Votes of No Confidence in Minnesota

At this past June’s annual meeting, a chapter leader suggested that AAUP ought to start tracking votes of no confidence—even if not as formally as it tracks its own investigations and censures of institutions for violations of the AAUP’s core principles of academic freedom, shared governance, and tenure/economic security.

As it is now, a vote of no confidence remains a largely local matter unless the issues involved attract regional or national media attention. And, although the issues at a particular institution might not seem to warrant more than local interest, we have all come to recognize, sometimes belatedly and regretfully, that our local issues have actually migrated to us through an administrative network that may not be as formally organized as ALEC but is often every bit as pernicious in its impact.

So I am making this post to initiate an effort to track votes of no confidence on this blog.

Last academic year, Steven Rosenstone, the Chancellor of Minnesota’s State Colleges and Universities issued a proposal for revamping the system. Called Charting the Future [the full proposal is available at http://www.mnscu.edu/chartingthefuture/docs/charting_the_future.pdf], the proposal includes the following six recommendations:

  1. Dramatically increase the success of all learners, especially those in diverse populations traditionally underserved by higher education.
  2. Develop a collaborative and coordinated academic planning process that advances affordability, transferability, and access to our programs and services across the state.
  3. Certify student competencies and capabilities, expand pathways to accelerate degree completion through credit for prior learning, and foster the award of competency-based credit and degrees.
  4. Expand the innovative use of technology to deliver high quality online courses, strengthen classroom instruction and student services, and provide more individualized learning and advising.
  5. Work together under new models to be the preferred provider of comprehensive workplace solutions through programs and services that build employee skills and solve real-world problems for communities and businesses across the state.
  6. Redesign our financial and administrative models to reward collaboration, drive efficiencies, and strengthen our ability to provide access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans.

These recommendations are justified as a needed response to the challenges facing higher education not just in Minnesota but in most states across the nation. Likewise, there is nothing especially pernicious in these recommendations: that is, they are so broad that it would be as difficult to criticize them as it would be to unhesitatingly embrace them.

The devil, as they say, is in the details.

And the unions representing faculty at Minnesota’s public colleges and universities felt uneasy enough about the lack of transparency in the working out of those details and in the lack of any serious solicitation of their input that, in mid-October, they announced that they were “were withdrawing from participation in Charting the Future.”

In response to that decision by the two unions, Rosenstone issued a statement in which he expressed his regret that the leaders of the unions had chosen to remove themselves from the process of implementing proposals that they were being asked, in effect, to endorse by their presence, if not with any meaningful input into or complete understanding of what they were endorsing.

The Minnesota system includes seven universities and 24 colleges, with a total of 54 campuses.

This past week, the faculty senate at Bemidji State University and the executive committee of the Southwest Minnesota State University Faculty Association in Marshall joined the faculty senates at Winona State, St. Cloud State, and Minnesota State University, Mankato, in issuing votes of no confidence in Rosenstone’s leadership as Chancellor.

The information in this post is taken largely from an article written by Maura Lerner for the IStar-Tribune; the article is available at http://www.startribune.com/local/281482281.html.

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If you know of other votes of no confidence that have occurred since classes began in August, please feel free to notify me at my g-mail address, martinkich@gmail.com

 

 

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