Wednesday, December 7, 2011

REMINDER: Friday Board of Trustees Meeting

Faculty should attend the CSU Board of Trustees meeting tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 9th, all day in the Academic Library, 4th Floor. It would be worth it for no other reason than to meet the new trustees who have not even been formally announced on campus (as far as I am aware).

Morning is for the various committee meetings, but afternoon @ 1 p.m. will be the Full Board meeting. Not sure when public comment will take place. The Faculty Senate is presenting a report and there is a chance that faculty concerns may be represented to the board in a more formal way than ever before (and happily ever after?). I believe students will be present and speaking out since both the Independent Student Union's "Occupy Cook" protest and the Student Government Association's open forum over the past two weeks have been raising student consciousness.

Faculty should attend the board meeting. It is so easy to give in to apathy about this meeting and all else attached to administering this leaky old ship of Chicago State. One of the things that we do not learn in graduate school is how important we are to the functioning of the university, not just as teachers and scholars, but as talent that the best universities know to utilize. We forget what a privileged position we have as faculty, not just because "we can have our summers off" (as any of our relatives will remind us--like all we do is lie on a beach from June until August) or that we are the envy of friends with our flexible schedules that makes it seem as if we work only 2 or 3 days a week (would that I only had a 40-hour a week schedule). For those happy few of us this is what we have netted from the many years in graduate school --and most of us have averaged 5-8 years in that great limbo of the "ABD" while surviving on shoe-string salaries. We might not now be making $90,000+ like some of our administrative colleagues, but most of us are richer in other ways.

Faculty are priviledged. We are experts in a field, we hold specialized knowledge, methodology, and a way of thinking critically, of expressing ourselves eloquently and this is what we have the privilege of sharing and passing on to our students. At the last Board of Trustees meeting in September after several faculty had spoken up, it seemed to have emboldened a few of the students who were present. One young woman who spoke during public comment told the Trustees, the professors who were speaking and expressing concern about what was going on at the university, "they have what we want." Such a simple statement, but it gave me pause. Our duty as faculty is not just in the classroom, but to the university as a whole. We have a responsibility to be concerned about the way the university is run, who is making policy, why we should listen to them; we have to question why policies are being put in place, especially policies that affect that academic integrity of the university where our prerogative is paramount as almost any university's governing regulations will state. There have been plenty of things happening on campus, hirings, firings, directives, countermanded decisions, re(dis)organizations coming at us at a fast and furious pace this year. Many of us, not just "a few disgruntled" or "fringe" faculty, as the Admin likes to think of us are immensely concerned about the state of Chicago State.

During the contentious past presidential search of 2009 at CSU we faculty never got the chance to have an honest discussion with the Board of Trustees as to what we wanted our university to be (that elusive "potential" we are all aware CSU has)-- and maybe these days we are more aware of what we don't want CSU to be. Either way, it's time to realize we still can have that discussion.

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