CSU ERFA

Academic Senate News

Rick Luttmann is our representative to the Academic Senate. Below are his notes from AS meetings.

Summary of Academic Senate meeting (via Zoom) 14 May 2020

From Michael Pinkston

Senate Chair Watt Report- will serve on the Academic Continuity Planning group which is already meeting to explore topics such as which classes absolutely need to be conducted in person. Conversations will continue to discuss what has worked well and what has not with respect to online teaching so far. Senator Jeffrey Reeder will take over as Chair on August 1 and Vice Chair Milligan will remain in her position for a second year. As she reported in her written report, the Operational Continuity Planning committee will include Vice Chair Milligan as a member and will focus on such important topics as Stevenson remodel.

President Sakaki Report: All 23 campuses will continue with almost entirely online instruction for the entire fall semester although each campus will decide which classes need to be done on campus. She reported that the governor had released his May revised budget approximately two hours previous to her remarks and so far she had heard that the CSU will receive $398 million less than the previous budget. She expects to learn more details soon including in an online conference with the chancellor during the next hour. A Senator questioned her regarding the availability of laptops and hotspots for students or faculty when needed to assist in online teaching and the president confirmed that this will continue to happe.

Provost Vollendorf Report - Searches for Dean of Science and Technology, Registrar, and Chief Information Officer are all in the final stages.

State Wide Senate Report: Senator Ostroff - Resolution planned in opposition to Title-IX changes that will impact victims of sexual harassment on university campuses. The chancellor reported that the scientific experts he has consulted with feel certain there will be another surge in the virus in late fall and if so it would likely be necessary to continue with spring semester online

Senator Nelson reported that her term as chair of the Statewide Senate is ending and she will not be serving as a representative for SSU next year. She also reported that the chancellor has submitted an updated proposal to require one GE class of three units with the title of “Ethnic Studies and Social Justice“ with the understanding that each campus will set its own learning objectives. A great deal of opposition was voiced to this proposal from both students and faculty, with a major concern being that these are two separate topics we should not be placed together in one course.

Election for Senate at Large Reps to EC: Sam Brannen and Amal Munayer were reelected to fill these positions.

FSAC Proposed Policy Revision to allow for FERPing Faculty to serve on RTP Committees when approved by the president was voted on and unanimously accepted.

EPC Internship Policy was discussed. An amendment allowing some of the required 45 hours being offsite failed to pass. The vote on the proposed policy then passed without opposing votes.

APARC had submitted a list of their "Priority Recommendations" and the vote to accept their recommendations was unanimous. One of their recommendations was "Prioritize Lecturer Working Conditions", which among other suggestions included exploring ways a lecturer position could be converted to a tenure track position.

Summary of Academic Senate meeting (via Zoom) 1 May 2020

From Victor Garlin

President Sakaki announced that she has accepted Provost Lisa Vollendorf's resignation, effective June 30. Senior Associate Vice-President for Academic Programs Karen Moranski has been appointed Interim Provost effective July 1.

The campus is in active contact with the Chancellor's Office about possible scenarios for the Fall semester. Under consideration are various combinations of remote and personal contact learning. The final outcome is very much in question on all the CSU campuses. But some hybrid solution is the likely outcome, and might vary by the type of class offered, e.g. lectures, sections, laboratory, field work all might have different solutions. Any plans will be vetted by the campuses (students, faculty, administration, and staff), Chancellor's Office, local Health Departments, and the Governor's Office. Ultimately, the goal will be to find the right balance between remote and personal-contact learning.

Senator Sam Brannan asked the President whether she was concerned about the loss of institutional memory with recent rapid turnover in so many administrative positions. She responded that she was not concerned as she would continue to consult with experienced and knowledgeable people when significant decisions had to be made. (Reporter's note: This was the only reference at the meeting, and oblique it was, to the announcement of the Provost's resignation.)

Provost Vollendorf spoke of the need to adjust the timing of SSU's coronavirus accommodations to changing conditions.

Vice-President of Administration and Finance Joyce Lopes announced the resignation of the campus Chief of Police.

Vice-President for Student Affairs Greg Sawyer reported that 88% of students eligible to return to campus in the Fall had indicated their intention to do so. He also reported that applications for student housing are not doing as badly as feared, and they are at an acceptable level. Reported occupancy rate will depend on types of occupancy i.e, single vs. double occupancy chosen by students.

Faculty Standards and Affairs Chair Paula Lane presented for a first reading a proposed change in campus policy that would permit FERP faculty to serve on faculty peer review committees, at her/his option, with the approval of the department and the president. This policy change is consistent with the collective bargaining agreement. Since the faculty constitution states that members of these committees be "full-time", the proposed change will take effect if passed on a second reading, notwithstanding our constitution, as the collective bargaining agreement governs when it is in conflict with a campus constitution. I spoke in support of this approach on behalf of ERFSA.

Chair Lane announced that other changes to the campus RTP policy will be considered in the Fall. She also reported that there are ongoing discussions in FSAC about conflicting personnel assessments by faculty peer reviews committees and school deans. In her view, this reflects a variety of circumstances: the number of new deans, differing interpretations of the appropriate relationship among the various criteria used in the RTP process, among others.

Summary of Academic Senate meeting (via Zoom) 2 Apr 2020

From Victor Garlin

Much of the meeting involved a discussion, led by President Sakaki and Provost Vollendorf, of the impact of the closure of the campus on current students, and future enrollments. A hiring slowdown is in force. Every new hire will be personally reviewed by the president. This includes new faculty hires. There has been a 25% decline in deposits, which combined with SSU projected 20% enrollment decline raises series issues for the campus. In addition, the state's budget is now "off the table" due to uncertaining about state revenues and the SSU administration does not know much funding is going to be available going forward. Flexibility is the current watchword in light of the uncertainties in enrollment and finance. Every effort is being made to cushion the shock on faculty, staff and students of the coronavirus, reported the president and provost.

The major item of business was the approval on a first reading of a resolution brought by kinesiology professor Ellen Carlton. Her resolution would require SSU to refuse donations from entities whose values with respect to diversity and inclusion do not conform to those of Sonoma State. It specifically targets Chick-Fil-A, a fast-food organization that supports financially anti-LBGT organizations. Chick-Fil-A has made a financial contribution to the SSU athletics program and as a consequence has its logo featured prominently on SSU athletics promotional banners and materials. There was a suggestion that the resolution sponsors might wish to include a provision for process in the second reading, but other than that the resolution was approved without objection for a second reading.

The other item of business of concern to the ERFSA community was the report of the FSAC chair. She reported that the review of RTP policy would not be completed this semester, due to the exigencies of the moment.

Summary of Academic Senate meeting 27 Feb 2020

There were three significant issues considered at this meeting:

  1. Emergencies, Campus Closures: Our region has been seriously impacted by a number of natural disasters in recent years, particularly the last three: fires, winds, floods, droughts, and electrical power outrages. So far, for the last 30 years, no earthquakes, but one could strike at any moment. Now we have a new threat: the Coronavirus epidemic.

    The campus leadership is impressively out in front on the coronavirus threat. Multiple units are already laying contingency plans: the health center (first and foremost, obviously), the residence halls and food services (in case of quarantines), the students studying abroad (Japan and South Korea have already closed down and Italy may be next), faculty and student travel off campus, etc

    The administration has also given serious thought about repeats of other emergencies such as those we experienced in the past three fall terms.

    The biggest concern long-term for us as an educational institution is how to deal with what may turn into multiple weeks of gaps in the delivery of instruction. There is only so much that can be made up by talking faster. In some cases, such as nursing credential programs for example, it is unthinkable to award certifications when all requisite skills have not been taught.

  2. Rebranding: The University is re-branding itself. This is in part a response to the declining enrollment over the past few years. It is thought that we are not stressing and advertising some of the characteristics of our campus that make it unique. The administration claims to have consulted widely across multiple constituencies, now known as “stakeholders”, to identify the qualities that make Sonoma State attractive and even distinguished. (The Academic Senate is not one of the constituencies that was consulted.)

    The re-branding is well underway. The University seal will not change (the belching smokestack, the fleeing seagull, and the last redwood tree), nor will the motto (Lux mentis, lux orbis). The mascot will remain the “Seawolf”. The “colors” will remain blue and white. But the defining mantra will be “SONOMA STATE OF MIND”.

    For further information see this article from the 30 January 2020 issue of the STAR.

  3. Division of Student affairs Reorganization: Greg Sawyer, VP of Student Affairs, explained the reorganization of his division, and its broadening and strengthening of many programs. For example, advising, counseling, psychiatric services, veterans, residence hall programs, athletics, EOP and other low-income programs, recruiting, and many others. For details see the Division’s website.

Summary of Academic Senate meeting 16 May 2019

The most significant issue at this meeting was the continued Second Reading of a major proposal from EPC (Educational Policies Committee) for the complete restructuring of the SSU program in General Education, and the consideration of a proposal to refer the proposal to the full faculty for a referendum vote.

As previously noted, this proposal has been in gestation for over a year. It was originated by the General Education Revision Committee before being brought to EPC. The committee had begun its work before the Chancellor’s Office disOrders on the subject but after the WASC report on our GE program. According to EPC Chair Jenn Lillig, there was robust discussion about all major issues, and naturally some intractable disagreements, but the final document was approved unanimously.

Before this item came up for discussion, however, several other matters were considered.

The Senate agreed to posthumous awarding of a degree to a student who was killed in an automobile accident the previous week, Brayan Pena Rodriguez.

S&F announced the results of the election for two Senators to serve At-Large on the Executive Committee. The only two candidates were the incumbents, so they will serve for the next academic year.

The proposal to revise the charge to SAC was approved at the Second Reading. The changes are minor and mostly bring the charge up to date.

On the Second Reading of Strategic Priorities for 2019-2020 from APARC, the proposal passed.

On Second Reading, continued from the previous meeting for lack of time, the request from SAC to endorse the Academic Advising Task Force report was passed.

Regarding the GE reform: At the request of a Senator, a proposal to refer the GE reform package to the full faculty for a referendum vote was agendized. This action was considered before the discussion of the GE proposal itself, since that discussion would be rendered moot by a vote to put the matter to a full faculty referendum. Compelling arguments were made that this referendum is appropriate, considering the magnitude of the changes involved, their controversial nature, and the significant concerns many faculty members not on the Senate have raised. On the other hand, some Senators believed the Senate would be shirking its duty as a representative body to “pass the buck” to the whole faculty. Timing issues were raised as well, since there would be no time for a referendum until the fall term begins, and meantime the Administration would be forced to “impose” in order to meet the Chancellor’s Office requirements. But on this point, some argued that letting the Administration impose rather than “pulling the trigger on ourselves” might be an appropriate way to protest.

On a paper ballot vote, the motion for a referendum failed 6 to 18.

Thereafter, several relatively minor amendments were adopted and the revised package was approved.

Summary of Academic Senate meeting 2 May 2019

The most significant issue at this meeting was the Second Reading of a major proposal from EPC (Educational Policies Committee) for the complete restructuring of the SSU program in General Education.

As previously noted, this proposal has been in gestation for over a year. It was originated by the General Education Revision Committee before being brought to EPC. The committee had begun its work before the Chancellor’s Office disOrders on the subject but after the WASC report on our GE program. According to EPC Chair Jenn Lillig, there was robust discussion about all major issues, and naturally some intractable disagreements, but the final document was approved unanimously.

Before this item came up for discussion, however, several other matters were considered.

There was a proposal to revise the charge to SAC, up for a First Reading. The changes are minor and mostly bring the charge up to date.

There was a First Reading of Strategic Priorities for 2019-2020 from APARC.

The Second Reading of the request from SAC to endorse the Academic Advising Task Force report was continued to the next meeting for lack of time.

At a previous meeting, a motion to endorse and associate ourselves with a resolution from the Academic Senate at CSU Chico was considered; this resolution made a negative recommendation to the Statewide Academic Senate regarding the (statewide) GE Task Force report. At the second Reading on 18 April, the proposer made a motion to substitute a milder and more neutral resolution from the Fullerton Academic Senate. The body agreed to substitute this document for the one from Chico in the motion under consideration. However, due to lack of opportunity to carefully review this newly substituted document, the Senate voted to continue the matter till this meeting, and the document was approved.

Regarding the GE reform: A Senator asked to agendize a proposal to refer the GE reform package to the full faculty for a referendum vote. However, the discussion of the GE package itself consumed all of the remaining meeting time, even including several extensions beyond the usual 5:00 adjournment time. So, this matter was continued to the next meeting on 16 May 2019, the final meeting of the Academic Senate for the Spring 2019 term.

Several motions to amend were considered.

I moved to divide the question, and consider various parts of the proposal separately. There was considerable discussion about how to divide the question, whether into five parts, four parts, or three parts. After settling on considering a motion to divide the proposal into three parts, the motion to divide was defeated.

Then I moved to change the language regarding GE Instruction Developmental Courses from “required” to “recommended”. After considerable (and heated) discussion, this motion was passed, although with far from a majority.

Then I moved to delete the four pages on “Sea Lanes”, on the grounds that, however promising an idea this is, it is far from fleshed out and is not ready for Senate endorsement. This motion was defeated.

As time ran out, the GE revision (as well as the proposal for a full-faculty referendum) was continued to the next and final Senate meeting.

Summary of Academic Senate meeting 18 April 2019

The most significant issue at this meeting was the First Reading of a major proposal from EPC (Educational Policies Committee) for the complete restructuring of the SSU program in General Education. Because of the enormousness of this proposal, the usual period of 15 minutes for a First Reading was extended to 45 minutes and then increased by 10 minutes.

This proposal has been in gestation for over a year. It was originated by the General Education Revision Committee before being brought to EPC. The committee had begun its work before the Chancellor’s Office Disorders on the subject but after the WASC report on our GE program. According to EPC Chair Jenn Lillig there was robust discussion about all major issues, and naturally some intractable disagreements, but the final document was approved unanimously.

The changes proposed are too complex to be detailed here. Those interested in the details are advised to look at the Senate agenda here, pages 9 through 68.

At the previous meeting, a motion to endorse and associate ourselves with a resolution from the Academic Senate at CSU Chico was considered; this resolution made a negative recommendation to the Statewide Academic Senate regarding the (statewide) GE Task Force report.

At this second Reading, the proposer made a motion to substitute a milder and more neutral resolution from the Fullerton Academic Senate. The body agreed to substitute this document for the one from Chico in the motion under consideration. However, due to lack of opportunity to carefully review this newly substituted document, the Senate voted to continue the matter till the next meeting (8 May 2019).

The third item of business was a First Reading of a proposal from SAC to endorse the Academic Advising Task Force Report. This Report thoroughly revises and strengthens the entire Advising structure for students at SSU.

Finally, a proposal was considered for First Reading from Structure and Functions to amend the By-Laws to change the name of the Faculty Subcommittee on Sponsored Programs (FSSP) to the Faculty Subcommittee on Scholarly Activities (FSSA). Principally this change is to recognize a de facto increase in the scope of the Subcommittee’s interests. The Senate voted to waive the First Reading and went on to pass the amendment to the By-Laws.

Other matters which came before this Senate meeting:

President Sakaki reported on a very successful “Open House” the previous weekend. The purpose was to recruit undecided students and their families to apply for admission to SSU. She also reported that the 28,000 applicants to the CSU who do not get into their choice of campus will be redirected to other campuses which are short of applicants, including ours. Finally, she noted that the fee for application materials, which was last raised from $45 to $55 in 1989, has been raised to $70.

Provost Vollendorf reported on the ongoing searches for Deans in Business/Economics and Social Science. She also briefly described a proposal for an upper-division GE mathematics requirement that might kick in about 2025.

CFO Lopes reported on new policies for Gift Acceptance, and that there have been changes in the way internal fees are calculated for auxiliaries using University resources.