So Much for Confidential Searches!

BY HANK REICHMAN

AB 847, a bill currently under consideration in the California Assembly, would

require the local academic senate of a campus of the California State University or of a campus of the California Community Colleges, and would request the local academic senate of a campus of the University of California, to post its membership roster on its Internet Web site or Internet Web page.  The bill would also require the local academic senate of a campus of the California State University or of a campus of the California Community Colleges, and would request the local academic senate of a campus of the University of California, to make demographic data on the gender and race or ethnicity of its members available to the public upon request.

This is a bizarre proposal, given, first, that nearly all, if not all, of the affected senates already post membership rosters.  Second, the request for “demographic data” seems without real purpose, other than to foster discrimination.  Remember, this is a state where, under Proposition 209, it is illegal even to take such matters into account in hiring or in the recruitment of students.

The purpose of the bill gained some clarity, however, when yesterday two California State University, San Bernadino (CSUSB) alumni — Paul Granillo and former chair of the CSU system Board of Trustees Lou Monville — published an op-ed piece in the San Bernadino Sun in support of the bill.   It turns out that the CSUSB academic senate is considering a no-confidence vote in President Tomas Morales, a personal friend of Monville appointed to his post six years ago.  Both Granillo and Monville were members of that search committee.

Here’s a taste of what they wrote:

For too long some academic senates and their executive committees, who are vested with great authority, have been able to hide in the shadows — using authority and intimidation to impose their will, creating a campus climate where innovation and best practices are actively pushed aside in favor of the status quo, protecting power and influence for the few.

In our opinion perhaps the worst example of this behavior is the current Academic Senate Executive Committee at our alma mater, Cal State San Bernardino. . . .

It is our opinion the CSUSB Academic Senate Executive Committee has waged an open war on civility and innovation on campus. Any effort to increase faculty accountability, enhance student success or to modernize and improve campus operations is met with relentless opposition. Faculty who speak in favor of counter ideas are quietly pulled aside and told their tenure or promotion is at risk if they don’t fall in line, and yes, the Academic Senate does largely control the promotion and tenure of their own. Even worse, student government leaders, who serve on the Academic Senate, report they are routinely bullied and harassed at Academic Senate meetings. Is this the example we want for the next generation of leaders?

Needless to say, the writers offer no evidence to support their accusations or justify their arrogant and hostile tone.  But it gets worse, for they also write:

Six years ago, we served on the presidential search committee, along with two current CSUSB Academic Senate Executive Committee members, that chose President Tomas Morales. They made it clear then that President Morales was not “their” candidate and have used the shadowy world of the Academic senate to work against him before he ever came to campus and ever since. What is even more troubling is the Academic Senate “candidate” for campus president at the time was the former CSUSB provost, who also now serves on the Academic Senate Executive Committee.

Some years ago I served on a presidential search committee in the CSU and recall vividly how all members of that committee were sworn to secrecy about our deliberations.  We were also warned not to publicly identify applicants for the position.  In those days the CSU still allowed a small group of (usually three) finalists to come to campus, but these days that too has been abandoned, allegedly because if the names of candidates who are not chosen were revealed publicly some sort of unmentionable disaster would ensue.  This policy, of course, violates AAUP standards of shared governance, and has been questioned in a unanimous resolution of the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU).   Yet now Granillo and Monville, the latter an author of the confidentiality policy, gleefully reveal search committee deliberations and identify in all but name one of the candidates for the position.

The appearance of this vile op-ed, with its contempt for faculty, its whiff of cronyism, its crude innuendo, and its violation of the very principle of confidentiality that one of its authors promoted as trustee chair, has fueled anger among faculty senators throughout the CSU system.  Today, Christine Miller, professor of communication studies at CSU, Sacramento and chair of the ASCSU, fired back with this letter to members of the CSUSB academic senate:

May 9, 2017

To My Senate Colleagues at CSU San Bernardino:

As Chair of the Academic Senate of the California State University, I wish to express my sorrow regarding the aspersions cast on you specifically, and academic senates generally, by Paul Granillo and Lou Monville, alumni of your fine institution.

Mr. Granillo, as a community member, might be forgiven his lack of knowledge about the ways a senate functions in the institutional enterprise; Mr. Monville, however, should know better: as former Chair of the CSU Board of Trustees, he should have a firm grasp on the notion of “shared governance,” as instantiated in law (the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act) and in the joint agreement expressed by the Association of Governing Boards and the American Association of University Professors in the “Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities.”  Indeed, the CSU Board itself issued a report on “Governance, Collegiality and Responsibility” which clearly states, “collegial governance allows the academic community to work together to find the best answers to issues facing the university.”

Sadly, there was nothing at all collegial in the vitriol jointly penned by Granillo and Monville in the San Bernardino Sun, under the thinly veiled guise of support for a piece of legislation that has nothing whatsoever to do with the sweeping indictments they level against senates generally, and yours in particular.  The editorial contained a shocking series of ad hominem attacks lacking any evidentiary support.  Indeed, the tone and substance of their litany of unsupported claims has the same force of effect as the very bullying they decry.  It’s not just ironic, it’s disturbing.

Please note that I take no position on the gut-wrenching decision that you face on your campus regarding confidence in the leadership of your president.  I’m certain there are well-reasoned arguments on both sides of the question you are considering.  I do take a position, however, on matters relating to how senates and faculty representatives function in the shared governance process.  To that end, I believe it is essential to point out that the “two current CSUSB Academic Senate Executive Committee members,” as well as the “former CSUSB provost, who also now serves on the Academic Senate Executive Committee,” while not mentioned in the editorial by name, are clearly identifiable by the virtue of the transparent processes that Granillo and Monville allege are absent.  Once again, it’s not just ironic, it’s disturbing.

Most critically, it’s important to acknowledge that the three individuals “outed” by Granillo and Monville never publicly breached the confidentiality of the presidential search process, which constrained (until now) everyone on the search committee — including the editorialists.  I find it unconscionable that Granillo and Monville, who agreed to the same terms and conditions of confidentiality as everyone else, now find it politically expedient to disregard those strictures and violate the confidentiality of an executive personnel process.  It’s doubly egregious coming from the former Board Chair, since it is the Board’s own policy which establishes the process as confidential!  This transcends irony, and isn’t simply disturbing.  It’s shameful.

It’s regrettable that your deliberations are now clouded by the defamatory claims in this editorial.  Nonetheless, deliberate you must.  Publicly.  Rationally.  Transparently.  I wish you the best in your deliberations, today and in the future.

Best regards,

Dr. Christine M. Miller

Chair, Academic Senate of the California State University

Professor Miller has hit the nail on the head and I applaud her forthright stance.  Granillo and Monville should apologize to the faculty members they have slandered and to the board whose confidentiality policy they have violated.  I would also urge CSU Chancellor Timothy White to address this question with members of his board and to take this opportunity to strengthen shared governance by restoring the past CSU practice of inviting presidential finalists to meet with members of the university community they wish to serve prior to the selection of a new president.

 

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