Faculty Senate Executive Committee meeting rundown

Committee members take unofficial stance on government funding issue

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When Faculty Senate Chair Ezra Zubrow attended a seminar on the corporatization of pension funds, he wondered what right governors have to take money that is legislated to higher education and “hold it back to get their political agendas taken into account.”

For the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, the ‘Westbury Resolution,’ proposed by the SUNY Old Westbury Faculty Senate Executive Committee, seems like a solution to the budgeting crisis.

The executive committee met in Capen Hall on Wednesday and discussed budgeting issues, experimental education and how the Faculty Senate can be more productive when not meeting quorum.

The executive committee unofficially voted to support the Westbury Resolution, which urges the state government to return $18.5 to 50 million to the universities, increase TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) funds and remove the rational tuition system which would thereby remove the tax placed on TAP.

The committee said they supported the resolution as far as it did not go against UB2020, which they support.

Zubrow said he learned at the seminar, held by a group of business economists and financial experts, that public sector pension funds, which are being managed by firms such as Goldman Sachs, are taking an average of 2 percent for managing the fund and 20 percent of all profits the fund makes.

“That money would have otherwise gone back to public sector to increase your pension fund,” Zubrow said. “Each of the university systems has a different contract with these companies.”

Another issue this raises, according to Zubrow, is how universities handle diversity.

Zubrow said he learned at the conference that six states concerned about diversity amongst faculty and students purchased universities with minority students from lower socio-economic statuses, used it in their statewide aggregation of diversity stats and then closed the universities down for six months.

When the states reopened the universities, all of the staff and faculty had to reapply for their jobs. Tenure was taken away because all positions had been fired. Students were allowed to auto continue from one university to another.

The Faculty Senate will take an official vote on the Westbury Resolution at its next meeting.

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James Jensen, the Faculty Senate Teaching and Learning Committee chair and faculty director of the Research Exploration Academy, also addressed the committee Wednesday and discussed experiential education.

“Experiential education as something where the student is interacting in the way that their discipline would practice that field,” Jensen said.

Jensen said the faculty would decide the curriculum “but it would have to be in relation to degree granting.” In order to get a course credit approved through SUNY, students would have to come up with an experiential learning experience, according to Jensen.

“The old definition was an internship, that you needed to have something practical outside the classroom, that relates to your field of study; now the governor’s thing is to get people employed,” said Philip Glick, a professor of surgery in the medical school and next year’s Faculty Senate chair. “They want undergraduate education to lead to a job – that’s the practical side.”

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At the last executive committee meeting, Zubrow asked Richard Gronostajski, the Senate parliamentarian and the bylaws committee chair, to find mechanisms by which the Faculty Senate and the executive committee could be more efficient in getting things passed when the Senate does not have quorum.

Gronostajski said Wednesday that he and Glick drafted three possible strategies that would improve efficiency.

The first strategy was to limit each question and comment of the executive committee and Faculty Senate members to two minutes. The second was to limit the Senate chair’s report to 10 minutes during both executive committee and Faculty Senate meetings. The final was to modify the standing orders of the Faculty Senate to allow electronic voting. Gronostajski said electronic voting would ensure resolutions and elections would be voted for quickly and efficiently.

The executive committee will meet again on April 15.

Ashley Inkumsah is an asst. news editor and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com