Because we have dedicated ourselves to transparency and open communication to the whole University community, we have decided that it is important to share the Chancellor’s recent response to our call for his office to help our campus resolve our current difficulties. As you know, we have all participated in trying to address the challenges we identified a year ago when the Senate passed the Resolution on Request for Review of and Assistance in Strengthening Campus Co-Governance, Communication, and Morale [see also TIMELINE, attached]. At that time, we created a Resolution Response Team in which Senate leadership and campus constituents would work with President Zingg and his cabinet to address the complicated problems the community had identified, such as lack of cooperation and clear communication, lack of transparency, the loss of the primacy of Academic Affairs and the educational mission, loss of trust, and declining morale.
This work has been slow, and it suffered a serious setback when the President, contrary to policy and custom, appointed the Interim Provost to a permanent position without consultation with faculty governance or an open national search (August 21). This led to the community coming together again in the Open Forum on Shared Governance and the Campus Climate Survey (August 27). From this meeting and from the compelling data revealed in the Campus Climate Survey Preliminary Report, leaders of the elected constituencies joined the Senate Executive Officers and identified some steps that will take our community forward: “Recommended Actions in Response to the Open Forum on Shared Governance and the Campus Climate Survey.” [attached] This action plan was sent to the Chancellor, the cabinet at Chico, and the whole campus, all in rapid succession. We also appealed to the Chancellor to lend his direct support to the actions and to support an end to workplace intimidation on our campus.
The collection of leaders who signed the action plan include the Chair of the Academic Senate, the Chair of Staff Council, the President of CFA, the President of CSUEU, the President of the Associated Students, the Chair of the Student Academic Senate, the Chief Steward of the SETC-United, the Chair of the Enrollment Management Advisory Committee, and a designee appointed to represent the Executive Committee of the Chairs Council. This is a broad collection of leaders that clearly represents the campus.
We have now received a response from the Chancellor to our “Recommended Actions in Response to the Open Forum on Shared Governance and the Campus Climate Survey.” The response together with our cover letter, the action plan, a contextual timeline, and other important documents are all attached for your review and we share them in the spirit of transparency that we are trying to nurture.
The Chancellor’s response was read to the Academic Senate and disseminated to the elected leaders last Thursday, September 17th. In addition, the elected leaders who signed the Recommended Actions plan met Friday morning to discuss the letter and how to proceed in our response to campus. It was decided we have a responsibility to ensure that the Chancellor’s response be widely distributed, that some context should be provided regarding our previous work, and that both concerns and positive outcomes from the Open Forum and Recommended Actions be communicated to campus.
We hope the Chancellor’s statements and characterizations are not designed to discredit our request for help and the need for the actions proposed. We do not believe that our letter and list of recommended actions are in conflict with principles of civility, respect, or shared governance, although the Chancellor's suggestion that we should have included President Zingg on the distribution of the cover letter to the Chancellor containing our request for help is well taken. We are concerned that Chancellor White makes no mention of supporting our request to end bullying and intimidation on our campus. We also are concerned that the Chancellor has not responded to date to our request for an open search for our next campus president.
On the positive side, the search for the revised Vice Provost for Budget and Academic Resources position has been halted pending further consultation. It was announced at Academic Senate that contract revisions incorporating immediate retreat rights for MPP positions should be completed this week. The Faculty and Student Policies Committee has begun work to revise the EM regarding workplace intimidation and bullying. The Executive Committee of the Academic Senate has begun discussions on revising the Academic Senate constitution with regard to staff and student membership.
The Chancellor charges us, once again, to keep moving forward with campus based solutions, in particular with the meetings of the Resolution Response Team. The students, faculty, and staff have never waivered in the determination to keep this dialog open, and we are committed to taking positive steps to restore trust, mutual respect, transparency, and shared governance. We hope that the Chancellor’s letter is viewed by our administration as an opportunity and expectation that they do the same and join students, faculty, and staff “in good faith”. The issues we face together go to the heart of the purpose of the University and the need of our community and future generations to apply reason and evidence to the decisions that affect our fundamental well-being and the successful achievement of our mission. These challenges are momentous; they require our utmost perseverance and we are determined to carry the work forward. Positive results from this process will only be possible if we all commit to participate openly, honestly, and with integrity.
Thank you all so much for your continued engagement in the health and prosperity of our University,
Elizabeth "Betsy" A. Boyd, Ph.D.
Chair, Academic Senate
California State University, Chico
Kendall Hall 101
Campus Zip: 002
Tel: (530) 898-6201
Fax: (530) 898-4200
Associate Professor – Plant Science
College of Agriculture, California State University, Chico
Campus Zip: 310
Tel: (530) 898-6879
Fax: (530) 898-5845