Twenty years ago, I was a teacher/administrator at a New York City private school. About halfway through the year, the head of the school asked me to conduct a vote among the faculty. I did so, and took the results back to the chief administrator. He looked at them, shook his head, and said, “No.” It was then that I knew I would not be returning the next year. I could not lie to the faculty, making appear they had choices when they did not.
Unless you are willing to accept the choice made, asking someone to choose is meaningless.
Chancellor Matthew Goldstein sent the following as an email to the broad City University of New York faculty and administrative community yesterday:
A MESSAGE FROM CHANCELLOR GOLDSTEIN
I am writing to address several issues that have arisen recently in connection with the implementation of the Pathways resolution of the Board of Trustees.
First, earlier this month, the interim vice-president for academic affairs at Queensborough Community College wrote an unfortunate letter to the College’s English Department. The author subsequently apologized for the character and tone of her communication. We should remember that while Pathways established the structure for curricular reform and its implementation, faculty are fully engaged in developing course content. Such collaboration is very much in the tradition and spirit of a great University.
Second, Dr. Terrence Martell, chair of the University Faculty Senate, and Dr. Barbara Bowen, President of the Professional Staff Congress, have sent an email to the faculty in which they erroneously state that the faculty have the power to block the implementation of Pathways. This claim misstates the core principle, embodied in state law and the bylaws and policies of the University, that the authority for the governance of the University on all matters rests with the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees has delegated a significant role to the faculty on academic matters, and the faculty have the right to exercise their professional judgment in fulfilling that role. However, the faculty are not empowered to ignore or violate a policy established by the Board of Trustees or the implementation of that policy by the Chancellor.
I hope this clarifies matters and allows us to continue to work collaboratively to implement Pathways in a manner that is in the best educational interests of our students.
Here, finally, we have the truth of it: there is no ‘shared governance’ at CUNY. The choices faculty make must align with what the Trustees have dictated. I commend Chancellor Goldstein for his honesty.
The Queensborough Community College English Department, which set off the furor culminating in Goldstein’s missive by refusing to vote the way the administration demanded, met again yesterday and refused to reconsider its vote. Right now, there seems to be an impasse.