Assembly hearings held on CSU faculty diversity, CA Master Plan for Higher Ed

Two public hearings last week by State Assembly committees took up issues affecting the CSU. One hearing looked at diversity among instructional faculty, and another examined the future of the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education.

Faculty Diversity: Assembly Budget Subcommittee #2 on Education Finance examined the imbalance in all three segments of public higher education, in which about one-third of faculty are of color compared to more than 70% of students. See Assembly video of the hearing.

CFA testified it will take a serious commitment to move away from short-term hiring of faculty and to improve tenure density if the state hopes to address underrepresentation of faculty of color. To provide the necessary resources, CFA is arguing for $50 million in funding dedicated to more tenure-line hiring be placed in the 2018-19 state budget.

Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Melissa Bard, who testified on behalf of the CSU Chancellor’s Office, said a “common thread” across campuses is a request for more search committee training, “particularly around unconscious bias…” (See video time 2:11:05)

The CFA Council for Affirmative Action (CAA), which has long-argued for that training, leads unconscious bias workshops on CSU campuses. Faculty on search committees can reach out to the CAA rep at your campus CFA Chapter and to CAA Staff Coordinator Audrena Redmond for information.

Master Plan for Higher Education: CFA Associate Vice President Sharon Elise, professor and chair of sociology at CSU San Marcos, was a panelist at the fourth public hearing of the Assembly Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education in California. This hearing took up “Meeting the needs of faculty and staff to support students.”

Professor Elise (photo) succinctly summarized the points she addressed in greater depth in her presentation, saying, “Let’s do the right thing for students in the People’s University: assure their access to an education based on equity, under the direction of tenure-track faculty who can devote time to mentoring them, in an institution that thrives because it is reasonably funded.”

In making her case, Professor Elise argued that the state must recommit to the vision of the Master Plan, which means getting “back to free higher education–free of tuition and fees where additional support is provided to students that need it in order to live and learn.” See her complete remarks.

Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Jose Medina told the hearing, “College faculty and staff play a tremendous role in a student’s success. To ensure that all of our students have engaging, high-quality college experiences, we need to further invest in our faculty and staff.”

Medina said, “The state needs to dedicate more resources to ensure competitive pay and benefits to recruit and retain top talent, increase the diversity of faculty and staff, and improve the ratio of full- to part-time faculty at our colleges and universities. Supporting our staff and faculty is critical to maintaining California’s world-class higher education systems and meeting the needs of our students.”