One Colleague’s Thoughts on Proposed Bylaws Changes

Professor Jason Gorman’s comments at the Academic Senate meeting on April 18th, 2017:

As you heard, for over half a century since NCC’s beginnings of shared governance, the Academic Senate has been commended for its effectiveness and collegiality as a major component of governance at NCC. Even recently, in the April 16th Middle States evaluation report, the Academic Senate, its bylaws and its committees have been commended for its role in shared governance and academic freedom. Here are some of the things Middle States has said:

From the April 16, 2016 Report from Middle States,

“The Academic Senate Bylaws of the College address the need to maintain academic freedom and integrity including the charge of the standing committees’ professional practices. [Page 15]

“The system of committees and forums aspires to ensure a campus environment that encourages academic freedom and inquiry.” [Page 14]

“The by-laws of the Academic Senate ensure broad representation by students, faculty and administration in Mission review.” [Page 5]

“Policy and procedure for the development, review, assessment and revision of the curriculum are clearly outlined in the by-laws of the Academic Senate and constitute the primary responsibility of the Curriculum Committee. Faculty clearly take a lead role in designing, maintaining and updating curricula.” [Page 22]

Both the NCCFT and the Academic Senate Executive Committee have stated the significance of the revision of the Academic Senate Bylaws, how it would alter governance at NCC and referred to the proposed revisions as marginalizing the Academic Senate to a “forum.” Earlier this year I said at the Academic Senate that we must find a balance between Dr. Keen saving us and saving ourselves. Today is a most important day with the forthcoming vote. I submit to you that a forum is not a governance body. The faculty must participate in formulation of academic policy. Not just with authoring, but with authorizing.

Middles States had only two simple comments on the Academic Senate Bylaws which I put in a comment at the NCCFT blog. They are:

From the April 16th report,

“This section of the NCCFT contract and the Academic Senate Bylaws appear to conflict with Article II: Procedure of the Academic Senate Bylaws.”

and

“These statements, along with the complex process for Presidential veto and Academic Senate veto override have coalesced to form a difficult process for effective and efficient policy making decisions to occur on campus.”

As with Board of Trustees policy 1300 and the removal of the words “Academic Senate,” the current proposed revisions of the bylaws go far beyond what Middle States has indicated. I am sorry to say that they obliterate shared governance completely. They are a risk to academic freedom and most importantly they put students’ education at risk. The revisions as proposed also risk compliance with Middle States. They warned us of the dangers of this:

From the April 16th report, “This lack of a functioning shared governance structure may lead to issues with impropriety or the appearance of impropriety.”  [Page 14]

I call upon the NCCFT and ASEC to support shared governance. I and others do not support the bylaws revisions as proposed. None of us should.

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