Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Call for a Master White Paper for the California State University System

This is a call for contributors to a Master White Paper authored by CSU faculty, reflective of the values and vision of faculty and of the interests of students and the larger community for higher education. This MWP would be not only a thorough critique of the CSU Chancellor’s Office’s plan but a fully worked out alternative to his plan. It would be an alternative narrative, as the CFA’s White Paper has called for. This Master White Paper would include, besides a vision and a critique, a proposed system budget, a funding mechanism to support that plan, and a radically different allotment of power within the CSU.

In particular, this MWP would call for a dramatic cutback in the number, power, pay and purpose of administrative positions within the system based on the principle that a) in times of crisis the most important functions must be safeguarded - such as teaching, scholarship, and access for students - functions that are at the heart of the universities, and the least important functions - such as the burgeoning and overpaid high administrative posts - should be cut first, and b) even if we were not in the throes of a budget crisis, the growth of administrative posts in number, their share of resources, their agenda, and their power vis a vis faculty and students in recent decades and years has been detrimental to the CSU system and its official purpose of being a part (along with the UC system) of providing the best possible higher educational system for California.

We would propose, in contrast to the prevailing ethic that high administrative posts, such as Chancellor and Presidents, must be paid very large salaries in order to attract (i.e., bribe) the best talent to serve in education, while faculty are expected to serve principally for the love of education, that these high administrative posts be filled with those whose first and foremost purpose is to serve education and not primarily for the power, prestige, pay and perks. We will push for the same ethic that faculty are expected to live by to be explicitly the criteria for administrators and that the pay for high administrators be cut substantially and be tied to a formula relative to faculty pay. We expect that such a change would attract a very different kind of person to these administrative posts and that the relationship between administration and faculty will become cooperative rather than adversarial, benefiting the system, the state and the nation as a whole.

The current crisis and the top administrators’ tack in response to this crisis – reducing student access, exploding class size, slashing departments, programs and faculty positions and pay while refusing to even entertain the idea that administrative ranks should be culled – shows that we are, like it or not, embroiled in a war over the future of the CSU (and UC) systems with our top administrators. If the policies that led to this debacle in the first place are allowed to carry the day, then the nature of California’s higher educational system, once the pride of the state and the nation, will be irrevocably damaged. We rise in defense of a precious resource and refuse to allow the Chancellor’s destructive vision to prevail. We do so not only on behalf of all higher education faculty, not only on behalf of current and future students, not only on behalf of California’s higher education, but on behalf of all those who are experiencing the invidious impact of policies that elevate private interests over the public good. When those who claim leadership do so in a way that is profoundly harmful to those that they lead, then the led must take on the mantle of leadership themselves. That is the task that stands before us.

This MWP should include at least the following major elements.

1) A concentrated but detailed history of the actions and statements of high administration officials, beginning with Reed and continuing on through and including campus presidents and provosts, that shows their underlying philosophy and the gulf between their view about higher education and that of faculty/students/community. One recent indication of this is Reed’s initiative to invite, pay undoubtedly high consultant fees for, and impose Sir Michael Barber’s "Deliverology" on the CSU, his call for more courses to be taught by faculty (“if people taught one more class a semester, the efficiency of that is tremendous” – see text of this article at the end) as a “solution,” his assertions that even full-time faculty work essentially part-time, his history of destroying tenure in Florida, his wasteful spending on bad projects such as the approximately half a billion dollar boondoggle of People Soft, self-dealing (the series of raises for himself and others in his ranks), corruption, lack of accountability and proper supervision, etc. Adopting “Deliverology,” incredibly and absurdly, as a way of accelerating time to graduation at a time when massive budget cuts are wrecking havoc on the schools, is consistent with the views embodied in the East Bay CSU President’s July 24, 2009 White Paper that seeks to eliminate a 'seat-time’ model for a ‘proficiency-based’ model - that is, impose the neoliberal solution of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on higher education. This approach of theirs of treating education as if it were an assembly line process and knowledge as a “deliverable” shows their lack of understanding of how teaching and learning occurs and the relationships that need to be fostered and nurtured in a real educational process. We need to expose, delegitimate, and seek to relieve of their duties these folks and their agenda.

2) A detailing of administrative bloat and how it's grown over the last many years.

3) A counter-vision that places academic services at the heart of and the essence of what the universities should be about and that preserves them as the means for disadvantaged and those who want to get an education to do so. This counter-vision necessarily involves the rejection of the now dominant and creeping business model for education.

4) Advocates a dramatic and sharp cut in administrative tasks, ranks, pay, and power so that the really necessary administrative tasks such as registrar and bursar are maintained and the presence of high-handed administration is scaled back tremendously. This means that we would be going after very different people for administrative posts and that we would fire those now in charge, with the exception of those who are willing to accept the new terms and new pay.

5) The direction of top administration’s efforts both before this crisis and in this crisis has been to adopt measures in the CSU that have already, regrettably, been adopted at the K-12 level – as exemplified by NCLB in which teaching to the test rather than helping students learn how to learn and think become the main content of educators’ work. The defense of higher education necessarily involves a thorough critique of the underlying philosophy of NCLB and the corollary erroneous view that higher education should be viewed as a business, with students as our customers and professors as service providers.

6) A proposal of what should be kept and what changed and that offers an alternative budget, including the advocacy of AB 656. We should propose a budget with AB 656 and a budget if AB 656 doesn't pass. This proposal could and should include a formula that links faculty to administrative pay and the size of administrative ranks relative to faculty. This would be counter-posed to the vision that Reed et al have for the "crisis" and what the university system would look like if they get their way.

In short, we have to show why those in charge now are incompetent and dangerous and uncover their underlying philosophy and counter it with a very different philosophy. This MWP would be part of a counter-offensive of a PR campaign statewide.

Since the campaign to eliminate programs et al is already underway, we are aiming for this MWP to be completed, at least in fairly well fleshed out, if not entirely detailed, form in March 2010. We have twenty-three campuses in the CSU system. If even one person per campus participates actively in putting this MWP together, we will have a very substantial team to bring this to completion. We also can draw upon the contributions of scores of people who can add to this effort, even in the form of small additions such as suggested phrases or evidence.

Please post comments here and/or send an email to ddloo@csupomona.edu.

November 5, 2009
College Leaders Offer Blunt Advice for Campuses Hit by Hard Times
By Goldie Blumenstyk
New York
Chronicle of Higher Education

"Dumb public policies," like mandatory-sentencing laws that drive up states' costs for prisons and leave less for education, may be part of the reason colleges are in such financial straits, the leader of the California State University system said at a forum here on Thursday, but that's just a piece of the problem.

The bigger issue is that most colleges are too concerned with trying to compete for prestige rather than serve their students and their communities, said Cal State's chancellor, Charles B. Reed. He and Arizona State University's president, Michael M. Crow, spoke on a panel at the "Smart Leadership in Difficult Times" forum, sponsored by the TIAA-CREF Institute.

"Public higher education has done it to itself with generic state institutions" that all try to do the same thing, Mr. Crow told the gathering of 130-plus college presidents and other leaders. The duplication of expenses among so many colleges that are "insufficiently differentiated" adds to states' costs and leaves legislators and other potential supporters with little inspiration to support colleges when they come looking for money, said Mr. Crow. "People fall asleep," he said.

Mr. Reed noted that the racial and economic diversity of the Cal State system's 440,000 students reflects a wave of changing student demographics across the country. Rather than worry about how they rank against their peers, he said, "public universities need to get off their campuses" and into local schools˜"way down to the fifth and sixth grade"˜to help ensure that young people prepare for college before it's too late and they drop out.

The two leaders' comments came during a panel called "What's the New Normal?" Both Mr. Reed and Mr. Crow offered their typically blunt assessments.

"The sky is not falling. We just have less money," said Mr. Crow.

"We're never going to go back to the way it's been for the last 20 years," said Mr. Reed.

Mr. Reed said he had been criticized by faculty members for not lobbying harder in the state capital for money. "Well, you know what? There isn't any money in Sacramento," he said.

Instead, Cal State and the State of California will have to find money by becoming more entrepreneurial, more creative, and more efficient, he said. For example, "if people taught one more class a semester, the efficiency of that is tremendous."

Another idea, Mr. Reed said, is to eliminate 12th grade˜"the biggest waste of time" for many students˜and reallocate those resources for schools and colleges. "We need a different model," he said.

'No State of Normal'

Mr. Crow, who has overseen changes at Arizona State that include the transformation of traditional departments into interdisciplinary ones that relate to contemporary issues, said worrying about getting back to "normal" isn't productive. For universities, "there should be no state of normal," he said. They should be innovating and adapting all the time.

Arizona State is doing that, he said, by seeking more support from nearby cities and from the local business community, with a new research effort called ASU Challenges.

The meeting, which continues on Friday, also featured advice from several other college leaders on managing change.

J. Michael Adams, president of Fairleigh Dickinson University, said college leaders should remember that "the real agents of change are faculty." Wise presidents, he suggested, would do well to let the most dynamic and powerful faculty members lead new ventures if they fit within the mission of the institution.

Other techniques work, too, Mr. Adams said. "One of my mentors told me, 'Money is the root of all excellence in higher education.'" At Fairleigh Dickinson, he said, a published policy says that if a staff member proposes a program that fits the need, fits the mission, and can generate revenue, "we'll fund it."

Devorah Lieberman, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Wagner College, said she had found it productive and easier to "appeal to the scholarly intellect of our faculty" to solve problems.

She has instituted monthly dinners primarily for faculty members, at which the first question is always, What have you heard? and the second is, What do you want to know?

The events have opened up communication, at times in surprising directions. "As more wine flows, the questions are shocking sometimes," she said. But that helps to clear the air of rumors, and it keeps her plugged in: "They don't leave until they tell me something I don't know."


Anonymous said...

This is a great gesture to get everyone involved to help and fight for higher education. More professors and students should be more involved.

Anonymous said...

I definitely think more faculty should get involved in the fight for higher education. They could help motivate their students to do the same