Fall Faculty Day 2006

Cal State L.A. logo and University Seal - Link back to main page

Fall Faculty Day 2006

Office of Public Affairs
(323) 343-3050 or
Fax: (323) 343-6405
Black and gold graphic bar

Speech Delivered by Academic Senate Chair Kevin Baaske at Fall Faculty Day on September 18, 2006

Good morning.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this year and how honored I am to be here this morning as the elected chair of the Academic Senate.

I realize that since many of you are not members of the Senate, you didn’t actually vote for me. But I promise you, serving without actually being elected by a true majority is about the only thing that I have in common with George Bush.

I first want to welcome our new faculty and new deans. This is a great institution with a strong faculty and marvelous, though often challenging, students.

We have just heard President Rosser and Provost Lujan tell us that the Compact between the Governor and the Chancellor, flawed though it may be, offers us a rather unique opportunity to look down the road, to plan ahead. I want to discuss that opportunity with you, but before I do, I want to be clear about one thing: I have been a member of the CFA, our faculty union, since my first year at Cal State L.A. I think all of the faculty should be members, too. During these difficult times I believe it would send a strong message if we significantly increased the already high membership on this campus. Lil, are we at about 65% membership now? [reply from audience: “70%!”] Excellent. But we should be at 100%. We need a contract. Join the union.

We must also remember that the staff at this institution are also without a contract. When we or our students experience something less than the quality of service we desire, let us remember that they have received nothing but a small cost-of-living raise for several years. They, too, need a contract.

But despite these labor difficulties and despite the challenge of increasing FTES so that we can avoid further reduction in resources, we do have an opportunity to make a difference.

The President has stated that he wants to work together to collectively determine our future. I know that some of you are cynical, but I see no risk in taking him up on this offer and potentially great benefit. Whether we like it or not, whether we participate or not, decisions will be made; this campus will move ahead. I’m an optimist and I would much rather we work with the President and share the governance of this institution.

Let me quickly mention a few issues before us this year:

1. We have already established a desired campus-wide ratio of temporary faculty one the one hand, and tenured/tenure-track faculty on the other. Should we establish a desired ratio of assistant, associate, and full professors on the program level? Should we establish a desired ratio of faculty to students in the major? Did you know that there is a major on this campus with nearly 1100 students and only 6 faculty? Did I get that right Marlene? [From audience: “Yes.”] If we had the kinds of ratios I mentioned, perhaps it would help programs argue for more resources.

2. As resources become available, and they will, where should they be directed? What are our academic priorities? For example, if we pursue the Ed.D. it will raise issues of workload for those teaching in doctorate programs. Should we have a separate “graduate” faculty? We should discuss this. And we will soon have a new one-of-a-kind, Forensics Science building on campus. Should we develop a forensics science program to take full advantage of this state-of-the-art facility? These are shared governance issues.

3. If a program can achieve its FTES targets within its historical allocation, shouldn’t it be allowed to reassign faculty to advisement or research? We discussed a couple of models for reducing faculty workload at the retreat last fall, we need to move ahead with implementing some faculty control over the resources a program generates.

4. What will it mean as we become a truly learning-centered institution? That may be a goal we commit to for WASC. For example, if we believe that our students do not write as well as they should, wouldn’t a truly learning-centered institution strive to improve their writing? How can we do this? What changes should I as an instructor make in order to improve the writing of my students?

I know that faculty morale is low, but these are important issues and there are many, many more. There will be town hall meetings, college-based meetings and meetings of the standing committees of the Academic Senate that consider these matters. Now is NOT the time for cynicism or pessimism.

If the President had not sought our input, we should have demanded to be a part of the conversation anyway. Fortunately, he has made clear that he wants to work with us. So let’s take advantage of this unique opportunity to participate in planning where this wonderful institution should be five years from now.

Thank you for letting me serve you as chair of the Senate and thank you for listening.



Back to: Cal State L.A.