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The Point: Talking Back, Speaking Up


Subject: Last Week’s FSU/DCU Forum on Reorganization

Action Item: Continue Putting Pressure on the Provost to Listen to Faculty and Staff Voice

Greetings, Colleagues:

It was so good to gather with so many of you at our joint FSU/DCU forum this past Thursday to discuss the provost’s proposal for university reorganization.  While it was gratifying to see how many of you were able to spend this time communing together, challenging each other, and making some plans for the future, it is a busy time of year, and plenty of you were unable to attend.  As such, it seems like it might be worthwhile to use this last Point of 2022 to summarize a few of the rubrics that seemed to frame our conversations. 

But first I want to thank those of you who were able to attend for sharing your insight with palpable commitment to our central mission as teachers, librarians, mentors, and scholars.  It was so refreshing to be a part of a wide-ranging conversation about our university’s future that did not revolve around marketing catchphrases or bureaucratic doublespeak.  And I want to thank Brian White for his deft moderating, Jessica Holden for her thorough and clear notetaking (which has made it possible for me to write this Point), and Lorenzo Nencioli who, as always, demonstrated the analytical acuity and remarkable command of contract details that helps keep the rest of us firmly planted in the real world.

Here are some of the major concerns we heard articulated about the plan the provost has floated that involves plucking three robust departments from the College of Liberal Arts to merge, somehow, with two remaining units of the McCormack Graduate School.


It was gratifying to hear FSU and DCU members talk about the utterly daunting level of work it would take to effectuate the reorganization as suggested by our provost—especially because those gathered took real care to focus not only on our own burdens but also those that would land on our colleagues in the staff unions.  As more than a few people noted, it is not simply the amount of work the provost’s preferred reorganization plan would take; it is the truly troubling timeline he has suggested it might take place on.  In an era when management has cut staff positions to the bone, it is an added insult to suggest that this skeleton crew should have to take on new and substantial duties.  Many colleagues described feeling overwhelmed already by service commitments: this potential reorganization will pile additional work on far too many of us, for potential benefits that remain hard to have faith in.

Pedagogy and Curricular Matters

We are teachers and librarians and scholars.  At the forum the one area where I think I heard the most robust agreement is that we are all troubled by the fact that the provost has not—at least not in our earshot—articulated a single pedagogical or curricular (i.e. student-centered) justification for the radical reorganization of campus units.  A number of speakers at the forum reported hearing the provost talk about “rightsizing” and bracing for future demographic shocks, but no one could summon any budget details that he has offered.  Which brings us to…

Money Matters

If the provost is going to keep his reorganization flag planted on Budget Hill, then we are all going to have to see a whole lot more detail of the plan—especially with respect to how it will solve the putative (or potential?) financial problems that no one seems able to plainly articulate.  At least one forum participant noted that this is a particularly odd time to make dramatic changes to our university’s structure for budget purposes: we have just elected a Democratic governor who is likely to be more supportive of funding higher education than her predecessor was and we passed the Fair Share Amendment, which may change our financial situation considerably.  This is not the place to litigate the complexities of campus or system budgets, but Lorenzo reminded us that the FSU has requested granular budget data from the administration; it has, historically, been difficult to get management to share actual numbers (rather than easily accessible website anecdata) but we are committed to keeping the pressure on.


To my ears the most intense part of our compelling forum came with our discussion of shared governance, lack of managerial transparency, and the provost’s continued patterns of making major campus decisions without seeming to take into account the voice of the faculty or staff.  At the forum I heard more than one person suggest that the provost’s vision of shared governance is simply to govern as he wishes and then share the results with the rest of us.  After dozens of our colleagues worked incredibly hard as members of the Academic Reorganization Task Force it is more than a little dispiriting to see our provost more or less toss their findings aside.  It is incumbent on all of us to continue to demand real transparency (and not the provost’s current pretend version) and actual shared governance.

Personnel Decisions, Faculty Retention, and Other Professional Matters

While we mostly focused on issues that face all of us collectively and simultaneously, participants in the forum also underscored that the provost’s reorganization model will create confusion and distress for countless individual faculty members. The proposed destruction of CLA and complex merger of the economics, political science, and sociology departments with MGS means a complete retooling of the apparatus of personnel decisions, brand new and unnecessary challenges for recruiting and retaining faculty (particularly of those representing previously underrepresented communities), and a variety of other professional upsets having to do with professional status, grant activity and much more.  The CLA Senate recently heard a report about the devastating losses this college has suffered in recent years, particularly of colleagues who are women and/or people of color and/or LGBTQ.  The provost’s favored plan will likely only add fuel to this fire.

This is your union! Please let us know at how you think we should all continue to articulate our concerns about the proposed reorganization plan.

Sincerely and with best wishes for a happy new year!

Jeff Melnick

Vice President, FSU

For information on the FSU, links to our contract and bargaining updates, and a calendar of events, see the FSU webpage