Further Response to the Threat to Shared Governance at Queensborough Community College (CUNY)

Below is a letter responding to the actions of Diane Call, President of Queensborough Community College (QCC) of the City University of New York (CUNY). We have posted two earlier letters (here and here) dealing with this same situation:

Dear Colleagues,

Many of you have heard that administrative intimidation of the English Department continues at QCC, this time with their president defying the legitimate vote into office of a new Chair whose anti-Pathways sympathies were perceived as a threat.  The English Discipline Council has written a letter of response to President Call of QCC and will copy the central admin, the BoT, The Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed., the Times, AAUP, MLA, and ADE.

The letter is attached and for your information.


Pease (Chair of the English Department, John Jay College of the City University of New York)


Diane Call, President
Queensborough Community College
222-05 56th Ave
Bayside NY 11364-1497

Dear President Call:

We are writing in response to your decision of November 6, 2012 to reject the election of a new chair in the Department of English.  The vote of more than two-thirds of the faculty for Professor David Humphries shows remarkable unity given recent challenges facing the department. It is clear your decision is a reprisal for the department’s rejection on September 12, 2012 of a course proposal for composition courses that are three hours, three credits.  As such, your decision is clearly a punitive departure from norms of academic freedom and departmental self-governance.

Furthermore, your decision to appoint Interim Vice-President Karen Steele as the English Department representative to the college-wide Personnel and Budget Committee is callous at best and intimidating at worst.  Vice President Steele will be responsible for presenting English Department candidates for reappointment, promotion, and tenure whom she has threatened to fire because of their previous vote on Pathways composition course proposals. This vote on a departmental curricular matter was consistent with other votes at Queensborough and at many campuses across CUNY which have been met with a similar pattern of threats and reprisals.

We must insist that you retract Vice-President Karen Steele’s threats aimed at the department, which included cancelling the vast majority of English courses and terminating the employment of nearly all full-time and part-time English faculty.  We must also insist that the English Department vote for chair be honored and that Vice President Steele be removed as the English Department representative to the college-wide Personnel and Budget Committee.

Sincerely yours,

The English Discipline Council

One thought on “Further Response to the Threat to Shared Governance at Queensborough Community College (CUNY)

  1. Around thirty faculty members were able to attend the meeting. President Call began by asking the faculty to speak. This caught the faculty off-guard, since they had not been asked to prepare statements ahead of the meeting, nor did they really know the details the president would discuss. After a few faculty members spoke, President Call addressed the audience. Standing in front of a cheery Election Day reminder scrawled on the whiteboard that read “Don’t forget to vote,” President Call proceeded to announce that she would not recognize the faculty’s election of their new chair, David Humphries. Instead, President Call reinstated the retired former chair Sheena Gillespie to take over the administrative duties of the chair, even though Gillespie had not been eligible to run in the election and is no longer actively employed in the department.

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