Cal Poly is one of Chancellor Timothy White’s first stops on his tour of visiting all 23 California State University (CSU) campuses. The open forum will be held Tuesday in Chumash Auditorium at 2 p.m. and is open to all faculty, staff and students.
Though there is no set agenda for the meeting, according to an campus-wide email sent by Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong, the discussion will be regarding “our shared goals for moving the CSU forward.”
The Chancellor’s visit comes just a few weeks after the California Faculty Association (CFA) voted on whether or not to strike in response to stalled salary negotiations with the CSU system. CSU faculty statewide are asking for a 5 percent salary increase, while the CSU is offering 2 percent. Results of the vote will become available on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
At the forum, many CFA members are planning on wearing wearing bright red shirts which read, “I don’t want to strike but I will,” and will be handing out sheets full of suggested questions to ask the Chancellor. Mustang News sat down with Cal Poly CFA Chapter President and architectural engineering professor Graham Archer to discuss the upcoming visit.
Mustang News (MN): What do you expect from the Chancellor’s visit?
Graham Archer (GA): It’s very clear that the timing has to do with our contract negotiations, but we don’t really know what to expect. Hopefully we’ll have a lot of us wearing our red T-shirts with some banners and picket signs. We’ll be greeting people and handing out pieces of paper with some possible questions people might want to ask the Chancellor or that might prompt them to ask different questions.
Part of the question sheet that we have is in the form of tic-tac-toe. You put an “X” if the Chancellor actually answers the question, and an “O” if he dodges it.
MN: What does the Chancellor do?
GA: Essentially, he sets policies for all of the 23 CSU campuses. Every campus President reports to the Chancellor. The Chancellor issues executive orders and that dictates how the Presidents should run their campuses. He controls the budgets for each year. He dictates how many additional students must be taken on each campus. Ultimately, he decides what faculty pay will be and what tuition will be. The Chancellor and the Board of Trustees – who are appointed by (Governor Jerry Brown) – are essentially in charge. They are the top administrators of all of the CSUs.
MN: What is the 24th campus?
GA: The Chancellor’s office is considered the 24th campus. It’s 280 administrators and a whole bunch of staff in a big building down in Long Beach. There are absolutely no students whatsoever. There are no classes, no faculty–it is pure administration.
In terms of money that goes from the general fund to actually run the place, it is the 12th largest CSU. It takes the place of 14,000 students. Cal Poly is the 11th largest, and they are the 12th. So it takes approximately just as much money to run the Chancellor’s office as it does to run Cal Poly.
MN: What are some of the questions you would like to ask the Chancellor?
GA: My hope is that a lot of students, staff and faculty are there and that we pepper him with questions. Not just about issues that we’re striking over, but also, last May and June we had a lot of problems on campus. The Academic Senate and the faculty asked the Chancellor to come and pursue an investigation of the leadership at Cal Poly – and the Chancellor refused. The results of that are quite upsetting, and my guess is that some of the questions are going to be centered around why he chose not to come and investigate what is going on.
MN: Why did the Academic Senate ask the Chancellor to pursue an investigation at Cal Poly?
GA: Around late May, there was a vote of no confidence in the Dean of Agriculture (Dean Andy Thulin). About 79 percent of the faculty voted that they had no confidence in their Dean in the College of Ag. When President Armstrong refused to fire him, the Academic Senate proposed two options: to do a vote of confidence in President Armstrong, or to ask the Chancellor for an investigation. When we took the lesser step of asking the Chancellor to step in to do a review of President Armstrong’s leadership, the Chancellor said no. Hopefully the Chancellor will be asked quite a few questions about why he chose not to step in.
MN: What are your goals for this meeting?
GA: I think the goal would be that the Chancellor comes out of Cal Poly with an understanding of how angry the faculty are. It has obviously a lot to do with salary and our complete lack of appropriate raises for years.
But it also has to do with the other issues that all fall under the umbrella of shared governance. The faculty and the administration are supposed to share in the governance of the CSU’s, and from what I can see, they are not sharing. Our voice does not appear to be heard and we are essentially being dictated to.
MN: What would a successful meeting tomorrow look like?
GA: The most successful way it could go is that the Chancellor announces that we all get the 5 percent raise, and everyone goes home happy. But the reality and what I would hope would happen is that he would go away with an understanding that Cal Poly faculty feel absolutely disrespected. That the students are absolutely angry at the possibility of more tuition increases, and frankly I think that the staff are in the same position that the faculty are – feeling a complete lack of respect.
This is the man who ultimately decides whether or not tuition goes up. The power is coming to the campus and the appropriate time to speak truth to it would be tomorrow.