President Corrigan accepts "six-plus-one" college merger

CORRECTION: In a recently published article titled, “President Corrigan accepts ‘six-plus-one’ college merger,” we attributed the first quote in the story to University spokeswoman Ellen Griffin. It was not Griffin who stated this, but a quote provided to Griffin by SF State President Robert A. Corrigan. We regret this error.


SF State President Robert A. Corrigan released a letter to faculty Feb. 4 accepting the University Planning Advisory Council’s recommendation to reorganize the eight colleges of the University into a six-college structure.

The majority of UPAC’s recommendations, which were released in a report by the council Jan. 20, were accepted by Corrigan with the exception of a few key modifications.

Corrigan stated the reorganization of colleges will be the broadest and most challenging of the recommendations, but he accepted the general concept with a slight adjustment of a “six-plus-one” structure that will create a freestanding Graduate School of Education.

“The work of reorganization will not be simple or easy, but necessary given our budget outlook,” said University spokeswoman Ellen Griffin. “I’m confident we will be a stronger, more student-responsive University as a result, and I look forward to working with the deans and faculty as work gets under way.”

With SF State’s anticipated loss of $32 million hinging on the acceptance of Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2011-2012 budget proposal, UPAC’s report claims that the merger will save SF State at least $1 million annually.

“The failure of the state to adequately fund the California State University system puts the quality of education for our students at grave risk,” said Academic Senate Chair Shawn Whalen. “The UPAC recommendations are aimed at finding ways that we might be able to reduce costs while maintaining our institutional excellence and insulating the student experience from these cuts.”

By Feb. 11, the Academic Senate will give faculty an opportunity to vote and comment on the placement of units within the six-college structure via a referendum.

Whalen said that Corrigan valued the perspective of the campus community and wanted to provide ample opportunities for faculty to contribute to these decisions.

“Other CSU institutions have made similar decisions with far less input from faculty, staff and students,” Whalen said.

After the voting process is complete a decision will be made and reorganization will begin, according to Corrigan. Once reorganization is finalized, a related UPAC recommendation encouraging partnerships among smaller departments and programs will be considered.

But many faculty members are concerned that the restructuring of colleges could change the very nature of education at SF State.

“Unless further clarified this Friday, the real purpose of the referendum seems to be legitimizing a shift from Academic Senate-based curricular decision-making to administration-directed ‘managed pedagogy,’’ said SF State social work professor Jerry Shapiro. “That’s simply not what San Francisco State’s mission and heritage is all about.”

Academic Senate policy states that budgetary concerns alone are not enough to alter the organization of the schools and programs on campus.

According to the policy, if accepted by faculty, reorganization should be adopted and considered to best serve the mission of the school and to strengthen the intellectual and academic activities of the University community.

However, many on campus are still skeptical of the long-term ramifications of the UPAC recommendations.

“Almost everything right now, from the massive projected budget deficit, which is no fault of the University, to the UPAC proposals for restructuring, will harm education here,” said Maxine Chernoff, chair of the creative writing department. “It is useless to shake up a whole University to save $1 million of a projected $30 million deficit.”

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