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Posts Tagged ‘interview’

I wanted to remind all my Kutztown friends and XChange followers that today is KU President Javier Cevallos’s big day. He is one of two finalists to become the next president of Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. FDU is hosting him for a full day of events including town hall type meetings with members of the university community later in the day. According to Patrick Zenner, Chair of FDU’s Board of Trustees, “following the meetings and after reviewing all factors and the input we receive, the Board of Trustees will select the next president of Fairleigh Dickinson University.” While there is not a clear deadline for when the Board will make its decision, FDU is putting Cevallos’s best foot forward. Cevallos’s time as KU President dominates his bio posted on the FDU site:

Since his arrival to Kutztown, enrollment has increased from 8,500 to 10,000 students. Simultaneously, the diversity of the student body has grown. In 2002, approximately 6 percent of the students were members of a racial/ethnic minority, and today that number is 15 percent. The academic profile of the entering class has also improved, going from an 80 percent acceptance rate in 2002 to 64 percent in 2012.

Dr. Cevallos has also overseen a significant change in campus facilities. Since his arrival, the campus has completed a new $20-million Science Center, a $21-million classroom/dining facility (a unique concept that has received architectural awards), the renovation and expansion (almost doubling in size) of Sharadin Visual Arts building ($19 million), and this summer will see the completion of a $21-million renovation of Schaeffer Auditorium, the performing arts center.

The campus has also seen the construction of a new $61-million residence hall, a $30-million Student Recreation Center, and a $13-million renovation of the Health Center. Next fall will also see the completion of the renovation of a traditional residence hall, as part of the comprehensive Housing Master Plan that will renovate all university-owned housing over the next 10 years. He has also worked with the Kutztown University Foundation to build a $40-million residential complex that houses more than 1,400 students; and through the Foundation facilitated the acquisition and renovation of an Honors Hall, a $2-million project that combines housing and classroom space for honors students.

Dr. Cevallos has been an advocate for internationalizing the university. As a faculty member in Massachusetts he directed the Summer Program in Salamanca, Spain, and has been involved with international programs since then. Under his leadership, Kutztown has established programs in Ecuador, China, India and Italy. Kutztown is one of five leading institutions in the Pennsylvania System in a new program that aims to bring students from China to KU. As part of the effort, the university developed an English as a Second Language Program to help students with their language skills.

There are those at KU who may take issue with the fact that there is no mention that Kutztown University has pretty publicly announced deep budget deficits in 10 of Cevallos’s 11 years at Kutztown; that he has overseen the elimination of all retention programs for working class and first generation college students; that he eliminated the Early Learning Center – a legacy jewel dating back to the founding of the university; that he failed to deliver on his job as the university’s #1 fundraiser (the first item listed on his job description when he was hired); that he presided over the demotion of Kutztown University to a fourth-tier school in U.S. News and World Report; that the most recent “KU Campus Climate Survey” showed that 42% of tenured faculty members, 38% of tenure-track faculty members, and 31% of temporary faculty members have “considered leaving the university” (noticeably large); and…well I could go on all day.

The important thing, however, is that we have lots of nice buildings and the university is cosmetically attractive. And THAT’s what’s important about higher education. True, there are more students, fewer faculty, and larger classrooms in those nice new buildings. But I still think we should all consider dropping President Cevallos an email wishing him luck at FDU today: cevallos@kutztown.edu.

Break a leg, President Cevallos. Just be sure to let them know that Kutztown’s new slogan – plastered on the university’s web site and on billboards through out the region – is “The best choice I ever made,” and show them the website and all the billboards up around the region. That will keep them focused on the shiny stuff.

 

I made good choice

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Last night — actually, VERY early this morning — I was searching to see if there were any videos posted by media or individuals of APSCUF’s protest at the PASSHE Board of Governors meeting yesterday. One of my searches brought up a video interview I did for a project some of my colleagues did a couple years back: Union Stories: Kutztown. I did the interview on October 14, 2010, back when we were still working under our previous contract. Now, more than two years later and 19 months without a contract, the story I told in that interview still holds up…for the most part. After two rounds of deep budget cuts, having to fight like hell to prevent our local administration from gutting programs and faculty, and little promise that we can expect anything different for the near future, I hear the edge in my voice when I tell the short version of the story in the 2010 interview. I have a creeping feeling that I am trying to convince myself of something…or that my narrative no longer matches my experience. That’s hard to write, actually.

Coming across this interview was good timing in one respect at least. I was having a conversation with someone a week or so ago who wanted to know why having a union contract was so important to me. I got asked a version of that same question by a FOX 43 reporter yesterday at the APSCUF protest in Harrisburg: “What’s the big deal with working without a contract?” I’ve had versions of this conversation with scores of people over the 10 years I’ve been at Kutztown University. I can’t even begin to count the number of people that wondered why the hell I was going to take a job at Kutztown when I had other offers with lower teaching loads and, in one case, a significantly higher starting salary and in the city I lived in at the time. I had then and have now several reasons. But, one reason stands out above all the rest. I took the job at Kutztown because of the union, because of APSCUF. If Kutztown did not have a unionized faculty, I would have never taken the job. Period.

I’ve tried to make the case for several years that if our contract continues to erode, if our working conditions deteriorate even more, or if we strip away protections and quasi-equity for temporary faculty, then Kutztown – PASSHE as a whole – will not be able to hire AND KEEP quality faculty. We will go elsewhere. That’s sad and infuriating to me. It’s an injustice to the student body we teach and to the mission of the 14 universities that make up PASSHE. But that’s the game that the Chancellor, the Chair of PASSHE Board of Governors, and PASSHE as a whole is playing. They want to strip away quality and leave in its place a degree factory – a State-owned version of ITT Tech or the University of Phoenix.

When I watch my “Union Stories” video now I am keenly aware of why I chose to come to Kutztown, why I am fighting like hell to protect and secure a good contract for ALL faculty, and why I may ultimately end up having to leave. But the game is not up yet and the fight is not lost yet. So, back to work. Here’s the video:

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