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Posts Tagged ‘college of business’

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been spending time with my family, refinishing my deck (for which the weather has NOT cooperated), doing house repairs, and, basically, reflecting upon this past year as I prepare to enter my 8th year at Kutztown.  I have to admit that this past year has taken a significant toll on me, in particular, my notorious deep reserves of hope.  In my post back in the end of June, I was poking away at some of reasons for this:

While the tendency to criticize an issue and wait for “someone else” to take up the labor is certainly not limited to Kutztown University, I have always been part of groups at other institutions who had a kind of DIY ethic.  That is, I’ve generally been surrounded by people who, when faced with a problem, tended to immediately begin to generate creative solutions without waiting to be given permission.  In those contexts, we always felt a sense of ownership of the issue–and a kind of core belief that “if you want to get something done, you’ve got to do it yourself.”…

…What’s amazing about that DIY ethic is that it is hopeful–a basic belief in the creative labor of self-organizing groups–affinity groups, if you will.  While our frustrations were deep, we tended to gravitate toward possibilities–whether those possibilities included putting on shows, carrying out “guerrilla art” campaigns, building shanty towns on university campuses, occupying administration buildings, living collectively, or starting our own independent zines and newspapers.  And we did these things.  They weren’t just ideas.  Wecreated and built and produced.

This past weekend I was at a Writing Program Administration conference in Philly and met up with some friends and their kids.  It was the first time that my friends and their families met my son, Rowan.  These were some of the friends I had in mind when I wrote that post.  I told them about some of my frustrations about Kutztown–in particular issues with my union work.  I have to admit that it was somewhat comforting to hear that I was not alone in my frustrations of doing organizing work in academic institutions.  One of my friends talked about her frustration with academics who all have great ideas, but are unwilling to do the work of organization to make those ideas concrete. One of my other friends talked about how important it was to take a leave just to reevaluate one’s relationship to her academic institution.  I shared stories about moments of opportunity amidst “crisis” in which faculty had a chance to take the initiative and reconstitute their working conditions, but chose, instead, to play the role of victim/critic (I think these two terms can operate too frequently as a debilitating binary).

Earlier last week, I met up with one of my oldest friends and his family who live in Northern Ireland.  They were back in Central New York visiting family, so we headed up for a one day visit.  He and I got on a similar conversation…or, I should say, I got us on to a similar conversation.  We were talking about how the political work we did back in Syracuse was not only engaging, it was FUN.  That’s right, FUN.  We enjoyed the work of political organizing and our community was strengthened by such work.  Why was it then, I asked, that this relationship is so absent at KU?  He shrugged his shoulders as did I.  “Beats me,” we both seemed to say.

All of these questions came back to me front and center upon my lukewarm return to work and preparation for the coming semester. I read through a chain of emails posted on the faculty listserv doing some bashing of our union leadership.   Some of the issues raised in these emails are not without merit–especially when it comes to communications processes over the summer.  It is true, as one faculty member wrote in regard to significant organizational changes being pursued by KU’s administration, that the union should provide members with a “continuing update” about what is going on (while, at the same time, questioning whether or not the union leadership is doing anything at all).

Point taken.  There is no doubt that it’s been a challenge keeping updates coming, especially over the summer when not all members of our Executive Committee are one campus everyday as they would be during the academic year.  And yet I think most of us on our Executive Committee would agree that there needs to be better communication networks over all.  That is true for ALL aspects of our union’s work.

What becomes a bit disenchanting for me is that on several occasions I’ve asked some of the same people who are so pissed off now to help with some of the work.  In response to personal emails providing sketches of analyses and rhetorical questions, I’ve asked people to step up and contribute–not as some kind of challenge, but because we genuinely need more members with expertise in particular areas to help combat the administration’s moves to retrench faculty and eliminate or change programs. That doesn’t seem unreasonable.  But, more often than not I receive, instead, a host of reasons why they are unable to do that work.  I’ll never understand why there is always more than enough time to write lengthy emails filled with detailed criticisms, but always insufficient time to contribute to building a stronger union.  But, this is where we are.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am the last person who will sit here and tell you that our local or statewide union is above criticism.  In many ways, I might surprise many people in our union with the sharpness of my own critiques.  However, my approach as been to look for ways to get involved and change things.  It’s that’s old DIY principle again: If you don’t like something, doing something about it by doing the work to fix it.

Despite the temptations, I’ve consciously tried to avoid engaging in personal critiques or fanning the factional flames in public forums that can potentially weaken our union. But as the beginning of the 2010-2011 academic year approaches–a contract negotiation year to boot–I think it’s necessary for “new ideas” and “criticisms” to be accompanied by a willingness to do the work to either make those ideas concrete or correct problems.  Maybe this is just too much to ask for.  We shall see.

Anyway, I’ve got more to say on a couple of other things, but I’ll do so in separate posts so as not to extend this already-too-long post further.

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Hey all.  Once again I am bringing you my notes from our local Meet and Discuss on Tuesday, May 4th.  And, once again, I will issue the disclaimer that these are not the “official minutes.”  These are notes that I took at the meeting and then revised.

Here’s a quick look at a few of the most significant issues discussed:

  • The Administration announced that it was eliminating the Department of Advisement
  • The Administration announced that it was placing into moratorium the BA in Theater and the minors in Musical Theater and Theater.
  • The Administration announced that it was placing into moratorium the RN to BSN in Nursing as well as the MSN in Nursing
  • The Administration announced that Dance classes will no longer be taught beginning fall 2010
  • No final decision has been made about the Department of Academic Enrichment, Electronic Media, or Philosophy.  These departments remain under review
  • The Administration is currently reviewing ALL release time.  This includes release time for directing programs such as the Women’s Center, the LBGTQ Center/Allies, and the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching.  We were told, however, that the Director for Honors is safe for next year at least

Certainly cannot call these “highlights.”  It was a very grave meeting for the most part.  I’ll leave things there.  To check out my complete notes, follow the link below.

Meet and Discuss Notes May 4 2010

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So.

As if we don’t have enough on our plate as it is.  President Cevallos is pursuing retrenchment, while remaining committed to funding the College of Business’s AACSB accreditation aspirations.  Or, should I say, President Cevallos’s aspirations for the College of Business. President Cevallos’s choice to continue to pursue AACSB accreditation in light of the current “fiscal crisis” raises questions about the administration’s budget figures on the one hand and President Cevallos’s judgement on the other.

That is, by some estimates Kutztown may be looking at $2.5 million annual incremental cost of pursuing accreditation.  It is rumored (although I have not been able to solidly confirm) that the new strategic plan for AACSB accreditation (which was due to AACSB on April 15th) includes a reduced teaching load for Department of Business Administration faculty as well as continued incentives for research.  APSCUF-KU has requested a copy of the strategic plan, which the administration must provide under Article 29 since Cevallos announced his intention to pursue retrenchment.  In my department, several temporary faculty members have lost their jobs because of Cevallos’s claim that the university is in fiscal crisis (despite KU’s Aa3 bond rating).   In light of this “fiscal crisis” the choice to devote upwards of $2.5 million annually to AACSB accreditation does not make sense.  Unless, of course, the administration’s “fiscal crisis” claims are smoke and mirrors.

But (oh, that’s right), Cevallos “had no choice” in the matter.  He’s simply following orders.

That might have flown in “better” fiscal times, but not now.  In fact, we just found out that other PASSHE universities have completely reversed course on AACSB accreditation given a) PASSHE’s claims of a budget crisis; and, b) the Chancellor’s statements that AACSB accreditation is no longer mandated by that office.  Interested?  Here’s what we have so far:

  • Slippery Rock has officially pulled out of the AACSB accreditation process.  This is especially significant for Kutztown since President Cevallos has repeatedly used Slippery Rock as a model for AACSB accreditation and their move to create a Professional Studies department.  Slippery Rock will instead pursue ACBSP accreditation–for the same reasons for which Kutztown faculty argued: ACBSP has a central focus on teaching supported with quality research.
  • California appears to have stopped all activity related to AACSB accreditation.
  • Millersville also appears have stopped searches related to AACSB accreditation and it is rumored, not yet confirmed, that they have also stopped all activity related to AACSB accreditation.

Let me be clear: this does not mean that all other PASSHE universities have callled off AACSB accreditation.  Edinboro, for example, is still in active pursuit of AACSB.  However, given Kutztown’s supposed fiscal crisis, I think it’s time that President Cevallos get on the horn with his colleagues across the state system and make a case to KU’s Council of Trustees that AACSB accreditation is not a fiscally or academically responsible option at this point in time.

Or, he can do nothing and await the flood of grievances.

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As most readers of the XChange know, Kutztown University President, Javier Cevallos has frequently mentioned (at least since his meeting with the Board of Trustees) AACSB accreditation being #1 in his job description.  Given that Cevallos has used his job description as support for his lack of agency in doing anything but moving forward with AACSB accreditation and reorganization of the College of Business, I thought we should take a closer look at ALL aspects of his job description.  Click to the link below to access his full job description.

Cevallos Job Description (PDF)

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“Cevallos” held a meeting today with the faculty of the College of Business to tell them of the adminstration’s plans to move forward with AACSB accreditation.  I put “Cevallos” in quotes, because he began the meeting repeating what he said about the Council of Trustees ordering him to proceed and there was nothing he could do because it was the first thing in his job description.  Then he said that now the question turns to implementation and since that was not his area, he would turn it over to the Dean.  And he did.  Then he sat down in the front row leaving the two Deans and the Provost standing there to run the rest of the meeting.  He must have realized about 10 minutes into the meeting how that looked…so then he stood up and stood behind the Provost for much of the rest of the meeting.

Short of it is that the administration is moving forward with the reorganization of the College of Business.  The long of it is that I have a lot to write about and will hopefully be able to get back to the blog tonight amidst grading all those final papers.

And I’m pretty angry and Cevallos’s persistent spinning of the accreditation process.  More to come.

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As I mentioned a few posts ago, several faculty members from the College of Business sent Cevallos emails concerning AACSB accreditation after Cevallos asked for further faculty input at the Thursday, 12/3 lunch-time meeting.  I asked several of those faculty members if I could post some of their emails here.

Robert Derstine, a professor of Accounting, emailed me today with the go ahead.  His analysis is quite detailed and long; so, rather than post the full-text here, I will post a link to an on-line version of his email.  In addition, Prof. Derstine included several documents with his email.  I am posting them here too.

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A few days have passed since my last post and a host of new voices have weighed in on the latest news that Cevallos is proceeding with the current AACSB accreditation plan.  Cevallos closed out his email to College of Business faculty by saying, “we must move forward immediately in our pursuit of AACSB accreditation for the KU College of Business.  I will ask Provost Vargas and Dean Dempsey to ensure the implementation and accreditation requirements are well communicated within the College.”  What that seems to mean is that Cevallos plans  on moving forward with the plan that was developed this past semester.  That plans is:

  • To dissolve all departments in the College of Business.
  • Establish two new departments: the Department of Business Administration and the Department of Professional Studies
  • All College of Business faculty who are currently Academically  or Professional “qualified” according to AACSB will be moved to the Department of Business Administration.  The remaining faculty, 40% of the faculty in the College of Business will be moved to the Department of Professional Studies.
  • Faculty in the Department of Professional Studies will have three years to either a) become Academically qualified and move to the Department of Business Administration (they would not be able to become Professionally Qualified in that time) or develop courses for non-Business majors. For those three years, faculty in the Department of Professional Studies would be able to teach courses for Business majors.
  • This plan will be in effect with the beginning of the spring 2010 semester; that is, in just over a month.

Cevallos said in his email to the College of Business faculty on Thursday, 12/4 that the Council of Trustees is making him move forward with this plan.  This move, however, seems to run contrary to what PaSSHE Chancellor Cavanaugh said in a November 20 email to APSCUF-KU President Paul Quinn.  Here’s the relevant portion of the email:

[Paul Quinn] So when you say that Kutztown needs to determine locally whether or not it wants to pursue AACSB accreditation, do you mean that the Kutztown Administration should determine it, or do you mean that the decision should be discussed through shared governance with the faculty and various governing bodies on campus?

[Chancellor Cavanaugh] I would say it needs to be discussed in a shared governance fashion, with very thorough discussion of the pros/cons. With AACSB, as I indicated in my remarks, there are real downsides for not doing it that should be considered. Some faculty indicated to me they came to Kutztown specifically because AACSB accreditation was a goal. Student recruitment also becomes an issue, as I discussed.

[see full exchange here]

While Cavanaugh does indicate potential downsides to not going for AACSB accreditation, he stresses that “it needs to be discussed in a shared governance fashion, with a very thorough discussion of pros/cons.”  Clearly, a 50 minute meeting just over a month before the implementation of a plan to proceed with AACSB accreditation is a sham of shared governance.  No serious discussion of the pros and cons of a serious issues (not to mention a process that will come with a $2.5 million/year price tag) can take place in 50 minutes.

Some faculty at last Thursday’s meeting suggested that there has been a lot of discussion among College of Business faculty about the pros/cons of AACSB accreditation already.  That does seem to be the case.  However, all of that discussion took place under the pressure of a MANDATE from the previous Chancellor’s office.  That is, there may have been quite a bit of discussion, but the decision had already been made.  That’s not shared governance.  Shared governance means that faculty get to deliberate over the best course of action, not simply submit their comments in a comment box (or during a 50 minute meeting).  That is, shared governance is not the same as a customer satisfaction survey.

Over the past several days, several faculty have written detailed and thoughtful emails to Cevallos after he told faculty that is what he would like them to do.  Of course, all of that seemed to have been rendered moot a few hours later at the Council of Trustees meeting (from what I understand, Cevallos did not offer a persuasive case to follow the Chancellor’s appeal to shared governance).   I sent emails to several faculty members and asked for their permission to post those emails here.  If they give me their permission, I will post them.

One of the interesting things now is that the Council of Trustees and the Chancellor seem to be on different pages (I don’t include Cevallos here because it’s pretty clear he will do whatever he’s told to do…what his actual thoughts are on this matter are pretty irrelevant at this point).  So what does this suggest?  Are the Trustees bucking the Chancellor?  Did the Chancellor overstep his bounds?  Who has the authority to mandate AACSB accreditation, the Council of Trustees or the President?  To borrow a phrase from a recent US President, “who’s the decider?”

So, that’s my update on this late Sunday night.  More to come, I’m sure.

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