SSU Academic Senate Meeting of 7 October 2021

Chair Morimoto announced that there would be a public forum on Monday 11 October to talk about allegations of mismanagement of IRA (Instructionally Related Activities) funds. She noted with frustration that articles and editorials in the STAR have not been helpful in shedding light and reducing heat on this matter.

The following day, Tuesday 12 October, there will be another Chat with the Chair by zoom at 2:00 pm. She suggests we talk about what image we would like the public to have of Sonoma State. We will return to the issue of shared governance at a future such Chat.

The Chair also noted that, whereas in the past the University had an official newsletter (under various names), there is none now, and its absence is conspicuous and frustrating.

The CSU has announced that it will no longer permit campuses to purchase fossil-fuel entities for their various endowments but will not at this time require divestment of those already held. The requirement does not apply to auxiliaries. Many campuses already have such policies in place, and many are stricter than required.

AB 928 was recently signed by the Governor. This law requires the UC and CSU to agree on common paths for transfer and GE for incoming Community College students by July 2023. The two systems are already largely in agreement. To the extent they are not, it is likely the CSU will have to concede, due to the independence granted to the UC by the State Constitution. (The Provost drily noted that we have gotten lots of practice at changing our GE programs!)

The Chancellor’s Office is considering implementation of a requirement that all employees live in state, and possibly an even stronger requirement that all employees live within 100 miles of the campus at which they are employed. (Recorder’s comment: It may be that it is the State Legislature which is considering this requirement.)

President Sakaki reported that three more Trustees are coming to visit SSU in the next few weeks, and they have specifically asked to have an opportunity to meet with faculty and students.

Provost Moranski discussed various issues regarding writing proficiency. Campuses have been ordered to remove internal barriers to graduation, and the WEPT (Written English Proficiency Test) was considered one of them – so it’s out. In fact GWAR (Graduation Writing A… Requirement) is temporarily suspended pending study. We will probably have to rely exclusively on WICs (Writing-Intensive Courses), but we need 75 to 80 of them to accommodate all students. Employers constantly tell us that oral and written communications skills are among the most important qualifications they look for and expect from our graduates.

The Provost noted that a campus climate survey is still available on-line and encouraged everyone to participate. She also noted that a “Mode” survey is going out to students today – to probe their preferences on in-person vs on-line instruction. Results are expected before registration. By order of WASC, every program must offer at least 70% of its courses in person.  She met recently with CFA representatives to discuss concerns regarding instructional modes. One point which was clarified is that “accommodations” can be made in individual cases, but that issues involving family members are not eligible for consideration.

Finally the Provost reported that there are six applicants for the new interim position of Associate Provost for Faculty Success, and she is pleased with the quality of the pool. Three have been recommended by a faculty committee and they will be interviewed next week.

Christopher Dinno then gave an extensive report on the status of the Stevenson Remodel, with copious diagrams, blueprints, and photographs. The building has been entirely gutted, down to the frame, and all systems including HVAC and plumbing will be new. Asbestos removal was handled professionally. Approximately half of the large concrete panels in the walls have been removed to provide more light in the interior, creating a fresher more “airy” atmosphere. The former open courtyard is gone and replaced by a covered central court, named “Magnolia Court” in honor of the magnolia tree that formerly grew in the open courtyard and was not saved. The “owl boxes” were also not saved, but new ones may be installed.

The building’s design is a result of input from users, both faculty and students, and was informed by concepts such as “accessible”, “inviting”, “equitable”, “flexible”, sustainability”, “daylight”, “21st-century”, and “environment”. There will be lots of spaces for students to gather informally.

On the first floor there will be a variety of general-purpose classrooms, including 2 large halls and one very large hall (capacity 224). All classrooms will have smart boards and a control panel for faculty to adjust lighting, window shades, etc.

The second floor will be for the School of Education on the north side and the School of Business/Econ on the south side. The third floor will be for the School of Social Sciences. There will be two elevators for access to the upper floors. The central courtyard extends through both the second and third floors to the building’s roof.

It is expected that the building will be available for classes in the fall 2023 term, but it is possible it may be open as early as spring 2023.

Interim CFO Stan Nosek reported that he is working on forecasting a budget several years ahead. He announced that a public budget forum will be announced for the near future. He discussed the status of employee compliance with Covid vaccination requirements. He also reported that there is a shortage of student workers for the food services on campus. The food services would like to expand their services to meet demand as the campus reopens, but may have to bring in food trucks due to the labor shortage.

APARC presented, for a Second Reading, a list of priorities including

            > after the pandemic, how much on-line learning and in which courses

            > multi-year scheduling, for students to plan, for budgeting, and for lecturers

            > improving our assessment capacity

            > making the budgeting process more transparent

            > regarding the Provost’s planned poll of students, include where students live and how they get to campus if they don’t live on it.

The motion to approve this list passed without opposition.

Statewide Senators Wendy Ostroff and Richard Senghas reported that by recent action of the legislature the right of Community Colleges to offer up to 30 baccalaureate programs is extended, and now there is no Sunset Clause.

FSAC Chair Richard Whitkus reported that the committee is continuing to discuss RTP procedures, and the proper role of Department Chairs in grievances.

The CFA representative announced that after 18 months of fruitless negotiation with the Chancellor’s Office over a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement), the CFA bargaining team has declared impasse. Now CalPERB (California Public Employee Relations Board) will appoint a mediator. If the CFA leadership finds that the mediator’s efforts have still not prodded the CO to propose a satisfactory contract, it may ask for the faculty to authorize a strike.

-- Submitted by Rick Luttmann