At the request of Provost Susan Jeffords and in the spirit of shared governance, at the beginning of this academic year the Faculty Senate convened an ad-hoc committee with the title of “Academic Program Reduction and Curricular Adjustments.” The charge of this committee is to “[e]nsure faculty participation in meaningful, inclusive, and formative discussions of curricular adjustments related to budget reduction; recommend principles and priorities based on PSU's values and mission, with an emphasis on applying a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens; and share these with OAA to guide decision-making.” While the establishment of this committee in and of itself is concerning many of us, we have been told that it will conform to shared governance by soliciting “input and feedback from faculty.” However, in her “PSU ‘Next’” email of February 5, Provost Jeffords announced yet another “Program Reduction Working Group'' whose membership is composed only of administrators (deans, associate deans, and directors). Their charge is to “identify metrics and conduct analyses that will inform recommendations to [the Provost] of units to consider in the program reduction process.”
We have questions:
- Why exactly is a separate committee of administrators advising the Provost with “metrics” and “analyses” outside the system of shared governance that is supposed to be used for purposes of program reduction at PSU?
- Shouldn’t the Senate’s Educational Policy Committee be involved in this process, given its role in advising the Senate on the abolition or major alteration of academic departments or programs, per Article III, section 1 of the Faculty Constitution?
- Does the Provost feel that administrators are uniquely suited to construct the metrics and conduct the analyses for input into the Senate’s deliberative process on the question of program elimination and reduction?
Administration continues to use its ubiquitous narrative of austerity and budget pessimism during this pandemic crisis to advance their program cutting agenda. These programs are important to our students and very near and dear to our colleagues. Administrators might say “never let a crisis go to waste;” we say that you cannot cut your way out of a crisis. The viability of our institution relies on proper shared governance. Administration may want to answer only to the Board of Trustees, AAUP relies on them to act transparently and in good faith, and remain accountable to the academic workers here at PSU. Make your voice heard at the Chair, Deans, and Provosts level. Tell them we need true shared governance in these conversations.