Trustees course requirements, student fee policy changes as faculty challenge violations of shared governance

As part of the administration’s ongoing graduation initiative the Chancellor brought before the Board of Trustees two controversial initiatives designed to “change student behavior” and change “institutional behavior.” 

In order to change student behavior the administration proposed imposing three kinds of penalties for students who:

1) Repeat a course
2) Sign up for more than 17 units
3) Accumulate more than 150 semester/225 quarter units (so called super seniors).

After considerable lively discussion in which many Trustees appeared uncomfortable with the punitive nature of these fees, the issue was tabled until the next meeting. 

The proposal to affect “institutional behavior” had initially been the elimination of Upper Division General Education.

The plan, first unveiled to the Academic Senate 10 days before the Board meeting, included total elimination of the nine units of upper division GE courses beginning in Fall 2013. Many faculty observers noted this could have a substantial impact on teaching and learning in the CSU and expressed consternation that the Trustees were to take up the issue without consulting the faculty.

In advance of the meeting, the vigorous response of the Academic Senate and faculty from around the system caused the administration to recommend a substitute change to graduation requirements–one that is different but still problematic. The new proposal would limit nearly all degrees to 120 semester/180 quarter units.

Beyond the impact either proposal would have on quality education, the administration’s complete disregard for the principles of shared governance is, once again, disturbing.

In her report to the Trustees, Statewide Academic Senate Chair Diana Guerin said, “Over the past few years, the Academic Senate has expressed its concern that the CSU has undertaken many curriculum-related initiatives which began at the system-wide level without appropriate consultation with faculty.” 

Guerin continued, “This latest example is perhaps the most egregious and has not only undermined the work of our Executive Committee, the Academic Senate, and the trust of the faculty, but also made further progress on SB 1440 transfer degrees more challenging to achieve and led to unnecessary upset on the campuses at the start of what is to be another very trying year.”

CFA leaders at the meeting echoed the call for increased shared governance.

CFA Associate Vice President-South David Bradfield said: “While we appreciate the fact that you have withdrawn this specific proposal, we, like the Academic Senate, are concerned that the substitute Title V change proposal to cap degrees at 120 units, if passed, will result in the same bad outcome, especially if that power to determine it is granted solely to the Chancellor.”

Bradfield continued, “We appreciate the desire to have genuine four-year programs. We would, however, caution the Board about the unintended consequences of hasty actions. While we strongly support efficient and timely graduation, we firmly believe that the primary determinant must be the quality of education received rather than number of semesters attended.”