As we approach the end of the fall semester I felt it worthwhile to share with the Faculty my impressions concerning my first semester as Provost of CSI. In this message I will address the current state of the academic affairs component and both the progress that has been made, the initiatives now in place and the challenges and opportunities that face our community. I will construct this message as answers to a series of questions posed to me by a fictitious Professor Naider as the representative of the feared AREC review structure of our College.
Professor Naider: What do you see as the highlights of your first Semester as Provost?
Provost: The campus has moved ahead on many fronts:
-This semester we have had two doctoral programs; a DNP and DPT degree program approved by the Board of Trustees. Once the governor signs off on the DPT program CSI will become a doctorate offering campus paving the way for additional doctoral programs in the future.
-CUNY approved LOIs for a MSW program and for a BA in Geography. These degree programs will be developed into Full proposals that will make their way through faculty governance.
-Faculty in several departments SASW and PEP have voted to split off and form independent departments (SW and PS).
The IPC has voted to establish Schools of Business, Education and perhaps Nursing and Human Services. The Bylaws committee is considering changes in governance to accommodate this recommendation. CUNY has approved money for three additional Deans to support the formation of these schools.
-Many programs are conducting self studies as we continue our assessment of how we teach our students and conduct our scholarship.
-We are incorporating 18 new colleagues into our departments and there is a great deal of energy on the campus as seen in the Center for Faculty Development, the Deans Symposium, and departmental seminars and lectures.
-The President has made available nearly $300,000 to support faculty travel for the purpose of professional development. Our faculty are presenting their scholarship at outstanding meetings across the United States and throughout the world.
-General Education Committee has developed a Framework for General Education that was based on input from a large component of our faculty. Although the Senate voted a moratorium this Framework was submitted to CUNY and accepted as the new structure for General Education at CSI. The departmental, college undergraduate curriculum committees and general education committees have reviewed and approved more than 60 courses that were sent to CUNY Common Core Review Committees (CCCRCs). At present we have over 70 courses (Pathways, STEM) that can fulfill general education requirements. Working together the administration, chairs and faculty are doing everything in our power to offer a course schedule for 2013 that will be acceptable to CUNY and that will only contain courses that have been developed by faculty.
Professor Naider: What do you find most rewarding about the provost position?
Provost: Definitely meeting with many faculty, learning about their work and goals and trying to help solve or at least resolve the problems they encounter. I especially enjoy my informal lunches with the faculty.
Professor Naider: What is most challenging about being provost?
Provost: I find that my time is in great demand. There are constant meetings and not enough time for thinking and developing ideas.
Professor Naider: How have you integrated into the administration?
Provost: This is really a question for the administration. My perspective is that every level of administration is supportive of our academic efforts.
Professor Naider: What is the current working relationship with the faculty and chairs?
Provost: Again I do not feel comfortable self-evaluating. My belief is that there is an open, respectful exchange of information between the academic administration and the chairs. While differences remain I think that we exchange ideas in a cordial and professional atmosphere and are all cognizant that we are working for a common goal. I have been impressed by the willingness of the chairs to listen to my ideas and hope they feel that I come to all discussions with an open mind.
Professor Naider: What are the difficult issues that remain to be addressed with the faculty?
Provost: As we move forward it is important to move Pathways behind us and to begin to address other interests that should lead to academic growth. In my mind some of the key issues will be:
-Resolving the moratorium. With the moratorium in place it will be impossible to move forward on key curricula issues of interest to the faculty. These include new undergraduate degree programs, new undergraduate courses with general education requirements and revising existing programs with general education requirements.
-Moving forward toward a school structure. To do this we must change our governance to reflect a school structure.
-Preparing our Middle States Monitoring Report.
-Taking ownership of the PMP planning structure by the faculty.
Professor Naider: There has been some talk that the school structure will require fundamental changes in our governance that will impact reappointment, tenure, and promotion decisions and may affect the structure of the College Council and Faculty Senate. Why would you support such changes?
Provost: The College of Staten Island is, in my opinion, entering a critical period in its history. I believe, and our analysis on the RBAC back in 2010 support the fact, that CSI has never been treated by CUNY as a senior college. We have different funding models and we have fewer faculty, staff and administrators than comparable sister colleges. To change CUNY’s treatment we must move to a structure that is more in line with other CUNY senior Colleges. A school structure will help to do this and there are strong indications that CUNY central will support us if we move in this direction. Undoubtedly a change to a school structure will necessitate a reevaluation of our present governance including our reappointment, tenure and promotion procedures. I understand that change in academia is never without some anxiety and pain. When I assumed the position of Provost I was approached by several chairs who felt that the current P & B procedures were not optimal. Even without the formation of schools a reexamination of these procedures was necessary. Thirty-seven years after the creation of the College of CSI it is not unreasonable that we should reevaluate how we do things. Our goal should be to make our processes objective, fair and more efficient, to increase and spread out faculty participation and to maintain high standards for reappointment tenure and promotion.
Professor Naider: Some off the faculty have indicated that you are not collegial and tend to limit discussions.
Provost: It is always a difficult call to determine when a discussion has run its course. In chairing committees it is my responsibility to ensure that the work of the committee moves forward, that the discussion is balanced and broadly representative, and that there is minimal redundancy. When I feel that the same positions are being repeated I step in to try to bring closure. It is never my goal to prevent all positions from being represented. My evaluation is that the committees I lead worked efficiently and were able to complete their missions. However, I am open to suggestions to improve how the P & B or General Education Committee are being shepherded.
Professor Naider: In what areas do you feel you have failed this semester?
Provost: Failure is a strong word. When I had open discussions with the faculty last summer I concluded there was a general desire to move forward on Pathways. That while many faculty members were unhappy with the Pathways process and resented the CUNY mandate of this general education model they understood that the Board of Trustees passed this as a resolution and that it was legally binding. Given the fact that the PSC and the UFS had filed lawsuits to challenge the process, I deduced that the faculty wanted the College to go ahead and develop pathway courses so that we could be prepared to offer the Fall 2013 schedule. I was, therefore frustrated by the moratorium voted by the Faculty Senate and the fact that many senior faculty members would not publically speak to the wisdom of going forward. Perhaps I was naive to have thought it would be otherwise.
Professor Naider: What are your main goals for the Spring Semester?
Provost: I will focus on continuing to learn to do my job to the best of my ability and to concentrate on meeting the challenges that I have outlined above. I would hope the faculty will continue to take ownership of program and curriculum development, of student, course and program assessment and of the first year experience, in particular our Foundations of Excellence self study. My major goal is to guide the process to increase the educational standards for our students, maintain and further our access to the Staten Island population and to facilitate the faculty in achieving their personal aspirations in pedagogy and scholarship.
Professor Naider: Several years ago the Mayor of New York Ed Koch used to go around asking “How am I doing?.” Mr. Provost “How are you doing”
Provost: Again, Professor, I believe that this is something for the College community to decide – but I would hope they would quote that famous writer Larry David and say “…pretty, pretty good..”!!!!
Professor Naider: Well with that do you have any final words for our committee, the faculty and our students.
Provost: I wish you all a happy, meaningful, and peaceful holiday season and hope that 2013 will be one of personal satisfaction for the students and faculty, and of institutional success for CSI.