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University Faculty Senate
157th Plenary; January 27-29, 2011, at SUNY Binghamton

Attended by Senators Gillespie, Godfrey, Goodman, and Feldman.

Highlights from the Executive Committee:

  • Transfer and Articulation (Student Mobility): As a result of a task force begun by the University Senate two years ago, the SUNY Board of Trustees adopted a faculty-centered agreement that will cover transfer and articulation of about 97% of course transfers from Community Colleges to 4-year Colleges by major. Community College faculty oppose this mandate. Regardless, SUNY Provost David Lavalee is nearly finished implementing this SUNY-wide policy through collaboration with campus provosts.
  • Gen Ed: This will be an issue of the next year as campuses make gen ed changes as a result of new SUNY BOT guidelines which call for 30 gen ed credits in 7 out of 10 areas. The new Gen Ed policy allows added flexibility for campuses to design Gen Ed programs that emphasize their campus’ specialties such as courses on diversity or research.
  • Degree Completion: There was discussion of the poor record that the US has in degree completion and “credit creep” in which majors require expansive credits that make completion impossible in the expected timeframe. Some AA degrees require 60-70 credits for completion and then students expect to be able to transfer all of these credits to 4-yr institutions. There was discussion of the need for a policy for students to be able to complete their requirements in 4 yrs.
  • “Deactivation”: There was significant discussion of the colleges who are “deactivating” programs including UAlbany, Morrisville and Geneseo which recently deactivated the programs in speech and communications disorders, computer sciences, theater and studio art. While presidents evaluate and deactivate programs all the time, this seems to be the first time that this has occurred under financial pressures and not programmatic or academic reasons. The Executive Committee was concerned that deactivation was being used to circumvent the intent of Article 35 of the current New York State – UUP contract. After review of Article 35, it seems that these colleges are within their rights under the contract to deactivate academic programs. “Retrenchment” allows for the termination of an employee’s employment during their term of employment rather than at the end.

President’s Report . President Ken O’Brien’s full report which addresses the budget, program deactivation, SUNY’s Strategic Plan, General Education and Student Mobility is available on the UFS website. The Governor will announce his budget on February 1, but the rumor is that there may be as many as 10,000 cuts in state employees. It is unclear how these cuts will impact SUNY which is a state agency but different from other state agencies. Ken reported being “retrenched” with 51 other faculty in 1976 at Brockport.

Report from Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Deputy Chancellor for the Educational Pipeline and Vice-Chancellor for Community Colleges : Johanna Duncan-Poitier reported on the “leaky” educational “pipeline” in NY, students who fall off the kindergarten-grade 20 track prematurely. Her goal is for more students to graduate high school prepared for college work because 2/3 of jobs in a new economy will require a college education. She presented data that among NY residents aged 25-64, 6% have less than a 9th grade education, 8% have a 9th-12th grade education, 26% completed high school, 17% had some college but no degree, 9% received an AA degree, 20% received a BA/BS degree and 14.6% completed graduate or professional school. Only about 19 students who enter the 9th grade will complete an AA degree in 3 yrs or a BA in 6 yrs. She stated that 25% of students currently enrolled in 4 yr colleges need remediation. She described SUNY’s efforts to address the leaky pipeline and this need for remediation.

Report from Kathleen Preston, Interim Vice-Chancellor for Financial Services and Health Affairs: She reported that there was little known about the governor’s proposed budget which is scheduled to be released on February 1. There is a $10B deficit in the $54B General Fund through which SUNY is funded, so she expects significant cuts in SUNY and described the situation as a “crisis.” SUNY accounts for about 6% of the General Fund. She described the Chancellor’s position to be that SUNY is part of the solution of economic rebuilding.

Report from SUNY Provost and Senior Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, David Lavallee : He reported statistics that the graduation rates from SUNY colleges were better than national rates. SUNY graduation rates from 4 yr campuses were 70% compared with a national rate of 55%. Graduation rates from doctoral granting campuses were 73% compared to 62% nationally; comprehensive colleges 67% compared with 46% and technical colleges was 56% compared with 38% nationally. He also discussed the importance of “student efficiency” toward graduation. Currently, students take 10-12 more credits than they need for graduation. At a time of economic strain, seats in classes are at a premium and should be reserved for students needing the course for graduation. He also reported that Phase I of the website for transfer and articulation between the community colleges and the university centers will go live on January 30 and Phase II will go live in March. Only about 8% of cases had problems with transferring.

Sector Reports with Chancellor Zimpher: Senators Goodman, Godfrey and Gillespie met with representatives from the other University Centers at Buffalo, Albany and Binghamton while Senator Feldman met with representatives of the other health centers to develop sector specific issues to discuss with Chancellor Zimpher. The University Centers discussed the notion of performance based funding, the role of governance in resource allocation and consolidation of services in light of budget cuts. The health centers discussed the need for clarification of ownership of data conducted by researchers under university auspices. If a researcher leaves for another university, can the data go with her/him? They also discussed work-load issues in the health sciences in which clinical faculty are asked to see more patients for financial reasons at the cost of the educational and research missions of the health centers and, at times, risking the activities that might lead to promotion. She reported that Gov. Cuomo wants to solve the budget crisis and wants to solve it now rather than put off solutions into the future.

Report from Tina Good, President of the Faculty Council of Community Colleges: Tina Good reported that the FCCC was opposed to the proposed changes in general education. It does not appear that the FCCC will rest on this discussion despite their equal representation on the task force that designed and drafted the resolution that was later adopted by the BOT and implemented by Provost Lavallee.

Report from Sandi Cooper, Chair of the CUNY Faculty Senate (on the phone): She reported that the CUNY Senate was involved in the controversial firing of an adjunct professor who proposed a course for the spring semester that was seen by some as one-sided in the Israeli/Arab conflict. A financial contributor to CUNY and pro-Israeli NYC Councilman called for the professor’s removal. The reason given for his firing was that he was not advanced enough in his doctoral education to teach other master’s level students, by the Senate was concerned about academic freedom.

AAUP Shared Governance Panel: Several members of the Senate attended a conference on Shared Governance and reported on the conference in panel form

While there were no resolutions for this plenary, the Senate agreed to support a resolution with minor changes that Chancellor Zimpher will be submitting to the Board of Trustees concerning oversight procedures of on-campus as well as off-campus, international and on-line course offerings. The motion passed without dissent.

Committee Reports : The Senate heard reports from each of the Standing Committees. These reports are available on the UFS website or from me. Senators Gillespie, Goodman and Feldman were asked to be members of the ad hoc Nominations Committee whose charge is to monitor the procedure for the election of the President of the University Faculty Senate. Ken O’Brien who is finishing his first two-year term as President has announced that he will be a candidate for re-election which will take place at the Spring Plenary in Fredonia. Other candidates must be current senators.

The Graduate and Research Committee, chaired by E. Feldman, is sponsoring a symposium entitled “ RESEARCH THAT MATTERS: An Exposition of Graduate Research in SUNY and CUNY ” in the Legislative Office Building in Albany on March 8, 2011.

The next Plenary of the University Faculty Senate will be on April 14-16, 2011 at SUNY Fredonia.

Respectfully submitted,
Edward L. Feldman, Senator
January 29, 2011

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