At the June 9th Board of Trustees meeting, our Board rolled back the clock to the 19th century when autocrats ruled higher education. The Board sustained two of Acting President Saunder’s vetoes, decisions that will irreparably harm NCC as an institution of quality higher education unless we act swiftly.
At the meeting, the Board first sustained the Acting President’s unilateral increase of class size. This action is a violation of our CBA and our Senate bylaws as well as state regulations. The implication for our workload is obvious and such action creates a route for future de facto increases in teaching loads.
In its next action, the Board formulated and initiated a drastic change to our AA degrees. It eliminated 1 math, 1 science and 2 credits of PED. The implication? The Board can unilaterally change our degrees at will causing academic chaos, dumbing down our degrees and potentially eliminating or vastly reducing the size of academic departments.
In light of the vetoes by Acting President Saunders and the actions by the Board, we think that we can all agree that shared governance is broken at Nassau Community College. Most scholars concur that shared governance is the bedrock of higher education in the United States. When the foundation is systematically chipped away, the institution slowly crumples, or in this case when a sledgehammer is used, the institution falls apart rapidly
The failure of presidential leadership has given the Board the perfect opportunity to step in and micro-manage the college. The result? The trustees are substituting their judgment on such issues as optimal class size and degree requirements. Unfortunately, this Pandora’s box will not easily be sealed and we expect more such decisions.
So what exactly is a faculty to do when governance is broken?
First, we must reclaim the faculty voice in academic matters by speaking up when we see violations of shared governance.
Second, we must take every and all legal measures to oppose implementation of this overreach by the Board.
Third, we must renew the AAUP’s May 18th appeal to the Board that SUNY appoint an Interim President from outside the college. We need to start afresh with a new leader who possesses a vision for the college that embraces our rich culture of shared governance –one in which our dedicated faculty work hand-in-hand with the administration in a climate of mutual respect, collaboration and consultation.
When shared governance is diminished we are all diminished- students, faculty, administration, staff and trustees alike. Now is the time to get Nassau Community College back on track. Let us be bold, think big, and start afresh.