The following letter was sent by CUNY’s English Discipline Council, made up of chairs and department representatives from departments of English across CUNY, on September 16, 2012:
Dear Executive Vice Chancellor Alexandra Logue:
We have read Karen Steele’s e-mail of 13 September 2012, to the chair of the English Department at Queensborough Community College, in which she outlines the repercussions to the English department if it refuses to overturn its vote against Pathways-compliant 3/3 composition courses. The threatened reprisals include: suspending all job searches; canceling all composition courses in Fall 2013; sending “all adjunct faculty in the English department…letters of non-reappointment for Fall 2013”; and the reconsideration of full-time faculty reappointments. Such threats violate the stated commitment that Pathways be a faculty-driven process, as well as the integrity of the entire University. This is further evidence of the ways in which the Pathways initiative has driven a wedge between faculty and administrators, severely fracturing the academic community. The cancellation of all composition courses for Fall 2013 immediately sabotages students’ education and imperils the very reason for Pathways – articulation agreements and transferability of courses. Furthermore, a college that does not offer composition stands in danger of losing its accreditation. We are particularly galled by the way in which genuine intellectual disagreement is being overridden by intimidation directed at the most vulnerable members of the professoriate – contingent faculty and the untenured.
Interim President Diane Call’s e-mail of 16 September 2012 stating, “The potential consequences as described in Vice President Steele’s e-mail illustrate the worst case scenario – one we are prepared to work mightily to avoid,” does nothing to repair the damage done over her administration’s approach to faculty governance. The threat, one which impacts students and contingent faculty most devastatingly, remains a possibility regardless of invitations for further conversation.
The English department faculty’s understanding of student needs should be respected at Queensborough and at all the CUNY colleges. In our meeting of September 14, 2012, we learned that the majority of senior colleges will maintain a fourth (conference) hour in composition courses while community college administrators are insisting upon three hours. We also compared class sizes and learned that senior colleges have smaller class sizes than community colleges. Pathways is supposed to create equity when, in fact, it will be short changing our most at-risk students.
We write to condemn the Queensborough Community College Administration’s violation of faculty governance and call for an unequivocal reversal of all threats against its faculty and students.
Cristina León Alfar, Chair, CUNY English Discipline Counsel Chair, Hunter College, Nina Bannett, Chair, New York City College of Technology, CUNY
Craig Bernardini, Chair, Hostos Community College, CUNY
Glenn Burger, Chair, Queens College, CUNY
Ashley Dawson, Chair, College of Staten Island, CUNY
Mario DiGangi, Executive Officer, CUNY Graduate Center
Maryann Feola, Department Representative, College of Staten Island, CUNY
Eileen Ferretti, Chair, Kingsborough Community College
Susan Fischer, Department Representative, Medgar Evers College, CUNY
Linda Grasso, Chair, York College, CUNY Sandra Hanson, Chair, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY
David Humphries, Deputy Chair, Queensborough Community College, CUNY
Renata Kobetts Miller, Chair, City College, CUNY
Allison Pease, Chair, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
Marianne Pita, Chair, Bronx Community College, CUNY
Ellen Tremper, Chair, Brooklyn College, CUNY