Academic Senate president Eduardo Cairo announced that the senate executive committee would work only the minimum number of required hours in response to interim president Robert Miller’s estimates of full-time faculty hiring needs that Cairo said merely attempt to meet state minimums.
Cairo urged faculty to follow suit, recommending that they conduct their classes, office hours, and the mandatory five and a half hours of professional development time (also known as release time) per week and nothing more.
“We’re not going to be overworked anymore,” said Cairo following the meeting. “If the college is fine with putting up the minimum number of faculty, if that’s what they think is good enough for this college, then the faculty will be good enough with putting in the minimum amount of time.”
Miller took a conciliatory tone when reacting to Cairo’s proposal.
“I understand that president Cairo is frustrated,” said Miller. “I know they are working beyond their release time hours, and I appreciate that.”
“I can’t dictate what he or other individuals decide to do,” he added. “What I will try to do is improve the overall atmosphere for [all faculty] so that they are that much more encouraged to go the extra mile for their students.”
The figure known as the full-time faculty obligation number (FFON) is at the heart of the dispute.
It is determined by what Miller described as a very complex mathematical formula. He welcomed any faculty member to examine it with associate vice president for strategic planning Dr. Ryan Cornner.
“I invite any faculty member who wants to look at the FFON to sit down with Dr. Cornner and try to work it out,” said Miller. “Absolutely no problem at all.”
The number is reached through certain calculations of full-time student enrollments.
While Miller has publically discussed the FFON with the Academic Senate, he has not indicated the number of full-time faculty the school will hire.
That recommendation comes from the Faculty Hiring Priority Committee, which is chaired by Cairo.
The committee has not received hiring requests from all departments yet, and is unable to name a specific figure.
However, a document obtained by the Courier indicated that 27 new hires were being asked for, with some departments yet to weigh in.
Of these, 22 are replacing outgoing staff, while five are new positions.
It is this ratio of replacement to growth that Cairo has the biggest issue with. He is concerned that the administration will not make enough full-time hires to keep up with retirements and other turnover.
The conflict over the hiring figures began at last week’s Council on Professional and Academic Matters (CAPM) meeting and continued at Monday’s Academic Senate session.
At the CAPM meeting, Miller put forth that the FFON would be between five and 10, which drew an angry response from Cairo.
“Based on the number of administrators we’ve hired in the last couple of years, it’s insulting to say we only need five to 10 [new faculty hires],” said Cairo then.
Miller revised his estimate Monday when he joined the senate session, citing new data that increased the estimated FFON to between 11 and 24 new positions by Sept. 2015. He said that Cairo’s previous indignation played no role in the increased figures.
Miller told the senate that adding more than the mandated amount of new faculty was possible, depending on factors such as the new Faculty Association contract currently under negotiation.
“I can assure you that I will take as high a recommendation as we possibly can this year on full-time faculty, trying to balance all the other things we need to balance from the light bill to library books and everything we need to have a full-service institution,” said Miller. “We are planning to grow from three to four percent each year over the next for or five years. That is going to require faculty, obviously.”
Cairo remained dissatisfied upon hearing the new estimates.
He cited senator Russ Di Fiori’s assertion that four percent growth worked out to about 21 new teachers, meaning that simply meeting the FFON would not fully address vacated positions.
“There are many positions that haven’t been filled,” he said. “We need to hire people to fill them before we get to growth.”
Cairo indicated that if retiring and vacated positions were addressed, he would accept the FFON as additional hiring growth.
“Ideally what should happen is that if the college says 11 or 12, we’ll say we’ll take whatever you give us, plus the [retirement] number,” said Cairo.
Following the meeting, Miller expressed his desire that all parties keep up respectful discussion.
“I respect everyone’s comments in there and if I could wave a magic wand and do what they want I would,” said Miller. “In the meantime, if we can work together and keep talking maybe we can come to a reasonable position, and remember every year we get to hire new faculty.”