Silence of the Deans

We want to recognize and extend our appreciation to the non-classroom faculty who continued working over the winter break and welcome back the classroom faculty to a new semester that will prove to be a challenging time.  A quick review of events with respect to the Senate, Administration and Board of Trustees is in order.

We began the Fall semester with the ill-conceived SUNY Seamless mandate still unsettled. The Academic Senate determined that the College-wide Curriculum Committee could discuss a new proposal to bring us into compliance with the MtP, whereby the CWCC responded conscientiously with a proposal. This proposal was crafted as a result of months of deliberations with the Administration, Chairs, NCCFT, SUNY, faculty and students.  As this proposal was being processed through our governance structure, the Administration crafted a resolution http://nccft.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/101414.pdf for the BOT to adopt, that rushed the process. What is most disturbing to us is that the Administration knew fully the plans and procedures that were in place and yet still moved forward with this resolution to mischaracterize to the BOT our failure to act in good faith and demonstrate their need to insert themselves in order to bring the College into compliance.  Although the campus governance process had already been addressing the MtP mandate, the Senate responded to the BOT resolution professionally and the new degree requirements have been approved and are being aggregated for logistical implementation.  And, the Deans remain silent.

With triumph and glee, the Administration then crafted another resolution http://nccft.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/111314.pdf for the Board. This time it was to direct the Developmental Education Committee to lower the cutoff scores that require students to take the placement exams for Math, Reading and English. This issue is already addressed in several of the DevEd charges this year and the committee has been working on it. Nassau Community College faculty showed up in large numbers to address the BOT Academic Affairs Committee concerning this resolution.  (A word about the Academic Affairs Committee – the membership is fluid based upon which BOT members are available on any given night). The Committee announced that they noticed the number of faculty at the meeting and wanted to hear from them. However, the Committee members spent so much time discussing the concept, intent and wording of the resolution without our input, they voted on the resolution, announced they were running out of time and would only allow one or two speakers to speak.  And, the Deans remain silent.

Since that time, the DevEd Committee has been able to obtain some data from the Administration and is reviewing it. Meanwhile, the BOT is insisting the Committee provide monthly progress reports to the Board and the Board believes this is their prerogative as part of the shared governance process.  The position of the NCCFT is this may be a violation of the terms and conditions of employment and ask the Senate to continue their work within the scope of their established process.

At the December 2014 Board meeting, our Administration, once again, joyfully brought the BOT a resolution http://nccft.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/120914.pdf.  This time, they want to change the degree requirements that were just approved by the Academic Senate, (of which the Administration are a part of and vote).  In addition, a review of this resolution is demonstrative of the disregard for process and application as it is fraught with errors and nonsense.  And, the Deans remain silent.

This past week, the Administration, embarrassed by the mistakes in the last resolution, produced an updated resolution http://nccft.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/011315.pdf for the BOT to enact regarding our degree programs.  Since the CWCC already has within its charges to review the NCC degree requirements, this is nothing new.  It is within the scope of responsibilities of the CWCC to constantly review our requirements. As a matter of fact, the CWCC just spent over a year deliberating, formally and informally, with all the stakeholders and proposed and recommended an entirely new set of degree requirements for the AA, AS and AAS programs which was just approved by the Senate, President and BOT.  Faculty members from across the campus have been speaking at the BOT meetings, attempting to explain our governance process. What we hear back is our process is unacceptable, our solutions are unacceptable and our commitment is unacceptable. The Board seems to believe that, much like their appointments to the Board, our curriculum is politically motivated.  What they do not seem to recognize is we are the Senate, Chairs, Classroom Professors, Professional Faculty Unit, , Counselors, Librarians, Academic and Club Advisors,  Technologists, Technicians and we are all the NCCFT.  And, the Deans remain silent.

The Board of Trustees does not consult with faculty on matters of Capital expenditures or Operating Budget. We have Senate Committees that are involved in these issues, such as the Planning Committee, and it seems the Administration brings “the message” or, “a message” to the Board.  This academic year, the BOT has revivified the Academic Affairs Committee.  The process involves the Administration writing resolutions for the BOT’s consideration when they disagree with the will of the Senate.  Since the Administration has representatives, including the Deans, assigned to each of the Senate Committees and to the Senate itself, we must wonder why the administrative representatives and Deans do not speak of their concerns during the vetting process. Instead, these administrative representatives report their observations to the Administration and/or BOT and assist in crafting mischaracterizations of the governance process, then allowing these mischaracterizations to be presented to the Board where they translate into a BOT resolution.  We urge all members of the Bargaining Unit to be mindful of this and take precautions to ensure another faculty member be present at all meetings with the Administration. Whether the meeting is private or public, on or off campus, this is necessary to ensure an accurate accounting of events, understandings in spirit, intent and word. We cannot allow any mischaracterizations to be crafted in order for the Administration to scheme with the Board. And, the Deans remain silent.

We ask that the Faculty remain united and committed to our values and governance process and not to become complicit in the schemes devised by our Administration and Board.  Remember this commitment when we consider what happened to the last President who wanted to dismantle our entire structure.

And, the Deans remain silent!

Higher Ed Policy Council – January 9-10, 2015

This weekend, union leaders from NYSUT’s two and four year campuses met in New York City to discuss issues of common concern.  To begin the conference, the Community College contingent met to plan the Community College Conference for 2015.  We are maintaining the AFT core message to “Reclaim the Promise” by offering workshops addressing our fundamental values and will provide practical tools for the membership to bring back to their campuses.  A sampling of workshops will include Governance, Political Action, Organizing and Coalition Building.  There will be more on this in the coming months.

Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT, attended and spoke on national trends.  It seems that both the Republican and Democrat Governors Associations are engaging in anti-union rhetoric, attacking tenure, eliminating full-time positions and supporting privatization of the public universities by financial starvation.  All faculty must remain vigilant, committed and actively engaged in reclaiming the promise of a high quality affordable public education. This includes active engagement with our elected officials. The NCCFT PAC co-chairs,  Stephanie Sapiie and Dawn Smith, have competently established professional relationships on both the local and state levels.  Unfortunately, our Governor does not share the same value of a public university system as was envisioned and created in New York.  AFT staff also discussed President Obama’s initiative, “America’s College Promise”.  This is an 800 page proposal that, if implemented, will not resemble the form as is presently written after public and political comment.  The AFT and NYSUT Policy Council will be reviewing this proposal and will be actively engaged providing insight and recommendations.

NYSUT discussed issues surrounding “Start-Up NY” whereby businesses can establish tax-free locations on or near SUNY campuses if the nature of the business provides employment or internship opportunities for the students, aligns with the mission of the campus and does not contract our work out. While this seems benign, the lines on these rules are blurry and demonstrate a case study of privatization of the public university.

A spirited discussion ensued concerning Teacher Prep Assessments and the role of the AFT and NYSUT.  The assessment would test the Teacher Prep students and, based on their grades, assess the professors that taught them.  We cannot stress enough the importance of your vigilance in monitoring this initiative and how it relates to our campus activities.

Another interesting discussion concerned the “Take the Pledge” loan forgiveness program. One criteria of this program allows a portion of a college graduate’s student loan to be forgiven if that individual is employed for the public good. Nassau Community College meets this criteria.  We will discuss this with the Administration about how to publicize this in order to assist anyone employed at Nassau to take advantage of the program.

Performance Based Funding was on the agenda. In order for PBF to be applied to the Community Colleges, the initiative must be legislated. NYSUT and the NCCFT have lobbied very hard over the past couple of years to keep this off the legislative agenda and have been successful. Our priorities are for Maintenance of Effort funding to provide for campus services, Collective Bargaining Agreement costs, full-time lines, inflation and other costs.  The State not only has a surplus this year, but also realized over five billion dollars in revenue from a host of lawsuits. There will be many groups competing for this money, however, NYSUT and the NCCFT have lobbied consistently for a fair share.

As always, the NCCFT leadership, along with our advocacy partners in NYSUT and the AFT, are engaged in all aspects of Higher Education. We will keep you informed of the latest issues and ask you to join us in our efforts to insure the continuance of success.

NYSUT Member Benefits

Dear NYSUT Members:

All NYSUT members will be receiving their new membership cards this month as part of a special mailing that will include information pertaining to the core benefits that NYSUT provides to its membership. This mailing will also include a letter from Martin Messner, Secretary-Treasurer of NYSUT and Chairperson of the NYSUT Member Benefits Trust.

Click the following link to view Martin’s letter — http://issuu.com/mbnewsletter/docs/membership_mailing_1-6-15?e=4255078/10809570. To view this document in page reader mode after clicking the link, click on the third button from the right in the black menu bar at the top of the page.

I encourage you to take the time to read Martin’s letter and learn how you could potentially save significant money by participating in NYSUT Member Benefits-endorsed programs & services. Find out how much Martin saved when he called to inquire about a number of services, including auto & homeowners insurance, life insurance, home heating oil, vacation plans, movie tickets, and much more.

The true merits of being a union member include better contracts, safer working conditions, fair pay, political activism, etc.; however, many members may not realize that there are additional benefits to being a union member. I encourage you to consider the many programs & services endorsed by NYSUT Member Benefits and inquire about your future potential savings.

Thank you for your time.

Martin Messner
Chairperson, NYSUT Member Benefits Trust

NCCFT Updates

As we draw to a close of the Fall 2014 semester, we want to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a healthy new year.

We want to express our sincerest appreciation and recognize the commitment of the outgoing Adjunct Faculty leadership to their members. In addition, congratulations to the new AFA leadership; we wish them all the best and offer our assistance in any manner we are able.

The NCCFT Executive Committee has been actively engaged in a variety of unique endeavors this semester which surely will continue into the Spring semester.

  • We have reviewed the “draft” copy of the CBA line by line, commented and sent it to the College. We are awaiting their response.
  • We have been successful in advocating for our members with respect to catastrophic illness, full-time lines, Affirmative Action hearings, and the settling of numerous potential grievances.
  • We have been working closely with the VP of Finance and HR over the past few months to ensure that the following payments were made to faculty members
  •      on 12/1 longevity payments of $2,000 were made to members who on September 1 had been employed  by the college for twenty-five years or more and were not eligible for a step increase
  •      on 12/3 the department chairs day stipends were paid

In addition:

  •      scheduled for 12/17 is the retro one-time bonus of $1,750 for the 2013/2014 academic year
  •      scheduled for 12/31 is the 1/2 step retro pay from the 2013/2014 academic year
  •      scheduled for 12/31 is the retro pay for all eligible LINCC members from the 2013/2014 academic year
  • As part of the Retention Committee, we have begun discussions with the Administration attempting to understand the reasons for student attrition and recommending potential solutions. We have meetings scheduled into 2015.
  • As part of the Presidential Search Committee, we are meeting to develop criteria for the search. Applications will be accepted until December 15, 2014 and the Committee is scheduled to meet January 15, 2015 to begin discussions on the applications.
  • We are engaged with the Middle States Review.
  • We have participated in the NYSUT Higher Ed Policy Council and the Community College meetings. While these meetings had general interest topics covered, they also addressed specific issues germane to NCC. We gained invaluable insight as to the complications of the SUNY Seamless mandate at both the two and four year campuses and what must be addressed after implementation. These issues have been and will continue to be addressed in the Academic Senate.
  • We are engaged with the Academic Senate Executive Committee, CWCC, Department Chairs, Administration and BOT with respect to the new paradigm on campus concerning shared governance.
  • We are meeting with the Academic Senate to develop the Spring Colloquium scheduled for May 21.
  • We are engaged in the development of the Spring “Student Showcase” scheduled for April 23.

Everything on this list is important to various segments of the College Community which make it important to all of us. These issues are interrelated and provide a mosaic that shapes our relationships and allows for a spirit of camaraderie and cohesiveness.  We need this cohesiveness as much now as ever.

We have been writing about the new paradigm on campus with respect to the recent actions of the BOT. The responsibilities and authority of the Academic Senate are clearly defined in our CBA. There is no question that the Committees of the Academic Senate have been addressing their respective “Charges”.  However, it now seems that if the Administration is unhappy with the conclusions drawn by the Committees, they draft a resolution for the BOT which directs the committees to provide an acceptable outcome.

For instance:

  • SUNY Seamless: This semester, the CWCC drafted a proposal, set meeting dates to review, vote and forward that proposal to the Academic Senate.  Our Academic calendar would have allowed that proposal to be completed in late winter. The Administration did not accept this, drafted a resolution for the BOT pushing the completion date to December 12, 2014. The Academic Senate did everything in their power to accelerate the process to comply and for all intents and purposes, have been successful. Now, the Administration is “concerned” the BOT may not accept the definition of completion as some pro-forma procedural activities must take place. But, not to worry, the Administration is telling the Academic Senate they will do their best to explain and placate the Board.
  • Developmental Education: The Developmental Ed. Committee has been addressing their charges with due diligence. There seems to be a dispute with the appropriate language for one of the Charges. The Administration was unhappy with the Committee’s interpretation, so they wrote a resolution for the BOT that directed the Dev Ed. Committee to conclude its investigation by March, with monthly reports, and goes so far as to direct a specific outcome.
  • General Education: The Administration is unhappy with the SUNY Seamless proposal. They will accept it for now, however, they drafted a resolution for the BOT that directs the CWCC to reduce the two math, two science, and two PED requirements from the AA and AS degree requirements AND to provide data to demonstrate why the CWCC will recommend that change.

It begs the questions -

  • How do you eliminate two science and two math courses from an Associate in Math and Science?
  • What happens if the “data” does not warrant a reduction or elimination of these courses?

Regardless of our individual opinions on any of these issues, the Academic Senate is the place and has been the place for discussions and vetting. This has been done. Why should we allow a minority opinion to disrupt the will of the body? Why should we allow our Administration and BOT to direct policy that has no empirical evidence to support their position?

Understand this, if you do not think these issues affect you, think again, YOU may be next.

 

NYSUT Member Benefits Trust

NYSUT Dec14

2014 NYSUT CCC Review

CCC 2014

LGBTQ Task Force Sets its Agenda

LGBTQ Task Force

NCCFT 2014 Holiday Luncheon

Fall Holiday Luncheon 2014

11-13-14 BOT Meeting

A New Day -

The CWCC resolution bringing our Academic programs into compliance with SUNY Seamless passed easily at the special Academic Senate meeting held November 13, 2014.  As previously stated, the NCCFT Executive Committee respects the integrity, professionalism and efforts of the CWCC, Academic Chairs and the Senate to bring together a proposal that best addresses our needs and satisfies SUNY’s mandate. However, as a matter of principle, we abstained from voting on this proposal in protest to the concept articulated in the MtP, to SUNY’s interference with local control over curriculum, to our Administrations usurpation of our governance process and to our Board of Trustees intervention.

Yet, that was yesterday. Today is different.

The Administration, delighted by their success, drafted and presented the Board with another resolution to usurp the authority of the Senate. This time they did so without bothering to use a mandate as an excuse for their inexcusable action. This resolution http://www.ncc.edu/aboutncc/ourpeople/board_of_trustees/11_2014_November_13_Calendar.pdf not only directs the Developmental Education Committee to conclude their deliberations by May, 2015, but also directs the outcomes.

Before the Board of Trustees hold their public sessions, they hold committee meetings. There are usually less than ten or so faculty and administrators sitting in the bleachers. However, at the latest Academic Affairs Board meeting, approximately fifty faculty and administrators were in attendance. The Chair of the committee, Kathy Weiss, discussed her support of the concepts described in the resolution yet, how uncomfortable she was to entertain this resolution and proposed to table it. She recognized that many faculty members were sitting in the audience and that the Board was interested in hearing what we had to say. The Board continued their discussions, tabled the motion with indecipherable caveats and concluded their discussion. At that time, Dr. Weiss turned and allowed only two people to speak.  Bruce Urquhart, Chair of Developmental Education Committee, and Ed Boyden, Chair of the Academic Senate, both spoke eloquently about the process and accomplishments of the committees work thus far. In addition, they both expressed dismay at the Administration and Board’s interference with their deliberations. They might as well have been speaking to the proverbial wall. The Board’s decision was already made.

The Board then convened without going into Executive Session.  As stunned and disgusted as we were by the Board’s actions, what happened next was truly contemptible; Dr. Saunders announced the Academic Senate had passed a resolution bringing our academic programs into compliance with SUNY Seamless. The Board questioned Dr. Saunders on the process of accepting or vetoing that proposal and made it clear to the President that the Board wanted to see the Senate proposal, comment on the proposal and the President shall understand and respect the feelings of the Board prior to making a decision.  The President concurred.

Remember, in my previous post, I was told by the Chairman of the Board, “they didn’t understand or want to get involved in the Academic Senate, but were only nudging us to act with respect to the MtP”.

How can anyone misinterpret that comment?  It is quite clear now, this Administration and Board have set a new paradigm and we must be vigilant with respect to the threats and united in our determination to protect our shared governance process. If we are not, they might be writing your course syllabus next.

The New Paradigm

The NCCFT Executive Committee supported the Academic Senate Executive Committee’s October 28, 2014 resolution asking the Board of Trustees to rescind their SUNY Seamless Mandate resolution. We supported this resolution as a matter of principle. Whether or not you agree with the concepts presented in SUNY Seamless, we believe the BOT’s resolution was premature and resulted from this Administration’s disingenuous representation of our process. They surprised all of us by presenting the resolution to the BOT without announcing it as an agenda item nor discussing the action with the Senate, Chairs or NCCFT. We were told by Board members that this BOT resolution was meant to “nudge” us to move forward since the SUNY mandate must be complied with and the Board did not want to interfere with the Academic Senate’s authority.

We also support the Governance process and respect the efforts of the Senate, CWCC, Academic Chairs, and all the departments attempting to comply with this ill-conceived SUNY mandate. The ASEC’s resolution, in our opinion, was not a stop work order, but a notice to the BOT to respect our shared governance process and allow us to continue our efforts to bring NCC into compliance.

The recurring theme during this entire debacle is that we must comply with the SUNY mandate or else SUNY will reduce FTE funding, deny conferral of degrees to our graduates, and will impose their own curriculum requirements. These are the same empty threats our Administration explained to the BOT to convince them to intervene. Empty threats because SUNY does not pay FTE monies, SUNY never indicated they would deny conferral, and SUNY went so far as to say they would not implement their own criteria into our programs. Remember, our resistance to the rush to implement bought us valuable time to address many inefficient and impractical requirements in the original MtP.

In reality, ask yourself, “If we don’t comply within the timeline imposed by SUNY, might someone on campus lose favor with the Chancellor?”

Now we are faced with another BOT resolution demanding action by our Developmental Education Committee  http://www.ncc.edu/aboutncc/ourpeople/board_of_trustees/11_2014_November_13_Calendar.pdf . We are not going to address the merits of the committee charge. This is a Senate matter, at least until policies are discussed that will result in lost full time jobs. However, we will address this new order of business. The latest BOT resolution not only demands a timeline for action, but also demands specific results. We ask you, since this is not a SUNY mandate but rather a pet project of the Chancellor to eliminate remediation from the campus, thus saving money and eliminating jobs, why is the Administration drafting language for the BOT to intervene again?

Who owes this Chancellor so much that they are willing to interfere with our governance process, attack the dignity, ability and authority of the faculty, and implement their own distorted view of student achievement?

Furthermore, if past practice is any prediction of the impending procedure, the BOT Academic Affairs Committee will allow the Administration to make their case for the BOT to intervene again; the BOT AA Chair will not allow the faculty to speak; the BOT will meet in Executive Session to discuss the resolution and vote on the resolution in public session. They will then adjourn the meeting and give the attending public 3 minutes each to speak, if we place our names on a speakers list by calling the Secretary to the Board (Anne Brandi) prior to the meeting.

Administrative interference with faculty rights is a common complaint we hear from our K-12 brothers and sisters. Ask yourself, who on the Board would bring this new paradigm of K-12 interference to Nassau Community College?

Go figure!