The SUNY University Faculty Senate
Fall 2002 Meeting
New Paltz State University Community
From: Gary Kitzmann
Date: November 12, 2002
Subject: SUNY University Faculty Senate Meeting
As New Paltz State's University Faculty Senator, I recently represented our New Paltz campus at the Fall 2002 plenary meeting of the University Faculty Senate in Purchase, NY. The University Senate's mission is to represent the voice of SUNY Faculty state-wide. It is composed of faculty representatives from each of the State University campuses and is organized much as our own local Faculty Senate.
The business of the Plenary Session of the University Faculty Senate began with an address by SUNY Trustee Randall Daniels. Daniels explained that there is "no more passionate supporter of public education" than he. He suggested that SUNY has faced challenges over the years including those in the areas of access, diversity, and public funding, and that one of the ways to elevate SUNY to a great university is through diversity. He said that we, as faculty, should not change our high standards, but that extra help needs to be provided to those who need it to meet those high standards. Daniels stated that the SUNY Board of Trustees is not a right-wing board, it does value what faculty do, and it does not question faculty loyalty. But he added that what the Board did on General Education, they still believe was correct, although at the same time he said that he supported local campus control of curriculum.
Chancellor Robert King, during his visit with the University Senate, celebrated the record number of students enrolled in SUNY, the highest number since 1991, and the third highest in history. He attributed the increase to both the quality of SUNY's education and to the current state of the economy and he suggested that SUNY was getting increased recognition in popular literature such as US News and World Report surveys. The Chancellor commented on a 100 million dollar increase in research funding in the last year, which brought current total research funding to 700 million dollars. He pointed out that, like other state universities, SUNY would be facing financial challanges, particularly since New York lost 100,000 jobs in the World Trade Center disaster, jobs of the type that contributed a higher than average share of tax revenue. He said that SUNY was positioning itself to minimize the effect on its ability to satisfy its mission and, although he had no specific details to offer, he was confident that SUNY would find a way to do so.
During questions, the Chancellor commented on the Neil D. Levin Graduate Institute of International Relations and Commerce, which Governor George E. Pataki announced would be established under the auspices of the State University of New York. According to press releases, the institute is dedicated to the memory of Neil D. Levin, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who was lost in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The Governor had said that the Levin Graduate Institute would carry on Neil Levin's vision and commitment to the people of New York, enabling future generations to gain advanced skills and experience necessary to function in the complex world of foreign relations and the global economy. The Institute would presumably be a degree granting institution, among its other functions. Several University Faculty Senators expressed concern that a new SUNY unit was created without any input from SUNY faculty concerning its creation, its structure, or its operation. The Chancellor may have addressed those concerns in a definitive manner, but, if so, I am afraid I did not get his response in my notes.
A concern which was expressed throughout the meeting involved the creation of the ACGE, the system-level Advisory Committee on General Education. Under proposed new System guidelines for reviewing campus General Education courses, the individual campuses would be expected to incorporate SUNY System guidelines into their own campus-based processes for reviewing local general education courses. After incorporating the System guidelines, the individual campuses, rather than the Provost's Office, would be responsible for all review of campus General Education courses. However, results of campus reviews would be forwarded to the Provost's Office. Should there be any particular concern in that office, that concern would be submitted to ACGE for its review. Two issues arose concerning the proposed process. On one side, Senators questioned how curriculum judgments could truly be campus-based if such a system-level review committee existed. Secondly, Senators questioned the appointment of faculty representatives to the ACGE, both in terms of the number and percentage of committee members who would be faculty, and also in terms of how these faculty representatives would be appointed and approved. The latter issue continued a long standing theme of resistance to the practice of the administration, rather than faculty governance, choosing the individual faculty to be appointed to university committees on which there is faculty representation.
Among other business, a major theme was budgeting. A University Senate Task Force which had been charged to consider the development of a rational fiscal policy (not tuition policy) gave a preliminary report of its recommendations. The task force had included both faculty and System representation. A preliminary, non-public draft of the task force's tentative recommendations was summarized for the Senate and submitted for a period of comment by interested individuals. In addition to the task force report, a comprehensive report was presented by one of the University Senate standing committees on budget review processes on local campuses and on the various means of faculty involvement in those processes. Given the detail of the report, I do not have an electronic copy, but I do have a hard copy available for review.
Senators from various sectors typically
meet during the University Faculty Senate meetings to consider concerns
related to their sectors to forward to the University Senate and to the
Chancellor. I am currently chairing the sector composed of Comprehensive
Colleges. For your further information, my web site includes a
report on issues considered by the Comprehensive College Sector.
As usual, these are all my own perceptions and other folks may have seen things differently. As I have said in other reports to you, I appreciate your confidence in choosing me to represent the New Paltz campus as your representative to the University Senate. I would be pleased to provide you with more detail about any of the items in this report, if I can do so.
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