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.”

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Debate in Academic Senate on Rebranding, May 5, 2012

Here is the “virtual” transcript of that portion of the Senate meeting on May 5, 2012, having to do with rebranding at Fresno State. A very short account of what happened after that resolution was discussed is also included. Once again, I’ve tried to make this account as accurate as possible, and recognizing that few of us speak in perfectly formed sentences, I have done a little grammatical clean-up, when possible.

I want to start by mentioning an announcement by John Constable that was helpful to the Senate. He simply informed the body, in bullet-point style, what the University Budget Committee was discussing. (It seems very clear that this practice ought to become habitual for all the major committees; the Senate needs to stay in close touch with what is happening at the committee level.)

Constable said that the UBC was considering the resolution from English requesting external auditors (“I believe that the appropriate euphemism for that particular resolution was that it had generated lively discussion within the committee”); the committee was trying to gain understanding of the benefits pool, and how that works into the university budget; it was also working on the non-reimbursed assigned time issue (2,000 units per year); most importantly, the UBC was working on a new budget model.

Chris Henson (English) recognized Magda Gilewicz (English), who read a communication from the College of Arts and Humanities Executive Committee: this communication related part of an exchange between the CAH committee and President Welty regarding the survey on faculty satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the new logo: “The College of Arts and Humanities Executive Committee respectfully requests that faculty be allowed to continue to use the [university] seal for professional purposes, and second, the College of Arts and Humanities Executive Committee also requests that the Academic Senate be duly consulted on issues of branding and other future policy initiatives.”

Jacinta Amaral reported from the Statewide Academic Senate that the CSU system was predicted to lose about $800 million in funding for next year.

At this point, the Senate got to the branding resolution, and a previous resolution to refer it to the UBC was voted down, with only one opposing vote. The following resolution was then substituted, as explained in the previous blog entry about this meeting. I set it forth again:

Substitute Resolution on Branding 5/7/2012

WHEREAS, the name and logo of a university represent that institution and are of great consequence, pride, and importance to the students, graduates, administrators, faculty, and donors; and

WHEREAS, the university name, the university logo, and the university seal belong to the entire university community and not exclusively to the President; and

WHEREAS, the report on governance, collegiality, and responsibility adopted by the Board of Trustees of the California State University in 1985 states in part that, "Collegiality consists of a shared decision-making process and a set of values which regard the members of the various university constituencies as essential to the success of the academic enterprise;" and

WHEREAS, the Academic Senate of California State University, Fresno, comprised of senators representing every department, is the principal representative of the faculty; and

WHEREAS, the Academic Senate of California State University, Fresno was not consulted in regard to the name and logo change of the university;

THEREFORE, be it resolved, that the Academic Senate of California State University, Fresno urge the President--the spirit of shared governance as underscored by the Board of Trustees' 1985 statement--to refrain from promoting the new logo and name until the issues voiced by the Academic Senate, students, graduates, and faculty are resolved.

After Jacinta Amaral read the resolution discussion began. Some of this may be hard to follow, unless you’ve actually seen what the faculty will be using for stationery, so I recommend checking it on the official site:

Alex Alexandrou (Plant Science): “Perhaps the administration can inform us why they did not consult with the senate.”

President John Welty: “The process that was followed with regard to developing the brand for the university essentially was one in which all constituencies were broadly involved, students, faculty, alumni, community, administration. It was a process followed over a period roughly of two years. Which is detailed on the website we have available for questions about that, but that essentially led, with the assistance of an advertising agency that provided pro bono work, that led to the brand that is being used for the university. The chair of academic senate was on that Integrated Marketing Communications group. There was also in terms of the others involved, including the chair of Mass Comm. and Journalism, utilizing her expertise and a number of other folks. And that’s the process that was followed essentially in the group that then led to the recommendation for the brand. Does that answer your question?”

Meta Schettler (Africana Studies): Why have we changed the policy on the university seal? “I just don’t understand the motive behind it. . . Maybe the President can explain why we’ve knocked the seal off everything, and it’s only something that is supposed to be used by the President’s office.”

Tamyra Pierce (Mass Communications and Journalism): “The seal is in a watermark on all of the letterhead; after two years of research and examining all of the different 100-plus logos that we’ve used on campus, we decided to centralize that and be consistent with one brand. And so in the consistency before, the seal was used for this and that, and wasn’t consistently used in one specific way. And so, in taking that, and that the gold medallion is only for medals; the seal is only for academic functions, such as graduation ceremonies and the Office of the President; so that it does have that official message when it goes out.
            “We listened to you and many others who were concerned about the academic seal, and so that’s why we went back and put it in as a watermark, so that it is on there, just like ‘California State University, Fresno’ is at the bottom of the letterhead. The names have not changed: California State University, Fresno is our formal name; ‘Fresno State’ is one that, you know, everyone seems to go by. So that’s what the surveys [showed]. I hope that answers your question.”

Schettler: “A little bit. I wonder—you say you’ve heard the faculty’s concerns—but most of our business cards have the seal. The seal stays the same. I mean 100 different logos is one issue but the seal is the seal, and it conveys a much different message, an academic message, as opposed to a kind of commercial logo, that seems to be the purpose of the new logo.
            “So I just wonder if there’s some area of compromise or middle ground where the formal motion from Arts and Humanities can be accommodated, because I’m a social scientist and I have the exact same questions and concerns.” [Note: the new business cards have the new logo, which is the issue Meta Schettler is addressing.]

Pierce: “Well, and that’s why we’ve centralized the seal for those academic purposes that are official purposes . . .

Schettler: “But our business cards are. . .”

Pierce: “Well, speaking for myself rather than the whole committee, the new logo is our identity. It came out of the focus groups and surveys reflecting Fresno State’s identity. So when you’re using a business card or any other communicating resource that goes out to the public, it is transmitting that identity of our university. And that’s one of the first items that people see, is the business card, and so again in that consistency of our identity, that’s why it is on the business cards, and that’s why for official purposes, sending out a letter to prospective students or whatever, we put that watermark (the seal) on the letterhead.”

Honora Chapman (MCLL): “I’d like to speak about that watermark and the seal in general. That watermark—I have bad eyesight—I can’t see that watermark if there’s typing over it. And the moment you start printing words on top of the watermark, it’s invisible to the normal eye. Furthermore, I did go to the focus group that was called last spring, because I’m very concerned about the image of the university, given that I run the Honors College, and at that time there was no mention of the logo changing to having a paw in it. I was there when the consultant was there. She talked about our students as customers. I objected to that. We had a lively conversation, and I did indicate at that time that the name “California State University, Fresno” is very effective when we go out nationally and internationally.
             “What I would like to see, like Meta said, is some kind of compromise, so that we can use the stationery that now exists, the new one that says ‘Fresno State,’ for more local purposes, for the purpose of reaching out to alumni who know that they went to Fresno State—they didn’t go to CSU Fresno, they went to Fresno State—so for communicating to alumni, for current students, to organizations that are more local, that’s great. But if we need to communicate with out colleagues on the east coast, we really need more official looking stationery that does not resonate with a mascot. We need stationery that is more academic because we’re speaking to people who are relatively stodgy, they’re not Californian. They may dismiss our students if we are writing on this more informal stationery. I get in trouble just being Californian, going to meetings.
“Frankly, the truth is, we need to look official so that our students have the best chance when they are applying to graduate school. I really don’t want to have to resort to hoarding old stationery and secretly sending it out. I’d like to be on the up-and-up, and I’d like to see some kind of compromise, so we can use stationery in a sensible way based on the audience to whom we’re communicating.”

Tamyra Pierce: “I understand your concerns and we are talking about that at the Integrated Marketing and Communications Council, about international, and we are addressing that.  As far as the watermark that is on the electronic version right now, it is for electronic only, and not for printing, for the consistency of all different printers and [inaudible] . . .  we are working with the print shops on the watermark and visibility, and we are addressing those concerns. As far as the international . . . we understand that the translation of Fresno State sometimes doesn’t translate right. We are talking about that also in committee, and trying to address all of these concerns. [At this point, Tamyra Pierce noted she had brought up the mascot issue at committee meetings and illustrated by making a University of Texas Longhorns sign with her hand—which many people in the Senate recognized when she asked, “Anyone know what this is?”] “What’s the reputation of the university of Texas?”

Honor Chapman, among others: “It’s a great school.”

Tamyra Pierce: “You can see the Longhorn symbol, and it doesn’t say ‘The University of Texas.’ I know that’s a reputable school, and that’s the same thing for Fresno State. We make what the brand reflects, all of us, by building up this university and making it even better than it already is. We make the brand, the brand doesn’t make us.”

Maria Aparecida de S. Lopes (Chicano and Latin American Studies): “I did my Ph.D. in Mexico, and I can assure you that in Latin America people do not connect a university with a dog. [Laughter] For an individual coming from Brazil, this connection is not there.”

Lori Clune (History): “I can tell you that the department is hoarding already. Sorry. Because I can’t send that to Oxford University Press. I just can’t. And I’m not going to lose a book contract because I look like I teach in an elementary school. So if we could please use the seal so we can look like a legitimate university, which I believe we are.”

Jacinta Amaral recognized David Engle (MCLL).

David Engle: “This is an old issue. We should perhaps move back from whether the logo is pleasing to us or what is says. This substantive resolution talks to a matter of collegiality and consultation. This is an old issue. This issue was brought up ten, fifteen years ago in the Senate, and the university community debated at length. There were focus groups, and then after a long consultation and debate there was a compromise made that the academic side would call itself ‘California State University at Fresno’ and for purposes of logo marketing, the name ‘Fresno State’ would work just fine, and it seemed everyone was happy.
            “People do have different names. Sometimes you’re Bill, sometimes your Dr. Covino. Sometimes I’m Dave, sometimes I’m Dr. Engle. We understand this.
            “We should have a name, but we have to consult on that name, and the Academic Senate is the official place where the faculty should be consulted. It may have been done in focus groups, but it did not come to the place it needed to. It didn’t come here, to the Academic Senate. So rather than consulting about the logo, the logo has been an imposition. And it feels like an imposition, because there was previously consultation, but this was a surprise, and surprise is pointedly, not consultation. It’s hardly an exercise in collegiality, either to students, staff, or faculty.
            “Branding, it seems to me, was undoubtedly due to marketing sense. But for many of us it comes across as being branded. And now an identity is being imposed, branded, upon me, and the people I’ve talked to, staff, faculty, students, are feeling branded, and the morale of this place has tanked.
“It’s time to restore morale, it’s time to restore collegiality, and to restore consultation. By supporting this motion, the Academic Senate is asserting that the faculty does exist. We do have an importance in this place. And we insist on being consulted in general and on such basic issues as what we call ourselves. By supporting this resolution, the Academic Senate reasserts that the faculty of this university are not merely employees—we are stakeholders. We should be in control of the curriculum and what this place is about as an educational institution. This resolution is an effort to truly reinstate the word and the meaning of the university back into our name, back into California State University, Fresno.”

Otto Schweizer (Criminology): “I think that everything that can be said has been said, so let’s vote on the resolution.”

At this point, Chris Henson recognized Joshua Stein, a student in philosophy:

Joshua Stein: “I’m one of the few students in the room, so I figured I’d say something. The first concern, I think, that needs to be raised is the one so eloquently raised by Nora, which is that I have thirty or so letters of recommendation sent out to graduate schools, many of which are on the east coast and many places where such a logo would be treated with great disrespect, and I find that deeply troubling.
“The second concern is that the policy described for instituting the new logo seems to be one concerned with marketing, which seems to generate an image of the university which I find deeply troubling as a student. I didn’t come to Fresno State because I was marketed. I came to Fresno State because I wanted to go to a university. That seems to me to be an identity that the university needs to recommend very strongly. The idea that admissions include a component of marketing is something that I find deeply absurd and troubling. With that I think the approach of consultation is something that needs to be considered, because it is the difference between marketing group policies, focus group policies, and a policy of consultation wherein a group identity is determined by the members of the group who are stakeholders. . . .Thank you.”

Otto Schweizer: “Call the question.”

Chair Lynn Williams: “Is there any opposition to debate?”

Otto Schweizer: “Call the question”

[At this point, on the recording, I do hear a second, but I’m not sure that this speaker was heard by the Chair. At any rate, speakers continued as follows.]

Imelda Busurto (Literacy and Early Education): “I had my hand up . . . and I guess, my question is, the type of community members that were selected to be on this forum, they represented the community, like for example the police chief? The reason I asked that is because those of us that are involved in after school programs? We see a lot of misuse of the bulldog print. And I just want to remind everybody, two years ago, the father who took his two-year old son to get tattooed, what did he tattoo him with? A paw.
            “And so for me the idea of the gang message, was that considered in the forum? And the other idea is that I always thought there was a separation between Fresno State and ourselves as a profession. Fresno State is always connected with Athletics, which I am in favor of, but academically, when I go to professional conferences, I’m always saying, ‘I’m from California State University, Fresno.’ When people see the word, ‘university,’ they go ahh!, but when they see ‘Fresno State’ they say, ‘How’s the football team?’”

Chair Lynn Williams: “The resolution is about consultation, so we do need to narrow our focus.”

Melanie Ram: “Back to the question of consultation, I just wanted to ask [about the 2500 people consulted] . . . I just to ask if that is the number of people who attended a meeting, perhaps, because I attended an Integrated Marketing meeting, but no mention of a new logo or anything was presented. Does anyone know how many students and how many faculty actually expressed support for the specific change in name and the specific change in logo? Dr. Welty or someone at this meeting?”

Tamyra Pierce: “I don’t have that off the top of my head. I can tell you that it was like 2700 were involved in the three years of the survey, possibly 190 that were involved in the focus groups.”

Melanie Ram: “Did those surveys of focus groups ask them, do you support this specific logo that we adopted or this specific change in name . . .”

Tamyra Pierce: “So, the last one, I want to say there was approximately 300 that we did. There was approximately 70 faculty members that said this represented the identity of Fresno State, Bulldogs.”

Melanie Ram: “How were those groups of faculty chosen?”

Tamyra Pierce: “It was sent out through email, all over campus, and there was faculty, students, staff—the majority staff . . .”

Meta Schettler: “In addition to consultation I’d like to return to the idea of identity, because although the new logo includes “Diversity, Distinction, Discovery,” I love that “Diversity” is in the logo, but there seems to be a contradiction in affirming one identity with the little label of "Diversity," and then putting this kind of control—everybody has to have the same identity—spin on it. So that’s what I would say in going back to the seal, that the faculty perceives the seal—and I know the committee has heard this before—most faculty perceive the seal to have a deeper history and a deeper identity of our academic life, or our academic community.
            “The new logo is very new. It has a very new identity, and it is something that is brand new, and so having a balance, going back to my earlier comment on middle-ground, is that, to really have shared governance and consultation, we would affirm diversity if we didn’t put this controlling spin on the use of the university seal.”

Student, Samuel Munson, was recognized by Diane Blair (Communication).

Samuel Munson: “I’m here today because there’s not a single representative from the student government here. I’m here today with one other student, and we’re standing here because we are concerned with the academic convention that the university is putting out, and I’m a concerned member of an academic community. The academic community has represented me in the conference I recently went to at WPSA, Western Political Science Association, in which I used the university seal to my benefit, and the label ‘California State University at Fresno’ to my advantage in having conversations with colleagues. My concern is that a level of professionalism and cordial address that is associated with California State University as a system and as a prefix to our Fresno State title is important to retain, and is an important marker of who we are as a university and what our community really represents. . . . Consultation is incredibly important, and I don’t feel that I as a student, or maybe even as a customer, was consulted when this decision was put before various bodies. Dr. Chapman made an excellent point. Sending out stationery with a paw on it is not speaking professionally about our university. There needs to be a stand against that, and there needs to be more consultation and more transparency. Thank you.”

After brief additions by two other senators, Alex Alexandrou and Jan Slagter, the question was called and the resolution passed with only one dissenting vote.

I will not go into detail on what happened during the last half-hour of the Senate meeting, but simply provide a heads up on one issue that was discussed and then tabled so that other agenda items could be reached. This involved Senate approval of amending APM 327. The critical language is as follows:

Full Professors play a critical role in determining the University’s intellectual quality. Therefore, it is incumbent upon those seeking the highest academic faculty rank to present a record of accomplishment commensurate with senior status in the discipline and in the University. This means, in general, that since appointment to the rank of Associate Professor, the faculty member’s teaching, scholarship, and service should grow in importance and impact, not merely maintaining the productivity and quality that characterized her/his probationary work, but also achieving broadly-recognized, well-established distinction in his/her discipline.
A. General Requirements
Prior promotion to the rank of Associate Professor does not necessarily imply eventual promotion to Professor, nor should length of service, by itself, produce such an expectation. Probationary faculty normally shall not be promoted to the rank of Professor. Normally, a faculty member is eligible to be considered for Promotion in the fifth year following promotion to Associate Professor (with the promotion becoming effective at the start of the sixth year). Any deviation from this five- year period would be considered an “early” consideration, as described in Section IV below. The period of review shall be the period since the faculty member’s last promotion or, in the case of those with an initial appointment at the Associate Professor rank, the period from initial appointment on this campus. However, in order to assess the growth in “importance and impact” mandated above, a comprehensive vita should be included in the WPAF to fully document the candidate’s entire academic career.

A significant degree of concern was expressed by several senators who believed that this raised the bar to promotion to full professor to an unreasonable level because “the faculty member’s teaching, scholarship, and service should grow in importance and impact, not merely maintaining the productivity and quality that characterized her/his probationary work, but also achieving broadly-recognized, well-established distinction in his/her discipline.”  The problem that several senators noted was that candidates who had stellar performances during the probationary period might not be able to outdo those in promotion to full professor, especially given diminished support for professional growth within a financially troubled university. This item will begin the senate’s season next year, and it is very important.

An on-line Masters of Business Administration degree was approved, as was Criminology’s Certificate of Advanced Study in Homeland Security.

1 comment:

  1. I attended one of the focus groups for faculty. I was the only faculty member present at the session (actually the only person period). I voiced that I was very much opposed to bulldog anything on the logo, and I joked that I would get a bulldog tattoo on my neck if they went with the paw print. I was told at that focus group not to worry because the logo would not affect official items like letterhead.
    Guess they weren't honest and that I now need to visit a tattoo shop.