Saturday, November 22, 2014

Western NY State Legislators to Discuss SUNY's Prospects in New York State Budget at Fredonia

Fredonia, N.Y. - 21 November 2014 - Fresh from their successful reelection campaigns, New York State Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I-Olean) and Assemblymen Joseph Giglio (R,C,I-Gowanda), Andrew Goodell (R,C,I-Chautauqua) and Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo, Lackawanna, Hamburg) will be converging on the Fredonia campus on Friday, December 5, 2014, to participate in a panel discussion sponsored by the Fredonia Chapter of United University Professions.

Fredonia community members, students, faculty, professionals, administrators, and staff will come to McEwen 209 from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. to hear the panelists’ views on SUNY’s prospects during the 2015 New York State budget process. They will address such questions as:
  • What do you see as the role of public higher education in the state of New York?
  • What do you see as the role of the New York State Legislature with respect to public higher education?
  • How is SUNY viewed by your colleagues?
  • What kinds of investments in this generation of undergraduate students is the New York State Legislature prepared to make?
  • What can students, parents, faculty, professionals, staff, and administrators do to help ensure that public dollars go to public higher education, both for operations and the capital budget?
This event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

First Principles of Shared Governance, Part VII: The Chair Selection Process III

Following up on yesterday's post about who should be eligible to serve as department chair...

Who Should Be Eligible to Participate in the Chair Selection Process, and How?

Unless we're going to come up with some kind of Hunger Games, Celebrity Death Match, haiku contest, or other model for determining the department's recommendation for who should be its next chair, voting is the time-tested way for a group to come to a decision.  So who should be eligible to vote for chair?  Before we consider the possibilities, let's start with an important caveat.

Eligibility to vote does not imply a responsibility or expectation or obligation to vote.  If any eligible voter feels for any reason that they should not exercise their right to the franchise, that is their choice.  The key principle here is that nobody should be forced to vote or forced to explain their reasons for not voting.  That's as important an aspect of academic freedom as any other.

So now let's consider the possibilities, from most inclusive to most exclusive, and their rationales:
  • everyone who teaches in the department and for whom the department chair is their immediate supervisor (including TAs); or
  • everyone in the above category except those whose teaching responsibilities in the department constitute less than half their total teaching obligation at Fredonia; and/or
  • everyone in the above category except those whose administrative responsibilities constitute more than half of their total professional obligation at Fredonia.
This is the most inclusive set of options and its assumptions are democratic.  Everyone affected by the choice of who should lead them should have a say in who becomes their leader.  Since the chair is everyone's immediate supervisor, either everyone should vote by secret ballot in a departmental election, or, if the franchise is limited on other grounds, should have the right to submit a signed letter to the Facilitator and/or Dean.  The chair should feel obligated to stitch together a majority of supporters in the department that cross whatever constituencies and/or factions exist within it.  A chair who can win an inclusive election resoundingly has a stronger mandate than one who wins a more limited election, both as the recommendations move up the administrative chain and in terms of institutional capital within the university.

The only safeguard that's needed in this model to protect the integrity and legitimacy of the election is the secret ballot, whether the election is held during a meeting or online.  The assumption of the democratic model is that people will of course vote their interests and that the will of the majority should prevail.  Conflict of interest considerations are irrelevant to the question of who should lead the department.  Candidates may vote, anyone they're in a financial partnership with who also teaches in the department may vote, any family members who also teach in the department may vote, contingent faculty in the department may vote:  everyone with a stake in the outcome of the election should be eligible to vote in it.

So this model has its appeals.  But it also has its complications and difficulties.  Once elected, the chair does not just represent the department to the rest of the university and to various publics outside the university.  In addition to being a Faculty-delegated governance leader, the chair is also the President's designee and immediate supervisor of everyone in the department.  Under the current Handbook on Appointment, Reappointment, and Promotion, the chair is responsible for appointing and reappointing contingent faculty members and hence is in a unique position to reward or punish colleagues for their votes.  Even if this is changed during the negotiations that are about to begin on Article IV, the department needs to decide on its voting policy now.  Even if the department institutes its own no retaliation policy for governance activities in the near future, that policy is not on the table for today's vote.  So I can imagine some colleagues taking the position that until systems and structures are in place that place appropriate checks and balances on the chair's authority, they can not vote for the completely inclusive model.

I can also imagine three kinds of responses to this line of reasoning.  The first asserts that the secret ballot is the only protection contingent faculty need.  The second asserts that since the new chair won't take office until the current chair's term expires, we have plenty of time, at both the department and university level, to institute appropriate checks and balances, so there is no need to limit the franchise for the chair election.  The third asserts that the franchise should be limited to tenured faculty, since they are the only ones whose academic freedom, due process rights, and job security are truly protected in academia and at Fredonia right now.

Whether the franchise should be limited to those teaching in the department who are not primarily administrators or not primarily teaching in the department is a separate question.  Personally, I don't think the Dean, Provost, and President should be eligible to vote for someone who will be below them in the administrative chain and who would not be their immediate supervisor.  Since they are the ones receiving recommendations, I'd also be against them trying to influence those below them on the administrative chain, although I can't imagine how to prevent that happening and I can imagine situations where a lower-level administrator would want to consult with a wide range of appropriate faculty, including those above them on the administrative chain.

For me, then, the key criterion is that the chair is one's immediate supervisor.  Since the chair is the immediate supervisor of anyone who teaches in the department, no matter how little, even those who teach only one course in the department should be permitted to vote for chair.
  • all academic staff members (faculty in the United University Professions bargaining unit) in the department; or
  • everyone in the above category except those whose teaching responsibilities in the department constitute less than half their total teaching obligation at Fredonia; and/or
  • everyone in the above category except those who administrative responsibilities constitute more than half of their total professional obligation at Fredonia.
The logic and difficulties for this position mirror the above.  The only substantive difference is that it prohibits graduate teaching assistants from voting eligibility, on the grounds that they are represented by a different union than UUP and hence are not eligible to participate in shared governance activities.  In response, proponents of the more inclusive position could respond that since the chair is the immediate supervisor of TAs as much as anyone, they should have the opportunity to participate in the election.  And opponents of it would bring similar objections to participation by anyone without the protections of tenure.
  • all academic staff members who have taught in the department for four consecutive semesters (whether on a tenure-track or contingent appointment); or
  • all academic staff members in the department except part-time contingent faculty members on temporary appointments (those who have taught fewer than four consecutive semesters at Fredonia); or
  • all academic staff members in the department except contingent faculty members on temporary appointments (those who have taught fewer than four consecutive semesters at Fredonia); or
  • everyone in the above category except those whose teaching responsibilities in the department constitute less than half their total teaching obligation at Fredonia; and/or
  • everyone in the above category except those who administrative responsibilities constitute more than half of their total professional obligation at Fredonia.
The logic for this position mirrors the one above it, with the addition of a "residency requirement."  The analogy here is that those seeking to vote in virtually any elections in the U.S. need to establish residency upon moving outside their previous voting district.  Instead of leaving it up to new faculty to choose to abstain or not participate in the election, this option forces them to go through an acclimation period.

Whether that "apprenticeship" should be limited to contingent faculty only or apply equally to tenure-track faculty depends on how much importance is placed on the peer review that comes with a national search and the evaluation procedures for tenure-track faculty in place in HARP, as well as how much faster you believe one can acclimate to a department with a full set of teaching, service, and research responsibilities than one can with a less-than-full teaching obligation.  Personally, I find it hard to believe that if residency matters, anyone who's taught in the department only for a few months would be ready to vote in an election for chair, whether they went through a national search or not.

The odd consequence of using the "temporary appointment" designation (a contractual term), is that not all full-time Visiting Assistant Professors are on term appointments.  Hence the distinction between only excluding those on part-time contingent temporary appointments and excluding all contingent faculty on temporary appointments in the above list of options.
  • all academic staff members in the department whose term of appointment is at least one year; or
  • everyone in the above category except those whose teaching responsibilities in the department constitute less than half their total teaching obligation at Fredonia; and/or
  • everyone in the above category except those who administrative responsibilities constitute more than half of their total professional obligation at Fredonia; OR
  • all academic staff members in the department whose term of appointment is at least two years; or
  • everyone in the above category except those whose teaching responsibilities in the department constitute less than half their total teaching obligation at Fredonia; and/or
  • everyone in the above category except those who administrative responsibilities constitute more than half of their total professional obligation at Fredonia; OR
  • all academic staff members in the department whose term of appointment is at least three years; or
  • everyone in the above category except those whose teaching responsibilities in the department constitute less than half their total teaching obligation at Fredonia; and/or
  • everyone in the above category except those who administrative responsibilities constitute more than half of their total professional obligation at Fredonia.
This set of options introduces a new wrinkle to the eligibility question:  length of appointment term.  For some who want to limit the franchise, what matters is the likelihood that someone will be back teaching in the department to live with the consequences of their vote.  While theoretically anyone in the department could leave at any time for almost any reason, those with shorter-term contracts are more likely to be on the job market.  Should people who happen to be teaching one course in the department on a semester-long contract at the time of a chair election be eligible for the franchise, when it's entirely possible they won't be around for the new chair to become their immediate supervisor?

Now, according to the Agreement between UUP and New York State, contingent faculty who have taught in the department for at least two consecutive years must be given a 12-month prior notice of non-renewal, so those people working in the department in the fall that a chair election would normally take place during would know if they were going to be teaching in the department in the following academic year.  If they were not going to be renewed, it's highly unlikely they'd want to do anything beyond what's in their appointment letter, except perhaps to vote against the chair who participated in their non-renewal decision.  So I can imagine some colleagues wanting to limit the franchise to contingent faculty with term appointments of at least two years.  And others responding that if you're going to do that for those on contingent employment, you should put the same requirement in place for tenure-track faculty.

The practical effect of combining this requirement with any of the others would be to prohibit all contingent faculty from voting in the upcoming chair election, unless the two-year term of appointment would be applied to tenure-track faculty, as well, who then wouldn't be able to vote until their third year (or perhaps later, if they're not offered a two-year contract during their second-year review process).  The university may well decide to move to longer-term contracts for most contingent faculty as a result of HARP Article IV negotiations, but with this restriction in place, that wouldn't affect any contingent faculty until the next chair election.
  • all tenure-track and tenured faculty in the department; or
  • everyone in the above category except those whose teaching responsibilities in the department constitute less than half their total teaching obligation at Fredonia; and/or
  • everyone in the above category except those who administrative responsibilities constitute more than half of their total professional obligation at Fredonia.
The logic for this set of options is one of "citizenship."  Just as you need to pass certain hurdles to gain U.S. citizenship and vote in elections in the U.S., so, too, do you need to earn the kind of citizenship that can only come on the tenure stream, according to proponents of this position.  Whether the key criterion is the peer review that comes from a national search or the full range of professional obligations to the department and university, or both, the distinction here is between citizens and resident aliens.  Appointment type is not an arbitrary category in this view, and since the department, the union, the University Senate, and the administration have not put a system in place that approximates the rights and responsibilities of those on the tenure stream for those on contingent appointments, and may never succeed in doing so, making a distinction based on appointment type is justified.

In the future, there may be enough peer review and professional obligation structures in place to extend the franchise to contingent faculty who meet similar citizenship standards as tenure-stream faculty, and it may happen before the next chair takes office.  So some might argue that the "citizenship" requirement is not as big an obstacle to contingent voting as its proponents suggest.  Others could argue that gaining employment at the university is the only "citizenship" hurdle that matters.  Contingent faculty are not responsible for the lack of symmetry with tenure-stream faculty when it comes to peer review and professional obligation and should not be punished for it when it comes to eligibility to help decide who will be their representative and leader.
  • only tenured faculty in the department; or
  • everyone in the above category except those whose teaching responsibilities in the department constitute less than half their total teaching obligation at Fredonia; and/or
  • everyone in the above category except those who administrative responsibilities constitute more than half of their total professional obligation at Fredonia.
The logic for restricting the franchise to those with tenure was laid out in response to the first, minimal-restriction position.  It combines citizenship, residency, and academic freedom rationales for limiting the franchise.

So there you have it.  Can anyone think of other possibilities?  Other rationales?  Other responses?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

First Principles of Shared Governance, Part VI: The Chair Selection Process II

Picking up where I left off yesterday...

Who Should Be Eligible to Serve as Department Chair?

In the English Department at Fredonia, our current handbook doesn't specify any limitations on who may serve as department chair.  So could a graduate assistant run?  A part-time contingent faculty member who's in their 1st semester of teaching in the department?  How about a full-time contingent faculty member who's taught in the department for 20 years?  How about someone from the department who's on the tenure track, but not yet tenured?  Or someone who's already serving in another administrative appointment?  (Our Dean, Provost, and President are all tenured faculty in the English department.)  For that matter, how about someone from another department?

These possibilities are not as outlandish as they may appear at first glance.  Consider a small department faced with such a large wave of retirements and resignations that it has lost all its tenured faculty and where remaining faculty on the tenure track do not want to make such a big and risky commitment as serving as chair.  Let's say in that situation that the remaining department members recommend that their most senior member, who's on a contingent appointment, should serve as chair.  And let's say the Dean recommends instead that a tenured member from another department serve as chair.  And the Provost recommends that the Dean serve as chair.  What's the President to do?

Fortunately, our department is large enough that it's extremely unlikely we'd lose all our tenured members in one fell swoop.  But what if nobody is willing to be nominated for chair during our internal decision-making/recommendation-generation process?  Should we place any restrictions on the Dean's and Provost's recommendations, or on the President's decision?  What sorts of restrictions would be justified?

In discussions with my colleagues on the RHC, several kinds of potentially legitimate restrictions emerged:
  • candidates can't be appointed to a term as chair that is longer than the term of their appointment at Fredonia;
  • candidates for department chair must have tenure;
  • candidates must have at least half their total teaching obligation be in the department;
  • candidates must have less than half their total professional obligation be administrative in nature.
The first would conceivably allow long-serving contingent faculty or intrepid tenure-track faculty to serve as chair, but typically for a shorter period than the typical 3-year term; the second would restrict eligibility to be nominated (or self-nominate) for chair to those with the academic freedom, due process rights, and job security that tenure exists to protect; the third would restrict eligibility to faculty whose teaching responsibilities lie predominantly in the department; the fourth would restrict eligibility to faculty whose teaching responsibility outweighs any administrative responsibilities they may have.  The question was which to recommend and how to combine them. 

In the end, we decided to recommend that "All candidates must have attained tenure in the English Department."  

I was at first against the tenured requirement, on the grounds that we should look to our Handbook on Appointment, Reappointment, and Promotion (HARP) and the current Agreement between UUP and the state of New York for models that allow for minimal restrictions and maximum flexibility to find and appoint the best candidates for chair.  But then I realized that until the university strengthens academic freedom protections by instituting a university-wide "no retaliation" clause for governance activities of all members of the Faculty (including chairs, who are both Presidential designees and Faculty-delegated governance leaders), both tenure-track and contingent faculty who might be appointed to be chair would be particularly vulnerable to pressure from higher-level administrators to allow the former aspect trump the latter when push came to shove.  Since University Handbook revisions and negotiations on Article IV of HARP are the venues for instituting a university-wide "no retaliation" clause for governance activities (modeled on an existing clause for union activities), since those processes will likely take months to play out, and since we need to decide much sooner than that how we ought to elect our next chair, better to err on the safe side and restrict nominations to tenured faculty members.

I was also at first in favor of the third and fourth restrictions we were considering, but decided on reflection and after discussion that they were too restrictive.  If someone had earned the department seal of approval via tenure in the department, shouldn't that be enough to make them eligible to be nominated for chair, however much teaching they were doing outside the department or however many other administrative responsibilities they had?  If no other tenured member of the department were willing to serve as chair, why shouldn't our Dean be eligible for nomination?  Better to have someone with tenure in English supervising the personnel and educational program of the department than somebody who hadn't attained tenure in the department, right?

That's not just a rhetorical question.  What do you all think about these issues?  And my reasoning?

Next up:  who should be eligible to vote for chair?

Monday, November 03, 2014

First Principles of Shared Governance, Part V: The Chair Selection Process I

Last spring, in advance of speaking on a Fredonia panel during the first SUNY-wide conference on shared governance--a conference during which Fredonia received the system's first SUNY Shared Governance Award--I surveyed the progress my campus has made in its approach to shared governance here at Citizen of Somewhere Else.  In making the case that proceduralism matters in university governance, I tried to get across the importance and value of conceiving of shared governance as a system for working out/through disagreements during the institutional decision-making process.  I surveyed the range of revisions we've made to the Fredonia Faculty and University Senate Bylaws as we attempted to codify that understanding.  And I identified the issues and questions that we were tackling and wrestling with right then--many of which we are still figuring out.

Since then, I've been focusing on departmental-level governance issues as a member of the English Department's Review and Hiring Committee, which has been charged with proposing revisions to our department handbook.  With a department vote approaching this Wednesday on the committee's first set of recommendations, I wanted to take the opportunity to clarify my own thinking on the range of choices facing the department with respect to the chair selection process, and hopefully help others do the same.

At Fredonia, as at many colleges and universities, department chairs hold dual appointments, both academic and administrative, and they play dual roles, both representing their departmental colleagues to external audiences and serving as their colleagues' immediate supervisor.  In those latter roles, they are appointed by the President, serve as the President's designee, and may be removed by the President at any time.  Chair appointment and reappointment is not a unilateral presidential decision, however.

The SUNY Board of Trustees Policies require the President to consult with "appropriate faculty including the department or division concerned" on the appointment and reappointment of that department's chair.  Although the Fredonia Bylaws refer to an older (and more ambiguous) version of the Policies, and much remains to be hammered out in University Senate consultations and the UUP Chapter's negotiations with the administration on University Handbook revisions (including Article IV of the Handbook on Appointment, Reappointment, and Promotion, which I wrote about here in mid-October), my take is that the Faculty has delegated its consultative authority to academic departments as governance bodies closer to "affiliate committees" (which determine their own internal policies and procedures) than "standing committees" (which follow basic policies and procedures laid out in the Bylaws but can develop their own on matters not covered by the Bylaws).  So long as departments follow the Bylaws by defining voting eligibility and clarifying internal decision-making processes in ways that are consistent with and subject to higher-order policies (such as the Bylaws, the University Handbook, the Policies of the Board of Trustees, the Agreement between UUP and the state of New York, and New York state law), and so long as they share the document that codifies such definitions and clarifications with the Senate's Governance Officer and all new hires, they may act as shared governance bodies and consult on several kinds of decisions, including the appointment and reappointment of their chairs.

This is why department handbooks (or bylaws or policy manuals) matter:  they specify the process by which consultation with the President happens and they define the roles of the academic staff in the department during this process.  So in proposing revisions to our handbook, the committee I sit on seeks to help the department improve its current framework for making a recommendation to the President as to who should serve as our next department chair.  Of course, we can control only our own internal decision-making and recommendation-generating process.  After the department makes a recommendation to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Dean makes a recommendation to the Provost, and the Provost makes a recommendation to the President.  The Dean and Provost are free to seek input as they decide what recommendations to make and the President has that same freedom to seek input as she decides whom to appoint.  But the better our process and the clearer our recommendation, the more likely it is that the our recommendation will go up the administrative chain unchanged.

Now that I've covered the big picture, I'll do a series of posts on different kinds of specific decisions facing the department.  Next up:  who should be eligible to be nominated for department chair?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Back to the Table

This appeared in the latest issue of the Fredonia UUP Chapter's newsletter, FredUUP! It's an update from me, the chapter Officer for Contingents.

As you may know, negotiations between Fredonia chapter leadership and management on the Handbook on Appointment, Reappointment, and Promotion (HARP) concluded in August. Both sides agreed that Article IV.E, on review of contingent faculty, would be suspended until negotiations could restart during the academic year and agreement could be reached on revisions to Article IV in its entirety.

The chapter leadership has been preparing for this restart of negotiations in the following ways:
  • Ziya Arnavut, chapter President and a member of the HARP negotiating team, held a membership meeting on contingent employment issues on October 3, added me to the team, invited members of Fredonia’s full-time contingent faculty to consider volunteering to represent that constituency on the team, and began forming working groups on issues specific to smaller groups of contingent faculty, such as those in the School of Music and College of Education;
  • Cynthia Smith, Vice President for Academics and also a member of the negotiating team, developed and distributed a survey on Article IV—there’s still time to complete it!
  • I’ve been working with the Contingent Employment Advisory Group (John Arnold, Angelica Astry, Derrik Decker [who’s also a member of the HARP negotiating team], Jeanette Ellian, Anne Fearman, Leonard Jacuzzo, Susan McGee, Tiffany Nicely, Vince Quatroche, and Rebecca Schwab) to turn our demands from last academic year into HARP revision and addition proposals. While attending a statewide Contingent Employment Committee retreat in Albany at the end of semester, I was also able to consult with committee members and statewide Vice President for Academics Jamie Dangler, UUP’s lead negotiator for the new contract.
Through these and other means, the chapter leadership is attempting to be as transparent and inclusive and deliberative as we can be before negotiations officially restart. To that end, I would like to share some of the widely-shared, reasonable, and implementable goals may well guide negotiating team activities this academic year:
  • developing a comprehensive system of ranks/titles that creates advancement opportunities/paths for all contingent faculty at Fredonia (along with policies and procedures for application and review);
  • improving compensation by establishing a university-wide minimum per-credit-hour rate for current and future part-time contingent faculty at Fredonia, by tying promotion to increases in salary or compensation rate, and by tying service to increases in salary or compensation rate for those who want to do it;
  • reducing precariousness and improving predictability by developing a system for increasing lengths of contracts and for incorporating seniority into reappointment procedures;
  • streamlining and specifying review procedures so that they become more useful to contingent faculty and academic departments.
Of course, there are no guarantees in negotiations, it takes two to tango, and we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good or even just the better. But making progress on any of these goals would materially improve terms and conditions for contingent faculty at Fredonia. Please help us by emailing me your stories and suggestions and/or by filling out our survey.



Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Recommended Reading: On Labor

Still no time for substantive blogging, but I thought I'd call your attention to the blog On Labor, which I'm adding to my blogroll!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Recommended Reading: Building Alliances for Access, Equity, and Quality

If you're not following the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, this May is your chance to get up to speed.  On May 16-18 in Albany, NY, CFHE is hosting its 7th national gathering:  Building Alliances for Access, Equity, and Quality.  Please make every effort to attend!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

On Mobilizing and Organizing: The National Mobilization for Equity at SUNY Fredonia

I write to call everyone's attention to the National Mobilization for Equity. As part of that May Day mobilization, I invite contingent faculty/professional UUP members to join the Fredonia chapter's Contingent Employment Advisory Group (CEAG) and all faculty/professionals to participate in our regional outreach activities.

CEAG has been instrumental to forming the chapter's approach toward improving terms and conditions of employment for contingent employees. As we enter local negotiations this summer to establish a system of contingent ranks and titles that provide clear paths for advancement, CEAG will become even more important. As we move toward implementation of a $1000/credit hour university-wide floor which all contingent faculty below it will be brought up to, CEAG's attention can turn to other improvements, such as tying length of contracts and compensation bumps or floors to new contingent ranks and titles and proposing compensation for certain categories of service.

This may seem an odd time to be issuing a call to serve on CEAG and participate in regional outreach activities when reappointment for hundreds of contingent faculty is up in the air. But I would submit that that service can help ensure that the university and the state properly values the contributions contingent employees make to the campus and particularly to the learning and success of SUNY students. There is widespread agreement on this campus that our working conditions are their learning conditions. What we need is to broaden that agreement further to organizations in our region, to students and their families, to taxpayers and citizens, and to our political leaders. "Don't Mourn--Organize!" is as true now as it ever was. Please join us in turning that slogan into reality.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

First Principles of Shared Governance, Part IV: The Live Wires

So far in this series on shared governance, I've been focusing on the importance of bylaws revision and have been attempting to convey something of the vision that has been motivating me and other leaders of the University Senate at SUNY Fredonia, as well as the issues we have addressed and attempted to resolve through discussions with a range of individuals, representative bodies, and constituent groups among the Faculty before seeking approval on amendment motions from the Senate, ratification from the Voting Faculty, and sign-off by the President on any revisions that affect consultation.  Today I want to move from "the vision thing" and "the nitty gritty" to the "the live wires" that are generating their fair share of discussion and debate on the Fredonia campus right now.  It's the unresolved questions about shared governance that I find the most interesting and important right now.

As in the last couple of posts, I'm going to assume readers will be interested enough in these questions to examine our actual language in the SUNY Fredonia Faculty and University Senate Bylaws.  I don't think of our Bylaws as necessarily providing a model for any other college or university, as they are the outcome of a very specific institutional history and the choices of a variety of people responding to particular conditions and structures, but I do think understanding how and why they've come to take the shape they now have can be useful to those considering whether and how to go about revising their own policies and procedures regarding institutional communication and decision-making.  Institutional bylaws are always a work in progress for many reasons:  changes in leadership and leadership styles, developing understandings of the consequences (both intended and unintended) of specific provisions, unforeseen situations that expose a crucial gap or ambiguity, changing attitudes and perspectives among the Faculty, changing circumstances (whether demographic, budgetary, relating to accreditation or external review or system-level policy), and so on.  The key, as I've emphasized in the last couple of posts here, is to figure out how to use bylaws revision to help build trust and solid working relationships between the President and the Faculty that best facilitate honest assessments of the challenges and opportunities facing the university, frank exchanges of views on how to meet them, careful consideration of the grounds for goals and decisions and actions, and a clear understanding of who plays what role when and what those roles entail as and after goals have been set, decisions have been made, and actions have been taken.  Anything that diminishes trust or threatens working relationships provides an opportunity to reexamine bylaws and other relevant governance and policy documents (such as policies and procedures manuals for standing and affiliate committees, department handbooks, and the University Handbook) and consider whether there may be any procedural dimensions to the problem.

So let me put a spotlight on just a few examples of what we've been considering of late on the SUNY Fredonia campus.

Academic Departments as Shared Governance Bodies

We are still working through the implications of the requirement in The Policies of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York that the Faculty delegate certain consultative responsibilities to academic departments, which strongly suggested to us that they should be considered official governance bodies.  We revised the Bylaws (particularly in Article II, Section 3 and Section 6) to reflect and operationalize this understanding.  But many unresolved questions remain:

  • Which kinds of communication and decision-making processes within departments should be determined at the department level?  Which, if any, should be established via Bylaws- or University Handbook-level revision?  (Right now, the Bylaws leave everything up to departments.)
  • What should happen if a department can't or won't develop its own policies and procedures on matters that are clearly departmental prerogatives?  (Right now the Bylaws envision loss of consultative responsibility unless certain minimal conditions are met, but the provisions are too new to be enforced.)
  • Who ought to participate in which kinds of department decisions?  Who ought to vote on which kinds of matters before the department?  How to sort through the differences in faculty appointments, responsibilities, workloads, time in the department, and areas of expertise to arrive at a fair, transparent, and effective internal governance structure?
  • To what extent, if any, should university-level governance policies and procedures established in the Bylaws serve as a guide for department-level structures?  To what extent, if any, should recommendations from professional associations (such as the AAUP) be implemented for department-level governance activities?
  • Since academic departments are also part of the administrative chain, with department faculty typically making recommendations to department chairs, who then make recommendations to their dean, and so on, how to clearly differentiate administrative from governance matters?
As I mentioned in the last post, the Senate Executive Committee has approached these questions very deliberately, seeking this year to determine which departments already have handbooks or other potentially-governance-related policy documents, to survey and code the contents of the handbooks so as to gain a sense of the range of governance-related topics departments have already addressed and variations among them, and to share an inventory with departments, administrators, Senators, and Senate committee members.  Meanwhile, the chapter leadership of United University Professions has identified specific policies (such as the chair appointment process) that they wish to make a priority during the University Handbook review, revision, and approval process I mentioned in previous posts.  Their aim has been to solve existing problems and resolve current conflicts; they have had an opportunity to share their proposal with the Senate Executive Committee and explain it to the Faculty and Professional Affairs Committee, which Executive Committee has charged with reviewing the issues, seeking input from appropriate individuals and bodies, and developing a policy proposal for University Senate consideration.

Executive Committee Responsibilities and Actions

The role of the Executive Committee in converting reports and recommendations from task forces into motions for the Senate to vote on has also come under recent scrutiny on our faculty listserv.
  • The timing of responsibility baton passes--in our most recent case, from the General Education Revision Subcommittee to the Executive Committee to the Senators--has been questioned by some faculty.  The original timeline envisioned at the creation and charging of the subcommittee had to be adjusted to allow for sufficient exploration of a range of unanticipated issues and important questions.  So who was responsible for what when may have become less clear than hope for--or at least more in need of explanation and clarification than may have been expected.
  • The role of the Executive Committee during the spring semester, as a scheduled Senate vote in February was postponed until May, has also been questioned by some faculty.  In coordinating the "review, deliberation, revision, and approval process" and attempting to "develop an efficient, fair, collaborative process aimed at maximizing the quality, legitimacy, and support" of the motion to be brought to the Senate floor, has the Executive Committee ever crossed the line into advocacy for a particular model for General Education?  In its communications with the Faculty, has the Executive Committee clarified the content of the General Education revision motion and explain the process by which it was developed?  Or has it entered inappropriately into debates over the costs and benefits of General Education revision?
I'll close this post with a disclaimer that I'm in the middle of all these debates, not least because I serve as both Vice Chairperson of the University Senate (term ending 30 June 2014) and Officer for Contingents for the Fredonia chapter of United University Professions (term ending 31 May 2015).  Since I haven't been shy about expressing my views and engaging in dialogue with my colleagues on university-wide and department-level communications fora, I'm not going to hold back here, either.  Out of respect to my colleagues and my audience here, I'll try to avoid playing too much "Inside Baseball" and stick to the issues, positions, rationales, and policies and their stakes and implications.

Well, it's time to get ready for that SUNY Voices conference!  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

First Principles of Shared Governance, Part III: The Nitty Gritty

Last post I explored "the vision thing" when it comes to shared governance and consultation, with particular attention to the role bylaws can play in instantiating that vision or theory.  In this post, I plan on getting into the nitty gritty of what bylaws revision has actually entailed at SUNY Fredonia over the last 6 years or so.

Defining Consultation, Shared Governance, Faculty, and Voting Faculty

I encourage you to review the current list of definitions in our bylaws and the way in which we operationalize them in Article II, Section 3.  They are the product of multiple revisions over the last several years.

When I was Chair of the University Senate and he was Vice Chair, Philosophy Professor Dale Tuggy was instrumental in revising and building support for an improved definition of consultation.  (Bonus points if you go into our Senate ANGEL site and compare the May 2007 version of the Bylaws you can find in our "About the University Senate" FAQ folder with the April 2010 version you can find in our "Campus Initiatives" folder for 2009-2010.)  Our aim was to ensure that the Senate would be a forum in which important issues facing the campus would be addressed

Years later, when I was Vice Chairperson, I worked with fellow Executive Committee members and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Kevin Kearns in particular to bring this definition in line with The Policies of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York and to use the BOT Policies, along with other sources, including those from AAUP and Middle States, to develop a definition of "shared governance" and hone our definitions of "faculty" and "voting faculty."  Our overarching goal was to reach agreement on procedural matters that were a persistent source of conflicting interpretations and conflicts over applications as we transitioned from the Hefner to the Horvath administrations.  We attempted to clearly identify different levels of shared governance, from decisions that were administrative prerogatives (where their only responsibility was to seek feedback and input from appropriate individuals and groups) to decisions that required the highest level of shared governance at Fredonia (formal consultation with the Senate, some other official governance body with Faculty-delegated consultative authority, or with the Faculty itself in an official faculty meeting).  We also wanted to establish that the Bylaws apply to everyone on the Faculty and hence that every member of the Faculty (which we define as inclusively as possible within BOT Policies) has the right to cast an equal vote to ratify (or not) Senate-approved substantive amendments to them.  That includes non-voting ex officio members: those with management/confidential appointments are not permitted to serve or vote on the Senate or on Senate Standing Committees at SUNY Fredonia, but they are permitted to vote on Bylaws ratification decisions.

Administrative Review

This was another major initiative during both the Hefner and Horvath administrations.  The heavy lifting was done while I was Chair, when the Senate had to decide what direction to take.  I presented the case for compromising with President Hefner on the purposes of administrative review (which, because a joint effort would involve personnel matters, would require keeping reports on specific Vice Presidents and their divisions confidential), while Vice Chair Tuggy made the case for Senate going it alone and thereby maximizing transparency and the accessibility of reports.  As you can see, we ended up going with the joint effort during the Hefner administration and refining it at the start of the Horvath administration.

Officers

We did a lot of work over the past 6 years clarifying the responsibilities and terms of officers.  Perhaps the most significant shift came during Dale Tuggy's tenure as Chairperson, when we moved from having a rotation of Vice Chair to Chair with 1-year terms for both positions to removing the rotation and allowing the Chairperson to run for up to 4 consecutive 1-year terms before having to sit out for at least one academic year.  The idea here was to strengthen the position of the Chairperson relative to the administrators he or she would be working with by allowing for multi-year planning and pacing by the Chairperson and Executive Committee.

Executive, Standing, and Affiliate Committees

We also did a lot of work clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the Executive Committee and differentiating Standing from Affiliate Committees of the Senate.  During the Hefner administration, many administrative task forces, working groups, and committees were formed that reported directly to the President.  These groups sometimes seemed to be where the real advisory or recommendation-making power on campus flowed from, so when President Horvath took office it was a top priority of Chairperson Rob Deemer and I to find some way of connecting them to Senate.  Long story short, we came up with the distinction between committees primarily aimed at facilitating consultation (Standing) and those primarily aimed at facilitating other shared governance functions (Affiliate).

Task Forces

Similarly, we aimed to clarify the purpose and roles of task forces, whether created by the President or her designee(s), by the Senate Executive Committee, or by both jointly.  Just as we wanted to avoid the appearance or reality of administrative bypassing of official shared governance bodies on campus, we also wanted to avoid confusions that arose in the past when task forces would bring their reports and recommendations directly to the Senate, but Senators would be unclear on what motion was actually coming before them and what precisely they were voting on.  By making sure that task forces would be charged with reporting to the people or bodies that formed them, and putting the responsibility for initiating consultation based on those reports with those people or bodies, we sought to provide an orderly path for recommendations to become motions before the Senate.  This shift has recently been the subject of a small controversy, which I'll address in another post.

Academic Departments

Another major transformation that the 2013 Bylaws revisions enshrined in our official practices and procedures was to identify departments as Faculty-delegated official governance bodies at SUNY Fredonia, with specific consultative responsibilities as defined by the BOT's Policies.  We sought input from a variety of sources, both on and off campus, before we made this judgment call.  This is a shift we are still wrestling with on campus and within departments themselves (including my own); the Fredonia UUP Chapter Executive Board and the Senate Executive Committee have tried to address the issues in different ways, which I'll get into in another post.

Electronic Quorum and Voting

Given that one of the knocks on shared governance is that the faculty and administrative calendars don't mesh well together, so that going to a body like the University Senate means you have to get things done between September and December or between January and May, we decided to develop a system for electronic deliberation and voting.  Too many times in recent years, time-limited proposals have been sprung on Executive Committee during the winter or the summer, and we have had to invoke our emergency powers in order to respond.  Once the Senate approves in our May meeting the use of google groups for deliberation and the current electronic voting system that we use for elections and ratification votes for between-meeting voting, the new Bylaws requirement for both a super-quorum and a super-majority for a motion to pass mean that we both have a way of responding to emergency requests as a body and of giving incentives for most serious business to take place in face-to-face meetings.

Senate/Standing Committee Membership

Our current Bylaws amendment ratification vote has just opened.  In it, we try to set up a system of membership on the Senate and on Standing Committees that allows for the first time since I have been at Fredonia the chance to take a semester off (for a leave, for a family emergency, etc.) during your term and that clarifies how term limits are supposed to work.  In addition, we try to make it easier to respond to sudden or late requests for governance leaders to appoint members of various non-governance groups (both existing and future).

***

So that's the run-down--really, just an overview, and a dry one at that--of the major Bylaws revision projects we've taken on since 2008 or so at SUNY Fredonia.  There are something like a dozen great stories behind each of them, but neither time nor common sense permits me to share any of them here and now!  I will get into some of the unresolved questions and issues our revisions have raised in another post, so you'll get some sense of the give-and-take as we consider what policies will best serve the Faculty, the university, and our students.

First Principles of Shared Governance, Part II: The Vision Thing

Every set of bylaws, no matter how seemingly dry, arcane, or limited to procedural matters, articulates a vision and enacts a theory of shared governance and consultation.  At SUNY Fredonia, we've spent a good portion of the last 5 years trying to work out just what that "vision thing" is and should be.  Our current Bylaws are the product of multiple revisions (in advance of approval by University Senate, ratification by the Voting Faculty for each set of substantive revisions, and sign-off by the President for each set that affects consultation).  By no means are they perfect, but at least we are trying to make them consistent, both internally and with respect to a theory of shared governance that I haven't seen clearly articulated elsewhere.  So let me try to identify what it is, what it's not, and what its implications for shared governance seem to be.

What It Is

The Preamble to our Bylaws makes reference to an underlying theory of shared governance by recourse to a pair of similes:
The Policies of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York establish a framework for shared governance and consultation at SUNY Fredonia (and throughout the SUNY system) and our Bylaws function as a constitution and operating system for institutional communication and decision-making that involves the Faculty and its official representatives.
What does it mean to think of bylaws as something akin to a constitution?  One way that's been quite pertinent to my own thinking about the question is that a constitution's primary function is to provide a framework within which disagreements can be aired, vetted, debated, and eventually resolved.  The only consensus it presumes is a shared commitment to resolving disagreements within the framework established by the constitution, including the means for amending it.  In the same way that all branches of the U.S. federal government are subject to the U.S. Constitution, and that state laws must be consistent with it, so, too, are the President and her designees (~the executive branch), the University Senate or other predominant official governance body for a college or university (~the legislature), and any other official governance bodies, like Standing Committees, Affiliate Committees, and academic departments are at SUNY Fredonia (~the states), all subject to their college's or university's bylaws.  The analogy isn't perfect, of course--for instance, with no equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court, power is more concentrated in the hands of the President of a campus than it is with the President of the United States--but it gets across the high stakes of the procedures our Bylaws lays out for how institutional communication and decision-making will be handled on our campus.  With those stakes in mind, our Bylaws err on the side of overspecificity; our goal is to provide everyone involved with as clear a picture as possible of how the overall (political) system is supposed to work.

Why do we do this?  I won't take you through a line-by-line reading of our definitions (although see in particular how we define "Faculty," "Shared Governance," and "Consultation" in Article I) or our run-down of the Faculty's powers and functions (Article II, which I think is our most important innovation), but I will point out some peculiarities inherent in being a campus in a state university system that includes a statewide union which represents all faculty and professionals in the system (United University Professions, or UUP).

For one thing, the Policies of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York might be better compared to the U.S. Constitution, while the SUNY Fredonia Faculty and University Senate Bylaws might be better compared to a state constitution.  Everything we do has to be consistent with the BOT's Policies, as well as with the system-wide policies and procedures approved by the statewide University Faculty Senate and signed by the Chancellor.

For another, it means the current Agreement between United University Professions and the state of New York, which focuses on terms and conditions of employment and establishes what is subject to negotiation rather than consultation, also sets bounds on what the system- or campus-level shared governance process can achieve.  When UUP asserts its exclusive right to bargain on behalf of the faculty and professionals it represents, the most any governance body can seek to do is advise both labor and management on that matter.  By the same token, unless management agrees to negotiate with UUP on any matter other than terms and conditions of employment, UUP can only advise the official governance bodies on the SUNY Fredonia campus.

This is where we probably reach the limits of the "constitution" analogy's usefulness, and where it might be more useful to turn to the "operating system" simile.  For another way of thinking about bylaws is that they function in a similar way as an operating system in a computer does:  they allow the parts of the computer (~the university) to work together, act as an intermediary between hardware (~the people and resources of the university) and programs (~the functions of those people and resources), provide a platform for application software (~the range of things universities do), and need to be working for users (~administration, academic faculty, professional staff, students) to make the computer (~university) do anything.  Without a clearly-identified process for, say, approving a new degree program or a revision to graduation requirements in an existing program, well...you get the picture, right?  Bylaws help allow the orchestration of a variety of concurrent decision-making processes essential to the operation of the university.

Consider, as well, one of the major projects it's taken leaders from the administration, the Senate Executive Committee, and the Fredonia UUP Chapter almost a year to plan:  updating and improving our University Handbook.  This entailed developing a process for deciding who reviews, revises or creates, and approves which policies.  While in theory some policies are purely administrative, others require consultation, and still others require negotiation, in practice that meant multiple meetings to determine which were which and build trust, so as to reduce the odds of turf battles arising down the road.  We're just about ready to start divvying up the actual work of policy review, revision/creation, and approval.  By clearly defining shared governance and consultation (Article I) and clearly identifying different levels and processes for shared governance (Article II, Section 3), the Fredonia Bylaws helped make it easier for the leaders of different groups figure out how to work together.

Perhaps an overly simplistic way to treat the "operating system" analogy is to think of the system of shared governance instantiated by the bylaws as a car that needs to be tuned up or overhauled periodically so that the driver can use it to get somewhere safely and quickly.  Our process of revising the Fredonia Bylaws between 2008 and 2013, and particularly during the 2012-2013 academic year, has enabled faculty and administrators to better trust the vehicle and trust each other to play our appropriate roles as we take it for a spin.

To move from similes to theory, then, one underlying principle that animates the Fredonia Bylaws is that the most unproductive conflicts--and those most important to avoid--come about because of a lack of agreement over what kind of shared governance activity is necessary in order for a given decision to be legitimately made (and by whom).  Our Bylaws draw on BOT Policies, a landmark statement by the SUNY Chancellor, and principles articulated by Middle States and AAUP (all of which we quote extensively from in Article II, Section 2) to enjoin the President and the representatives of the Faculty (which is typically the Executive Committee of the University Senate) to reach procedural agreement on every kind of decision where consultation or input from the Faculty (whether through a faculty meeting, the Senate, standing or affiliate committees, academic departments, or other bodies delegated by the Faculty to consult or give input) is warranted.  By limiting the possibility and scope of procedural conflicts, the Fredonia Bylaws enable all of us to focus on substantive matters.

What It's Not

It should be clear by now that we are trying to strike a middle ground at Fredonia between two extreme views of shared governance.

One puts the administration firmly in the driver's seat.  Since everything that bubbles through shared governance processes is ultimately advisory to the campus President--is at heart a recommendation to the President--some argue that this makes the activities of official shared governance bodies nothing but a rubber stamp or road block for decisions the administration has already made.  You see this conception of shared governance in arguments for or expressions of both administrative and faculty cynicism.  "Shared governance is a medieval relic inappropriate for the modern world of higher education."  "Why should we take shared governance seriously?  The administration will do what they want anyway."  "The key to managing faculty is getting them to believe they came up with the policy themselves."  "Faculty are too indecisive, complacent, and self-interested to govern themselves."  "Administrators are too manipulative, dishonest, and careerist to be trusted."  It's this conception of shared governance that leads too many faculty to become disengaged or disillusioned.  It's this conception of shared governance that leads too many administrators to scheme how to bypass or bamboozle official governance bodies.

The other extreme either puts the faculty firmly in the driver's seat or casts the administration as the faculty's chauffeur.  One problem with this mode of shared governance--which as a faculty member I admit I find more attractive than the other extreme--is that it tends to presume that "the faculty" will always speak with a united voice, that given time clear majorities will emerge on any and all issues, that the faculty will in fact have an infinite amount of time to arrive at consensus.  Absent the bogeyman of the administration to rally support for or against a particular position or solution, however, how consistently will the faculty be able to arrive at decisions in an efficient, fair, and collaborative manner?  Another problem with this conception of shared governance is that it runs the risk of turning official governance bodies into shadow administrations, with all the duplication of effort, turf battles, second-guessing, and mutual recriminations that seem to go with that territory.  Furthermore, the more powerful leaders of official governance bodies become, the more distant they are in danger of becoming from everyday faculty, the more everyday faculty are prone to start treating them as quasi-administrators.  And given that administrators have to manage faculty and make personnel decisions, to the extent that faculty take on these roles, whether or not they have those titles (or salaries!), they, too, will have to make judgment calls where there are valid arguments on many sides of a question or issue and competing goods and interests at stake.  It's truly difficult to imagine how a large and complex enough college or university would function with just the President and the Faculty doing it all, no matter how nostalgic some of us may be for those good ol' days.  And believe me, I've tried!

Implications for Shared Governance

So the moral to this version of Goldilocks is what exactly?  Let's identify a few morals:

  • Your bylaws are a useful tool for engaging in serious discussions across roles, positions, and lines of responsibility about the meaning of shared governance and consultation on your campus and the principles and values underlying the policies, procedures, practices, and systems that enable institutional communication and decision-making.
  • Revising your bylaws can provide opportunities to revisit, review, and rejuvenate agreements and ground rules for interactions between the President and the Faculty.
  • Going through the bylaws review, revision, approval, and ratification process can therefore increase awareness, build trust, and limit the odds and scope of conflicts over proper procedures, allowing everyone involved to focus on what's best for the institution and what best helps it achieve its mission.
  • It may be a pain and painstaking process to figure out how to come to agreement on what kind of shared governance activity is warranted for which kind of institutional decision, but it saves time and headaches down the road.
  • Always look to adapt rather than adopt models from other institutions or principles articulated by national organizations.  It's more important that faculty and administrators at your institution go through the process and come to agreement on a framework for approaching procedural matters than it is to hold out for every last detail of your ideal external model.  Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good--or at least the better.
  • If your President is ever resistant to good-faith efforts to improve the bylaws on your campus, look for windows of opportunity, such as when planning for a major university-wide accreditation agency site visit is in the works, when a President is close to retiring and interested in leaving a legacy, or when a President is new on the job and looking to establish good working relations with multiple campus constituencies.
All that said, bylaws are always a work in process.  They depend for their validity on the confidence campus constituencies have in them.  When legitimate objections are raised, and thoughtful revisions are proposed, they need to be carefully vetted, debated, approved, and ratified.  This fall and spring, the Executive Committee proposed and the Senate approved two more sets of Bylaws revisions, the latter of which are going up for a ratification vote shortly.  And just in the last week a procedural debate has bubbled over onto our faculty listserv.  More on these topics in later posts!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

First Principles of Shared Governance, Part I: Buckle Your Seat Belts, Kids!

I'm heading out to Albany in the middle of next week to be on a panel with SUNY Fredonia University Senate Chairperson Rob Deemer and Governance Officer John McCune at the SUNY Voices 1st Annual Conference on Shared Governance.  Its theme is "Shared Governance for Institutions of Higher Education in the 21st Century:  Beyond Stereotypes"; my focus will be "Improved Shared Governance through Strong Bylaws."  I've been playing a lead role in upgrading the SUNY Fredonia Faculty and University Senate Bylaws off and on ever since I was 1st elected Vice Chairperson in 2008, but we developed, approved, and ratified the most comprehensive set of revisions to the Bylaws last year.  Since I have only about 10 minutes to summarize our emerging vision/theory of shared governance, survey the most significant changes to the Bylaws in the past 5 years or so, and identify as-yet-unresolved questions, I thought I'd better use Citizen of Somewhere Else to work through my ideas and provide some perspective on the debates we're currently having in departments and on the Senate at Fredonia.  My girls are just about done with Japanese school this morning, though, and we have a birthday party in Fredonia to get them to by 2, so this post will have to serve as a heads-up to come back here the next week or so, check in on my progress, and weigh in in comments!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Heraldry in Ned Ward's "A Trip to Jamaica"

Taking a break from governance/union/funding matters to make a note of a surprisingly racialized heraldry reference in Ned Ward's A Trip to Jamaica (1698):
A Man under this Misery, may be said to be the 'Scutchion of the Island, the Complection of the Patient, being the Field, bearing Or charg'd with all the Emblems of Destruction, proper, supported by Two Devils, Sables; and Death the Crest, Argent. (488)
This version is from Carla Mulford's anthology, Early American Writings, and follows upon a sarcastic portrayal of the unhealthy effects of a Jamaican diet on travelling Europeans, including "The Dry Belly-Ach," which "takes away the use of their Limbs, that they are forc'd to be let about by Negro's" (488)--who are, of course, the "Two DevilsSables" referred to above.

There's a connection to both The Scarlet Letter and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn here, but what kind of connection is the question I'll leave hanging for now...and just bemoan the fact that I heard about this conference in searching for my older posts here on the topic!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What SUNY Fredonia Needs from New York State's Leaders

The SUNY Fredonia Administration, Student Association, University Senate, and United University Professions and Civil Service Employees Association chapter Executive Boards issue the following urgent appeal to western-region and state-wide leaders as the New York State budget process enters its end game.  We agree the following legislative priorities would benefit our campus, our students, our local community, our region, and our state.

Enhance and Invest in SUNY State-Operated Campuses
  • increase state funding for SUNY’s operating costs
    • fully fund all contractual increases
    • fully commit to maintenance of effort
    • provide relief to campuses for winter emergency utilities charges
  • develop a short- and long-term solution to the hospitals crisis that avoids harm to the academic and teaching mission of SUNY and its medical schools and two-year and four-year universities
  • increase capital funding to repair, maintain, and enhance SUNY’s infrastructure
  • support full funding for Fredonia’s NY SUNY 2020 proposal
  • engage and support SUNY Fredonia’s START-UP NY plan
  • think of SUNY if one-time funds become available
Commit to Quality, Access, Affordability, and Student Success throughout SUNY
  • invest in New York’s students, maintain SUNY’s affordability, and reduce student and family debt by taking concrete steps to reverse the chronic state underfunding of SUNY’s operating costs
  • adequately fund SUNY’s opportunity programs
  • extend the DREAM Act to undocumented SUNY students
  • invest in current students and veterans as strongly as the Governor has committed to offering higher educational opportunities to prisoners
  • if we’re going to do Open SUNY, ensure that it does not compromise educational quality and access, shared governance, or the mission of SUNY

Contacts
Ziya Arnavut, President, Fredonia United University Professions arnavut@fredonia.edu
John Baughman, President, Civil Service Association Local 607 baughman@fredonia.edu
Robert Deemer, Chairperson, SUNY Fredonia University Senate deemer@fredonia.edu
Virginia Horvath, President, SUNY Fredonia horvath@fredonia.edu
Antonio Regulier, President, Fredonia Student Association regu0674@fredonia.edu
Bruce Simon, Western Region Co-Coordinator, UUP Outreach Committee simon@fredonia.edu
Idalia Torres, Western Region Co-Coordinator, UUP Outreach Committee torres@fredonia.edu

For more, see our joint statement!

Here's the list of leaders our letter and statement went out to electronically.  Anyone who wants to help us out by making calls or sending emails, we'd welcome the support!

The 4 Men in the Room
Governor Cuomo, https://www.governor.ny.gov/contact/GovernorContactForm.php, 518-474-8390
Jeffrey Klein, jdklein@nysenate.gov, 518-455-3595
Sheldon Silver, speaker@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-3791
Dean Skelos, skelos@nysenate.gov, 518-455-3171

Higher Education Budget Conference Committee
Deborah Glick, glickd@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-4841
José Rivera, riveraj@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5414
William Colton, coltonw@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5828
Amy Paulin, paulina@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5585
William Barclay, barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5841
Michelle Schimel, schimelm@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5192
Gary Finch, finchg@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5878
Kenneth LaValle, lavalle@nysenate.gov, 518-455-3121
James Seward, seward@nysenate.gov, 518-455-3131
Joseph Robach, robach@nysenate.gov, 518-455-2909
Mark Grisanti, grisanti@nysenate.gov, 518-455-3240
Toby Ann Stavisky, stavisky@nysenate.gov, 518-455-3461

Other State-Wide Leaders
John DeFrancisco, jdefranc@nysenate.gov, 518-455-3511
Herman Farrell, Jr., farrellhassembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5491
Liz Krueger, lkrueger@nysenate.gov, 518-455-2297
Robert Oaks, oaksr@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5655
Andrea Stewart-Cousins, scousins@nysenate.gov, 518-455-2585

Other Western Region Legislators
John Ceretto, cerettoj@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5284
Jane Corwin, corwinj@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-4601
David DiPietro, dipietrod@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5314
Patrick Gallivan, gallivan@nysenate.gov, 518-455-3471
Joseph Giglio, giglioj@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5241
Andrew Goodell, goodella@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-4511
Michael Kearns, kearnsm@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-4691
Timothy Kennedy, kennedy@nysenate.gov, 518-455-2426
Crystal Peoples-Stokes, peoplesstokesc@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-5005
Michael Ranzenhofer, ranz@nysenate.gov, 518-455-3161
Sean Ryan, ryans@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-4886
Robin Schimminger, schimmr@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-4767
Raymond Walter, walterr@assembly.state.ny.us, 518-455-4618
Catharine Young, cyoung@nysenate.gov, 518-455-3563

[Update 1 (9:33 am):  I'm reading on twitter that budget bills are being printed on education and higher education.  Trying to find out how often they get amended on the floor....  Follow me @citizense for breaking news.]

[Update 2 (12:34 pm):  Here are some links to articles and blog posts coming out with highlights of the budget:
Waiting for specifics on SUNY.]

[Update 3 (12:42 pm):  The New York Times article doesn't add many details but is good on context on pre-k and charter schools.]

[Update 4 (1:35 pm):  TWC has what they tweeted was a full budget, but looks like highlights to me.]

[Update 5 (1:47 pm):  The Albany Daily Gazette has a few more details, but SUNY remains off the radar.  Hasn't come up in conference call yet, either.]

[Update 6 (1:55 pm):  Lots of details in this lohud.com post, but still nothing on SUNY mentioned.]