Academic Senate

Getting a Faculty Trustee Back on Board

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Message from the ASCSU Chair


As I write this on October 1st, two of the six meetings of the CSU Board of Trustees (BOT) this year have now taken place without a Faculty Trustee. This absence is due to Governor Brown’s failure to fulfill his statutory responsibility to appoint one of the two faculty members nominated by the ASCSU in March 2013.

This lack of faculty representation is of significant concern because the BOT adopts rules, regulations, and policies governing the CSU.  As stated on the CSU website, “The Board has authority over curricular development, use of property, development of facilities, and fiscal and human resources management.” The voice of the Faculty Trustee was especially needed at this past September’s BOT meeting.  Several agenda items pertained to academic/curricular issues. For example, in a report on so-called “bottleneck” courses within the CSU, the BOT heard extensive research showing that the first, second, and third reasons for bottlenecks— regardless of disciplinary area—are lack of: (1) tenure-track faculty, (2) part-time faculty, or (3) funds to hire faculty. You can view the video on the CSU website at
(see Day 1, Part 1; the presentation on bottlenecks begins at 58:00 on the video.)

Despite much discussion among the trustees, no mention of the report’s findings on the need for faculty was made during the discussion at the BOT until Chancellor White concluded the discussion, stating that there are four elements to solving the student access problem: (1) resources, (2) faculty and staff, (3) capacity through technology, and (4) student preparation. (His comments begin at 1:48 on the video link above).

As I reported to the BOT, the Faculty Trustee would have worked with the other trustees to underscore the importance of the bottleneck survey findings on the need for more faculty. (My comments begin at 1:58 on the same video).

The Faculty Trustee position on the BOT has been vacant before.  Governor Schwarzenegger did not appoint a Faculty Trustee in 2009, stating that he sought more diversity than he claimed was present among the ASCSU nominees we sent him.  The ASCSU supported its nominees, and the position was vacant for the entire term.  During that period, the ASCSU passed numerous resolutions, as did the campus senates.  In March 2011, the ASCSU forwarded its nominees to Governor Brown, and he appointed Faculty Trustee Bernadette Cheyne in July 2011.

Resolution AS-3141-13/EX, Concern over Delay in Governor’s Appointment of CSU Faculty Trustee, was approved unanimously by the ASCSU at its September 2013 plenary.  In addition to stating our grave concern about the lack of a Faculty Trustee and respectfully asking the governor to act, this resolution also directed the Executive Committee to work with the Chancellor’s Office, the Board of Trustees, and/or the California Faculty Association to ensure the continuous presence of a Faculty Trustee.

If we proceed with a legislative proposal, to my knowledge this will be the ASCSU’s first foray into sponsoring legislation.  There are several possible solutions to address the problem, among them: a holdover appointment; the student trustee model (two student trustees with staggered terms and one vote); the alumni trustee model (one trustee directly appointed); or the UC model (chair and chair-elect of Academic Senate both serve, but neither votes).  Although Chancellor White had suggested that the ASCSU pursue legislation in line with the Student Trustee model at the plenary, subsequent discussion and additional information led us to recommend a holdover appointment as the remedy most likely to be successful in the legislative process. That is, in the absence of a timely appointment by the Governor, the Faculty Trustee would automatically remain on the BOT until a replacement is named, with the holdover period extended for increments of one academic term. The ASCSU will discuss such a remedy at the next plenary, October 31 – November 1, 2013.