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Faculty voices frustrations with Zingg, administration at open forum

Cheyanne Burens

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Campus Climate Forum, 8/27/15 Photo credit: Cheyanne Burens

After years of unresolved complaints and unrest, more than 150 Chico State faculty and staff had the opportunity to vocalize their exasperation with President Paul Zingg and senior administration at an open forum Thursday in Colusa Hall.

The forum followed the overwhelmingly negative outcome of the spring 2015 Campus Climate Survey, which was released August 21.

The survey reveals the majority of faculty and staff are upset with the actions of Zingg and his administration.

A common theme of the survey results was distrust with senior administration in Kendall Hall. Page 45 of the survey revealed that “Majorities of both faculty and staff and administrators do not believe that the evaluation process for senior administration takes into account meaningful input from faculty and staff.”

Zingg, who was noticeably absent from the forum, was most recently criticized for excluding faculty input in his sudden nomination of Susan Elrod as permanent provost on August 21.

However, Elrod declined Zingg’s offer following campus-wide disgruntlement over her appointment.

Charles Turner, chair of the Chico State chapter of the California Faculty Association, explained why the community is upset about Zingg’s lack of staff inclusion in important campus decisions.

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Charles Turner, CFA Chair. Photo courtesy of Chico State

 

“If you juxtapose this with this campus climate survey, where even before that, people had said that ‘we’re really upset with how you’re failing to follow process and treat people fairly around here.’ For him to not get that what he was doing was a bad idea is what upset people the most,” he said.

Brian Oppy, psychology department chair, discussed salary inequity among staff from certain departments, another topic of major concern. Some staff from certain departments receive bonuses while others do not.

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Brian Oppy, Department of Psychology chair. Photo courtesy of Chico State

 

“HR sits in the same area that limits the rest of us, but they sit in the division that is allowed to get bonuses in some cases,” he said.

There have also been concerns about a shift in priorities on our campus over the last few years, Turner said.

Faculty salaries continue to decline as the CSU system hires more administrators, he said.

“It’s a real statement about the university’s priorities where the big raises and new positions are administrative, and the number of faculty has been decreasing.”

The majority of the forum attendees agree with Turner that there needs to be more faculty hiring. There has been a mass decline in faculty in the psychology department alone, said Oppy.

“I’ve been here for 20 years and my department has just over half the faculty they had when I came here,” he said.

The forum included a small group interactive session where attendees voiced their concerns on campus matters and their recommendations to enhance the overall climate. Possible solutions that were voiced include:

  • Allow the campus community to overview HR hiring policies
  • Measure tenure-density progress to see an increase in tenure-track faculty members
  • Neutralize management by removing a tier and provide legal council and advice for all parties
  • Require senior administration to share responsibilities with lower administrative levels
  • Create a university budget model with input from middle management
  • Improve the teacher-scholar model
  • Have one staff representative from each of the four divisions on campus

Steve Filling, statewide Academic Senate chair, closed the forum by commending the attendees for their ideas.

“You’ve all got some wonderful ideas to make this place even more special than it is,” he said. “You can do wonderful things with it, but acknowledge that this takes time.”

Cheyanne Burens can be reached at [email protected] or @cheybrizzle on Twitter.

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Faculty voices frustrations with Zingg, administration at open forum