City College leadership is putting together its rankings on faculty positions after the Academic Senate heard proposals from 17 departments requesting 22 positions to be filled, though Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami is planning on filling only two of these requests.
The Channels has followed the college’s budget deficit closely since it was reported in September that it would be $4.9 million for the year 2020-21. Goswami recently unveiled a two-year plan to close the gap that increases class size and streamlines staff and faculty pay, and this could prove costly to student success.
City College will not be living up to its standard as a top institution devoted to its mission if it cannot replace these much-needed positions. The Channels Editorial Board believes administrators should adequately weigh all the options and fill more of these faculty positions, as a failure to replace some of these faculty will directly hurt students from all backgrounds, which would damage the college for decades.
Many departments are already stretched incredibly thin; the Academic Counseling Center should be able to serve students properly instead of needing a replacement counselor to stay afloat. They had already refrained from requesting the same position in 2017 because of similar budget concerns.
Fewer counselors means overworked employees, longer wait times and less attention for students trying to reach their academic goals.
Programs will diminish in quality if key positions aren’t filled or if they are merged with other departments.
This hits home in the journalism department, which will be left without an experienced, tenured faculty chair following Patricia Stark’s retirement later next spring if the position is not replaced.
Stark is the only full-time member in a department that often needs guidance and support on sensitive issues, and the only one who can defend the First-Amendment rights of student journalists as they report on the most important topics in the campus community.
Only a tenured faculty member can take a stand on these issues without fear of losing their job, and in many departments the responsibilities of a position can not possibly be met by a part-time or adjunct replacement.
SInce 1963, The Channels has served as the voice of the students, chronicled its history and reported on the most important issues facing City College, and that is impossible without a tenured department chair trained in the field of journalism.
All 17 departments requesting new staff face similar realities.
Many of the faculty members are retiring early because of the Supplemental Retirement Program, which was an option provided in an effort to cut costs by allowing eligible staff to retire earlier.
There must be more viable options than rushing to balance a budget by chopping away at what makes this institution so successful. These faculty are the heart of student success, and the college should be striving to maintain their position as the top community college in the nation.
Administration should take advantage of the reserves that are kept for these types of situations. If there ever was a perfect time to use these funds, it would be to help the college keep its quality even through a pandemic and plummeting enrollment.
All decisions should be made with City College’s mission statement in mind, with student success as the top priority.
Goswami’s plan to save millions by cutting benefits, hourly wages or eliminating staff, at the very least, shouldn’t include these essential positions that would either be filled by affordable adjuncts or not filled at all.
This is a college, not The Colosseum. Departments shouldn’t have to battle for the right to exist or justify their importance to the administration.
If the college is to follow its own mission and budget development values, its leaders must find a way to replace many more of these faculty with student success in mind. It may not be realistic to replace every position, but it is absolutely irresponsible to only replace two.
If the choices are made with its pockets in mind instead of its students, it will be clear where the administration’s priorities lie.