Blaise Pascal, Penseé 347: “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this. All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.”
Friday, April 27, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Today, in the Academic Senate, the cohort hiring / hiring funding resolution introduced by Chris Henson and subsequently amended by Kevin Ayotte and Honora Chapman passed by a vote of 35 to 10. That is a great victory for faculty consultation and every department at CSU-Fresno that values its own judgment on hiring and curriculum. It also makes budgetary sense.
This resolution is not binding on the Provost, but it was a clear statement of where the majority of faculty stand on the issue, and an affirmation of the Senate as the voice of the faculty. The motion was not discussed; the question was called immediately and the vote by written ballot followed. We can now hope that this will convince Provost Covino to change his policy; there is some indication of this already, as hiring in English, Communication, and Linguistics is going through without the cohort designation.
The Senate addressed three other important items:
The faculty has already received an email from outgoing chair Michael Caldwell announcing the election of R. Lynn Williams (Agricultural Business) as Senate Chair and Kevin Ayotte (Communication) as vice-chair. Congratulations to both. Although Michael Caldwell and I have probably been on the opposite side of every issue that has come up this year, he deserves the gratitude of the faculty for doing a difficult and extremely demanding job for two years, as do Lynn Williams and Kevin Ayotte for taking on this responsibility. Newly elected senators were installed.
2. Revision of the GE Writing Requirement was introduced and
3. There was discussion of Jacinta Amaral's motion on the new logo.
The last item especially generated significant discussion, and following my usual practice, I will wait until I've had a chance to hear the recording of the meeting to report on it. Since GE writing requirements affect most of us, I want to make sure I have the correct details on that item as well. Look for an entry on those issues before the weekend.
By itself, passing this motion is important. As part of the larger picture of what kind of university we want, its importance cannot be stressed too much.
This method of hiring fits into the bigger picture we've seen "unveiled" this year: the centrally-managed university that treats faculty as employees who carry out management decisions about how to teach and what to teach, rather than as the members of a university community, the members who have the greatest expertise in teaching and curriculum development, and whose traditional role, in the past, has been rightfully recognized and relied upon by administrators.
Let's review the others pieces of this jigsaw puzzle:
1. The attempted elimination of Arts & Humanities and Social Science as separate schools and the attempted elimination of the College of Science and Mathematics: consolidation, central control, and the subordination of the core sciences and humanities to professional schools;
2. The creation of an appointed Budget Task Force to accomplish the above, thereby by-passing the faculty-elected committee, the University Budget Committee, which should have been involved;
3. The Provost's charge to the Budget Task Force that they should be discrete in sharing information with anyone--resulting (and no surprises here) in no information being shared with anyone, including the University Budget Committee;
4. The implication--which took a month and a half, and three meetings to completely refute--that the chair of the University Budget Committee was somehow a liaison between the UBC and the Budget Task Force;
5. The withholding from the UBC, the Budget Task Force, and the university at large, until February, that the university had a $65 million carry-forward from last year;
6. The klutzy $1.8 million spend-down at the end of this year, while we have been running classes (designed "W" for a significant writing component) at around 300 students;
7. The strong implication by the Provost at the March 19 senate meeting that Dean of Arts & Humanities Vida Samiian was in favor of the concept of centrally funded cohort hiring.
8. The subsequent denial of Vida Samiian of the above at the last Senate meeting.
9. The "unveiling" of the new logo, with no Senate consultation, but the public spin about how much consultation had been conducted.
10. Red Balloon and its obvious connection to a push for on-line education supplemented by teaching assistants--much more easily controllable through Long Beach.
11. CSALT's attempt to treat us like elementary school teachers and to impose elementary school / high school models of education on a university faculty.
12. CSALT's insulting, condescending language, which perhaps tells us as much as anything how the administration of this university and the system in general see faculty.
13. The creation of faculty / instructional positions that report directly to the Provost.
This list is not exhaustive, there is more I could say, but it is enough. What we have been seeing is a determined administrative push toward a centrally-managed university where faculty have little or no say in anything of importance and are treated like children.
Is this the way we want to go into the 21st century?
We are really voting on that question today.
"All in, Mr. Bond."
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
I have seen so much email on this issue that I feel inadequate to do justice to the arguments against imposed cohort categories or the use of "rebate" funding for permanent positions, mentioned by the Provost at the last Senate meeting. Therefore, I hope people who have more to contribute will use the comments section of this blog.
I will address a few of the issues:
1. Funding Sources for Initial Hiring: We get nothing for free
In the Senate meeting of March 19, Jacinta Amaral asked the following question: "I’m very concerned about the funding stream for this [cohort hiring] and how long would the provost’s money stay with that hire. At some point, would a department be told, now it’s all yours. What happens to cohort funding should we change provosts. How is it set up to protect departments over time?"
Provost Covino replied as follows: "The funding that’s provided is permanent. It recurs every year. Of course, if there is a dramatic budget cut, it might have us considering all kinds of things, that’s another issue. But as with any tenure track hire, the funding is permanent."
Senate Meeting of March 19
As I noted, Provost Covino had not answered the question, which was about the funding stream, not the permanence of the funding. Where was the money coming from? Which sources would it come from in the future? Subsequent Senate statements by both Dean Vida Samiian and Provost Covino have gotten us closer to an answer.
At the April 16 meeting, Provost Covino said in the preceding year there had been additional dollars in the Academic Affairs budget under a line item that said "Faculty Appointments," and this money was used for cohort hiring. This year, the money was a rebate, presumably freed up benefit money, from Centrally Monitored Funds.
Well, why shouldn't allocation models be mechanical? Hiring obviously should not be mechanical, but perhaps the allocation process, which is sensitive to all sorts of factors, including student demand, if mechanical, is not so in a stupid way; and when the data changes--such as a drop in student demand or method of delivery--the allocation changes. For the Provost's argument to be persuasive, he'd have to show a flaw in the allocation model designed by Brandt Kehoe--and Brandt was one smart physics professor--and before him, Helen Gigliotti, one smart physical chemist. The place to exercise judgment is within the bounds of a rational allocation model--not to shoot from the budgetary hip, without regard to the effect on allocations down the line.
We have been taught not to like the word "mechanical." It is not an evil word. The system of proportion representation that governs the House of Representatives is mechanical. I don't want to give Montana 10 more Congressmen this year to prevent it's being mechanical, and the only reason I can see to reject a rational allocation model is to favor some schools over others. To that we can apply another word designed to get a knee-jerk reaction: "discrimination."
6. Cohort Hiring has been turned down, according to reports I've seen, by Sociology, Linguistics, and Communication. English will be deliberating on the issue.
[I received the following addition, from Kevin Ayotte, Communication, a few hours after putting up this blog:
Because I think that it is imperative that all participants in this university-wide conversation represent their positions fully and fairly, I want to make one clarification about the situation of the interpersonal communication search within the Health Cohort. Dean Samiian was the one who proposed putting this position request in the Health Cohort in the hope of having the search approved. I do not want to give the impression that the College of Arts & Humanities requested a non-cohort position and the Provost slotted it into the Health Cohort.
The details above do not, however, in any way impact the department's decision regarding the cohort hire. Our concerns re: the constraints that would be placed upon the search and our curriculum are the same. Moreover, I certainly do not perceive this chain of events as Dean Samiian's endorsement of cohort hiring. I spoke with her about the search request and it was initially proposed for the Health Cohort because the current structure of cohort hiring is the only way that Colleges/Schools can get access to the full funding the university has available to hire new faculty. If hiring funds were allocated fully to the College/Schools per the current resolution in the Senate, this would not be an issue. Dean Samiian has resubmitted our request to see if a search without a cohort requirement will be approved, and I will keep everyone updated.]
If I've missed anyone, please chime in.
In summary, the imposition of cohort categories and the funding of hires, outside of Level B, ought to be rejected. This kind of management is of one piece with eliminating schools, disenfranchising departments and schools, hiring faculty to perform academic functions directly under the direction of the provost, appointing task forces rather than going through Senate standing committees and the University Budget Committee, "declarative" consultation, throttling the flow of information, and all of the other tactics and initiatives we have seen this year that centralize power over instruction and curriculum in administrators.
If we want to remain a faculty, in any meaningful sense of the word, all of this has to be fought, and right now, the front line is this resolution on hiring.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Hey Craig - In looking at the logo, I noticed the paw print does NOT really look like a bulldog paw print - I googled it and it actually looks more like a CAT print!!!!!
[Here is an email response to the above: One comment on Craig's blog, with the biologist response: 'The logo looks like a cat's paw print, not a dog.' Of course it does--dogs have non-retractile claws, therefore, leave prints with spots anterior to the pad prints where their claws impress on the ground. Cats walk with claws retracted and produce prints like the new logo, and a paw print of those dimensions from a cat indicates a stout feline. Therefore we are the Fresno State Fat Tabbies.]
[April 20 addition: see Madhusudan Katti's blog, "a leaf warbler's gleanings" for "How the athletic tail wags the academic dog at the new 'Fresno State': Leaf Warbler: tail wagging the dog ]