posted 2012-09-21 19:32:31

QCC Administration Threatens English Department Over Pathways

Department threatened with mass firings over resistance to Pathways 

Kaitlin McKendry

Associate Features Editor
On Sept. 13, Queensborough Community College Vice President Karen B. Steele announced extensive changes for the future of the QCC English department, resulting from the implementation of the controversial Pathways program. In her brief but concise email to the English Department Chair Linda Reesman, the vice president outlined the major changes to face the English department for their defiance to the the implementation of Pathways, notably the dissolving of the department as it currently stands.

The QCC English department currently offers English composition courses

101, 102 and 103, all of which are three- credit courses which meet four hours weekly, however Pathways would require these class hours to be reduced to three hours weekly through a series of class size reductions and course structure modifications. When the faculty of the English department voted not to adopt the Pathways recommendation, Steele countered with a blatant threat, which included advising QCC students to seek English courses at another CUNY campus.

Steele’s email, which was highly opposed by QCC’s English department faculty and the faculty’s of departments all over CUNY, presented a series of bullet points for changes to the department, harshly slashing not only course offerings but also staff. In one bullet point, Steele stated, “of necessity, all adjunct faculty in the English department will be sent letters of non-reappointment for Fall 2013.” Another read, “The reappointment of full time faculty in the English department will be subject to ability to pay and Fall 13 enrollment in department courses.”
Unsurprisingly, Steele’s harsh and remorseless delivery provoked much opposition among both adjunct and full- time faculty. In an attempt to smooth over the abrasive words of the OCC vice president, President Diane B. Call sent out a follow up email regarding department changes on Sept. 16, assuring faculty that Vice President Steele’s email outlined “the worst case scenario — one we are prepared to work mightily to avoid.” Following Call’s email, on Sept.17, Steele issued an apology to the QCC English department stating that the plans outlined in her initial email were “hypothetical, and there are no plans to enact them.”
On Sept. 18, A CUNY committee in opposition to Pathways contacted Alexandra Logue, executive vice chancellor and university provost, concerning the administrative response to the developments at QCC. The committee wrote, “whatever lines of communication between faculty and administration about Pathways remain open within what is already a very polarized situation have been strained to the breaking point by the events at QCC.” The committee urged the CUNY Central Office to reconcile with faculty and reestablish a sense of professional trust.
In a statement released on Sept. 18, the University Faculty Senate unanimously abhorred the actions of the CUNY administration in regard to the events at QCC. The UFS Executive Committee  concluded that such treatment of the QCC faculty by administration as having “no place in universities, which by long agreement value cooperative, respectful, and deliberate decision making.” The committee expressed its deploration of the administration’s refusal to recognize the official duty that faculty in opposition to Pathways are fulfilling in providing their academic judgment of the plan, whether it be in favor of it or not.
On Sept. 19, Chancellor Matthew Goldstein released a message over the CUNY Newswire regarding the debate over the QCC controversy. In his message, Goldstein stated that both Dr. Terrence Martell, chair of the UFS, and Dr. Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, emailed faculty suggesting that faculty have the power to stop the implementation of the Pathways program, which he denounced as an untrue claim, stating that the full legal power belonged to the CUNY board of trustees.
It is the hope of the UFS and all opposed to Pathways that the administration

will look to a more just way of handling matters of opposition. In their statement the UFS said, “We urge a return to a more civil dialogue informed by the traditions of shared governance, in which the commitment of the faculty to curricular rigor can be freely expressed and never again shut down by force.”