Chico State Senate Votes ‘No Confidence’ in Campus Administration

On December 10, the Academic Senate at California State University, Chico adopted a Resolution of No Confidence in university President Paul Zingg, Interim Provost Susan Elrod, and Vice President for Business and Finance Lorraine (Lori) Hoffman. After nearly three and a half hours of statements, comments from faculty, staff, and students, and discourse among the Senators, the Senate voted 24-8 in favor of the amended Resolution of No Confidence in the ability of the three top campus administrators to manage personnel and budget matters effectively.

The resolution declares that, among other charges, the campus’s “executive leadership has failed to effectively manage the development and implementation of policies and personnel processes that concern the faculty and staff of CSU, Chico;” that “[s]hared governance practices mandated by California state law, Chancellors’ Executive Orders, and CSU, Chico policies have been corrupted;” that the “[f]ailure of senior executives to make timely decisions and maintain working relationships has resulted in uncertainty and unpredictability; faculty, staff, and student stress; increased workload; deterioration of morale; loss of jobs; and very high turnover rates in administrative positions campuswide;” and that the “lack of focused leadership by senior executives has placed our academic mission in jeopardy.”

Here are some of the conditions that led the Senate to pass such a resolution, as reported on the website ethnography.com:

  • Tenure track faculty decreased from 408 to 355 faculty between the years 2011 to 2015, a reduction of 13%. Tenure density declined from 69% in 2010 to 58% in 2014-15. These cuts have resulted in increased faculty to student ratios, which decreases contact between students and faculty in meaningful learning experiences,decreases reciprocity and cooperation among students, and also inhibits active learning, and inhibits prompt feedback on assignments
  • Tenure track faculty have been largely replaced by temporary lecturers. While this has somewhat stabilized the faculty to student ratio, the work load for tenure track faculty in non-teaching duties has increased as there are not enough faculty to take on committee and advising work, assessment reports, retention and hiring duties, among other non-teaching activities that support student learning.
  • The number of staff decreased from 965 in 2009 to 891 in 2014 which increases demands on faculty due to lack of staff support, exacerbating the effects of higher faculty to student ratios.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, the number of full time equivalent students increased from 14,640 to 15,764, a gain of 8.4%.
  • While staff and faculty cuts have been deep, the number of managers and administrators has risen since 2004. Chico State had one of the worst losses of faculty in the CSU system, losing 14% of its faculty between 2004 and 2014, while the number of administrators has grown by 8% in the same time period.
  • While faculty salaries have increased by only 4% between 2004 and 2014, the salaries of the top 21 administrators within the Office for Business and Finance at Chico State have increased an average of 18% between 2011 and 2014*.
  • While faculty are fighting for, and being repeatedly denied, a 5% salary increase in the next contract, the President’s salary, although stagnant up to 2013, increased by 3% in 2014 and by 2% in 2015, a raise that equated to $5,758 increase in 2015 to President Zingg’s $287,885 salary, in addition to the $50,000 per year housing allowance and $12,000 per year car allowance the president has received in his tenure at Chico, a similar package other CSU presidents receive. Zingg’s raises in the 2014 and 2015 created a real increase in his salary of just over $14,000 since 2013. .
  • While faculty at 20 other universities in the California State university system are recovering their purchasing power since the Great Recession, Chico faculty have lost $13,154 in purchasing power since 2008, while President Zingg has gained $22,823 in purchasing power with his salary due to a 36% increase in the President’s base salary between 2004 and 2014.
  • Finally, the academic year 2015-16 budget was not released to individual departments until late November 2015, which revealed funding at lower levels than college deans, department chairs, faculty, and staff had been led to expect.  These cuts resulted in lecturers losing class assignments that had already been assigned, exacerbating the effects of higher faculty to student ratio, and also the projected loss of student employees who provide direct service to students in department offices, as peer advisors, and as library student staff. For lecturers, this means a loss of income for the semester and no prospects picking up other classes at other colleges since all scheduling at other colleges is complete early in the semester.

President Zingg, the management team for the university’s department of business and finance, and managers of the student affairs division, among others, wrote letters urging the senate to vote no on the resolution.

“We strongly recommend that the Academic Senate reject the subject Resolution for No Confidence as it is not in the best interest of the entire campus community,” Annabel Grimm said while reading a letter from the university’s business and finance management team. “This action will undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on trust and goodwill, and will destroy the genuine progress made in addressing concerns raised by members of the campus community.”

Sen. Paula Selvester, who supported the motion, said she received an email from California State University chancellor Timothy White, who said that the resolution could negatively affect an ongoing search to replace Zingg,who has announced his retirement.

Selvester said that the resolution only came forward after a history of “instability and a dismissal of shared governance.”

“Over the years campus-wide trust in our ability to share governing together has declined. Faculty staff and administrators have also indicated they feel a sense of instability here at CSU, Chico,” Selvester said. “A widely held perception is that decisions are made without adequate consultation here on campus and therefore the quality of decision-making has suffered.”

Chico State faculty are represented by the California Faculty Association (CFA), an AAUP affiliate.  CFA members this Fall voted overwhelmingly to authorize union leaders to call a strike if efforts by the union to gain a 5% general salary increase and a service increase for those eligible are unsuccessful.  The Chico vote is further indication that CSU faculty members are fed up with their administration’s repeated assaults on both their economic security and their professional rights to shared governance and with the misplaced and skewed priorities of CSU administrators.

 

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