A CUNY administrator’s threat to dismantle the Queensborough Community College English department is making waves across academic media this morning.
The story, which I’ve been covering all weekend, involves a dispute over whether QCC will adopt a reduced contact-hour standard for composition classes demanded by CUNY central. When the department last week refused to cut students’ class time (and professors’ compensation) by 25%, vice president Karen Steele announced that all departmental job searches will be suspended, all adjuncts will be let go, and all full-time faculty — including tenured professors — will face the possibility of job loss. Students at Queensborough will have to go elsewhere for their composition classes.
It’s completely egregious, and the CUNY faculty union PSC has been fighting back. This morning, Inside Higher Ed has an article and a blogpost up, the Chronicle of Higher Education is on the case, Academe’s blog has weighed in, and other news outlets have stories in progress as well. (The blogs Le Hub, Adventures in (Post) Gradland, Clarissa’s Blog, and Juan Monroy have also posted on the topic, if you’re keeping score at home.)
The one big piece of news to emerge in the last few hours is a Sunday afternoon email from Queensborough president Diane Call which attempted to walk back Steele’s original message to the English department.
Where Steele had described the college’s plans to slash faculty as a done deal — job searches were to be terminated “immediately,” she wrote, and the rest of the cuts were described using phrases like “we can’t” and “we will,” with no conditionals — Call now characterizes the threats as “potential consequences,” “possible outcomes,” and “a worst case scenario … we are prepared to work mightily to avoid.”
Call even opened the door to the prospect of a resolution that did not involve capitulation by QCC’s English department to the administration’s initial proposal, saying that she hoped to achieve “a constructive resolution” to the crisis “through continued communication and collaboration with our faculty.”
As I reported on Saturday the QCC English department is scheduled to meet again the day after tomorrow, and they have no intention of reversing the position they took last week.
This one is going to stay interesting for a while.