Category Archives: CSUS 2020

Negotiations Over Tenure Continue as Deadline Approaches

by Nicholas Leahey

Negotiations over the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the  Connecticut State University American Association of University Professors (CSU-AAUP) and the Board of Regents (BOR) are still in gridlock, as the March 1st arbitration deadline fast approaches.

At the center of the conflict is the issue of faculty tenure, in which members of the CSU-AAUP are adamant that the current BOR contract proposal undermines the concept of tenure, even after BOR claimed otherwise.

“Ojakian talks about ‘reasonable flexibility,’ but what does that mean exactly?”said Associate Professor of sociology and CSU-AAUP Union Council Member, John O’Connor.

When defending their position, union members point to article 4.5 of the BOR contract proposal, which outlines the conditions of tenure. Article 4.5 states the necessity to move faculty from one institution to another if it’s in the best interest of the Connecticut State University System (CSUS).

According to the proposal, a faculty member would only maintain tenure through a mutual agreement between them and the receiving department and university. Because tenure is handed out by individual institutions, if an agreement is not reached, the faculty member would be credited with serving up to three years of a full time service at the receiving university, causing them to effectively lose tenure.

The conditions outlined in the proposal differ greatly from the current collective bargaining agreement, which states a professor would maintain tenure at a receiving university upon acceptance and agreement to uphold tenure.

According to The CT Mirror, CSCU President Mark Ojakian refuted the claims by the CSU-AAUP, stating moving professors and losing tenure was never on the table. He blamed “misinformation” for the cause of all the criticism the BOR has received.

The ability to move faculty around at the mercy of individual institutions and BOR, has led to an outpour of criticism from the CSU-AAUP over the value of tenure.

“By moving faculty around, you’re undermining tenure,” said O’Connor.

The proposal by the BOR would also make it more difficult for librarians and counselors to obtain a tenured position, based on new stricter evaluation protocols. These are outlined as term appointments, calling for regular evaluations and reviews.

To make matters more complicated, the conundrum of tenured poetry professor Ravi Shankar still lingers around as an issue. He was placed on leave without pay last year after being convicted for stealing more than $1,000 from Home Depot in Middletown. Shankar was still granted tenure, while serving time in prison last year. While the CSU-AAUP has not publicly defended his case in particular, grievance procedures have been in motion and due process has been followed in accordance with CSU-AAUP union obligations. His future as a professor is still unclear, as union and administrative officials have remained tight-lipped on the matter.

In order for a faculty member to obtain tenure, they must endure a rigorous six year probationary process, which involves a yearly evaluation and review, before submitting to a committee review for the award of tenure. The professor is evaluated specifically on the quality of their teaching and research, their service to the university and department, as well as their professional service and contributions to their respective field. After obtaining the award, the professor then goes through an evaluation process every six years.

Based on the CSU-AAUP 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the goal of tenure is outlined as the protection of academic freedom. Thus, it protects the professors from scrutiny when teaching controversial or unpopular topics in order to better understand a subject matter.

“It creates a rich environment for students,” said CSU-AAUP Director of Member Services, Caryl Schiff-Greatorex in an interview.

Regardless of the issue surrounding it, many consider tenure to be one of the key cornerstones of education.

“It is so that we are able to think critically,” said professor of Latin-American history Mary Ann Mahoney, who is also active with the AAUP. She herself has taught controversial topics in her classroom, and understands the need for it.

The BOR meeting Thursday was the last before the arbitration deadline arrives in a little more than a month. President Ojakian himself is scheduled to meet with members of the faculty and students to hear concerns Feb. 4th.

“I’m hopeful Ojakian will get the proposals off the table,” said O’Connor.

Board of Regents Face Angry Opponents

by Ruth Bruno

Annamaria Perge, for The Recorder 

Student and faculty of Central Connecticut rallied yet again to protest the new contracts proposed by the Board of Regents (BOR). This time however, CCSU took the conversation to the BOR.

Two buses, one packed with students and the other filled with faculty members left from the circle by the Student Center parking lot to attend a BOR meeting last Tuesday.

The meeting, which took place in the system office of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) in Hartford, attracted approximately 50 members of CCSU to come protest outside as members of the BOR entered the building.

“The BOR knew we were there and not happy. You made the day a success,” wrote sociology professor John O’Connor in an email to several students who attended the rally.

As the BOR began their regularly scheduled meeting, protesters gathered in a nearby room repeating, “fair contract now,” and other chants showing their disproval toward the proposals which would allow professors to be moved between universities without notice and cut grant money for research.

As the meeting came to a close, CCSU professors and students were allowed to speak before the BOR. President Ojakian got up and left when open forum was announced and missed a majority of the students speaking. Ojakian returned to the meeting at 1:04 p.m. after an approximate 15-minute break. Because the discussion is an open forum setting, BOR members are not required or expected to comment.

“I brought you all a Christmas present,” said Gretchen Marino, one of the first students to speak. She proceeded to hand the BOR a box containing petitions signed by members of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) who oppose the contracts.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of students that support the AAUP. I’m here to tell you guys that students aren’t going to back down. Students really love their education. They really love their professors,“ said Marino.

Brian Becker, a junior at CCSU said to the BOR, “If professors have their rights and privileges trampled students like myself will be hurt by extension.” Becker went on to discuss the details of the proposed contract.

“Why is it that these budget cuts are carried on the backs of faculty and students? How can a group that is looking to go into negotiation expect to have a serious discussion when the opening point is to cripple who they are negotiating with?” asked Becker who went on to question the job security of professors.

“Will the ability to fire any faculty member when a controversial statement is made encourage students to think critically or encourage thoughtful discussion? What seems to underlie these proposals is an attempt to make public universities into job certification programs,” concluded Becker.

“I’m here as a future professor,” said Crow Sheehan another student who shared his love of history and passion to bring it into the classrooms of future students. “This makes me concerned that my dreams in this regard cannot be reconciled with a financially secure future. Most importantly though, I come here as student, we are in a fragile place. Quality education is so important.”

Sheehan went on to voice his concern that the BOR has been running public universities without taking into account that students are capable of more than simply contributing to the economy. “College should not be an assembly line to make uniform workers, it should be a place for young people to find what drives them to grow, to create, to become well-rounded noble citizens.”

Stephen Cohen, President of Faculty Senate and Chair of the English department, also spoke to the BOR. Cohen has been a vocal opponent of the proposals in Faculty Senate meetings. “While you are aware of the discontent on our campuses, you don’t truly understand what it’s about.”

Ojakian is scheduled to visit CCSU today. An open forum with students is scheduled from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. in Alumni Hall in the Student Center.

“I want my university to be great,” said Becker near the end of his speech during Tuesday’s meeting. “And I don’t think the Board of Regents and its proposals seem to be in agreement with that goal.”

Contributed reporting by Christopher Marinelli and Devin Leith-Yessian

Renovations of Willard and DiLoreto to Start Over Summer

by Nicholas Leahey

The upcoming renovations to Willard and DiLoreto Halls will bring about widespread changes in academic and student life when construction begins next summer, affecting roughly 800 full-time and adjunct professors, and some 10,000 students alike at Central Connecticut.

Among the changes, was most notably the loss of 34 general classrooms between both academic halls, forcing professors and members of the administration to come up with solutions to deal with the loss of classroom space.

“A number of solutions have been proposed,” said Professor Paul Karpuk, a professor of English, and Vice President of Faculty Senate.

Faculty and administration are considering other ways to cope with the anticipated diminish of classroom space, coming up with a series of different methods.

One of the most popular ideas is the relocation of certain classes to the CCSU’s Institute of Technology and Business Development (ITBD) building located on Main St. in downtown New Britain. While separate from the University, it is still considered a part of CCSU, assisting local businesses in a number services including training and development, a conference center, an incubator program as well as an education and innovation center.

The ITBD building’s current hours are listed as 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., making it a plausible solution for evening classes. It is unclear, how students will be able to get to and from the ITBD building, especially for those who do not have their own transportation on campus.

“Bus service is something that has been considered,” said CCSU’s Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Richard Bachoo. “But we’re still looking at that stuff.”

Another possible solution to help cope with the loss of space is to expand the hours of normal class time. While most classes take place between 9:25 a.m. and 2:55 p.m., the idea proposed expanding the number of early morning, afternoon, and evening classes. In effect, it would also keep commuter-students, who make up 80 percent of the population, on campus longer than others.

“One idea is to utilize classrooms at ‘unpopular times,’” said Karpuk.

The proposed solution would also get rid of the University hour, which takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

A third proposal, created by members of the CCSU Faculty Senate’s Online Learning and Implementation Committee, also suggested the idea of raising the online course cap from 20 classes to 40 classes a semester. This would provide more opportunities for students to take classes online, alleviating the need for a classroom.

“In the English department, we tend to offer courses that we also offer on grounds,” said English department Chairman Dr. Stephen Cohen referring to courses offered online versus at school. “That way if they’re not comfortable with an online course, they have that option.”

The proposal was recently postponed until the next Faculty Senate meeting, after some members voiced their concerns over some issues, including the possibility of the change being permanent as oppose to temporary.

During the renovations of both buildings, all offices will be relocated to different parts of campus. Carroll Hall, which was recently taken offline as a residence hall for renovations, will house office space for various departments, including the English and journalism departments. Other departments, will be relocated to other buildings, such as the Information Technology Media Center, which will be moved to the library.

Construction on the $54 million renovation project, which is a part of the Connecticut State University System (CSUS) 2020 investment plan, will begin during the summer of 2016 and take approximately two years to complete.

Numerous changes will come to both halls as a result, including renovated classrooms, renovated offices, as well as updated technology for the classrooms, new windows and new elevators.

Both halls will also be connected on all levels, adding another 30,000 square feet in the form of a grand entrance and an infill, where the parking lot currently sits between DiLoreto and Willard Halls. The building will also possess a rooftop garden.

Upon completion of the project, all former offices, with a few exceptions, will move back into the newly completed academic hall. Additional offices will also move to the new hall, including the Office of Registrar, Financial Aid, the Bursar’s Office, as well as The Ruth Boyea Women’s Center and LGBT Center.

Photo by: CCSU

The renovations, with an expected completion date in 2018, will be one of the last projects to be completed as a part of CSUS 2020.

New, Groundbreaking Residence Hall for CCSU

Schematic design proposal of new residence hall planned to open Fall 2015.
Schematic design proposal of new residence hall planned to open Fall 2015.  Photo: The SLAM Collaborative

By Jacqueline Stoughton

Construction crews at CCSU will be breaking ground on a two-year project to build a new residence hall, adding to the nine existing ones; this will be the largest residency out of all four CSU schools.

The new structure will be located “down the hill,” in the open greenery between the Student Center parking garage and Ella Grasso Boulevard. The university intends to have the building ready for student move-in at the start of fall 2015 semester.

“We always hope for the best with these sort of things, we would like to be done within two years,” says Richard Bachoo,  Chief Administrative Officer. “Rather sooner than later.”

According to Bachoo, this new residence hall will be the single largest residence hall out of the four CSU schools.  It will contain 600 beds throughout eight floors, a 2,000 square foot fitness facility, a kitchen on some floors, and a server kitchen on the main floor.  The Residence Life office will also be moved from its current location in Barrows Hall into the new facility.

“More importantly, this facility is going to let the university to actually improve its inventory on housing,” says Bachoo.  “Central is the only four year public university in the state that had not built a new residence hall in over a decade.”

Within the last couple of years, CCSU has also contributed an immense amount of time and money into upgrading their already existing residence halls on campus.  This includes re-gutting them, installing air conditioning, among other improvements.

“We still have a number that are in great need of being fully in compliance with code and being brought to a level that is more, overall, comfortable for living,” says Bachoo.

Bobby Berriault, CCSU Student Senator, says, “This is a really good thing. From an administrative stand point, this would allow the university to take some of the older residence halls offline to renovate them to make them nicer and more modern.”

However, some students feel that existing, more important issues should be of higher priority before embarking on new construction.

“I can see where CCSU’s intentions are, however, there are far more important issues the school could focus on,” says Stephanie Brody, CCSU student.  “Without a doubt, every student thinks we need more parking on campus because the few garages we do have are absolute nightmares when it comes to finding a spot.”

Brody also stated that, since the university has a large commuter population, it should be a priority to provide enough parking for students.

“The only downside is there is no plans to provide additional parking,” says Berriault.  “The concern is there will be a lot more people trying to park in the student center parking lot and garage.  It will be a lot harder to find parking there since they’re competing with commuter students.”

Although this is a concern in the minds of many students, the university is not worried at all.  CCSU has been developing a new strategic plan to raise university enrollment, the construction of this new residence hall included.

“There’s no reason this enrollment plan will not be affective,” says Bachoo.  “We want to encourage more students to live on campus.  But, at the end of the day, we’re still a commuter school.”

With Carroll Hall as the first residence hall to go offline, the plan is to move 300 current students out of their residence hall in order for the university to continue renovations within the older dorms.  There will be 300 beds left in the new facility to provide for incoming students.

The $82 million project will create a dormitory of solely suite style rooms. It is assumed the cost of living will remain the same for the students that move in.

Bachoo states that “They haven’t priced it out yet, but I would assume it will include additional pricing because it includes additional amenities, similar to James Hall.”

Less Parking, More Problems

By Acadia Otlowski

Students who normally park in the Student Center garage and parking lot are in for continued parking woes due CCSU’s newest construction project that has closed over 100 parking spots.

According to a statement by Richard Bachoo, chief administrative officer, these lots will be blocked off for the next two years in order to create both a buffer zone for the construction sight and an area for parking construction vehicles.

“Due to the delivery of large construction materials, the University will be creating a construction entry point off of Ella Grasso Blvd. to reduce the commingling of the university’s general operation[s] and the construction project,” said Bachoo in the statement.

Bachoo believes that the reduction of parking spaces in the Student Center lot will not heavily impact the student population’s ability to park. Students may have to park elsewhere due to the the reduction.

“The university has about 6000 parking spaces. That being said, even with full enrollment, we still have excess space,” says Bachoo. “Are you saying there’s not enough parking, or are you saying you can’t park where you want? Those are two different things.”

Bachoo emphasizes that students have many opportunities to park. Students are able to park in 5,557 parking spaces that are designated “public,” available to anyone at the university who has a parking sticker.

“Fifteen years ago when I arrived it was a situation at the university, it really was. [We spent] close to over 18 million dollars improving parking on the campus,” said Bachoo, who noted most of that money went into the construction of Welte Garage, which provides students with 1,000 additional parking spaces.

Bachoo also noted that certain garages have excess space most of the time.

“We are extremely liberal with parking compared to other universities. We have plenty of parking. Even with the reduction, it is still rare that Copernicus garage is filled. In fact, the top of Copernicus garage rarely has any cars on it,” says Bachoo, who mentions speaking with a commuter student in his office: he notes that, in her experience, Copernicus Garage is never completely full.

Students will be dealing with these parking circumstances for the next two years, and according to Bachoo, It‘s only a temporary reduction… Not all of that parking will be restored, but some of it will be.”

The size of the new dormitory, its entrances, and its exits will take up some of the spots that currently exist. Bachoo believes that the lack of an additional parking lot for the new residence hall will not affect parking enormously.

“Remember 300 of the residents will be existing students, so there’s still plenty of parking,” says Bachoo, who explains that 300 residents of the 600 bed dormitory would be transfers from older residence halls that will be taken offline for renovations.

There is one problem with parking that Bachoo noted: non-student events that draw crowds from off-campus. This includes conferences and other high-volume events held on campus.

“Part of the problem this Monday, when we had this really cramped situation, was they had this event where they invited 300 off-campus guests. Off-campus guests need to go park in other places. They need to park in Kaiser Lot or they need to park in Copernicus Garage. Especially large events like that. I’ve instructed to the events management people that our students are the priority for parking, not all these off-campus people. If they can, those events need to be on days where we do not have a large group, sort of like Fridays or, if they are having it, they need to park them somewhere else. The students have the first priority for parking.”

Despite assurances by the administration, students had some very negative experiences during the first week of classes.

“The top floor of the Student Center parking lot is usually always available, but one day last week it was completely full by 9a.m.,” said Joshua Russo, a student.

“[I] got to school at 10 a.m. so I had enough time to find a parking spot in Welte. My class started at 10:50 a.m. and I found a parking spot at 10:49 a.m.,” said Natalie Ruela, who was almost late for her class due to the cramped parking conditions.

Some students are aware of the reasons behind current parking complications. Others are not.

“Parking is terrible because we are losing at least 150 plus spots for the construction of the new residence hall. I think that campus needs to find a better place to park the construction vehicles,” said Mel Mulcahy, a student.

Students were forced to drive through multiple lots and garages to find parking in the last week.

“How about its a nightmare? [It] takes me thirty minutes to find parking. Who’s got that kind of time to waste? Unbelievable. They need to do this construction nonsense on the weekends or something,” said Hazmira Udovcic.

Other students had a similar experience.

“I had to go through three garages to find a parking spot this past week. It took me a half hour to find a spot and it made me late to class. It seems if you don’t have an early class and park by 7:30 a.m. it’s hard to find spaces,” said Taylor Gilleran, student.

Students who feel that the school is mainly for commuters are frustrated at the inconvenience the construction is causing.

“I just feel they should be building a new parking lot and not a new dormitory,” said Aundrea Shaker, a commuter student.

Bachoo says that there will be improvements to the parking situation, including car counters in Welte Garage, which will alert students to a lot that is full so they do not waste their time circling up and down the five levels of the building.

Additional improvements to parking will come in the next few years. According to Bachoo, Copernicus Garage is out-of-date and will need to be torn down and renovated.