Faculty react to CTC to UTC transition

In a Sept. 12 memo to the UAA community, Interim Chancellor Samuel Gingerich announced that the Community Technical College would be transitioning into the University Technical College. The UTC will also become responsible for tier one general education requirements instead of the College of Arts and Sciences.

On Oct. 6 the Faculty Senate met and discussed the CTC to UTC transition with a resolution that criticized how the decision was made.

“It was a lot of concern around people saying, ‘How was this decision made?’ The chairs of the three departments in CAS who have these tier one GER courses said they were not consulted by — at least about this decision specifically — they were troubled by that,” Sharon Chamard, president of the Faculty Senate, said. “Mainly this has to do with principles of shared governance. I personally don’t know if this decision is a good decision or not.”

The resolution concerning faculty governance and tier one GER courses stated, “Therefore, be it resolved that the Faculty Senate expresses its concern and dismay over principles of shared governance.”

“It is a decision that affects curriculum. Curriculum is a faculty area of primary responsibility and we were not consulted in a satisfactory manner… we can’t unring the bell,” Chamard said at the Senate meeting. “Sometimes all you can do is protest and say, ‘Hey this a problem. Please don’t do this again in the future.’”

Barbara Harville, journalism and communications professor, said she wonders why the Faculty Senate doesn’t try to reverse the decision.

“I guess my next question is why do you think we can’t unring this particular bell? Why wouldn’t the faculty senate say, ‘This is not a good idea, this is not well considered, because it didn’t have faculty input.’ Why wouldn’t we do that,” Harville said.

Harville is serving on the task force that is asked to implement the decision.

“I teach the tier one GER courses, and I was surprised to hear the Chancellor say this at our last senate meeting,” Harville said. “That was the first thing I had heard about it. I am also serving on the task force and the charge to the task force is how to implement this change. The charge to the task force is not to examine the change or to consider options on how to implement the change, and so this decision — the decision itself to make these changes were made without as far as I can tell — as the resolution says — any faculty input.”

Jackie Cason, composition coordinator and associate professor, said the impacts of this decision are unknown at this point, but that she is worried about consequences that had no faculty input.

“What could be the unintended consequences of that and why are other faculty concerned, who I in turn represent to some extent, and that would be all the people who teach writing and many of them are not tenure-line faculty. In fact most of them are not… They get hired year by year as need is there… But this could have consequences for some of those,” Cason said. “If the curriculum moves and the hiring authority moves, everyone who’s currently teaching on a contingent contract would have to reapply for re-hire.”

Cason said contingent faculty — term instructors and adjuncts — currently teach, “In the vicinity of half our classes.” These faculty may be impacted, but Cason said graduate teaching assistant will be potentially hurt the most.

“It’s going to have pretty strong consequences for our graduate teaching assistants. We have a graduate program in English and… students can earn teaching assistantships. Those are all going to end, because the curriculum will no longer be in our college,” Cason said.

Cason is also on the committee tasked with implementing this decision, and she said it feels disruptive.

“I think this could potentially be a good move even as we go forward, but it just feels potentially very disruptive to our working lives when we’re trying to be in the classroom with students and now we have these extracurricular actions to make sure that upper division 300 and 400 level courses don’t go with tier one just for that strange outlier reason that they were on that list to begin with.”

Gingerich responded to concerns at the Faculty Senate meeting by saying UAA needs to do a better job considering the success of entering students.

“There are structures in place that make it difficult to have meaningful conversation between the developmental education program and the general education program,” Gingerich said.

When asked about why the faculty was not included in the decision, Gingerich said critical decisions can be over-debated.

Interim Chancellor Samuel Gingerich addresses staff concerns during the Oct. 6 Faculty Senate meeting. Photo credit: Cheyenne Matthews

“The tendency is sometimes, when critical decisions are faced to, if I may, deliberate things to death,” Gingerich said.

Frank Jeffries, professor of management, said that this decision seems more like an administrative choice than a faculty decision.

“I could see where this is an organizational move completely under the purview of administration and management to make it,” Jeffries said. “At the same time, because it involves which college is going to be in control of the curriculum for a particular class or program, I could see how people could think well this is something that’s a shared governance issue.”

Jill Flanders-Crosby, professor in the dance and theatre department, said there needs to be better communication.

“We’ve gone through so much these last few years with lack of communication so I think [communication’s] important.”

The final vote on the resolution showed a split in faculty opinions on the issue of shared governance with 15 for, 13 against and four abstentions.