Wednesday, August 22, 2012

For Our Historically-Challenged Administrators (and anyone else who might be interested)

Demonstrating the great respect many of our administrators have for CSU faculty, the administration is now apparently claiming that the earlier DAC iterations were merely “suggestions.” If this seems like an insult to your intelligence, it is. At this point, it seems useful to review the chronology that has led our intrepid leaders to disassociate themselves from the process which led to such faculty anger and resistance.

In early June, the administration convened Department Chairs and College Deans in a meeting designed to produce new DACs for the entire university. Our Department Chair notified us in an e-mail dated June 7 that “ President Watson has rejected all the DACs that were submitted this spring - across the university.” As a result, “The view of the administration is that faculty submitted the first draft (which represents shared governance in this particular world view) and the administration (in this case Provost, Deans, Chairs) is working on the second draft. There will likely be a chance for faculty to comment on the second draft, but I would expect that what comes out of this meeting will pretty much be the final draft.”

On June 19, the College Dean sent an e-mail to faculty that included the following: “I suspect that faculty will have about 30 days to send me their thoughts on the proposed DAC. The proposed DAC is being sent out to peer institutions for their review. Following the comment period, the proposed DACs will be revised. A detailed timeline for this process will be sent to you from Dr. Watson in the near future. The implementation date of the revised DACs has not been determined.”

On June 23, the president deigned to communicate to the faculty directly. In a memorandum dated June 20, the president described the process of DAC revision to date, noting that “external reviewers from universities with similar demographics or programs” would be used as “subject matter reviewers” of the new DACs. The president then outlined the next steps. They read as follows: 1) faculty would be allowed “three weeks during June and July 2012 to review the DAC and provide comments to department chairpersons;” 2) at the same time, “the revised DAC will be sent . . . to external faculty reviewers;” 3) “comments received from the faculty, external reviewers and the administration will be discussed during an administrative in-service of deans and chairs to be convened between July 18-25;” 4) the final round of reviews “will be completed by faculty and the administration by July 31, 2012.” Following that date, “The Provost will convene deans and chairpersons between August 1 and August 3, 2012, . . . to examine faculty responses and prepare DACs for presidential approval;” 5) “The President, after consulting with the UPI chapter president, will determine the final contents of the DAC;” 6) “The President will implement his approved DAC on August 31, 2012.”

In none of these three communications do I see any language that is even vaguely permissive. These are simple decrees emanating from the president and passed along by Chairs and Deans.

On June 27, the president softened his language somewhat. For the first time, he categorized the DAC revisions as “suggestions.” Also for the first time, he referenced the CSU-UPI contract, alluding to the provisions of section 19.3. Had something happened to cause our leader to moderate his position? Indeed, the faculty had begun to push back against a process that had clearly created considerable anger. On June 26, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate scored Wayne Watson and his administration for its handling of the DAC process and its continued failure to engage faculty in any substantive way. The statement expressed “[t]he deep concern that the Executive Committee is communicating to you is an effort to mitigate against further damage to the administrative/faculty relationship.” And noted that “[f]urther damage will only negatively impact the students.” Finally, the statement called upon the administration to end its “current, flawed DAC process and engage faculty in an authentic process of shared governance around the creation of these critical documents.”

The next day, the same date as the president’s memorandum, UPI informed a large number (for the summer) of faculty and staff that they would be filing a chapter grievance since the administration had failed to adhere to the contractual DAC process. Our UPI contended that everything that occurred after the departments submitted the DACs constituted a violation of the contract, which makes no provisions for chair or dean participation or for the use of “outside reviewers.”

Although I do not know the actual date UPI filed the grievance, the public administrative pronouncements on the DAC process ceased. On July 25, the administration continued to involve Chairs and Deans in the process, convening a “DAC Workshop” that featured the original DACs submitted by university departments. One participant observed that several attendees had “pointed criticisms” of the administration’s behavior. At least one attendee observed that “much of the [faculty] anger could have been avoided had everyone been brought into the process from the start.” When the Provost complained that faculty had not responded “with constructive criticism” of the administratively imposed DACs, another participant noted that “the grievance in and of itself constituted direct feedback on the June DACs.” During the “workshop,” “no one spoke openly in favor of the DAC process and there were no public defenders of the administration's actions other than Drs. Watson, Westbrooks, and Jefferson.” Ultimately, the “workshop” concluded with the administration expressing the desire that the grievance be resolved “prior to August 15, at which time departments will take the DACs and faculty will rework them. There is a short window for this...about four weeks. DACs need to be presented to the president in time for him to read and sign before October 1.” Contradicting its own conciliatory language, apparently treating the grievance as nothing more than an annoyance, the administration steams ahead at full speed in is continuing attempt to direct what is essentially a faculty-driven process.

I see this fiasco as a potential first step in CSU faculty combating the toxic and destructive environment created by Wayne Watson and many of his administrative apparatchiks. The attempt to hijack the DAC process demonstrates the level of contempt this administration holds for CSU faculty, staff, and especially our students. We have to actively resist incursions into areas in which we are the authorities. The Senate’s statement of June 26 describes the problem well: “ It was clear to some faculty that the President held nothing but contempt for the faculty of the university when he was quoted May 6th, 2009 by the Chicago Tribune Vox Pop blog as saying ‘...he’d focus on helping CSU professors improve their teaching skills.’ From the ill- conceived Senior Thesis to a poorly thought out Computer Policy to the dismissal of generally accepted faculty responsibilities around hiring, promotion, tenure, retention, and other faculty personnel activities, the Administration has demonstrated nothing but contempt for faculty, paying only lip service to perfunctory exercises in shared governance.” I believe that as faculty, we must continue to fight for our rightful place in the governance of this institution.

No comments:

Post a Comment