Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Union Calls on Board of Trustees to Rescind Pathways

PSC Pres. Barbara Bowen sent this letter to CUNY Board of Trustees Chair Benno Schmidt on Fri., June 21. The letter calls on Chairman Schmidt to respect the full-time faculty’s 92% vote of No Confidence in Pathways and rescind the resolution that established the program. “A curriculum that has so dramatically failed to win the confidence of those responsible for executing it cannot be in the best interest of the University,” she says in the letter. The overwhelming result of the No Confidence vote demands that “Pathways be removed from its position as CUNY’s general education curriculum and replaced by a curriculum or curricula formulated by elected faculty bodies,” according to Pres. Bowen. Members of the CUNY Board of Trustees received a similar letter, which was copied to Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and Interim Chancellor William Kelly.

June 21, 2013

Dr. Benno Schmidt
Chairperson, Board of Trustees
The City University of New York
205 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017

Dear Chairperson Schmidt:

I am writing to call on you, as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, to take the
necessary actions to rescind the June 27, 2011 resolution, “Creating an Efficient
Transfer System.” In a vote counted on May 31, the full-time faculty of CUNY, by a
margin of 92%, voted No Confidence in the curriculum the resolution produced.
Nearly four thousand full-time faculty—an absolute majority—voted No Confidence in
Pathways. As president of the Professional Staff Congress, which has voted repeatedly
to reject Pathways, I ask you to respect the vote of No Confidence and rescind the
Pathways resolution.

A vote of No Confidence, as you know, is not merely a statement of opposition. It is a
demand that the subject of the vote be removed from a position of power and replaced
by an alternative. Our demand is that Pathways be removed from its position as
CUNY’s general education curriculum and replaced by a curriculum or curricula
formulated by elected faculty bodies. The elected faculty bodies stand ready to work
expeditiously on the important issue of student transfer, and recognize the complexity
of doing so when implementation of Pathways has already begun.

The No Confidence vote was conducted by secret ballot among the 7202 full-time
faculty at CUNY from May 9 to May 31. The result, tabulated by the American
Arbitration Association at a vote-count open to observers, was as follows: 4322 voters,
or 60% of the total, cast ballots; 3996, more than 92%, agreed with a statement of No
Confidence in Pathways; and only 323, or 7%, disagreed (3 ballots were void).
There is now no question as to whether Pathways has the support of the faculty: an
absolute majority has voted No Confidence. A curriculum that has so dramatically
failed to win the confidence of those responsible for executing it cannot be in the best
interest of the University. I call on you to protect the interests of the University and the
future of its students by acting on the vote and initiating a repeal of the June 2011

This is the first time in the history of the University, as far as we can determine, that the faculty has voted No Confidence in the University’s entire general education curriculum. It is a moment to listen to the faculty of whom the CUNY administration is justly proud and resolve the public crisis of confidence in CUNY. We call on you to do so immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Bowen
President, Professional Staff Congress/CUNY

cc: Dr. Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor, The City University of New York
Dr. William P. Kelly, President, CUNY Graduate Center
Faculty and Professional Staff, CUNY

Monday, June 24, 2013

Open Letter from the Department of Business Management and Finance

Over the last several months president Gould has intervened in the governance of several departments including Accounting, Modern Languages, and Business Management and Finance. Some other departments and programs are also expressing concerns about the role of Deans and the President in the internal governance of their departments.

While the President has the right to overrule the selection of a chair by a department (subject to approval by the Board of Trustees), this right has typically been reserved for extreme situations where a department is completely divided or otherwise unable to manage their own governance. President Gould‘s more recent interventions do not fit this pattern. In the case of Business Management and Finance, the department voted unanimously to reelect Robert Bell as Chair. When they were told that that selection was unacceptable to the President, for reasons that have yet to be stated, the department unanimously supported a second candidate. Despite this, the President continues to insist on bringing in a new chair from outside the college.

Below is an open letter from the members of the Department of Business Management and Finance, who are fighting the President’s decision. We will be posting additional information about the situation in several other departments and programs in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Open Letter from the Department of Business Management and Finance

On Wednesday, May 22, a meeting was called by Brooklyn College President Karen Gould with members of the Department of Finance & Business Management to “discuss future departmental leadership.”  Upon our arrival the department members were told that President Gould would not accept the department’s election of Dr. Robert Bell, who was unanimously re-elected as department chairman for the fifth consecutive time on May 7. Instead, President Gould mandated that an acting Chair be appointed for the 2013-2014 academic year, during which a nationwide search for a permanent Chair would be conducted. President Gould “graciously” allowed for members of the department to submit emails to her expressing their individual preference for acting Chair, but left no doubt that the ultimate decision would reside with her. This week, President Gould announced that she has appointed Professor Clifton Clarke, who has the support of the department.

President Gould’s meeting with the department was almost completely one-sided and violated her contractual responsibility to consult with the department before overturning the democratic decision of the department. President Gould has also failed to make a case for why she feels this decision is necessary, making it very difficult to engage in any kind of good faith consultation with her. In addition, the department has made it clear that it is willing to discuss any problems she sees in the administration and direction of the department or its place in the School of Business . She has not engaged the faculty about any of these issues. The department has even indicated it is willing to consider an alternate chair of the Department’s choosing if the President were to articulate some compelling reason why Robert Bell is not the best choice to lead the department. No such case has been made.

Our department is not divided or unable to make decisions for itself, and sees no need for either an acting chair or an outside chair to be appointed by the president. While we are happy to have Prof. Clarke be the interim chair, we see no reason why either he or Prof. Bell could not serve as the actual elected chair of the department.

In response to this failure to consult, the PSC filed a formal grievance. The college has acknowledged their error and a new meeting has been scheduled. While we hope this will result in a more substantive conversation, we are concerned that the President’s mind is made up and that the will of the faculty will be ignored. We continue to assert that Prof. Bell is the unanimous choice of the faculty to lead the department.

It is impossible to argue with Dr. Bell’s academic credentials, and the international prestige he has added to Brooklyn College . He is a world renowned recognized expert on investments in green energy and conflicts of interests in energy transition. He was invited to give the keynote address at the 2d Universal Ethics Summit of the G20 in Seoul , Korea and the International Real Estate Congress in Cannes . He has also written several books including The Green Bubble, which was published in both English and French. He is currently co-authoring with a French former Minister of the Environment (and current Member of the EU Parliament) a proposal to both the EU Parliament and the French government-- Project Volt Gas Volt, a comprehensive solution to the global warming crisis and to energy independence.

Dr. Bell has presided as chair since 2002.  During that time the department experienced incredible growth so that it now stands as the single most popular department at Brooklyn College , boasting approximately one-thousand-eight-hundred majors. Under Dr. Bell’s guidance the department has consistently upgraded its standards with an explosion of new courses encompassing an interdisciplinary approach, including Electronic Commerce, Ethnic Marketing & Multicultural Business, Green Business, Small Business Management & Minority Entrepreneurship, and Global Financial Management.

Dr. Bell is also enthusiastically committed to the pursuit of AACSB accreditation for the Brooklyn College School of Business.

President Gould’s attempt to deprive the Department of Finance & Business Management’s right to democratically determine its own leader is in direct contradiction to the spirit of collegiality and harmony that has been the trademark of this department since Dr. Bell assumed the reins as Chairman more than ten years ago. Her plan to impose an outsider to lead the department has been detrimental to faculty morale and could seriously delay the AACSB accreditation process.

President Gould has failed to make a case for why Dr. Bell is not qualified to lead the department or why the department is incapable of managing its own affairs. She has also failed to meet her contractual obligation of a meaningful consultation with the department before making such a decision. Accordingly, we, the members of the Brooklyn College Department of Finance & Business Management, stand together in unanimous opposition to the unilateral rejection of Dr. Robert Bell as Chairperson of our department and demand his reinstatement in that role.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Forget MOOCs--Let's Use MOOA

Between CUNY First, increasing enrollment, and hiring freezes, HEOs and other administrative support staff have experienced significant increases in workload and stress.  In every round of contract bargaining, the CUNY administration has tried to reduce HEO job security and deny them avenues for promotion.
Meanwhile, the number of top administrators is increasing along with their salaries. Promotions without significant increases in responsibilities are also common, creating an army of Deans, Deanlettes, Senior Vice Presidents, Assoc. Provosts, etc., not to mention the growth of CUNY Central Administration, which has brought us such wonders as Pathways and CUNY First.
It is this context that we offer the following post by Prof. Benjamin Ginsberg at Johns Hopkins, reprinted from Minding the Campus.

June 13, 2013

Forget MOOCs--Let's Use MOOA

By Benjamin Ginsberg
As colleges begin using massive open online courses (MOOC) to reduce faculty costs, a Johns Hopkins University professor has announced plans for MOOA (massive open online administrations). Dr. Benjamin Ginsberg, author of The Fall of the Faculty, says that many colleges and universities face the same administrative issues every day. By having one experienced group of administrators make decisions for hundreds of campuses simultaneously, MOOA would help address these problems expeditiously and economically. Since MOOA would allow colleges to dispense with most of their own administrators, it would generate substantial cost savings in higher education.
"Studies show that about 30 percent of the cost increases in higher education over the past twenty-five years have been the result of administrative growth," Ginsberg noted. He suggested that MOOA can reverse this spending growth.  "Currently, hundreds, even thousands, of vice provosts and assistant deans attend the same meetings and undertake the same activities on campuses around the U.S. every day," he said.  "Imagine the cost savings if one vice provost could make these decisions for hundreds of campuses." 
Asked if this "one size fits all" administrative concept was realistic given the diversity of problems faced by thousands of schools, Ginsberg noted that a "best practices" philosophy already leads administrators to blindly follow one another's leads in such realms as planning, staffing, personnel issues, campus diversity, branding and, curriculum planning. The MOOA, said Ginsberg, would take "best practices" a step further and utilize it to realize substantial cost savings.
Ginsberg pointed to the realm of strategic planning. He said that thanks to to the best practices concept, hundreds of schools currently use virtually identical strategic plans. Despite the similarities, however, these plans cost each school hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to develop. The MOOA would formalize the already extant cooperation by developing one plan that could be used by all colleges. Ginsberg estimates that had the MOOA planning concept been in use over the past ten years, schools would have saved more than a half billion dollars.  "One way to look at it," he said, "Is that through their tuitions students paid about $500 million for strategic planning that might have been used for curricular development or other educational purposes."  The MOOA plan, he declared, would end such wasteful duplication. 
According to Ginsberg, another place where the MOOA concept is immediately relevant is "branding."  Following contemporary business models, hundreds of schools pay consulting firms hundreds of thousands of dollars to help them improve their "brand" identities. The results of these expensive individual efforts often seem quite similar. For example, after a major and costly rebranding effort, the University of Chicago School of Medicine declared that its brand would be "University of Chicago Medicine." After working with consultants, the Johns Hopkins Medical School decided that its brand would be "Johns Hopkins Medicine." And, the University of Pennsylvania Medical School was helped by its consultants to coin the brand, "Penn Medicine." A MOOA might have identified a brand that all medical schools would be happy to use, such as "[School's Name] Medicine."   
Ginsberg also suggested that the "best practices" philosophy has led administrators at many schools to develop similar tasks and projects. At his own university, administrators created a "committee on traditions" to rediscover forgotten school traditions or, if necessary, to invent new ones. Similar committees had also been created by administrators on a number of other campuses including Emory, Duke, Middlebury, and Bowling Green.  "Interestingly," said Ginsberg, "administrators meeting on dozens of campuses have uncovered or devised very similar traditions." Substituting one MOOA "committee on traditions" for the dozens, perhaps hundreds of such committees would generate significant savings.   
Ginsberg has named his MOOA "Administeria," and plans to begin operations in early 2014.  He admits that widespread use of MOOAs could result in substantial unemployment among college bureaucrats. However, he noted that their skill sets make them qualified for work in such burgeoning industries as retail sales, hospitality, food services, event planning, and horticultural design. 
Benjamin Ginsberg is David Bernstein Professor of Political Science at The Johns Hopkins University.
(Photo: Benjamin Ginsberg. Credit: Johns Hopkins.)
- See more at:

AAUP Resolution on Pathways

The following resolution was passed at the national meeting of the American Assoc. of University Professors last weekend:

Resolution in Support of Faculty Control of the Curriculum at the City University of New York

Whereas, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has been a longstanding proponent of sound academic governance, the principles of which are enunciated in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, and

Whereas, the Statement on Government, which embodies standards widely upheld in American higher education, rests on the premise of appropriately shared responsibility and cooperative action among the governing board, the administration, and the faculty in determining educational policy and resolving educational problems within the academic institution, and

Whereas, Section V of the Statement on Government defines the role of the faculty in institutional governance, stating in part:

The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.

Whereas, faculty control of the curriculum is essential for academic quality, and faculty must formulate and oversee the curriculum if the university is to retain its academic character, and

Whereas, the Professional Staff Congress, an affiliate of the AAUP representing faculty and professional staff at the City University of New York (CUNY), is waging a campaign for the repeal of Pathways—a top-down overhaul of CUNY’s general-education framework that will replace all existing general-education curricula and force colleges to reduce the number and quality of required courses, and

Whereas, Article VIII, Section 5 of the CUNY bylaws lists formulation of the curriculum as a duty of the faculty, stating:

The faculty shall be responsible, subject to guidelines, if any, as established by the board, for the formulation of policy relating to the admission and retention of students including health and scholarship standards therefor, student attendance including leaves of absence, curriculum, awarding of college credit, granting of degrees.

Whereas, Article VIII Section 10 of the CUNY Bylaws lists formulation of curriculum as a duty of the University Faculty Senate, stating:

There shall be a university faculty senate, responsible, subject to the board, for the formulation of policy relating to the academic status, role, rights, and freedoms of the faculty, university-level educational and instructional matters, and research and scholarly activities of university-wide import.

Whereas, the CUNY administration has circumvented elected faculty bodies and college governance—and violated academic freedom—in the development and imposition of Pathways, and

Whereas, Pathways reduces academic quality and rigor at CUNY by introducing basic science courses without lab sessions, decreasing requirements for foreign language study, and replacing academic disciplines with vaguely defined interdisciplinary fields, and

Whereas, the CUNY administration has responded to legitimate faculty objections to Pathways with intimidation, threats, and coercion, and

Whereas, the AAUP has communicated with the CUNY administration several times regarding Pathways, warning against attacks on academic freedom and shared governance and raising objections to the atmosphere of threats and coercion that has accompanied the implementation of Pathways, and

Whereas, more than 60 percent of CUNY’s full-time faculty participated in a university-wide referendum about Pathways conducted by the American Arbitration Association at the request of the Professional Staff Congress, and

Whereas, 92 percent of voters declared they had No Confidence in the Pathways curriculum by voting "agree" to a statement that read: "I have No Confidence in Pathways."

Therefore, be it resolved, that the AAUP calls upon the CUNY Board of Trustees to repeal the June 2011 resolution which established the Pathways curriculum, because it has failed to earn the confidence of the faculty who must implement it, and

Be it further resolved, that the AAUP calls upon the CUNY chancellery and the CUNY Board of Trustees to reinstate shared governance at CUNY and respect the role of elected faculty leaders in formulating the curriculum.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Is CUNY really upholding the Legacy of Medgar Evers?

Earlier this week, President Gould sent out a statement to the Brooklyn College community to honor the legacy of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers. We indeed applaud the gesture, but find it bitterly ironic that CUNY has managed in just one decade to cut in half the percentage of black freshmen at Brooklyn College and City College, campuses located in two of the city's most predominantly (and historically significant) black communities.

Earlier this year, a group of black and Latino faculty and staff, concerned about changes to Brooklyn College's Black and Latino Male Initiative, sent a letter to the administration that has yet to be formally addressed. In it concerned faculty and staff express the very issue of low black/Latino enrollment and recruitment at Brooklyn College. Below are excerpts from the letter:

January 31, 2013 To: Acting Associate Provost, Dr. Sharona Levy

From: Members of the Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) and Latino Faculty and Staff Organization (LaFASO), Brooklyn College (CUNY)

Dear AAP Levy, As respective members of Brooklyn College's Black and Latino Faculty and Staff organizations, we write to express our great concern over the future of the college's Black and Latino Male Initiative (BMLI), formerly known as ERIS-BMI. We appreciate you taking the initiative to create a diverse advisory board to assist in setting the programmatic goals and future financial and administrative direction of what we believe to be one of Brooklyn College's most crucial programs.

1) We believe that the President's and the Provost's commitment to "diversity," in this case the recruitment and retention of Black and Latino males, requires that your office be allocated proper and adequate resources for a successful BMLI program. The CUNY Chancellor's own "Diversity Action Plan" (released May 15, 2012) specifically calls for "strengthening recruitment" and "improving climate in support of retention," while the college's "Diversity and Inclusion Plan" (2008-2013) calls for recruitment of students from all ethnic groups while "paying close attention to areas of underrepresentation." This relates to the following positions:

2) We call for a formal, nation-wide search for a full-time faculty or staff director to lead the program, one with specific expertise in minority recruitment and retention who also represents the demographic make-up of the target group. Ideally, it should be a Black or Latino male who has produced results in other universities or within CUNY and meets other important criteria suggested by the current advisory board (whose members could possibly become the official search committee for this position).

3) We believe that BMLI and the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs should work closely with the Office of Admissions to consider a new admissions policy of neighborhood-specific recruitment, with the intention of focusing on high schools in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods of the city. The Admissions Office's own high school visitation and "feeders" data illustrate an inadequate effort in recruiting in these target areas, resulting in more "admitted" and "enrolled" students from predominantly white neighborhoods and less so from predominantly poorer neighborhoods of color.

We also have strong reservations about an admissions policy that heavily weighs high-stakes testing (SATs), for which empirical evidence has shown to have deleterious effects on the lives of minority applicants. For instance, two acclaimed studies by Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson and also Gregory Walton and Steven Spencer support each others' findings, that SATs underestimate college readiness and "latent ability" of Black students (while overestimating that of white students). Thus, a neighborhood-specific policy would not only improve Black and Latino student enrollment at CUNY, which, according to a recent independent study by the Community Service Society (2012) has been declining since 2001, but would also ensure a steady admission flow and enrollment of Black and Latino students in programs like BMLI. Again, our purpose is to extend support to you and your office in ensuring that the Black and Latino Male Initiative (BLMI) receive the adequate resources and administrative support it needs to achieve its mission.

Thank you for considering our requests. We look forward to hearing from you.


Members of the Brooklyn College (CUNY) Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) and Latino Faculty and Staff Organization (LaFASO)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Municipal Labor Council Rally and our Next Contract

Mike Fabricant & Arthurine Desola on why the Mayor should negotiate fair wage increases & fair contracts for all City workers, including CUNY faculty & staff. Fair Contracts For All Rally. June 12 . City Hall. 4 PM.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

93% Vote No Confidence in Pathways

The referendum votes have been tallied: a total of 4,322 votes were cast, out of a total number of 7,202 possible votes: a 60% turnout. Of those, 3,996 full-time faculty agreed that they have No Confidence in Pathways, with only 323 voting Disagree (and 3 void ballots).

An absolute majority of the full-time faculty are on record as having no confidence in Pathways. That is a stunning rebuke to the new curriculum and the coercive process used to implement it.

I will send a longer message to the entire membership shortly, but for now I want to congratulate you all on your extraordinary collective effort in defense of our students' right to a rigorous education. Equipped with this result, we can take the campaign to a new level in the fall.

In solidarity,
Barbara Bowen