Prof. Green testifies on AB 2132 (text of testimony)
California Assembly Higher Education Testimony on AB 2132 (Lara)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 1:30 p.m. Room 437
Susan Marie Green, Associate Professor of Chicano Studies and History
California State University Chico
Good Afternoon. My name is Susan Green and I am Associate Professor of Chicano Studies and History at California State University Chico. I also serve as the chair of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS), and the Statewide Treasurer for the California Faculty Association (CFA). I am here this afternoon to address the necessity and merits of Assemblyman Lara’s bill 2132 – Public Postsecondary Education: Tenure Policy. This bill addresses a noticeable gap between the missions of the CSU, UC, and campus department and college credit for faculty service. There is a wide spectrum of service provided by tenure and tenure-track faculty, ranging from committee work internal to a department or college, to action research projects brought by community members or agencies. Colleagues within the same department or college may be called upon to perform radically different work for very unequal credit. My retiring colleague in Renaissance history does not receive the same types of request for expertise that I do as a Chicano historian, regarding many contemporary issues such as Latino/a student success, housing segregation, or healthcare policy and outcomes, even though my specialization is WWII.A recent project involving the coordination of the Butte County Office of Education, the office of Juvenile Justice Initiatives, and alcohol awareness programs for Latino/a k-12 youth is a perfect example.
Given the severe budget cuts to the CSU and UC, there are fewer tenure and tenure-track faculty to meet the increasing needs of internal service to the university AND external service in our regions where other General Fund programs have been cut as well. Standards for service have not always evolved quickly enough and 2132 allows us to have conversations of alignment and prioritization to the benefit of faculty, students, and the state. Faculty of color and women are particularly challenged due to their junior status in institutions struggling to diversify: they must do double the service to receive the same credit as other colleagues; sacrifice their leadership role in service regions or time on teaching and professional development; or not be viewed as a “team-player” by the colleagues from whom they wish to receive tenure. They also bump-up against a glass ceiling of service work. It is hard to change the institution’s shared governance when you are few in number, and of unequal status. A 2011 study published by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in its journal ACADEME reported that adjusting for all variables, women faculty were less likely to be promoted to full professor, and took longer to achieve it when they were. One of the primary causes is that women faculty spend more time performing necessary “soft service” activities building bridges around the university, and that work was less valued in the division of labor within institutions. AB 2132 begins to address these challenges.
Currently teaching and research are mentioned explicitly in the Higher Education code, but service is left implicit and assumed. Clarifying the ambiguity of what might qualify for service, and how to weight that done on versus off campus, given the missions of the UC and CSU, would provide consistency across both systems and expand the opportunities for faculty to receive credit for their work. Two examples illustrate: one from the CSU, the other UC. In the History Department criteria from CSUC, it states the prime criterion for judgment of service is participation in the business of the Department, such as attending meetings or participating on faculty committees. The lowest consideration of service is “professional contributions to community, regional, or national organizations.” Service that does not fit into this definition of off-campus service is not even on the radar for credit. There is a footnote that faculty are required to be competent in and willing to adjust to university-approved plans, but provides no examples of how this service requirement could be met and rewarded.
In the UC Davis guidelines for tenure and promotion service is similarly defined to that of the CSU, prioritizing the institutional housekeeping activities of the university, and emphasizing things like legislative briefings and hearings, chairing national professional organizations, or invited keynote speeches, as an example of acceptable preferred off-campus service. Yet, the service faculty can be called upon to perform could reach well beyond this, providing vital expertise to local services regions, yet falling outside the silence of the Higher Ed code and local interpretations of that void. AB 2132 would provide additional guidance to the CSU and UC about the importance of service in their missions and how faculty could be awarded for that work.
It is necessary to ask if this is an appropriate intervention of the legislature into matters of shared governance and academic freedom, the bedrocks of university life. In the case of 2132 it aligns service requirements for tenure and promotion by working through collective bargaining agreements and academic senates, respecting shared governance and academic freedom. It is not proscriptive. It does not “lower the bar” to fulfill the mission of the institution. It creates a tool faculty can use for their own benefit. At a time when we are asking everyone in Higher Education to “think outside the box” in terms of delivery modes, structure, and academic work, 2132 allows us to give credit to the service work we all need in the state of California. Thank you.