Takeaway: Please vote YES on the resolution to strengthen faculty governance and financial transparency in SAS. Look for the email from the SAS Dean’s office with voting instructions and go to this link to vote.
We’re writing to urge you to vote yes this week on the SAS resolution calling for an elected faculty-staff committee to study the finances of the School and report this spring on alternatives to layoffs and cuts. This approach will allow faculty to build on what we have already collectively achieved in large SAS meetings in October and this Monday. Expanding access to financial information will at last make possible a broader discussion of the school’s budget questions and clarify the role that budget directives from the Central Administration are playing during the pandemic. Since Responsibility Center Management budgeting is currently undergoing a review, the time is propitious for greater faculty involvement. This is the straightforward aim of the resolution we have proposed.
This Monday, three hundred people attended a School of Arts and Sciences faculty meeting in order to call for more democratic governance and financial transparency. In a series of powerful presentations, full- and part-time faculty, staff, and undergraduates, including Gavin Mayes, student representative to the University Senate, testified to the damage caused by staff and part-time faculty cuts. Undergraduate teaching, scientific research, faculty collaborations in multidisciplinary centers—all are suffering because of budget cuts for which we still have not received convincing justifications. It is clear that the time has come for more faculty involvement in scrutinizing the finances of the School and the decisions that the administration is making about them.
Executive Dean Peter March acknowledged the harm done by cuts, but he gave no indication of plans to change course, despite October’s 482–46 faculty vote in favor of a resolution rescinding the cuts. In response to questions about whether his rejection of the faculty’s earlier resolution was consistent with faculty governance at the School, Dean March said: “We have different notions of what it means to govern.”
We do indeed have different notions of what it means to govern. Our resolution aims to enhance faculty governance in accordance with SAS bylaws. Chairs and program directors must, of course, continue their essential work and must continue to discuss that work with Dean March and his office. Creating a school-wide understanding of finances would allow us to raise questions that are difficult to broach within departments or in Chairs’ meetings. Indeed, the gains made in the past few months on behalf of Part-Time Lecturers, some of whom (though too few) are now receiving the contracts they rightfully expect for Spring, suggest that Chairs are better able to advocate for our mission when the full faculty is informed and engaged on financial issues.
Creating an ad hoc SAS finance committee will not solve all the problems we are facing right now. But it will allow us to use the collective intelligence and good will of the largest faculty at Rutgers to increase democracy, transparency, and accountability in support of our fundamental mission of teaching and research.
Please vote yes on the SAS ballot at this link, and we ask you to urge your colleagues to do the same. Voting will close next Monday, December 21, at 5 p.m.
Andrew Goldstone, Associate Professor of English
Ana Pairet, Associate Professor of French
Carlos Ulises Decena, Associate Professor and Chair, Latino and Caribbean Studies
Text of the Resolution:
Whereas, Executive Dean March has implemented President Barchi’s chosen budget model, Responsibility Center Management, in SAS since his appointment in July 2014;
Whereas, with the consistent support of Executive Dean March, that budget model has starved the School of Arts and Sciences of the funds it earns (and needs) to carry out its mission in research, teaching, and external service—to the detriment of each of these aspects of the mission;
Whereas, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Dean March has used an alleged SAS budget deficit to justify eliminating 22 staff positions and cutting Part-Time Lecturer course loads, which not only harms those individuals but undermines our core mission;
Whereas, on October 15, 2020, the faculty of Arts and Sciences voted overwhelmingly, by 486 to 42, to restore the staff and PTL positions and convene a faculty committee to study budgetary alternatives;
Whereas, on October 22, 2020, Executive Dean March rejected that faculty resolution, foreclosing alternatives to austerity under RCM;
Whereas, Dean March has recently indicated in a December 7 letter to chairs and program directors that he has been “listening to feedback” while nonetheless pursuing earlier plans for cuts without alteration;
Whereas, by centralizing financial information, Dean March has excluded the faculty from meaningful participation in decisions of great consequence to the academic mission of the School;
Whereas, the SAS bylaws stipulate that “Affairs of SAS shall be administered by the Executive Dean and governed by the voting members of SAS” (Article I, Section 2);
Be it resolved, The faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences calls upon Executive Dean Peter March to create an ad hoc budget committee composed of three voting members of SAS elected from each of the four divisions of the School, plus three members elected from among the SAS staff. The committee shall have full access to all budget documents available to the Executive Dean. At the May 2021 SAS faculty meeting, the committee shall submit a report on the SAS budget, on layoffs, and on alternatives to layoffs.
Be it further resolved, The Executive Dean shall suspend all further staff layoffs and suspend further reductions to the PTL ranks at least until the delivery of the report of the SAS ad hoc budget committee in May 2021.