Blaise Pascal, PenseĆ© 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.”

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rebranding: Victory in the Senate #2

Today in the Academic Senate a number of important and interesting things happened, but the big ticket item was the virtually unanimous passage (I believe there was only one dissenting vote) of the following resolution proposed by Jacinta Amaral (MCLL):

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.

As usual, I will try to get back to Extract readers with a detailed account of the meeting, once I get the Senate CD recording and can quote directly. I will simply say for now that there were many powerful and eloquent speeches (among them, those of Honora Chapman, David Engle, and philosophy student Joshua Stein) about the need for consultation and the problem with using the new logo for academic purposes, particularly when writing letters of recommendation and representing oneself as a faculty member or student outside the local community.

The Senate has surely found its voice this semester. 

The question now is what both President Welty and Provost Covino will do in response. There are clear avenues of compromise. President Welty could allow the faculty to continue to use the university seal (and not, please, as an invisible watermark) in the customary way with regard to academic business that involved communication with other universities and representing oneself at conferences, while retaining the "Bull Dog" footprint for everything else. Provost Covino could encourage cohort hiring where there is genuine enthusiasm for it, and the faculty want it, but allow departments to determine their greatest needs and hire accordingly. This would go a long way toward reconciliation at Fresno State. On the other hand, Welty and Covino could dig in, setting the stage for a whole new level of faculty resistance, and make what promises to be a very difficult year, AY 2012--2013, even worse.

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