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

The Logo: Consultation by Osmosis

Between what I have already said about “declarative consultation” and Dean Vida Samiian’s statement at the last Senate meeting, there is little to add about the logo. Like it or hate it, the Senate was not consulted about it.

At the April 9 Senate meeting, scrambling to address the problem, and having only 3 more days until the logo was “unveiled,” Jacinta Amaral wrote the motion which was the subject of debate at the last meeting, by hastily writing it out on the back of an envelope and presenting it on the floor. She was doing what the faculty in the Senate have been doing since November: reacting to an emergency created by the administration. These emergencies are not accidents. They are a strategy to keep the main body of the Academic Senate, the committees, and the faculty at large, in the dark until the last moment about policy changes (e. g., minor changes like getting rid of two schools) and initiatives that are likely to be very unpopular. To put it bluntly, it’s a strategy to blow things by the faculty.

It is clear now that the main problem the Senate needs to address is lack of consultation about the logo, not cost, but Amaral’s motion, like Chris Henson’s original motion about cohort hiring, was the finger plugging the hole in the dike, buying the faculty time to learn more and make amendments. Clearly, the resolution needs amendment to focus on the way the Senate was cut out of consultation. That can be easily done at the next meeting.

There are two weak attempts going on in the Senate to derail the motion on the logo. One was the suggestion that motions ought to go to committee first. Had the faculty used that strategy this year, we’d have two fewer schools at this point. Again, the administrative policy of concealment is what has injured the normal functioning of the Senate, forcing the body of the Senate to respond as it has.

The second attempt was a suggestion that because two people from Arts & Humanties were in the group working on the logo, one of whom was Joe Diaz, the associate dean, that surprise to the faculty was avoided. This might be referred to as “consultation by osmosis,” and take its place along “declarative consultation” in the lexicon of administrative legerdemain. The point is, the faculty was supposed to be surprised: that was part of the schtick that was offered to us on April 12; certainly people on the task force developing the logo were told not to publicize it before the big event. Come to the great “unveiling.” Find out what’s behind curtain number 1. You can’t give people a logo surprise if you’ve consulted them about the logo any more than you can give your wife a surprise anniversary present after having consulted her about size, color, fabric, brand, and catalog page.

Well, the surprise worked. But we would rather have been consulted. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Senate Meeting of April 23, Part 2

This entry deals with three main pieces of the last Senate meeting (April 23, 2012) which I did not cover in my previous entry: a statement by Otto Schweizer, a minor GE Committee resolution on writing, and a resolution about the university’s new logo. Again, I have transcribed much of what follows from the Senate recording. In a few places I could not decipher the audio.

I begin about 30 minutes into the meeting after the vote on agenda item #8, the cohort hiring resolution, which passed 35 to 10.

Lynn Williams, chairing his first meeting, then presented agenda item #9, a “Resolution in Support of UC Davis Students and Faculty Right to Peaceably Assemble – Second Reading.” The question was called.

Before this resolution came to a vote, however, Otto Schweizer (Criminology) made the following statement pertaining to motions that had originated in the Senate this year and had not been referred to committees:

Otto Schweizer: “Can I make a statement regarding the resolutions?

Senate Chair Lynn Williams: “Please.”

Otto: Schweizer: For the last full month I’ve watched the Senate bring forth several resolutions which have clearly been generated by a group of faculty with very strong convictions.  The Senate has spent the majority of time on resolutions that have come forward, which are moved to the top of the agenda, and discussed for weeks, which we all know. Ironically, the complaint by the most prominent voices in the discussion on campus has been about a lack of consultation and fear for the loss of shared governance, but which of these resolutions have been referred to a committee to obtain expertise from those committees elected by the entire faculty?
            “Keep in mind that senators are elected by their respective departments; however, committee members are elected by the entire faculty. The standing committees are the backbone of the Senate structure as pointed out by many senators following the formation of several task forces on campus. Yet most of the resolutions discussed in the Senate since November have not been vetted with any of these committee, including your own Executive Committee, which you elected. The primary purpose of the Executive Committee, quoting your own bylaws, is to set the agenda of the Academic Senate, yet that agenda is now largely ignored in favor of resolutions that carry no weight with regard to policy other than making a statement. Some resolutions, such as the recent one on the graduate SUD grants need to be discussed in a timely fashion on the floor, and constitute decisions, rather than call for changes in campus policy and practice.
            “Such important policy and practice changes, even if voiced in a resolution, should be vetted by the committees with the expertise and charged to look at them carefully, get input, and testimony from others, and make well-informed recommendations to the Senate. Otherwise the Senate is foregoing the consultative process that its bylaws institute and rely upon to make good decisions on behalf of the faculty.
            “The Senate has a structure made up of committees elected by the entire faculty. These committees have been very busy this year, which is why you see before you the largest agenda in many, many years. The agenda of the Executive Committee is backlogged as well. Will the Senate continue to ignore its own agenda set by its own Executive Committee, and made up of policy submitted by its own committees, in favor of discussing hastily written resolutions that have not been vetted under the same scrutiny as the rest of the business by the Senate. I see these come forward, I’ve never heard of them before, and all of a sudden they are being discussed by the Senate when there are many valuable agenda items that have spent many weeks and months, going through committees, to the Executive Committee to be presented to the Senate at large, and yet all these things are being bypassed.
“I believe it would be best for the Senate to refer the discussion—though its too late—on cohort hiring to the University Budget Committee and Personnel Committees who are elected by the faculty for this purpose. There is a great deal of confusion created by misinformation, and to vote on something that the majority of the people in the room do not really understand, and hasn’t been properly examined by committee, without really knowing the implications of it, would harm the credibility of the Senate. And there is lots of misinformation that I hear when faculty discuss it. In my department for example they don’t really understand how something was going to be implemented; they perceived that everything would be pushed on them and without them having any voice in it. So I move that resolutions be sent to the appropriate committees for discussion before simply bypassing the whole process, showing up here, and before we know it, it’s 5:15 or 5:30 and everything is postponed for another week.”

Senate Chair Lynn Williams: “Did you mean that as a motion at the end?”

Schweizer: “This is not a motion or a resolution. [Laughter] I want to avoid that pitfall! It’s just food for thought.” 

At this point, the resolution supporting the right to peacefully assemble of faculty and students at U. C. Davis was voted upon. It passed, 25 Yes, 5, No, 9 Abstentions.

The next agenda item was the General Education Writing Requirement. This came from the General Education Committee with Andrew Lawson (Agricultural Sciences & Technology), Chair, reporting to the Senate on changes in requirements. My favorite line by Lawson on the current writing policy: “I hate to say it, but the current writing policy is poorly written. [Laughter] But it is! It is something like 14 pages long, it’s very difficult for faculty to understand. GE committee members have read it and still don’t know what it means.” Faculty in general don’t understand the policy, therefore don’t know what it is, and therefore don’t include its requirements in their course outlines.

Lawson also said that the current policy requires faculty feedback on student writing, but there are a number of courses, such as Biology 10 and History 11 where students papers are routinely given feedback by trained graduate student instructors. Students in these classes cannot get faculty feedback on their writing because that classes are too big, often containing 300 students in a lecture.

The current rule had to reflect realistic faculty practice. The “only true significant change” in the policy was to allow graduate students to provide feedback on student writing. The training of graduate teaching assistants was left to the discretion of the faculty in each department.

The second reading was waived and the resolution passed unanimously.

The Logo:
The next piece of business was item 10: Resolution Regarding Re-Branding Expenditures,” introduced by Jacinta Amaral (MCLL) on the floor of the Senate, April 9.
Jacinta Amaral read the resolution:
WHEREAS, the State of California is experiencing extreme financial stress; and

WHEREAS, all sectors of public education are also experiencing extreme financial stress; and

WHEREAS, the California State Legislature allocates General Fund revenues to the California Atate University; and

WHEREAS, in these times the California State University id receiving less and less support from the Legislature; therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the California State University, Fresno Academic Senate urge the President to devote the resources dedicated to re-branding the University to opening more classes for CSU, Fresno students.

Alex Alexandrou (Plant Science): “What are the costs associated with the re-branding?”
Provost Covino: “So far, as far as we know, that has been $15,000. There have been no state funds devoted to this effort, nor will there be.”
Jan Slagter (Women’s Studies): “Would this mean that when we replace our old letterhead on stationery and business cards that this will be done with non-state funds?”
Provost Covino: “The replacement of supplies at sometime in the future would incur some cost. I have asked for an inventory of what those costs are for business cards, stationery, etc., for Academic Affairs. I can’t assess what the impact might be over time to college and departments.”
Jacinta Amaral: “I have a question for Provost Covino. Is someone responsible for figuring out what labor costs would be in terms of changing all website drawings and illuminations?”
Provost Covino: “I don’t believe that’s been calculated. . . . No, to my mind, there’s been no sequestered calculation.”
David Kinnunen (Kinesiology / University-Wide): “I suggest this be referred to the Budget Committee rather than the floor of the Senate.”
Lynn Williams: “Is that a motion or a suggestion?”
David Kinnunen: “Yes, a motion.”
Lynn Williams: “Is there a second?”
Otto Schweizer: “Second.”
Chris Henson: “It seems to me we can vote on this without referring it to committee. It seems to me the Budget Committee has a huge amount on their plate right now, and this is not the kind of thing we need to send their way. This seems to me a very straight-forward motion. I people can continue to discuss it and ask questions, but then it seems to me we could probably vote on this and take care of one more item on the ever growing agenda.”
Dawn Lewis (Kinesiology): “If the resolution has an implication for budget, I think that it should be sent to the Budget Committee.”
Jacinta Amaral: “I’d like to recognize Vida Samiian.”
Dean Vida Samiian (Arts and Humanities): "I need to speak because the logo itself has not gone through the consultative process with the academic senate and faculty has been quite concerned.  The executive committee of the college of A&H conducted a survey and found that overwhelming majority of faculty and staff were dissatisfied or highly dissatisfied with the new logo." 
"We each have a preference on how the university should be symbolically represented in a logo -a single logo, which is to be used in all communications –print or on-line.  Most faculty prefer a logo that reflects the academic nature of the University. Some community members, students or alumni may prefer the designation Fresno State and a logo that reflects athletics, or a logo that identifies us with Fresno.
“Regardless of our individual preferences, the announcement of the new Fresno State Logo came as a surprise and a shock to many on our campus. But most importantly, it has caused deep concern to the faculty. Except for those who were on the 32-member “integrated marketing committee,” few had seen the logo or even knew that a logo was in the making. The committee has said that they conducted preliminary surveys and focus groups –involving 2,500 individuals.  Surveys and research prior to the development of a logo is not consultation. In the graphic design field this is classified as ‘design research’ and it is considered an essential component in the development of every design.
I have observed the expression of concerns and am alarmed by the lack of responsiveness from the IM committee. I urge the administration, and, President Welty, to pay close attention to the voices of the faculty and staff. Now that the logo has been launched, we need to hear and listen to the response of the faculty.
Within this context there are two points that must be raised:
(1) The role and importance of faculty not just as one of the ‘stakeholders’ but as the most important stakeholder and the essence of what the university is all about. The faculty is what makes the university what it is. Faculty develops the curriculum and offers the programs. Faculty defines the quality of our institution. We, as a university, are as good as our faculty.

(2) The necessity of faculty consultation, through appropriate consultative bodies, which is the Academic Senate, and the consultative bodies in each college or school. The participation of the Chair of the Senate and a faculty or two on the Special IM committee that developed the logo does not count as consultation. Neither do the preliminary surveys and focus groups.
It is for this very reason that the Academic Senate is of such importance to the success of the University. Shared governance allows the university to benefit from the collective wisdom of the faculty, a group of individuals with the highest expertise in their respective fields of study.
I am sure you have all seen the responses regarding the logo to the University designated site. The executive committee of the College of Arts and Humanities also did a survey of faculty and staff in the College once the logo was launched with two simple questions about level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction about the logo and the use of “Fresno Stat”. Overwhelmingly, responses were highly negative. Out of 102 respondents 76% were extremely unhappy or unhappy with the logo 12% indifferent and 12 % happy or extremely happy. Similar statistics emerge regarding the use of the name “Fresno State.”
So, as I applaud the time, energy, and courage of the faculty in expressing their concerns in and out of the Senate and their efforts to participate in shared governance, I urge the administration to listen to this voice, take to heart the concerns expressed by the faculty, welcome the collective wisdom of the faculty, and value shared governance. It is a grave mistake if we don’t."

Lynn Williams: “Just a quick reminder. We are discussing referring this to the budget committee. We have a 5:15 time certain? So we’re into overtime here.”

Michael Caldwell was recognized by one of the senators.

Michael Caldwell: “I heard you say that this campus is “surprised,” and I’d like to find out if we could identify any of the members of Arts & Humanities who [served on the effort to develop the logo]. Can anyone identify them?” [two names were developed, Joe Diaz being one, the other inaudible.]

Senator [cannot get name from recording]: “I find it ironic that if non-state funds were used to create the logo we now want to use state funds to analyze the logo. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the official name of the university is still California State University at Fresno. So my opinion is that this whole resolution is much ado about nothing.”

Jan Slagter: “The word is not completely in on how much this is going to cost, but this is really our only time to get to talk about this issue at all. I would just like to point out that nowhere in the new logo does it say university: kind of odd.”

Lynn Williams: “Sorry Jan. Let’s get back to refer it to Budget. Are we going to refer it to Budget or not? Or would you like to call it a day?”

At this point the Senate adjourned. 

I will be writing another entry soon about the logo issue and why the Senate should consider it without referring it to the University Budget Committee.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Victory in the Senate

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:

1. Elections.

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.

"All in, Mr. Bond"

Today, we can hope, the resolution on "Cohort Hiring"--really, a resolution on the source of funding for all tenure-track hiring--will come to a vote in the Academic Senate.

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."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hot in Clovis

Frank Sinata: The Summer Wind

Hiring: Cohorts and Funding

Once more unto the breach. Unless there is an hour of communications and announcements in the Senate on Monday--which is altogether possible--the motion to end hiring that is funded outside of Level B, including but not limited to cohort-hiring, will come to a vote.

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. 

Dean Samian addressed problems with the funding source as follows: The problem with the cohort hires, which was not evident initially, lies in the funding process associated with it. If cohort hiring requested voluntary participation from colleges and departments--with no additional financial incentive, there would be no problem. Obviously, departments would participate only if their critical hiring needs matched the proposed themes.

The centralized funding for the cohorts is the problem, because it has created a "carrot and stick" incentive, especially hard to refuse during a period of budgetary reduction. But more importantly, it changes the transparent decentralized level B allocation model that has operated effectively over the last 20 years. With the centralized funding for the cohort hires--and now for an additional 25 positions--we will see a shift from decentralized to centralized distribution that will come in a gradual and nontransparent way.

Within academic affairs, the decentralized Level B allocations use a formula that takes into account a number of factors, most importantly FTES targets and the mode and level of delivery of each college. Even though the formula is complex, the distribution is transparent because the University Budget Committee is involved in the development and revision of the formula.

Funding for centralized cohorts has to come out of Academic Affairs--off the top or off the side. The positions are distributed, through negotiations between the deans and the provost. And the factors determining the ultimate decision are not clear.

The long-term impact of such a practice is even more alarming because the funds that are used for the centrally funded hires are academic affairs funds, and as such, could 
and should be distributed according to level B allocations.

In a nutshell, Dean Samiian was saying this: the funding from Centrally Monitored Funds, and I'm assuming this applies as well to the line item in the budget that Provost Covino inherited from Jeri Echeverria, does not represent a permanent funding stream. It's only a starter. Therefore, at some point down the line--and when has not been made crystal clear--the funding will come from level B, i.e,, the schools and colleges. 

As is the case with thermodynamics, there is no free lunch. Eventually, and probably soon, Level B pays for the funding, so the extra money from the Provost isn't a 1/2 "free" hire per cohort position forever. There is no loaves and fishes miracle here. The hire reduces Level B funding in virtually the same way that any regular hire would. The difference is that departments have a lot less say in who they hire and the provost a lot more.

The funding problem applies to any hire, cohort or non-cohort, and that is why the motion before the senate applies to all hiring.

2. If the Provost wanted, he could release the extra money from Centrally Monitored Funds straight to the schools to increase their hiring funding. 

This, I suppose, is obvious. And I could imagine a provost soliciting proposals at the department level which might encourage interests already established (such as Sean Fullop's start-up program in cognitive science) or to encourage new interdisciplinary study. However, this would acknowledge the superior expertise of the faculty in their respective fields and empower them. This is obviously not on the agenda of the current administration. 

It is hard to lead people if you have no confidence in them. This is why we have management, not leadership.

3. Departments were never consulted on cohorts.

I mean this in two ways. First, they were never consulted about the general idea of cohorts. I rather doubt that the deans were. Much more likely was the directive, "Let there be cohorts," and LO, there were cohorts. I mean it in a second way as well: they were not generally consulted about cohort categories. For this I refer you to my blog on the Senate meeting of April 19. Readers of this blog may chime in, pro or con, in the comments below, and I hope they will.

4. For some departments, cohorts have worked, for others, they have not. 

Read the Senate testimony from Senators and chairs and take it all for true. All the more reason to let individual departments and schools initiate cohort hiring if they see the benefit and let departments who have other needs, fill them in the usual way. Nothing in this motion eliminates cohort hiring. It only eliminates cohort hiring and regular hiring through funding sources outside level B, i. e., we go back to the model in place when Jeri Echeverria was provost.  

5. The Provost's claim that we should not be following a mechanical model in funding hiring is unpersuasive.

At the Senate meeting of April 19, Provost Covino said:

I don’t think that it is necessarily the case that the size of a college should determine the dollars that are available for positions, because there is a great range of kinds of needs, of histories of positions, and filling of positions, or program demand and lack of demand, of student demand and lack of demand, of priorities of research and for teaching that need to be considered.

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

Tennessee Ernie Ford

Tennessee Ernie Ford: Sixteen Tons


Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919 - 1991)

Bombardier in the 20th Air Force, my dad's outfit, who flew B-29 missions over Japan. Amazing baritone. Alcoholic. Singer of hymns.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Huron County Extract's Cultural Survey of Fresno State

The Huron County Extract’s Cultural Survey of Fresno State

Since the recently distributed cultural survey, which faculty were asked to complete, did not seem to speak to our situation or even to address teachers at a university, the Huron County Extract offers for the use of the Fresno State community its own much shorter survey, more specifically adapted to the needs of our campus. Please answer the following questions by circling the number which comes closest to your response, 1 being the most positive and 5 the least:

1. When I learned that the administration had $1.8 million dollars to spend down before the end of the year:
1.     I felt happy. I’ve always wanted three staplers and an office full of typing paper.
2.     I felt sympathetic to the administrators who didn’t want to be stuck with another $65 million carry-forward next year; man, that’s just embarrassing.
3.     I wondered why most of it wasn’t spent earlier in the year to increase the number of class sections offered.
4.     I felt wrathful that most of it wasn’t spent earlier in the year to increase the number of class sections offered.
5.     It dawned on me that this opened possibilities for department chairs to make money at the Cherry Auction.

2. When I learned that the Budget Task had been asked to make recommendations without knowing about the $65 million dollar carry-forward from last year I felt
1.     That it wasn’t any of their business anyway; their charge was only to look at the Academic Affairs budget;
2.     Admiration for the finesse of the administration. If you want to get rid of two schools, you just can’t let information like that out.
3.     That there actually was a “smoking gun,” despite assurances to the contrary.
4.     Swindled. Lied to. Deceived. But I’ll recover.
5.     So swindled, lied to, and deceived, that I will never trust this administration again.

3. When I hear people use words and phrases like “faculty transformational scholarship and research,” “rhetoricality,” “digication,” and “demonstrating the transformational effect from experience in utilizing various pedagogies,”
1.     I just get, like, all hot and excited, and I want to  . . .
2.     I think of adding an Ed.D. to my Ph.D.
3.     I think about getting a coffee at Starbucks.
4.     I think about getting a double espresso at Starbucks.
5.     I want to beat them on the head with the Collected Works of George Orwell.

4. When I contemplate administrative salaries and raises within the CSU system over the last few years, I’d like to
1.     Give the chancellor and all the presidents, vice-presidents, associate vice-presidents 20% raises, so that they won’t be stolen away by private industry.
2.     Same as above, but I think 10% raises ought to do it.
3.     Get rid of them, but I’m afraid we might get worse.
4.     Get rid of them. I’ll take my chances.
5.     Pay General Motors to take them off our hands.

5. On the subject of cohort hiring:
1.     I think it’s really cool. Candidates out there long to be hired into cohorts, and if it weren’t for cohorts, we probably couldn’t hire anyone. The Provost is saving our school.
2.     OK, it’s going to be hard to fill our need for an interior designer in a Sierra Plant Ecology Cohort, but we think we can do it.
3.     I don’t care about cohorts. But if we use them, I think they should be determined at the school and department level, not by the provost
4.     Does anyone out there realize that salary money is eventually going to come out of Level B allocations, even if the provost provides some initial money from Centrally Monitored Funds?
5.     I think we should refuse every cohort hire offered. This is where the rubber meets the road in top-down management.

6. On the new logo:
1.     I don’t care if it is a cat print. That just demonstrates our commitment to diversity.
2.     I think that “Diversity. Distinction. Discovery” will last as long as Semper Fi, or the family crest of the Percy’s: Esperance!
3.     Looks like a hospital sign.
4.     It’s like renaming the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.
5.     It’s like renaming the Titanic after it hit the iceberg—and renaming it the Lusitania

Now, total your score. If you scored between

6 to 12, You are very happy at Fresno State, and probably in the Kremen School of Education;
13 to 24, You are not happy, but you’ve got many years to go at Fresno State, and you’re trying to hang in there;
25 to 30, You are counting the days until you can FERP or retire completely.

Declarative Consultation and the New Fresno State Logo

Craig Bernthal

I have yet to talk to a faculty member who likes Fresno State’s new logo, and although my methods of information gathering are probably more hit and miss than Cindy Matson’s, I do see a lot of email.  You can go to the logo link and get a sense from the comments that the bulldog paw--if bulldog it is--doesn’t do it for a lot of people. Many of the comments on this link appear to be from students:

Here’s a sample:

“As a student I’m outraged I wasn’t consulted—since “university” has been removed and I certainly would like people to know I attended a university—not just some place in Fresno. . . . are being asked to pay more (for a diploma that won't even say University) and so many academic programs are cut, yet we can pay 15,000 for some company to come help us "market" ourselves better. WE AREN'T A BRAND. We're a UNIVERSITY. Learning should be the primary objective, not this nonsense. Down with Welty and the other over-paid morons who continue to suck up money that should be for teachers.”

“It doesn’t ‘look professional’ because it lacks the word university.”

“God forbid they use the word UNIVERSITY or COLLEGE in the logo. I don't understand what about that concept John Welty fails to understand. It's been his personal goal since he's been at California State University, Fresno to OFFICIALLY change the name...something students AND faculty have REPEATEDLY voted down!. Fresno is NOT a state.” 
“Another logo for the Bulldog gangs to use.”
“This must be a joke. It looks pathetic. Are they still selling the old stationary? I need to stock up...”
“Wow that's bad. Fantastically poor font combination. Horribly unbalanced. Nothing is good about it.”
There is one comment on the site out of 15 that liked the logo, and at least two registered sympathy for the hard work of administrators.
And here is a very small sample from faculty email and conversations, which I am happy to add to if anyone cares to weigh in:

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.]
This logo is even more frustrating when one considers this:  The Chair of Art and Design was asked to not participate in the committee when he objected to the logo, and when he presented more than 100 ideas that the Art students designed --all far superior to the logo we now have.  

Puzzling for me is the statement that supposedly over 2,000 people were consulted on this change, yet nobody I've talked to knew about it until now. This has been in the works for 3 years and we find out now through the scratchers. I remember similar discussions over "unifying" the name and image in the 90s, but then there was lots of consultation and lots of discussion in the Academic Senate over the issue (which grew out of the concern that the full name of the university was not good for athletics). I must say I agree there were too many logos floating around; the seal, the centennial image, the bulldog and whatever else packed onto a page was too much. But why almost conceal the official name and expose one that doesn't place us geographically in a recognizable way (outside of the Valley and perhaps CA) nor identify us as part of a large university system? To me this indicates in yet another way minimizing the academic side of the university in favor of marketing logic that benefits only the non-academic side. And, again, how disappointing that the provost, the head of the academics, chaired this Integrated Marketing Steering Committee, again disregarding the academics. 
The second day I was on campus long ago an old grizzled professor, long since retired, told me this: "East of Cedar it is "California State University, Fresno", but west of Cedar it is "Fresno State Bulldogs", and those two institutions should have nothing to do with each other." The tail now definitely wags the dog....
Why don’t they just call the place Härvard? 
I would guess that if my email volume is any indicator, the administration is getting heaping portions of complaints.
I don’t think the logo looks good either, but my problem is that, if it isn’t an accurate representation of our university already, it may soon be. OK, the design is insipid, and with the paw print—good enough for a T-shirt or hat maybe—we’re advertising ourselves as Bulldog U. Discovery, Diversity, and Distinction are hollow enough buzzwords to fit any institution. We’ve got Diversity: well and good. But every state university in America bugles its Diversity, so it’s at odds with Distinction, and what does distinction mean anyway? Bonnie and Clyde were distinctive. And it’s hard to tell what Discovery means in an institution where MAs are replacing Ph.Ds, research money is drying up, and the RTP emphasis pushes new faculty harder and harder in the direction of “community service” and away from teaching and research. But, on to the broader issue.
Declarative Consultation
What was most interesting in this episode, at least for me, was how the administration handled “consultation,” not by doing it, but by declaring that it had been done. I think this deserves a new term in the lexicon of faculty management: declarative consultation. Just declare that consultation has taken place. Maybe, as an administrator, if you declare consultation, you can blow an unpopular policy by the faculty.  And it’s always fun to think of them hunting through desk drawers and old emails, in search of some sign that consultation really took place. You can picture them wandering the halls, muttering, “Consultation?  . . . consultation?” At the very least, you’ll confuse them—and it’s not such a bad idea to keep the faculty off balance. Besides, you won’t spend all that energy on jawboning. And there is always the chance that, if you do consult the faculty, they won’t want to go along with whatever scheme, program, or logo you deem best!
This was the genius behind the way the logo was handled. Back in the 90s, the faculty actually was consulted about changing the name of the ambiguous institution we work for, from California State University, Fresno, to Fresno State. I was in the senate at the time. The proposal didn’t fly. Senator after senator spoke against it: they all said that the word “university” had to be in the title. Well, once burned twice shy. Better to just change the logo and declare consultation!
So, on April 12, the day the logo was unveiled, we were informed in an email from Shirley Armbruster that the faculty had been consulted:
Our new Fresno State logo has been unveiled! You can see the logo and read about its development at

The logo is one part – and a very visible part – of the work over the past three years by the Integrated Marketing and Communications Council. This group involved research, surveys and discussions with 2,500 faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members about Fresno State's image, communications and visual identity.

The work also included research into best practices in university branding in the United States.
I have no desire to shoot the messenger, Shirley Armbruster, but I wish to call attention to two things. First, the timing. We are informed that consultation had taken place the day the logo is “unveiled”—wow. No time for the Senate to mount an opposition and say it had no part in the consultation. (And “unveiled”? Maybe for a statue of Mr. Lincoln or Jubilation T. Cornpone.)
Second, what is described in the email is not consultation: research, maybe, but not consultation. We have a consultative body. It is not a task force. It is not one or a number of “focus groups.” It is not a survey of alumni. That body where consultation takes place with the faculty is called THE FACULTY SENATE. We actually elect them to perform that function for us, and on the logo, the Senate was never consulted. If it had been, we wouldn’t have this logo.
Now what happens when you don’t consult and you institute or attempt to institute a policy that no one is behind? You get opposition and outrage. This whole year has been characterized by justified opposition and outrage: no consultation about school mergers and divisions until we get an announcement that it is virtually a done deal; no consultation about cohort hiring or changes in the allocation source for hiring; no consultation about the logo.
Back in January when I was asking questions at the faculty assembly about cohort hiring and trying (unsuccessfully) to get budget information, President Welty said, “Let’s not tear ourselves apart.” Do you want a method for tearing the university apart? Declarative consultation. That will do it.

[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 ]

Monday, April 16, 2012

Academic Senate Meeting of April 9, Part 2

Craig Bernthal

I have already set forth some of what happened at last senate meeting in my preceding blog, which is on this website immediately before this blog. Many important points were raised after Vida Samiian’s statement, including Provost Covino’s response, and I will try now to report more fully on the meeting as a whole. (I have done my level best to make this accurate, and have done a virtual transcript, from the Senate recording, of Provost Covino’s statement on hiring and some of the other comments by senators. Direct quotations use quotation marks, paraphrases do not. If those who spoke (or were present as auditors) spot an inaccuracy or want to make a fuller statement, I hope they will use the comment portion of this blog for correction and addition.)

The first half hour of the Senate Meeting was devoted to a communication about the Common Ground Initiative from Technology Services. This announcement, which was promised to be short, took up a surprising amount of time—over half an hour. The senate could have been referred to the important links and given the major points, in about five minutes. See these at:

After this communication, Jacinta Amaral moved to extend the meeting to 5:30, which seemed to be the only way anything would be accomplished, and this was passed. Chair Michael Caldwell noted that this would make him late for a subsequent meeting and that he would have to turn the meeting over to the Vice-Chair. As it transpired, however, he did chair the entire meeting. (When this motion came up for a vote, one senator spoke in opposition, but the motion to go 15 minutes longer was passed.)

Jacinta Amaral then introduced a resolution asking the president to revisit the motion of “rebranding” Fresno State. This motion was added to the agenda, but time ran out before it could be discussed. (How the senate will approach this motion at the coming meeting, now that the new logo has been given to the public, is an interesting question.)

The reassignment of the department of Economics from Social Science to the Craig School of Business was discussed. This item did not have to be approved by the senate; but, it was presented, by Sean Alley, and discussed. Econ’s move to the Craig School of Business was unanimously supported by the Economics faculty after “a lot of soul searching.” One of the motivations was that recruiting and retaining faculty had been very hard, and the economics faculty felt the move would help to address that problem.

Two comments were made, one by Jan Slagter, who suggested that aligning Economics with business would shift the focus of the department, so that it became more oriented to business and less to models more broadly associated with social science. [I am paraphrasing rather freely here, but I think I have Jan’s point correctly, and I agree with it. Once again, this is a move toward an applied disciplinary model, rather than one which seeks understanding for its own sake, regardless of any particular application. This is one more example of the direction of Fresno State.]

Sean Fullop (Linguistics) congratulated the department of Economics on its move to a school in which it would have more resources and probably higher pay, but noted it was unfortunate that most departments on campus did not have that option. “It concerns me that a department has an opportunity to make this maneuver to better itself, but not all departments can do that. The rest of us have to waive a sign in front of the Long Beach headquarters if we want things to change. That doesn’t work too well, we’ve found.”

At this point, the senate returned to discussion of the cohort hiring issue. It began with Vida Samiian’s statement, which I include once again, so that you don’t have to bounce between blogs if you want to refer to it:

Dean Vida Samiian (Arts and Humanities): Since my name was mentioned at the last Senate meeting as a dean who supported the Cohort Hires, I need to clarify my position on the issue: First, I would not adopt centrally funded cohort hiring if I had a choice. Of course, I did cooperate with the initiative initially and continue to participate because of the budget implications for the College.

Also, I want to say that the two most important pillars that hold the academy--our university--as a center of learning and discovery of knowledge--are (1) academic freedom and (2) shared governance. What I see here [gesturing to the Senate] is an example of shared governance. As a dean, I thank you for your commitment and am honored to address the faculty Senate.

The problem with the cohort hires, which was not evident initially, lies in the funding process associated with it. If cohort hiring requested voluntary participation from colleges and departments--with no additional financial incentive, there would be no problem. Obviously, departments would participate only if their critical hiring needs matched the proposed themes.

The centralized funding for the cohorts is the problem, because it has created a "carrot and stick" incentive, especially hard to refuse during a period of budgetary reduction. But more importantly, it changes the transparent decentralized level B allocation model that has operated effectively over the last 20 years. With the centralized funding for the cohort hires--and now for an additional 25 positions--we will see a shift from decentralized to centralized distribution that will come in a gradual and nontransparent way.

Within academic affairs, the decentralized Level B allocations use a formula that takes into account a number of factors, most importantly FTES targets and the mode and level of delivery of each college. Even though the formula is complex, the distribution is transparent because the University Budget Committee is involved in the development and revision of the formula.

Funding for centralized cohorts has to come out of Academic Affairs--off the top or off the side. The positions are distributed, through negotiations between the deans and the provost. And the factors determining the ultimate decision are not clear.

The long-term impact of such a practice is even more alarming because the funds that are used for the centrally funded hires are academic affairs funds, and as such, could 
and should be distributed according to level B allocations.

The long-term impact is also alarming because the commitment to funding these positions is not just for one year but on-going. So each year, new cohorts get added to existing ones and therefore the portion of funding that needs to be kept centrally i.e., not distributed through the formula--will have to be increased? 

The escalating impact over the next couple of years is serious:

After fourteen searches in 2010-2011, eleven new centrally funded hires came on board in 2011-12, for three cohort themes. Seven searches are currently underway--five for a water cohort and two for previous cohorts.

That creates a total of eighteen cohort positions to be funded "centrally" in 2012-2013, along with a proposed "Multiculturalism" cohort and searches for twenty-five more centrally funded positions.

In 2013-2014 we will be up to forty-three centrally funded-positions [11 + 7 + 25] at an estimated cost of $2,000,000 kept centrally in Academic Affairs for these positions. 

A compelling reason to overturn a long-standing, effective Level B funding distribution process has not been made. Funding for these centralized positions is not part of the Academic Affairs allocation and it would be more transparent if they were distributed according to formula to schools and colleges. This would allow each college to consider priorities based on departmental critical hiring needs and not based on thematic concepts proposed centrally.

To summarize, I see that the cohort hiring process and the centrally-funded positions lead to an undesirable trend against transparency and against the decentralized budget allocation with the outcome of taking decision-making away from the collective wisdom of faculty and departments.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts with you on this important matter.

The Cohort Hiring motion was then amended by Honora Chapman and Kevin Ayotte as indicated in the previous blog about this meeting. What followed during the rest of the meeting was essentially a response to Dean Samiian's statement. 

That response began as follows:

Linda Hauser (Educational Research and Administration): Our school does support the cohort hiring model, because it aligns with the university strategic plan, specifically in the area of transformational scholarship. Under our strategic plan we’ve stated that we are committed to transformational scholarship that addresses regional issues specifically targeting investment that emphasizes interdisciplinary research, and we see this as a method that helps us do that. Also our strategic plan includes the capacity to build partnerships in areas of emerging and vital importance which includes water, resources management, atmospheric pollution, and health disparity.  It increases faculty collaborative research options across disciplines, and we see that’s one method that assists us in doing it. We’ve found it to be a valuable process for us thus far. (Dr. Hauser also reiterated what Dean Paul Beare had said at a previous meeting, about how cohort hiring had attracted faculty to the school of education.

Dean Bob Harper (Craig School of Business): We’ve had positive experience with the cohort hire. We hired two people in cohort positions, and part of the attraction for them was the opportunity to work in cohorts. (Dean Harper also indicated that The Task Force charge was to suggest cuts within academic affairs rather than just at the school / college level or below, so he felt that the “whereas” in the motion was inaccurate. For instance, centers and institutes are not all within colleges or schools, but they were considered by the Task Force.

Kevin Ayotte (Communication): In reply mainly to Linda Hauser explained that the resolution was not against cohort hiring but against the circumvention of the Level B allocation model for hiring. Cohorts could still be hired, but within the Level B funding model, which assured a more equitable division of hiring among the schools and colleges.

Chair Michael Caldwell noted that one of the resolves eliminated cohort hiring from the provost’s office, and he did not see how that was consistent with what Kevin Ayotte had said about the motion not being against cohort hiring. [I do not think there is an inconsistency. The key phrase is “from the provost’s office.” Cohort hiring could continue, by arrangement among the schools, but according to the Level B funding allocation.]

Sean Fullop (Linguistics): The thing that concerns me about the cohort hiring as it is currently being done is that I’m not sure who dreamed up the cohorts. So that, normally, faculty in departments decide what they want to emphasize and who they want to hire, so there is a collective consciousness from the people who already work here as to the direction they want to move toward. Here, cohorts came from . . . I don’t actually know where. And as they were suggested, they seem to have ignored some of the already existing interdisciplinary initiatives on the campus, so there are existing interdisciplinary programs that are dying, that are not provided with a cohort which could have saved them, such as cognitive science, which I direct, and which I am now winding down and discontinuing. But, just as the program was getting legs, we have to wind it down. Its just an example where the program already existed, but whoever dreamt up the cohorts did not have it on their radar. Maybe we should start with the programs we already have.

Chairman Michael Caldwell: "I haven't watched Jeopardy since 1995, but it sounded like there was a question in your comments, so if you'd like to have that question addressed, we could see if there's anybody present today who could answer how the cohort were 'dreamt up.' . . . anyone who would like to speak to that? Who was involved with shaping or determining cohorts?"

Provost Covino: "I had some role in that, as I said at the last senate meeting, but I’m happy to reiterate it. I discussed the idea of interdisciplinary cohorts faculty with all the school and college deans. I indicated to them at the time that there was funding that was sitting in the Academic Affairs budget when I came here in a line item that said “Faculty Appointments.” And I felt that that provided a very good opportunity for us to discuss what their needs were and what additional dollars could be devoted to them. So I asked the school and college deans to first of all determine what kind of faculty positions—I presume they do this in consultation with the faculty and the chairs, although I’m not in that process—that they determine what kinds of faculty positions are most needed in their departments and programs, and then secondarily ask themselves whether there were any overarching qualities that would allow us to crosscut some of these positions so that they formed a cohort that focused on a certain task. And I asked the deans to come back to me with these categories.

            “At the meeting at which they returned with information about the categories and the positions, they proposed three categories at that time: Globalization and World Cultures, which Dean Samiian is strongly coordinating and mentoring; Urban and Regional Transformation, which Dean Gonzalez and Dean Harper are coordinating; and Physical, Environmental, and Psychological Health, which Dean Hoff and Dr. Casandra Joubert are coordinating.

            “This past year, as we were developing the strategic plan, former Dean Andrew Rogerson proposed to the deans in general that Water needed to be a priority for this university for a number of reasons, some of which are apparent. And he asked the deans to consult with their faculty to determine whether there were positions that would be useful in forming an interdisciplinary cohort focusing on water quality, water technology, water access, etcetera. The deans then returned to me with an idea for a Water cohort, and we have five searches going on in that area this year, with three authorized for next year. We have also received a $300,000 gift from [hard to discern: Columba Valve?] for the Global Water Cohort. That is the way the cohort categories have evolved.

            “I can’t tell you what kind of consultation went on at the school and college level. I simply asked the deans to come back.

“And this year I once again pointed at some dollars that were made available not as part of [inaudible] growth allocation process, but as part of a process of rebating some benefits dollars that are coming back to all the divisions. When I saw that rebate, I discussed this in some detail with the University Budget Committee. When I saw that rebate I decided that should be allocated out to the schools and colleges as faculty positions. I went back to the deans. I said to them, look, I know things are tight, I know that you have some dollars you want to devote to replacement positions, but if we use these dollars, and we share them, if I provide part of the dollars for positions and you provide some dollars for that position, we can get more positions. We can multiply faculty positions and we can therefore hire more faculty. I asked them then to consider whether they would like any of these positions, of this search next year, to be faculty cohorts, and said I would encourage each college to come up with one, and whether they would like any of these positions to be shared positions, in which I would help with the funding. They have since returned with requests for 50 positions; half of the positions will be funded by schools and colleges and are essentially replacement positions; the other half, about 25, are being proposed as shared funding positions, in which I provide half and they provide half, in which case we get 25 positions out of that instead of 10 or 12. And some of those are cohort positions and some of them are not cohort positions. They are simply positions that deans have come to me about and said ‘I’d like some help with this one,’ and since I have these dollars to help, which I would not normally have, because normally the dollars are all just allocated out by formula, I’m certainly willing to consider that. So, that gives you more than what you asked for, I realize that, and I apologize if I’m speaking too long, but we can always move to have the meeting go to 5:45 [laugher].

“That said, I do want to also comment, I have to read Dean Samiian’s words in order to respond more fully. I think there are some matters there that I don’t agree with, that I don’t think for a microsecond are accurate, but if it is necessary to respond, then I will, but apart from that, I do want to note that I don’t think, from the position of provost, and having the sole responsibility for the appointment, hiring, and determination of tenure-track faculty positions, as indicated in university policy, I don’t from this position think that we should routinely allocate faculty positions according to formula. I don’t think that it is necessarily the case that the size of a college should determine the dollars that are available for positions, because there is a great range of kinds of needs, of histories of positions, and filling of positions, or program demand and lack of demand, of student demand and lack of demand, of priorities of research and for teaching that need to be considered.

“So, as I rehearse for you what the process is, I will tell you that routinely, cohort or no cohort, the process is this: the deans consult with the faculty and chairs, the deans then prioritize the positions. So the deans will routinely get a dozen requests and say, well, you know, maybe we can do eight. They prioritize the positions. They come to me. We have another negotiation about positions. I ask a lot of questions. We talk about where this would fit into the mission of the college relative to the university, etcetera, and then I’m left with the responsibility for determining which positions will be offered. This has been the process that has been followed for years with prior provosts. I confirmed this with Provost Echeverria, who happened to be here, and others. And that is the process followed by every other university I’ve worked in. So faculty are crucial, they’re important, they require consultation and input from the faculty and the departments, and they should not be automatic or formulaic.”

Tom Holyoke (Political Science): I just wanted to mention a few things about how cohort hiring worked for us in the College of Social Sciences because for us it broke down at the internal level. There was no consultation that really took place. Our department needed an IR professor [International Relations], which we’ve been needing for years. We were told that because everything was being done as cohort hires now, that we could only have this if we could share it with another department. We weren’t very happy with that idea, but . . .  OK. Then out of the blue we were told , Oh, you’re going to be doing a second joint hire with a different department that will fit into one of the provost’s cohorts, and we weren’t’ quite sure why we wanted this or what we were going to do with this person, but we were told we were going to have to share this person with another department and we’d have to figure something out. So we spent two disastrous months trying to write job descriptions. In the end, we couldn’t get candidates that we wanted. In the end, the Political Science Dept. backed out of all hires.
Now, people were hired. We had two departments that were able to hire, and they hired good people, but the people who came into our pool just did not fit our needs. Now, this was not the provost’s fault, but cohort hiring, within the internal complications of the College of Social Sciences, did not work.

Member of the Physics Department [Sorry, sir, I cannot discern your name. Doug Singleton?]: We were never actually consulted by the dean as to cohort hires. They actually came to us and said, these are the cohort hires. So [to Provost Covino] you might want to check with the deans and see if they are actually consulting with us, because they’re not [laughter].

Dean Vida Samiian: “I’m one of the deans [laughter] that ‘dreamed up’ this Cohort of Global Studies and World Culture. The issue is that we have 10, 15 critical positions. So as a dean, I had to think, what cohort could maybe cover—could become an umbrella—for a couple of these positions. And of course it was a difficult task to convince the department chairs to use it, because they were saying it would limit the pool of applicants. So, for example, this year, right now, a couple of the deans have proposed a Multiculturalism Cohort. Now, I need to see if of the 12 positions that have been requested any one of them can fit—can stretch—to fit under this cohort. I mean, sometimes you can stretch it, but the issue is . . . Provost Covino is correct, [in previous years] there always was consultation with the provost. . . but the funding was at the college level. So the deans did not have to manipulate and maneuver to fit the positions under some cohort, but could prioritize their requests within the college, and of course then had to consult with the provost and show that there is funding within the college and there is demand, programmatic demand, programmatic demand has priority.
“So this is the problem I see with the centralization of hiring that I was trying to explain. Because I think that over the years, if we continue this, and continue to use centralized funds for faculty salary, we’re going to have to change the allocation to some extent.”

Melanie Ram (Political Science): Before we can determine the value of a cohort, we need an inventory of faculty who are already interested in the cohort. We may not be bringing in people who are more interested in the cohort subject than any number of people who are already on campus. For instance, I don’t remember an inventory being taken on campus of people who are interested in Globalization. We already have a lot of people who are already experts on these issues, so we may be duplicating faculty resources that we already have. We can’t know the specific added value of a cohort until we figure out how many people we already have in any area and what we need in addition to that.

Alex Alexandrou (Plant Science): I agree with my colleague [Melanie Ram]. We need a system where we can record the academic interests of the current faculty members. We don’t know what we’re doing. We need to move to identify the talent we have.

Jacinta Amaral (Modern and Classical Languages): “I’m very concerned about this issue, because in 1997, the current Chancellor, Charles Reid, and the previous Chancellor, Barry Munitz, worked together to prepare a paper that was funded by the Rand Corporation, and the title is Breaking the Social Contract. At this point you can get it on Amazon for $5. The paper addressed the crisis of higher education in the United States and the fiscal crisis in California. They make their case for the fiscal crisis, and then, what can be done on the academic side of the house. Their ultimate conclusion in regard to the major problem in getting universities to survive, fiscally and every other way, had to do with the department structure. There are statements in the report that simply say, faculty don’t know who needs to be hired. That was 1997, and I see in my work in the senate, over time, the gradual erosion of shared governance and also our academic freedom through defining what persons need to be hired, and Dr. Chapman is acquainted with my favorite example in the report, that is, who is to say that any classicist knows who should be hired? Should another Latin teacher be hired? So as you think about this issue, keep in mind that our current chancellor, our former chancellor, have been working on how not to have faculty involved in hiring.”

Don Austin (Industrial Technology): “I always fall back to the very basic question, what is trying to be accomplished by cohort hiring? Are we as a university wanting to tackle major issues of transformation of urban areas and of this valley, which is a huge thing to be fixed. We’ve got problems here and the university could accomplish. Is it going to be done through hiring cohort faculty to do that? The water issues, the multicultural issues—is that the goal of this, or is it a goal of maybe splitting up certain situations? It doesn’t work to have people split: part-time over here, part-time over there, it doesn’t work. And so, when I hear this cohort person is going to be part-time at this department and part-time at that department, bells go off. But if it is simply taken people and put them within those departments where they are going to have responsibility within that department for meeting the needs of the students, what is the difference between hiring through cohorts and hiring through the normal method. So I guess I’m just uninformed as to what the purpose of cohort hiring is.”

Kevin Ayotte: “This particular set of resolutions is actually relatively straightforward. There’s no difference in terms of the amount of money that would be available for faculty hiring either through the cohort process or if this resolution were adopted. This resolution would simply distribute the money directly to the colleges or schools, who would fund the hire exclusively, rather than having to go through the cohort process, and say, ‘Well, maybe we can get some of that money back that would otherwise have if it had been distributed to us, if we would go along with this particular cohort. This allows the positiona created by all the individual schools and colleges, and then, if there were some other mechanism, that the university wanted to create to provide incentives for cohorts to tackle some of those regional problems, then that additional money could come from somewhere else, but there is no difference in the money. Now, you have money held at the provost’s office rather than being distributed to the colleges and schools. It’s the same net amount of money either way.  But this resolution would call for colleges and schools to have the same control over hiring that they’ve always had. The provost has the same authority to approve and disapprove searches that he always had under this resolution.”  

At this point, the meeting adjourned. I’ll have a few things to say about the hiring motion in another blog.