done deals" and expected the faculty to go about the process of implementing them. To the best of my knowledge, they both came out of the president's "shock" at finding that neither component existed in specific program curricula. I remember no attempt to solicit faculty input on either mandate (if someone can correct my recollection here, I would be appreciative).

The imposition by fiat of these two curriculum changes was flawed on a number of levels. First, the administration arrogated to itself the responsibility for curriculum, a responsibility that clearly belongs to the faculty. Second, the pseudo-educational "one size fits all" approach to curriculum ignores significant differences between disciplines, their research methods, and their standards of evidence. Third, points one and two vividly demonstrate how the administration views the faculty's role in institutional governance and highlights the top-down administrative style that undercuts "shared governance." There was no pretense here of even consulting the faculty. This kind of activity continues as we are now confronted with that ridiculous "General Studies" curriculum. No one seems to know who developed that program's courses or why, exactly, the changes were necessary.

Earlier this year, following a regular cyclical review, the administration eliminated the university’s Economics department. Despite the faculty’s recommendation that the program be retained, a recommendation with which 15 of 17 members of two different committees agreed, the administration eliminated the department and program.

The administration’s haphazard and often arbitrary decisions about curriculum are matched by erratic and arbitrary decisions regarding faculty retention. This past cycle, five tenure-track faculty were denied retention, apparently by the president. It is my understanding that although all five had satisfied their colleagues, deans, and the University Personnel Committee that they had met their respective DAC standards and should be retained, the administration disagreed– based on some unknown criteria that apparently resides outside their DACs. Subsequently, the administration (read president) reversed its decision to deny retention to four of the five faculty.

Currently, institutional structures exist for faculty to express their ideas about university governance, but I am not sure how effectively we are utilizing them. During recent contract negotiations, union representatives were apparently hesitant to insist on the inclusion of shared governance language, primarily because of the anti-union activities going on in Ohio. I did not find this a particularly compelling reason to back off on the creation of contractual language that might give faculty a little more ability to use their expertise for the benefit of the institution. In the same vein, the speed of the implementation of the mandated senior and master’s theses allowed little or no time for discussion. In the only Senate meeting with those two topics on the agenda, Senators spent an excruciating seventy-five minutes discussing the university’s attendance policy, as if we were working in a high school. The Senate never got around to discussing either curriculum change.

I would argue that, at a minimum, the faculty (and students) at CSU need to be insulated against arbitrary and capricious decisions in the areas of curriculum and faculty retention. While acknowledging that the University’s administration in general, and the president in particular, have the ultimate responsibility for the functioning of the school, incursions into faculty areas of expertise should be rare and the reasons for administrative actions should be substantive and clearly articulated. I believe the best way to achieve these goals would be for the university to begin practicing, at least in part, the type of university governance articulated in the 1966 statement. I think this should be our model for a new university culture that includes the faculty in a meaningful way and does more than give lip service to the concepts of “shared governance” based on a recognition of faculty “expertise.” This may have to be done incrementally, but it seems like a worthy goal. As the Iowa document makes clear: “By assigning primary authority in educational matters to the faculty, genuine shared governance, as articulated in the Statement on Government, promotes and sustains academic excellence. It doesn’t take a doctorate in higher education to figure out why. In the plain words of one of the twentieth century’s great university presidents, ‘we get the best results in education and research if we leave their management to people who know something about them’ (Robert Maynard Hutchins, Higher Learning in America, Yale, 1936, p. 21).”

Saturday, September 24, 2011

More "General Studies"

Sorry to go on about this, but here's a link to the University of Connecticut's General Studies program. Follow the weblinks to look at the specific coursework required. You might note some differences between their course offerings and ours: http://continuingstudies.uconn.edu/bgs/academicprograms.html

Friday, September 23, 2011

Our new "General Studies" degree program

Based on a perusal of the potential courses in our newly mandated "General Studies" program (I assume that those things listed under the four main categories are courses since as a faculty member, I had no input on the design of this program), I think some important topics are being ignored in that new "more marketable" curriculum. I offer the following humble suggestions: 1) Gravity: Truth or Fiction? 2) The Alien Influence in World History. 3) The Earth or the Sun, Which is Really the Center of the Universe (remember Ptolemy)? 4)Where is Elvis Now, Really?

These suggestions are, of course, not fully thought out, and I'm sure that there are other topics worthy of inclusion in any curriculum that includes a course on "flat earth" implications. An obvious companion to any flat earth course would be a discussion of "hollow earth" implications. Honestly, I would like to know which faculty members participated in the creation of this curriculum, and when these courses received approval from the curriculum committee.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Board of Trustees meet Friday--

The 4th of 5 regularly scheduled meetings of CSU's Board of Trustees is tomorrow FRIDAY, September 23rd in the Academic Library Auditorium (room 415)

The agenda is available on the CSU's BOT website, but here are some highlights:

8.30 A.M.

-->Revised Board Regulations

-->a Tenure recommendation--but of whom? Faculty haven't applied yet. Doesn't tenure happen in the spring?

-->Changes to the President's contract--whatever could that include?

-->A mysterious "miscellaneous" fee increase

-->Approval of the budget --three months into the fiscal year.

-->Approval of the faculty contract

Full Board meeting @1.30 p.m.
Public comment will be at the end of the meeting --that means that YOU can say something about the state of the university as YOU see it.

Come see what the Governing Body is hearing about the goings on at our university

Invite your students to come on their lunch break.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

And the thoughtless reorganizing continues...

So I will chalk this one up in the “I can’t believe what I just heard” column. Chicago State University is a doctoral degree granting institution that has now seen fit to not have a graduate college. I know, for all of us faculty who went to graduate school, it is incomprehensible how a university that awards masters and doctoral degrees will function without the administrative and quality control functions provided by the graduate college.
So as I understand this situation, 1) the current Dean of the Graduate College was removed as dean without cause, 2) the Graduate College is to be eliminated effective October 1st, 2011, 3) none of the faculty on the Graduate Council were officially notified that this decision was under consideration, 4) the Graduate Council will recommend to the administration how to maintain the as of yet un-articulated functions of the Graduate College, and 5) those recommendations will be considered and whatever decisions are made by the administration, with or without consultation or consent of the faculty, will be implemented in January 2012, ten months prior to the HLC accreditation visit.
A quick survey of the public institutions in this state reveals that only CSU and Governors State University do not have a Graduate School, Graduate College or Graduate Studies office. The Graduate College at UIC for example, has a plethora of activities and functions beyond simple admissions. The importance of quality control, especially in the area of thesis and dissertation submissions, cannot be understated. Having no focal point for this activity severely compromises the academic reputation of the institution and can significantly impact our graduate students who could have the quality of their degrees questioned because of the university’s administrative incompetence.
Re-organizing for the sake of re-organizing is useless and futile. It might be compared to teaching a pig how to dance, it just makes the pig upset. Management by ADD which appears to confuse and obfuscate real intentions has become the predominant management model. Unfortunately for the institution, this model could very well lead to its undoing.
And speaking of undoing, the university’s Board of Governor’s program has been restructured. Two curious facts about that are no faculty or staff from Continuing Education were consulted about the restructuring and the faculty contribution ex post facto is making another administratively inept decision worse. Getting the airplane pilots together after you have decided to use a hot air balloon doesn’t seem like the best way to reach the desired destination. Another Management by ADD (MADD) decision. Poorly conceived, ineptly communicated and incompetently implemented. The most disturbing thing about the absence of faculty involvement is the curricular restructuring that transformed the BOG into the General Studies Program. There are to be four concentrations; “Social and Environmental Justice (Struggles for Suffrage, Race/Gender/ethnic studies, Modern and Historical slavery worldwide, Effect of environmental policy on social justice, health care disparities, sustainability); Art (music, literature, dance, theater, art) and Culture(Role of Arts in defining culture, Historical influence of literature/art/music/dance/theater on (US or other) Culture, Art and politics (protest art, propaganda art, etc.), Marketing dynamics in the arts, Influence of Pop culture; Global Society (“Flat Earth” implications, Global Education, Globalization/nationalism, Population implications, Global Health, Global disparities); and Global Economy (Entrepreneurship, Global Manufacturing, Resource Markets, Global Competition, Global Health (i.e. HIV/AIDS or Maternal Mortality, funding formulas for research and treatment, etc.)” 
I have quoted you the four concentrations and the additional information, clearly stream of consciousness ideas about these concentrations. And to reiterate no faculty was involved in the creation of “Flat Earth” implications, Struggles for Suffrage or any of the other constructs. After several readings I have no idea what academic value there is in this change especially in examining something like Population implications. I can only ask population implications of what? Since faculty weren't involved in the initial discussions (assuming there was dialog and not dictum) faculty is likely to never know from what place any of this emerged from. And isn't it ironic there would be a concentration in Global Economy when this administration has eliminated the Economics degree and minor?
The newly formed General Studies committee is expected to take what can only be described as unintelligible drivel and transform it into a viable academically rigorous program. Good luck to them in that endeavor. As a computer programmer told me long ago, Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Monday, September 19, 2011


So this is the post I love to publish. Kudos to Mary Ann Ryan on the completion of her PhD. Mary Ann completed her degree in English Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. A long time adjunct faculty member in the English Department, Mary Ann finished her doctoral journey August 15th. Congratulations to Dr. Ryan.

Please feel free loyal readers to forward to me the accomplishments and achievements of our faculty. You can reach me at pbeverly@gmail.com.

Bits and bobs...

So who are the VIPs visiting campus today who have warranted blocking off parts of the parking lot nearest the Cook Building??? Are they legislators come to visit and see that failure is not an option? Or are they financial benefactors come to rescue the helpless university from its financial turmoil? Or maybe they are federal investigators from the Department of Education coming for a second visit to look at some of the university's administrative practices. One thing is certain though. Given this administration's abysmal record of communication, you would more likely discover who shot Kennedy than discover what is going on at CSU.
And the rumor flying around that nepotism is alive and well at CSU is waiting to be put to rest. To wit, some of the desk attendants at the Jacoby Dickens Center and the Jones Convocation Center are rumored to be relatives of some of the university shuttle bus drivers. If that were true, it at least puts to rest that all of the new hiring at CSU is part of the City College Reemployment Program.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

That sound was the timeclock punching your time card

So my colleagues have articulated the time sheet issue well. I will go a bit beyond that to ask about reasonable solutions. The genesis of this policy was with the now discredited Blagoevich Administration. This was the same administration that created the annual ethics test for state employees and formed the Office of the Executive Inspector General. The irony can't be lost on anyone seeing as federal prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence  of as much as 30 years for the convicted former governor. 
So what might a reasonable solution to this problem be? Clearly it isn't the policy of the current administration. I find it interesting that an administration that tripled the number of audit findings would put so much emphasis on addressing this finding. For an administration that took more than a year to negotiate a faculty contract that provided no demonstrable improvement in faculty working conditions, I sense that the current policy is actually about a continued attack on faculty. Recall loyal readers, this was the same president who told members of the Chicago Tribune editorial board that he was going to have to teach the CSU faculty how to teach. His disdain for faculty was evidenced even before his contractual start date. I understand that creativity is not the strong suit of this administration. Yet it doesn't take much creativity, even from a career long political appointee, to know that there is a political solution to this situation. 
So let's play the "If I Were President" game. I would first consult with all of the other university presidents in the state and propose a massive lobbying campaign on behalf of the faculty. I would stress how much the faculty does off campus, after hours, or during the summer and in effect teach often uninformed legislators about the role of faculty at universities. I, of course, could do that because I know what faculty do firsthand. I would encourage all of the university lobbyists to pressure the legislature for some relief for faculty. Providing the reasonable explanations articulated by my colleagues could convince the legislature to provide some relief for the faculty who are often scapegoated by those who don't understand the role of university faculty. I would also encourage all of the state universities to lobby the governor and seek relief in the form of an executive order exempting faculty from the provisions of the act requiring time keeping. This would save the state money in trying to implement inane policies. How much is lost in terms of productivity as public bodies play these games without trying to help themselves by getting the rules changed? 
Even the most intellectually limited must appreciate doing the same thing and expecting a different result is insanity. That appears to be what is happening here so let's do something different. Since nothing different is being done, it really begs the question about university leadership and/or ulterior motives.

What is Happening to the Non-Traditional Degree Programs?

As a new academic year dawns with all the enthusiasm normally associated with such an event, unease is also felt on campus. Where did several academic programs go and what happened to them over the summer? Despite 15 of 17 faculty on two different university level committees established to review the matter and voting to retain the Economics program in some fashion, the major and minor degree programs in Economics at CSU have been terminated. What is surprising (maybe) is that there has been no written communication to the university community alerting the faculty and students to this fact nor the reasons behind it. As an occasional student of history, I am surprised that a degree program representing the area of expertise of a major university benefactor with significant political and scholarly distinction (a building is named for him on campus) who also had a profound influence on American life as a trained economist is effectively gone without a trace. I doubt the people who made the decision to eliminate the Economics program even know of whom I am speaking or the influence on critical economic programs created in the 1930's and desperately needed to be revived today. While a few students may continue on to finish their degree (to avoid the likely lawsuits), the Econ program cannot offer any more academic degrees to students who wish to complete a course of study in Economics. That the timing in American history is unusual goes without saying. That the importance to the affected CSU community goes without saying. That the institutional history and memory of some individuals at CSU is deficient goes without saying. But at least the proper committees were formed and I suppose there are some written communications of the decision at the administrative level even though this decision apparently doesn’t merit any more communication of a rationale to the broader university community (including students).
And so now we turn to the BOG… when did these programs become candidates for reorganization? It is my understanding that several non-traditional degree programs have been halted/reconfigured/changed without much discussion to the broader university community about the rationale behind such a move. These programs have been designed to serve the non-traditional student (which usually means returning adult student with work and/or life experience) and for someone who is older than the average undergraduate. This is also a strength of CSU’s mission; that is, that we focus on serving the needs of such students to a greater degree than other local four year baccalaureate degree granting institutions. Given our historical (and current) mission of serving such students, what happened to the program(s) over the summer? and were the faculty consulted? Is there a rationale? Have the appropriate committees been formed to examine the reasons and to find out if these really are in the best interest of the CSU community? Or if this decision is in alignment with our mission? Or whether the reasons are supported by any data?
Maybe I am wrong to have such unease at the start of the academic year. Certainly it must be the case that these decisions have been considered from all sides by the administration with all the avenues for saving key functions and retaining key personnel and institutional knowledge considered. It certainly could not be the case that these decisions were made hastily and only for the appearance of action over inaction. That is why written reasons and public forums to discuss these decisions are so important. It would seem to be the case that if the administration had been careful in making these decisions, then the data to support the decisions, transparency in the process, and clarity of the reasons for such decisions are not much to ask for.
Otherwise why else would we be asking as the Fall semester dawns, “What happened to the BOG?” and “Where is the Economics program when faculty voted to retain the program on probationary status?”

Timesheets and Faculty

As other posters have highlighted, the time sheet proposal raises a number of questions. What will be the appropriate time threshold? Thirty-five hours per week? forty hours per week? More? What about time off between semesters? Will faculty be expected to report for work at the university? Given that our contracts run for nine months, will we be expected to work 53 hours per week during the semesters to offset our time off during December and January?

It seems like the impetus for this comes from the state auditor, who is attempting to address issues like overtime fraud by creating an audit trail that ensures that employees who are paid for overtime either actually worked the extra time or that the overtime was necessary. However, neither condition applies to faculty who are not paid overtime. Since faculty are not hourly workers expected to work an 8-5 day Monday through Friday, time sheet tracking of faculty work hours will ultimately be ineffective.

Likewise, time sheet tracking to identify which faculty are not meeting either their contractual or professional obligations will also fail. There are faculty who fit the description of "lazy" alluded to in the most recent post: they are not available during their scheduled "office hours," they do not participate in committee work, they do no research and teach poorly, and when called upon to perform administrative work, they do it badly, with the result that they are excused from such onerous tasks and the burden falls upon their colleagues. I would argue that the identities of these faculty are no secret. The fact that our administrators allow them to continue doing what are essentially substandard jobs is also no secret. Time sheets will be of no use for these persons as they will simply falsify their sheets.

Of course, the lack of understanding about faculty work loads is always a consideration. A typical week for a faculty member of Chicago State might look something like this: Classroom teaching--four courses, for twelve hours; class preparation for those four courses, sixteen to twenty-four hours depending on the class level; office hours, four to five hours. This totals thirty-two to forty-one hours and does not include time spent grading papers; time spent in committees; time spent doing administrative tasks like accreditation report preparation; or time spent doing research and/or writing (something that seems to be expected of persons with the Ph.D.).

Perhaps it would be useful for the state to actually convert us to hourly workers. In that case--using the example in the previous paragraph--in a typical week, the average faculty member would be paid between thirty-five and forty hours of straight time, then an additional fifteen to nineteen hours of overtime (based on an estimate of eighteen hours per week doing the ancillary tasks like grading papers, etc.) at time and one-half.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Faculty Time-sheets: Deprofessionalizing the Profession

“Salaried work is not hourly work. Salaried workers are being paid for their output -- not face time.”

"The fact is, to require anyone who does not bill out time (like an attorney) and is salaried to fill out a time sheet is insulting to that person, implies they are not actually working (all of them), and devalues what work they actually perform."

“Administrators simply do not understand what academics do.”

A directive from the Auditor General that all state employees must submit time sheets is finding its way into the university system here in the state of ILL. The corporately-modeled university, beloved by many administrators who want to force uniformity over unity, may become a reality at CSU. Why not? Even the Chicago Sun Times lamented that "…higher education has been reduced from the pursuit of knowledge to mere job training." Faculty are mere "workers" to the Admins' "management." Politicians with no experience or understanding of the idea of a university control the boards of trustees and appoint our presidents. Administrators on campus make decisions and ask for faculty input later (if they ask at all). At CSU one does not have to dig too deeply to find the chasm between faculty and administrator or should I now say, workers and bosses?

At any rate, other schools in the world are doing the timesheet thing--in the U.K. they've been subjecting Faculty to it for a few years now--and faculty are coping with a nightmare situation for the humanities which our politicans can only envy. I suspect we will see it in a year or two. We're already dismantling CSU's College of Art and Sciences into a farcical community college, no surprise if eventually it ceases to exist altogether, morphed into some thing with an educationalese newspeak title. There is an element of an academic "eliminationist-exterminationist" approach going on--eliminate it from sight, then exterminate it (cf. the Goldhagen thesis). Apply same approach to the Grad School.

And it's not just the U.K. clamping down on faculty. Here's a little piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education from February 2011. Kean State University in New Jersey is trying on faculty time sheets. The comments to the little news blurb are worth reading.

I'd say that the nails in the coffin of public education are in place.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education February 15, 2011, 4:30 pm
Kean U. Requires Faculty Members to Fill Out Time Sheets
Administrators at Kean University, a state institution in New Jersey, have asked faculty members to fill out daily time sheets to ensure that they are putting in at least a 35-hour workweek. The time sheets have become another source of friction in the already-tense relationship between the faculty and the administration at Kean.

#1 It's not that anyone thinks that they are better people than those who work at McDonalds (no doubt some people do, but even they are not objecting on this reason). The point is that requiring faculty to fill out time sheets that demonstrate a minimum of 35 hours a week is assuming that most academics are lazy and/or trying to "beat the system" by not working a full work week. At any institution worth its salt, and many not worth their salt, you simply cannot survive by only working 35 hours (or even 40 hours) a week. Between class prep/grading, advising/office hours, teaching, and research it is a wonder anyone would have the time for that. If it is actually possible to survive in academe working 20hrs a week as you suggest, those workers will simply lie on their timesheets since they are already being professionally dishonest. Requiring timesheets is merely a way to suggest that academics are actually lazy and that doing this somehow corrects the problem. It is part of a larger attack on the academy in general

#2 Yes my experience has been that if you don't join committees, don't respond to e-mails, are never in your office, don't publish or present papers, and consistently don't have class the administration generally already has plenty of reason to terminate you. I have known people who have slacked off, and they haven't ever lasted more than 2 terms (at best). It's not even really that the timesheet is a hassle. The point is that, at its root, requesting faculty to fill out a time sheet is just insulting and devaluing of previous work. Those who are slacking off (if they do manage to stick around) will just find more creative ways to do that. You can have office hours where all you do is play on the computer. You can have class without any prior preparation, and you can show up to a meeting and just not pay attention or contribute anything. The fact is, to require anyone who does not bill out time (like an attorney) and is salaried to fill out a time sheet is insulting to that person, implies they are not actually working (all of them), and devalues what work they actually perform.

#3 People on salary typically do not fill out time cards because they don't receive additional compensation for additional hours worked (over 40). There are exceptions though -- e.g., for attorneys in private law firms who's work hours are billed to particular clients.
Salaried work is not hourly work. Salaried workers are being paid for their output -- not face time. If a faculty member is not getting his/her work done (teaching, scholarship, or service) -- regardless of how many hours the professor is at work -- this should be dealt with administratively, by an Academic Dean or Department Chair. Unless mandated by contract, even tenured faculty can be penalized through reductions in travel money, merit pay, etc.

#4 The timeservers and deadbeats will fill out such forms impeccably down to 3 significant figures. Those who actually put in 50 or 60 hrs per week on their work will be too busy to bother and will be harassed about their timesheets not being in order. A colleague of mine recently had one of those "professional development" wankfest interviews at Macquarie University in Australia. One committee member from admin did not know that you had to mark exam papers on weekends! Administrators simply do not understand what academics do.

#5 I'm tenured at a state research university. I would love to put in a mere 35 hour week. Does this mean the faculty at Kean get overtime for all those other hours, nights, weekends and all? You want professionals, who put in their time? Then you don't have them fill out time sheets as though they were on hourly salaries. You want time sheets? Then don't expect more than the required number of hours. And, um, don't expect faculty to want to work for you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Seek wise counsel

So when I hear about personnel changes on the academic side of the university, my ears always perk up. Whether it is the ill-conceived and inept reorganization of the College of Arts & Sciences, the double secret probation in the College of Education, the micro-managing selection of the English Department Chairperson, the elimination of the Graduate College and its Dean, or the hiring and then non-hiring of the Nursing Department Chairperson, it seems that the regime is managing like a decapitated chicken, stumbling in all directions with no sense of what is best for a university rapidly approaching accreditation.
The Nursing Department situation is very interesting. Apparently the former chair was not retained by the normal June 30th deadline of contract renewal. The CEO recruited and was prepared to hire a nursing administrator from another local, public institution until said administrator saw more negative press about CSU and opted not to take the position. With no one willing to assume the duties and responsibilities of the chair, a non-academic administrator was placed in the role some months later. There are some problems with this.
First, internally, having someone with no experience in academic administration does the faculty and the department a dis-service especially in the area of personnel matters. If your humble narrator were a faculty member in that department I would have grave concerns about the ability to be properly and competently evaluated by someone who has not worked with the collective bargaining agreement at this institution or supervised faculty. If, for example, the interim chair were to pass someone along with an positive recommendation who didn’t deserve it and that faculty member was denied retention, promotion or tenure later, she could be placing others at undue risk because of her inexperience administering the faculty contract. If she provides some negative report about a faculty member during the personnel process that is unjustified it creates the same sort of problem.  Placing an inexperienced non-faculty member in a position of supervision of faculty could create a situation with significant unintended consequences. Managing a nursing unit at a hospital or similar locale is very different from an academic institution. I would have hoped that wise counsel was sought before this decision was made and yet it feels like yet another decision was made in desperation by a directionless CEO.
Secondly, the accreditation of the Nursing Department was placed at risk because there was no chairperson and one of the conditions for their continued accreditation is no gap in departmental leadership. If the Nursing Department’s accrediting body, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, Inc (NLNAC), wished to make an example of an institution by withdrawing accreditation because of administrative incompetence, this regime gave them more than enough justification to do so. An examination of the NLNAC Standards and Criteria Baccalaureate indicates the university could have been out of compliance with the 2008 Standards.  Standard 1.5 of the NLNAC Accreditation Manual states “ The nursing education unit is administered by a doctorally prepared nurse.” If no one was serving in that capacity, it could place the department out of compliance. Additionally, Standard 1.2 states “The governing organization and nursing education unit ensure representation of students, faculty, and administrators in ongoing governance activities.” That sure sounds like shared governance language to me and indicates an expectation on the NLNAC’s part that shared governance will be practiced. Without notification to even the Dean of the College of Health Sciences of the change in department chair, faculty were obviously not given a vote, even advisory, on the selection of an interim chair. This loyal readers, provides yet another example of the administration’s refusal to honor basic principles of shared governance.
The question is what becomes of our students who just took the last state examination and those who will take the next state examination as to whether they will be licensed or not since they would be coming from a potentially unaccredited program.
I suppose this is what the university gets when a non-academic administrator and by that I mean one who was never a tenured faculty member, college dean, or provost and one who has never published in a peer reviewed journal, is given license to manage this institution.
I am curious if the Board of Trustees is even aware of the impending self-inflicted wounds the university could suffer. And if they aren’t we really are in trouble.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's been a year and all I got....

So where does one begin when a situation has deteriorated to such a degree that discussion is all but useless. The university given the tagline “Failure Is An Option”, by the local paper of record, continues its steep descent into an uncertain future. One thing that is clear about that descent however is that unless tenured faculty speak decisively, the “Failure” will be the responsibility of the faculty because of their reticence during the descent. It took more than a year of fits and starts with the administration to negotiate a contract that provides for nominal pay increases, no shared governance language and no accountability for an administration that routinely demonstrates its ineptness in adhering to the provisions of the contract. I can imagine the T-shirt saying “I waited more than a year for a contract and all I got was...”
For your consideration I present the following. Five faculty who submitted materials for Fourth Year Retention were denied retention by the President after going through a rigorous quality control process. Only when their materials reached the CEO’s office was a problem detected. And no loyal readers, it wasn’t a problem of adequacy on the part of the faculty members. It was a problem with imaginary provisions of their Departmental Application of Criteria. Yes, at least one of those faculty members is on record for challenging the administration for applying criteria that didn’t exist. This does not bode well for implementation of the new contract. Historically, (the past 15 years) some  administrators involved in the personnel process have inexplicably lost their ability to comprehend the provisions of the contract. I believe that condition is reinforced when there is no consequence to change that behavior. So what we end up with are administrators who don’t adhere to the contract and create both a hardship for individual faculty members and a depressed state of morale among the faculty generally. If demoralizing faculty through inept management, ill-conceived ideas, inane execution and general incompetence is the goal of this administration then as the British say, they receive full marks. And if the governing body of this university supports the continued management by ADD, then their complicity in creating a legacy of failure will be inescapable as well.
At the end of the day, I believe the only thing I can take to sleep with me is my integrity intact, un-compromised, inviolate. And so here I have a professional responsibility to cast my single vote for or against contract ratification. I could, given the secret ballot, just go along and support the hard, tedious work of the union negotiators. Or I could question my conscience and ask is this the best that could be done. It has been a year. What difference would a few more months make, if it provides some protections to an unappreciated faculty and accountability to an inept administration?
So at the end of the day I decide to sleep soundly knowing that I wasn’t complicit in ratifying a contract that was so clearly against my professional interests and a document that perpetuates the mismanagement of an institution perceived to be a “Failure.” My integrity won’t let me willingly and knowingly contribute to failure. Will yours?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Contract--more questions

A colleague in one of the sciences offers some concerns for consideration. I am posting them here. Many people have said they cannot attend the meeting today and still want to ask substantive questions about the contract.

I will add one more question of my own. After more than a year, is it necessary to rush this contract through by this week in time for the Board of Trustees meeting next week? If people still have questions, at this point, what is the rush?

My colleague's questions--note the last paragraph.

1) Clinical Faculty. We are told that this only applies to the folks in Pharmacy, but this new title is NOT Clinical Pharmacy Professional. Several colleges include faculty who are involved in clinical education. Nursing, OT, Education, Social Work etc. all include clinical education, but this new category of clinical faculty who have all of the requirements of teaching faculty and no tenure was developed based only on the needs of Pharmacy. The current version of the contract also includes a reference to "external clinical faculty" but the document does not define this term.

2) Clinical, Teaching and Research Faculty. These titles are also used in the document defining different types of graduate faculty in the policy of the graduate school. So will we now have faculty who are research faculty according to the graduate school but teaching faculty according to the contract?? The folks who wrote this contract seem unaware of the new graduate faculty designations.

3) In many accredited professional programs accreditation requires that instructors only teach within areas that they have documented expertise. This leads to a need to have team teaching in some courses. According to the current contract, you get an extra CUE for team teaching if you work in the nursing department, but not in any other department. This seems very odd.

4) We have clarified that faculty get an .5 CUEs for working with MASTERs level thesis students so that this is not confused with the required undergraduate thesis. But I did not see any provision to provide extra CEUs for classes that will now include an undergraduate thesis. Several composition courses include extra CEUs because of the added work of grading several student papers. Are we not expecting that the requirement for an undergraduate thesis will create more work?

5) Considering the rate at which quality faculty are leaving and the rate at which the administration is denying tenure, I think allowing them to force us to teach well beyond 24 CUEs will encourage CSU to hire fewer faculty and to overwork those of us who stay. The rates for overload will certainly make this a cost effective alternative to hiring.

6) The requirements for a terminal degree in OT were changed so that only three specific degrees will be accepted. This change was NOT marked in red. This makes me wonder what else was changed without notice. '

I could go on and on. But in summary, I don't believe that this contract provides the support that CSU faculty need to promote the educational goals of this University.

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Contract--time for discussion?

At the UPI meeting on Tuesday there was little time for discussion and questions about the contract so there will be another meeting in SCI 100 at 12.30 p.m. There was supposed to be blog or listserve open last week for people to post questions about the contract if they could not attend the meeting, but that does not seem to be working.

Since UPI wants votes in by Sept. 15th it is imperative that members understand the new contract which is coming at a point when the sands are shifting at CSU. Does the contract negotiated over the last year take into account all the changes that are being wrought for instance by the Admin in reorganizing the College of Arts and Sciences or in dismantling the College of Graduate Studies? These are some questions that I have had and I would encourage others of the faculty to voice their concerns --better yet vote in favor if you think the contract will protect us during this period of chaos and disorganization or vote no if you don't think so.

And feel free to post a thread here anonymously if you like though I know many people are afraid to voice their real points of view in the retaliatory climate we have on campus.

My questions and comments to the UPI Contract Team:

Thanks for negotiating the raise, assuming the Gov. doesn't make us take furlough days to offset it, it's nice to have some hope.

1. Has the university Admin breached the existing contract by drastically reorganizing the College of Arts and Sciences this summer without consultation and discussion in the Faculty Senate?

2. What is now meant by "department" in this new configuration of the CAS and who is in charge of overseeing it if chairs are reduced to division heads? Is this reflected in the new contract? Since the Admin does not know yet or has not yet revealed how division heads or coordinators will be organized, how can these be covered in the new contract? It seems like the contract UPI negotiated is for a different place than one that will exist in a few months time.

3. The Administration got their foot in the door of a post-tenure review process that could eliminate tenured faculty in the new contract (not that I necessarily disapprove of the language per se that is there), but what did faculty get in return for this?

4. With the closing of the Graduate College, how, in the name of heaven, will "departments" be able to handle all the paperwork of the admission and graduation process since the role of Grad Coordinator has been reduced to being that of Grad Advisor and the whole extra cue process is connected to how many students attend your program, not how many submit applications? How are "departments" with no chairs or with mere Graduate "Advisors" supposed to pick up this work which will involve a lot of tedious correspondence and parry questions on financial aid, Veteran's benefits, calculate gpa's from God knows how many programs that a student attended, and a myriad of other details ALL of this WITHOUT proper secretarial aid or even functional computer printers in our offices? We have been told in no uncertain terms by Ms Ce Cole Dillon that there will be no new printers bought for faculty just as there is no upgrading of the smart classrooms planned. I have to beg for any office supplies I get. We currently have one "department" secretary who works for 6 disciplines.

5. Why is the word "consultation" with faculty used so infrequently in the new contract?

Please advise.
To all: does the new contract really secure us?

Friday, September 9, 2011

While Rome is Burning...

One year before Chicago State Community College and the City College Re-employment Center is to face a full accreditation visit we have

->fired a long-standing Dean of Arts & Sciences who had more university knowledge than all the people on the top floor of Cook Administration put together, had been through at least two previous accreditation visits, was chairing an accreditation committee, was on the HLC steering committee, and had connections to IBHE and HLC

->decided to reorganize the College of Arts and Sciences to reflect our CEO's understanding of higher education as a community college (a fear expressed at the time of the trumped up search that "hired" said CEO); CAS was reorganized in the summer and will face yet another disorganization in January. Try explaining this to students who were wandering around campus in August wondering what happened to their department chairs & department offices in search of signatures since no memos went out to them or faculty describing, let alone explaining, the rationale for the changes (Puh-leeze don't say it is to save money since we are bleeding money at the top in hiring every new VP and/or former City College friend of our CEO).

->decided to shut down the College of Graduate Studies--this is the latest news. Aside from the University of Chicago and some universities of that ilk, do you know any school that offers graduate programs and does not have a School of Graduate Studies? So all those curriculum mandates the CEO and Provost made last year to require a thesis are meaningless. Who is going to enforce that departments do this since the administrative work is devolving onto the departments? Who is going to oversee that departments are following procedures, that theses are being written, that they are being collected, bound, etc. Who is going to oversee the calculation of grad credits--the Admissions Office? the Registrar's Office? Since undergrad enrollment is so low, maybe they do need extra work to do. Or, is the dismantling of the Grad College a step toward eliminating all disciplinary M.A. programs? Or is it another step in completing our march to true community college status?

->shut down the Economics Department and this year bring many many more programs up for program review (God help that committee). Faculty might want to check to see whether they are on "the list."

->no campus newspaper, no mechanism for the Administration to get its message out to the faculty and students (assuming they are not simply on some nihilistic course) about what the heck kind of direction this university is going. It leaves mere mortals like us to speculate in office corridors and on this sad little blogsite.

One year before accreditation I am wondering what we will say to those accreditation officers since it seems like we are careening out of control. If there is some method behind this madness--if the CEO already knows that the Gov/Trustees have decided to close us down/sell us off/merge us with UIC please advise. Otherwise it looks like a lot of fiddling while the house is on fire.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Contract

The new contract has been hammered out and sent round by email for discussion and approval over the next few weeks. On Thursday there will be a meeting of the Union Membership to discuss the contract. Plan to attend on Thursday, Sept. 8th in Wm Science 100.

Considering the Administration's mandating of curriculum changes that we faculty have been pushed to accept (and let ourselves be pushed into accepting), considering the failure of the Administration in consultation over college reorganization, following the same pattern of act first and ask for input later, considering the dispensing of required terminal degrees for hiring at the Dean and VP levels, considering the lack of a faculty representation on the Board of Trustees, this contract is one way to ensure your rights on campus. Does it reflect a notion of faculty purview over curriculum matters? Faculty should note the post-tenure review changes that the Admin wanted in spite of the limits on support for faculty research on campus (other than for pedagogy projects)--two years of no sabbatical approvals. Did we get something in return? For the next five years, do we remain "advisory only?"

Find out on Thursday.