No Confidence in CUNY’s Administration

There is a vote of no confidence coming up at the City University of New York. It involves the Pathways program that is being imposed upon the system by a board of trustees and central administration with very little understanding of how any of its colleges operate “on the ground.” Pathways is being instituted with complete disregard to principles of shared governance… and the chaos and the burden placed on the faculty and staff at individual campuses to try to stem it is sure proof of the value of shared governance. If CUNY had bothered to really consult with—and listen to—faculty, much confusion could have been avoided.

For me, the vote of no confidence has nothing to do with the putative goal of Pathways, to make transfer among CUNY campuses work more smoothly (the real reason is creation of a system spending less per student and speeding graduation, again keeping costs down). It has to do with reestablishing the central place of faculty in university management, a place that has been eroding nationwide for decades now. It has to do with returning responsibility to the faculty so that we can make changes, when they are needed, that will work–not that align with someone’s distant fantasy.

The vote comes just as the CUNY Chancellor, Matthew Goldstein, is stepping down. Writing to Professional Staff Congress members, PSC President Barbara Bowen says:

CUNY is about to see a change of at least the two top management positions—interim chancellor and chair of the Board of Trustees. This moment of transition offers a chance to demand a rethinking of Pathways and a return to respect for academic freedom and faculty governance. A strong vote of No Confidence would send a message to the new administration that the faculty responsible for teaching the curriculum have no confidence in the curriculum that has been imposed. It would register the injustice of moving ahead with a curriculum that will hurt our students. It would constitute a public demand for change.

If you are outside of CUNY but had contacts among the faculty, please email those contacts, urging them to vote “no confidence.” If you are a member of the CUNY faculty, please join me in voting “no confidence.”

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