Last week, the Queensborough Community College English Department voted to refuse a reduction in workload hours for its First Year Composition courses, supposedly a necessity for the City University of New York’s new Pathways to a Common Core initiative. Vice President Karen Steele then sent an email to the department that seemed to threaten draconian reprisals.
I posted about this on Saturday (following a number of bloggers and the Professional Staff Congress, the CUNY faculty union). Yesterday, Diane Call, President of the college, also sent out an email trying to clarify the situation and backing away, at least a little, from what Steele had written–and both The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed are now covering the story.
Both The Chronicle and IHE quote the email, The Chronicle describing it:
On Sunday… the college’s president, Diane B. Call, said in an e-mail to faculty and other leaders that Ms. Steele’s letter was meant as a “worst case scenario—one we are prepared to work mightily to avoid.”
“It is my belief,” Ms. Call wrote, “that through continued communication and collaboration with our faculty, a constructive resolution to ensure student learning will be achieved.”
The letter outlined the importance of working together on Pathways, and suggested that Steele’s memo did not reflect any definite plans.
“The most recent discussion with the English Department faculty raised concerns within the administration about the possible outcomes of not having the three courses [on which the department refused to change credit hours] included in the common core. The potential consequences as described in Vice President Steele’s email illustrate the worst case scenario — one we are prepared to work mightily to avoid,” Call wrote. “It is my belief that through continued communication and collaboration with our faculty, a constructive resolution to ensure student learning will be achieved. It is my hope that you will join with me in this effort.”
Via e-mail, Alex Burnett, a spokesman for Queensborough, said that he thought Call’s letter “makes clear that the college is not in the process ‘retaliating’ against anyone. Rather, the college is committed to working with faculty across Queensborough and CUNY – as it has for more than a year – to re-configure and offer these three courses to meet the CUNY design for the Pathways common core and help the transition of students who wish to continue their educations at other CUNY institutions.”
All of this is good to hear.
We’ll see what happens when the English Department meets again on the 19th.