Where is the Courtesy of the Council on Post-Secondary Education? CCRI Guest MINDSETTERS™
Friday, June 30, 2017
We read with interest the news regarding the URI adjunct faculty union's complaint against President Dooley and the Council on Postsecondary Education. Apparently, they have failed to increase faculty's salary as ordered by the arbitrator, and they have failed to communicate with the union.
CCRI faculty and staff have also experienced the Council's disregard. On May 4th, approximately fifty CCRI faculty and staff sent a letter to the Council and President Hughes expressing our concerns about budget, planning, and lack of co-governance as required by CCRI's charter as well as state legislation RIGL16-33.1-3. We requested a private meeting on June 7th to open a dialogue on specific issues.
It is June 26th, and the council has not yet extended us the courtesy of a reply.
Previously, the Council made a concerted effort to exclude CCRI faculty and staff from the presentations of the finalists for CCRI President. Faculty and staff attendance is a tradition at CCRI. Fortunately, some Chairs refused to attend unless all faculty and staff were invited, so we were included.
In addition, CCRI faculty was denied the courtesy of the Council and administration assembling a negotiating team to work with us during our last faculty contract negotiations. Our union rep relayed information between our team and Anne Marie Coleman.
While the Council requires that faculty hold a Master's in their field, limits the faculty to teaching in that specific discipline, and requires thirty additional credits for promotion to Associate Professor, the Council has approved the hiring of a Vice President of Student Affairs/Chief Outcomes Officer who holds an MBA, yet makes college wide curricular decisions.
Quite a double standard.
Finally, during the past year the Council has approved myriad administrative hires while support services for students are understaffed with a large percentage of part time employees. In our view, robust student support is what we need to improve retention and graduation rates, not more administrators and assistants.
If actions speak louder than words, we have to infer the Council holds CCRI faculty and staff in great disdain.
Unfortunately, the top down approach extends to the administration. President Hughes replied to our letter, but she addressed neither our specific concerns nor our request for a meeting. Rather she expressed her intention to continue business as usual - which means no college wide discussion of new initiatives, thus no substantive faculty input, and a lack of information on what initiatives are under consideration behind closed doors.
Concerns have apparently risen among students as well. This past week the Student Senate censured and passed a vote of no confidence in CCRI President Meghan Hughes and Vice President of Academic Affairs Rosemary Costigan.
Why this letter to Rhode Islanders?
CCRI is the people's college. We serve the community and we are a community. Community requires communication and cooperation - the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons, the why and how. When that is stonewalled, people become cynical, apathetic, and the institution's effectiveness declines.
CCRI is a key component in the state's drive to improve the economy and quality of life in Rhode Island. As citizens, we are all stakeholders in the effectiveness of CCRI. That appears to be in jeopardy.
Anthony Amore, Associate Professor
Sue Aphshaga, Professor
Margaret Connell, Professor
Steve Forleo, Assistant Professor
Deb Lilli, Professor
Michele Seyler, Assistant Professor
Tenured faculty members, Department of English, CCRI
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