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.”

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Open Letter from Faculty to President Welty / President Welty's Reply

On July 10, the following open letter to President Welty was delivered, signed by the faculty members listed. On August 10, President Welty's reply was received by email by the faculty signers. I offer both the faculty letter and President Welty's response below, and I invite comments on both. I take President Welty's letter to be a message to the campus community as a whole, and so trust that I can publish it. I for one am grateful for his detailed response to the open letter.

The issues identified by the open letter require an on-going community conversation and I hope I can help that to happen by offering this blog as a forum.

July 10, 2012

Dear President Welty,

During the last two years, we have seen a drastic shift from shared governance at CSU-Fresno toward central administrative decision-making and control; lack of transparency in administrative actions has become the norm. The traditional role of faculty as citizens in a functioning university community is being consistently ignored and its role in determining instruction and curriculum compromised. The result is a steady degrading of the quality of education at this university and its ability to serve the community.

This was shockingly demonstrated in the cutting of all 164 trees in parking lots A, J, and UBC, which came as a complete surprise. No one on the faculty was consulted about this project: faculty expertise on relevant committees, including the Arboretum and Sustainability Committees, was ignored. The email notifying the campus community came after the cutting had begun. The trees added to the beauty of the campus, gave needed shade to cars, and also functioned as a lab for more than one biology course. Now, a vital university resource has been lost.

The evasion of faculty consultation began most dramatically last year when the University Budget Committee was bypassed and replaced with a non-elected Budget Task Force, and continued with the failure to disclose basic budget information to the faculty in a timely manner. We have seen a 65 million dollar carry-forward from last year to this year with no explanation and a directive to spend $1.8 million dollars at the end of the year on a miscellany of proposals to the provost. Budgeting at California State University-Fresno is not only mysterious and opaque, but often irrational.

The faculty has not been consulted on cohort hiring or the 50% funding scheme the provost has adopted for many new hires. This was thoroughly discussed in the Academic Senate when you were in attendance, when one senator after another complained about non-consultation, about having cohort hiring presented to them as a fait accompli. Mandated cohort hiring is an administrative intrusion into the traditional role of faculty in determining curriculum and instruction, because hiring is a critical factor in what gets taught and how. The provost’s recent response to the Senate resolution against cohort hiring is little more than a brush-off and fails to address the serious issues presented in the Senate.

The way the logo was developed and presented to the university again was another example of non-consultation. The Academic Senate was never brought into the process of approving the logo, but as with the Budget Task Force and cohort hiring, simply presented with a policy which it then was forced to confront. The logo is utterly inappropriate for use on official stationery in which the faculty must present itself to the academic and professional community, as senator after senator testified.

In each of these cases, the structure of the Academic Senate was ignored and “focus groups” or specially formed committees or task forces were declared to be consultative. But the Academic Senate is the consultative body of the faculty, not groups of people hand picked by administrators. For effective, non-confrontational government to take place, the structure and purpose of the Senate must be respected rather than deliberately and obviously thwarted. The pattern is the same in every instance: the administration makes and imposes decisions and follows them by specious claims of consultation—displaying a lack of honesty that is demoralizing to the entire university.

Non-consultation has become the norm at CSU-Fresno. This is a violation of the MOU and of Section 3561(b) of the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) which lays down the basic principle of faculty consultation and is incorporated into the MOU:

“The Legislature recognizes that joint decision-making and consultation between administration and faculty or academic employees is the long-accepted manner of governing institutions of higher learning and is essential
to the performance of the educational missions of such institutions, and declares that it is the purpose of this act to both preserve and encourage that process…”

As we go into one of the most challenging budget years the university has ever faced, we ask you to abide by the resolutions on budget, cohort hiring, and the logo that have been passed in the Senate during the past academic year and to announce your willingness to honor these resolutions at the Academic Assembly which begins Fall Semester.


Craig Bernthal, Professor of English
Mark Somma, Professor of Political Science
Yishaiya Abosch, Professor of Political Science
Katherine Adams, Professor of Communication
Linnea Alexander, Professor of English
Jacinta Amaral, Professor of Spanish
Tim Anderson, Professor of Kinesiology
Michael Becker, Professor of Political Science
Ted Bergman, Professor of Spanish
John Beynon, Professor of English
Diane Blair, Professor of Communication
Steve Blumenshine, Professor of Biology
Michael Botwin, Professor of Psychology
Paul Bush, Professor of Economics
Carmen Caprau, Professor of Mathematics
Dan Carrion, Professor of Theatre Arts
Honora Howell Chapman, Professor of Classics and Humanities
Lori Clune, Professor of History
Virginia Crisco, Professor of English
Paul Crosbie, Professor of Biology
Henry Delcore, Professor of Anthropology
Stefaan Delcroix, Professor of Mathematics
Doreen DeLeon, Professor of Mathematics
Michelle Denbeste, Professor of History
Walter Dodd, Professor of Anthropology
Yolanda Doub, Professor of Spanish
Kathleen Dyer, Professor of Child, Family and Consumer Sciences
Edward EmanuEl, Professor of Theatre Arts
David Engle, Professor of German
Sasan Fayazmanesh, Professor of Economics
Jill Fields, Professor of History
Kathryn Forbes, Professor of Women’s Studies
Sean Fulop, Professor of Linguistics
Magdalena Gilewicz, Professor of English
Chris Golston, Professor of Linguistics
Connie Hales, Professor of English
John Hales, Professor of English
Kenneth Hansen, Professor of Political Science
Chris Henson, Professor of English
James Henson, Professor of Information Systems and Decision Sciences
James Highsmith, Professor of Finance and Business Law
Thomas Holyoke, Professor of Political Science
Ruth Jenkins, Professor of English
James L. Johnson, Professor of English
Andrew Jones, Professor of Sociology
Brad Jones, Professor of History
Madhusudan Katti, Professor of Biology
RuthAnn Kern, Professor of Biology
RoseMarie Kuhn, Professor of French
Steven Lewis, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Maria-Aparecida Lopes, Professor of Chicano and Latin American Studies
Melanie Ram, Professor of Political Science
De Anna J. Reese, Professor of History and Africana Studies
Larry Riley, Professor of Biology
Frederick Ringwald, Professor of Physics
Meta Schettler, Professor of Africana Studies
Fred Schreiber, Professor of Biology
Doug Singleton, Professor of Physics
William Skuban, Professor of History
John Suen, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Agnes Tuska, Professor of Mathematics
Hans Van der Noordaa, Professor of Physics
Toni Wein, Professor of English
Lisa Weston, Professor of English

August 10, 2012
Dear Colleague:
I am in receipt of your letter which expresses concern about shared governance and consultation at Fresno State.

The dramatic disinvestment in higher education over the past four years by the state of California has placed extraordinary stress on our University community. We are attempting to serve approximately the same number of students with $15 million fewer dollars than we had in 2008-09. This situation stresses the entire fabric of our University community, and I recognize the anger and frustration that you feel. Our University community can be very proud of its commitment to shared governance and consultation over the past twenty years. We can be even prouder of the commitment we have demonstrated to our students, whose benefit must always remain the focus of our decision making.

It may be helpful to review Article 2, Section 5 of the Academic Assembly Constitution of California State University, Fresno, which outlines the role of the Academic Senate in policy consultation and recommendations.

  1. “The variety and complexity of the tasks performed by institutions of higher education produce an inescapable interdependence among governing board, administration, faculty, students and others. The relationship calls for adequate communication among these components and full opportunity for appropriate joint planning and effort”.i The deliberative process of consultation is therefore required. Meaningful consultation from initial formulation through final determination of policy and procedures, consists of thoughtful deliberation and presentation of facts and opinions leading to consensus or agreement.
  2. To achieve optimum communications, consultation and cooperation within the University, responsibilities of Academic Senate Standing Committees shall include:
    1. Formulation of policy recommendations in consultation with the Administration;
    2. Development of procedures that accompany policy recommendations in consultation with the Administration;
    3. Consultation with the Administration on the implementation of policy;
    4. Consultation with the Administration on other appropriate matters;
    5. Consultation with other Academic Senate Standing Committees as appropriate;
      and Consultation with the Council of Deans as appropriate.
Office of the President
California State University, Fresno
5241 North Barton Avenue M/S
ML48 • Fresno, California 93740-8027
P 559.278.2324 F 559.278.4715 THE CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY

C. Policy recommendations or reports, except as defined in Section 8.C, emanating from Academic Senate Standing Committees, Subcommittees, task forces or ad hoc committees shall be forwarded to the Academic Senate for appropriate review and approval before submission to the President for final action.

I have been committed to consultation on policy matters, and that commitment will continue in the future. Please allow me to address the specific issues; some which are policy matters, and others that are not, which you refer to in your letter.

First, with regard to parking lots A and J. In 2005, the campus initiated a comprehensive planning process to develop a master plan for the campus, which was completed in November 2006, after extensive consultation with the campus community. The completed Master Plan indicated that a parking structure would be constructed on Lot J. Obviously, construction of a parking structure would require the removal of trees. This plan was modified during the 2011-12 academic year as a result of declining enrollments, economic conditions, and the need to minimize student fee increases. The revised plan called for a reconstruction of Lots A and J to increase the number of spaces by approximately 500 to serve students. The increase will address our parking needs for, at least, the next ten years. This plan was presented to the FACEL Committee of the Academic Senate on February 1, 2012. Unfortunately, there was very poor attendance at this meeting. The next consultative group responsible for reviewing the plans was the Campus Planning Committee (CPC), which is supposed to have two faculty members on the committee. Despite numerous requests from the Office of the Vice President for Administrative Services, beginning in August 2011, for the Academic Senate to make appointments to the CPC, there was not sufficient faculty representation at the CPC meeting when this matter was considered. Further, this matter was not considered by the Arboretum Committee because parking lots are not part of the University’s arboretum.

After reviewing the process followed on the reconstruction of these lots, I agree that there should have been more faculty participation in the discussion about these lots. However, the facts do not support a conclusion that faculty were ignored. There is shared responsibility in this matter, and clearly our governance processes did not function adequately. Vice President Teniente-Matson has a complete record of efforts made to consult and to get individuals appointed to committees, and she will provide this record if you so desire.

I have reviewed the process for consultation concerning facilities, the arboretum and sustainability. Vice President Teniente-Matson will present recommendations for changes to the Academic Senate Executive Committee for consideration at its first meeting this fall. I am confident we can establish systems which will assure significant faculty participation in the future. I apologize that this process did not meet the standards of consultation that I believe are important for our University community.

With regard to our budget planning discussions, I do not agree that the University Budget Committee was "bypassed and replaced with a non-elected Budget Task Force". It was the charge of the Task Force to provide recommendations for consideration by the University community, and ultimately the University Budget Committee and the Academic Senate. Many of the suggestions considered by the Task Force came from recommendations which have been voiced by the University Community in previous years. This process did get the attention of our University community, but it did not result in productive recommendations for the University Budget Committee to consider. I believe the process did tell us what would not be acceptable to the community. As you know, the broadly inclusive consultative process included a special meeting of the Academic Senate and resulted in
2revised Task Force recommendations that the Provost accepted and explained in an open forum last spring.

With regard to cohort hiring, the Academic Senate did submit a resolution to which the Provost responded to Academic Senate Chair Lynn Williams on May 21, 2012. As indicated, there were some erroneous assumptions used in the resolution. The full response has been sent to School and College Deans for distribution to the faculty, and will be posted on the Academic Senate website.

I recognize that the issue of cohort hiring has become contentious for some. It is important to recognize that we have lost $15 million since the 2008-2009 academic year. It is very unlikely that this money will be restored. In this context, maintaining and growing our tenure-track faculty is a crucial priority. The reduction of faculty positions to accommodate budget cuts has freed up dollars in the benefits pool, and the Provost is devoting these dollars to faculty hires. Some of these are cohort positions, all of which address crucial needs identified by the Departments, and entail some interdisciplinary collaboration consistent with the Department expectations and determined by the faculty. There is a growing consensus in the higher education community about the value of interdisciplinary approaches to students.

The process of identifying faculty needs for new hires rests with the departments and Schools/Colleges. This process will continue.

All requests for cohort hires for 2012-13 originated with the Department Chairs and Deans, before being authorized by the Provost. Once an appointment is complete, the School or College will receive permanent funding for these positions. Thus, the addition of these faculty positions will permanently benefit a School or College.

It is necessary that we reexamine the Level B funding model to consider all sources of funding since there has been such a dramatic change in the sources of funds we use to support our programs. Therefore, consistent with the Task Force recommendations that were accepted last spring, I am requesting that the University Budget Committee consider a revised Level B funding model this fall that reflects the multiple sources of revenue that are supporting the Schools and Colleges, including revenue provided through the partial funding of faculty positions. It is my hope that these revisions can be recommended by the end of the fall semester so we have a clear and predictable model available to use as we address funding based upon the outcome of the November election. The University Budget Committee will forward the appropriate policy recommendations to the Academic Senate for consideration.

I will be discussing the budget situation, our carry-forward, and related issues at the Faculty and Staff Assembly on August 17. These remarks will provide full and up-to-date information on our fiscal situation as we begin the semester.

The final specific issue identified in your letter is the development of a new logo. The process followed is fully described at the following site:

[Here is a link to the above site:  Campus Branding Standards]

You are correct that the Academic Senate was not asked to approve the logo. However, either the Chair or the Vice Chair of the Academic Senate has served on the Integrated Marketing and Communications Council since its inception, and invitations were extended to all members of the University community to participate in this process. The extensive research efforts were led by a faculty member. Senate Executive Committee minutes of May 2, 2011 indicate that “Chair Caldwell announced the Integrated Marketing and Communications Council (IMCC) is conducting a focus group to report on its work and seek input from campus stakeholders. An invitation to participate in the focus group has been sent to faculty via email. Caldwell encouraged participation from the Executive Committee.”

I did respond to the Academic Senate resolution, and that response can also be found at the above noted site. I believe that response did acknowledge some of the most intense concerns raised by members of the Academic Senate, and provides for the use of the seal on stationery for correspondence internationally, and with academic societies, publishers and for reference letters. Further, I have asked Senate Chair Lynn Williams to use the appropriate processes to appoint two members of the Academic Senate to serve on an advisory committee, which among other duties will consider modifications to the graphic standards guidelines and use of the logo. I believe this will help us resolve critical issues through a positive consultative process.

I am committed to shared governance and consultation in policy matters as outlined in the Academic Assembly Constitution, and I believe I have demonstrated that in the past. I have had numerous discussions with our senior administrative leadership about the importance of effective consultation. I pledge to you, and the Academic Senate, that I will make every effort to follow our guidelines, policies and practices to consult, consistent with my responsibilities. I am very pleased that Senate Chair Williams plans to schedule weekly meetings of the Academic Senate as long as the body has business to address. I will do everything possible to work on improving our shared governance process.
I recognize that this written communication does not address every issue or concern expressed by those who have signed the letter. I would be very interested in discussing these issues with you, or a representative group if you so desire.

This fall, we face an extraordinary election in which the citizens of this state will be called upon to express their commitment to funding of public higher education. The outcome of this election will affect our students and future students for years to come. We must be focused on doing everything possible to gain support for this effort. I hope you will join me in that effort.

John D. Welty President
cc: Dr. Lynn Williams, Chair of the Academic Senate Academic Senate Members
Cabinet Deans

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