Quorum not established, no decision made in UPAC meeting

With Governor Brown planning to submit the official 2011-2012 budget this January, the University Planning and Advisory Council still has yet to give a recommendation as to the restructuring of SF State.

On Dec. 10, UPAC held a faculty meeting, but unfortunately no official business could be addressed because not enough professors showed for a quorum. Instead, faculty members met in McKenna Theater for an informal discussion regarding the University’s budget.

A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly that must be present in order to conduct official business. To establish quorum at SF State’s administrative meetings at least 200 faculty members must be present.

“It’s exam time and people have other obligations,” said SF State President Robert A. Corrigan. “I think the fact that almost 200 people came on a Friday afternoon at this time of the year, it speaks highly of faculty concerned about this institution.”

According to Academic Senate Chair Shawn Whalen, the meeting was proposed with approximately 85 faculty members’ signatures on a petition in early October and the goal was to address different issues regarding faculty budgeting.

“UPAC has not come to a decision about whether or not it even embraces or that it would make a recommendation to transition from eight to six,” Whalen said. “We want to take a look at what kind of budget situation we’re really facing. If the budget situation is good enough that we don’t have to think about something like college restructuring, then I think we wouldn’t recommend it.”

For the 2011-2012 school year, the restructuring proposal would save the University approximately $1.5 million dollars in the midst of an $18 million deficit.

“We need the right version of restructuring,” Whalen said. “I’m not sure we’ve identified that yet.”

More than 90 percent of SF State’s budget funds faculty and administrators’ salaries and benefits, as well as students’ financial aid.

Another concern addressed at the meeting was the lack of transparency when dealing with the University’s budget.

“We don’t know the breakdown of how much of that 90 percent is for administration and how much in instructional faculty,” said Jerald Shapiro, former chairman of the University Interdisciplinary Council.

“Maybe it’s time for there to be some open platform, where we all have the information broken down, so that we can put our collective heads together and figure out how to come up with opportunities, pathways and innovations that don’t have to compromise the essential core of what SF State is all about.”

UPAC has four proposals to consider and has yet to officially vote on the future of SF State’s eight colleges, but the council plans on submitting recommendations next month once the budget comes out.

If UPAC suggests restructuring, then the proposal would go out to a faculty vote before being turned over to President Robert Corrigan for the final decision.

“The thing that I find most frustrating is that we tend to divide ourselves over issues where we have minor disagreements, and that prevent us from moving forward with unity,” Whalen said.

One idea thrown around the forum was that the meeting was scheduled so that as little amount of faculty would show up as possible.

“I think the meeting was scheduled on a day where the chances for a quorum were remarkably low,” said Deborah Cohler, an associate professor for women and gender studies.

Whalen said that the meeting schedule was picked on the basis that it was the time that the least amount of faculty members were teaching.

However, certain faculty members expressed concern over starting the meeting with less than a quorum.

“We have about 1,600 faculty members represented here by less than 10 percent of the faculty,” said Trevor Getz, associate professor in the department of history. “And we’re suggesting that we move forward with senate people up there and something that could turn into an official meeting in the absence of 90 percent of our peers. I have to say that I object to doing that.”

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