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4 thoughts on “Forum”
I am writing in response to the ill-informed resolution passed by our Board of Trustees on Tuesday night in response to SUNY’s Seamless Transfer Initiative. The resolution does not present complete information about the work on this campus by the CWCC and Academic Senate or statewide by the FCCC. Rather the resolution presents a selected history of the college’s response.
I share Dr. Steuer’s concern is his recent email in reference to the AAUP statement “Faculty Communication with Governing Boards: Best Practices” at aaupncc.org/weekly-read/. Dr. Steuer states, “I have a great concern that the recent resolution of the NCC Board of Trustees may lead to this top-down strategy of decision making and the loss of true shared governance at our college”
The AAUP has been a longstanding proponent of sound academic governance, and the principles are enunciated in the Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities. This Statement embodies the standards widely upheld in American higher education. Section V 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.”
Our NCCFT contract and Academic Senate bylaws codify the central role of faculty in curriculum matters at Nassau Community College. New York State Education Law, SUNY regulations and Middle States Standards also refer to the central role of faculty in curriculum matters.
I hope that we can all agree that faculty control of the curriculum is essential for academic excellence. Faculty must retain its historic role in American higher education to formulate and oversee the curriculum. Without that basic right, I believe our college and the State University of New York will be unable to provide quality education to the citizens of New York State.
There are a number of problems clearly evident by the way this resolution was handled by the NCC Board of Trustees. The surreptitious treatment of such an important issue clearly indicates that neither the current NCC administration nor the BoT cares a wit about the academic climate at NCC. While the cast of players may have changed with the removal of Donald Astrab from the stage, the evil that he fomented is continued by his henchman!
I remarked earlier that it is strange that this important matter did not appear in any of the announcements of this regular meeting of the BoT. Why the super sense of urgency? Considering the fact that the “Seamless Transfer” proposal has such a profound effect on the culture of NCC, why wasn’t the resolution circulated to the campus BEFORE it was presented at Tuesday’s meeting? I am quite confident in saying that the resolution was NOT prepared in haste before the call to order of the meeting. What discussion did the members of the BoT have about this resolution? The resolution notes more than a year of serious discussion by the CWCC, the Academic Senate, the many academic departments that the change will affect, surely the BoT should have given it more than a pro forma consideration, as if it were merely the acceptance of a trivial donation to NCC. If the BoT did have a discussion about the resolution, then did it take place in open session as required by law?
NCC has a long cultural history of cooperation between the administration and the faculty. While we don’t always agree on everything, a collegial style has helped to make sure that consensus is reached on all important academic matters. This resolution flies in the face of that culture.
I am also concerned by another issue that relates to this transfer program. This proposal is built on the notion that the baccalaureate degree should be 128 credits. Why is this sacrosanct? The universe of knowledge is expanding and yet the scope of knowledge and learning that a student is exposed to in their program of study is more limited that ever before. How does this make sense?
Arthur L. Friedman
I concur, of course, with Kimberly regarding this issue. My feeling is that seamless transfer is not in any way seamless. It’s a wonderful tool for administration but a terrible model for education. All it does is make it easier to get students in & out the revolving door while limiting their chances to evolve over time. As I’ve already stated to the Senate body, if we recognize that our students need more time to discover what they are doing or desire to do– & by the way I don’t see a significant difference between our students & those who attend four-year institutions– we ought to give it to them. I argue we oppose seamless transfer & never budge an inch to the west or an inch to the east when it comes to our refusal to give up faculty control of curriculum. We, not the BOT, are the educators, & the trustees ought to be proud that the institution they are entrusted to serve is best served when curriculum is the purview of the faculty.
Professor, English Department
The January 16, 2013 issue of “The Nation” reviewed the impact of CUNY’s “Pathways” policy (a policy similar to SST) on it students. “The Nation” concluded:
“Pathways offers CUNY undergraduates a raw deal and robs them of opportunities to learn. By reducing the basic requirements for graduation—including dramatically scaling back courses in math and science, foreign languages and literature, and English composition—Pathways ensures a second-class education for students where intellectual nourishment and skills development are sacrificed in the name of efficiency. Pathways also reveals alarming insight into how the chancellor’s office views the student body. Lowering the barriers to graduation for students struggling to complete their college education suggests that the chancellor either believes the students to be incapable of meeting rigorous standards, or is simply unwilling to invest in the support structures which would help them do so.”
Where curriculum development is taken away from the faculty who know their students best, this is what happens. Our students deserve better.
Best wishes- Faren