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Fresno Chapter President
Statement to Search Committee for New CSU Chancellor

Statement to Search Committee for New CSU Chancellor

 

My name is Diane Blair and I’m a faculty member in the Department of Communication and the Chapter President of the California Faculty Association here at Fresno State. I am also a statewide officer for CFA.

I have taught here at Fresno State for almost 20 years. I have built my career here at this university, and in that timeframe I have seen many administrators come and go. There is always a sense of uncertainty as well as possibility and opportunity with the prospect of new leadership.

The role of CSU Chancellor is a powerful and influential position. Whoever is selected must be someone who is committed to public higher education and all that entails, they must be someone who knows and understands the students we serve, they must be someone who respects a unionized workplace, and they must be someone who is committed to academic justice. I want to speak briefly to each of these areas.

We need a Chancellor who will work tirelessly to secure state funding for our university system. The Chancellor should be leading the charge for adequate funding for the CSU. I do not understand the reluctance on the part of the current Chancellor and the Board of Trustees to actually advocate for what we need to support the mission of the CSU. The CSU budget requests have been far too conservative and they consistently undercut our students, our faculty, our academic mission, and the services our students need to succeed. As one of my colleagues has frequently stated, as the student body of the CSU has gotten darker, the funding has gotten lighter, and we need to change that trajectory.

We need a Chancellor who knows our students—who recognizes that here at Fresno State and across the CSU, the majority of our students are students of color and first generation students. These students often face significant challenges to achieving their academic dreams. Many of our students need non-traditional paths to graduation because they are working full time and supporting families. Too many of our students face food insecurity and even homelessness while pursuing their degrees. We need a Chancellor who will not shame our students for choosing their own pace and taking non-traditional paths to graduation. We also need a Chancellor who will protect students’ access to vital services like mental health counselors on our campuses and the rights of undocumented immigrant students and their families.

We also need a Chancellor who recognizes the central role of faculty in serving our students. We need a Chancellor dedicated to ensuring that we have diverse faculty who are adequately supported with equitable salaries, job security, a humane work-life balance, academic freedom, and a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.

We need a Chancellor who knows how to work within a unionized workplace. Who values collective organizing and bargaining and who recognizes the contributions of all our employees who serve in the CSU system. It troubles me greatly that in the putting together of this search committee, no specific consideration was given to including representatives from any of our joint labor councils throughout the CSU.

For all these reasons stated above, the faculty, students, and staff of the CSU deserve an open search process and meaningful participation in choosing the system’s next Chancellor. I hope these initial forums will not be the only opportunity to weigh in on this important decision.

Commands