September 20, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers Board of Governors to begin reviewing draft of Strategic Plan

Photo by The Daily Targum |

President Robert L. Barchi spoke at the Board of Governors meeting yesterday on the College Avenue campus about the University’s Strategic Plan.

Update: E. J. Miranda, director of Rutgers Media Relations provided the following statement in regards to the matter: 

"The parties are meeting on a regular basis and exchanging proposals. We look forward to a timely resolution of the issues. It is our intention to discuss all relevant labor issues at the negotiating table and not in other forums."

About two hours prior to the Board of Governors meeting yesterday, members of the American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers and their supporters protested directly in front of Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi’s office about the University’s refusal to improve working conditions for non-tenure-track faculty members.

The demonstration had been planned for a long time and turnout was strong, said Ann Gordon, chair of the non-tenure track bargaining team.

“It certainly didn’t change their mind about letting me speak,” she said.

The Board of Governors met yesterday in Winants Hall on the College Avenue campus to discuss future plans for the University and to highlight the work of numerous committee members.

Gordon said she signed up in July to speak for a total of three minutes at this month’s meeting. But the board refused to let her speak at today’s meeting.

“No one knows of an incident where that has ever happened,” Gordon said.

The protesters hoped to present the board with a packet containing names of more than 1,000 faculty and students who support resolutions to reform departments across all three campuses, said Sherry Wolf, contract campaign coordinator for the AAUP-AFT.

Faculty members on the non-tenure track are fighting for job security, consistent procedures and fair pay, Wolf said.

Those not on the tenure track are not offered as many multiple-year contracts, earn low wages and have no path or opportunities for promotions, she said.

“We are happy to work with the administration,” Wolf said. “But it’s not helpful when they stonewall us, don’t respect us, don’t pay us and refuse to give faculty multi-year contracts who have worked here for more than 20 years.”

By doing so, Wolf said, Rutgers is also cheating students as faculty who earn low wages and need to work two jobs cannot bring their best performance in the classroom.

The protesters hoped the board would press the administration to do its job, she said.

Gordon said the faculty has been in negotiations with the administration for more than 10 months, and the administration agreed in January 2012 to negotiate with the faculty union.

Wolf said the board silenced the faculty today by not allowing them to speak, which she thinks is criminal.

“If you refuse to listen to the voice of the faculty, you’re gagging them,” Wolf said.

Although the faculty’s voice was not heard at the Board of Governors meeting, the union placed an advertisement in The Daily Targum yesterday to voice their opinion.

The statement, “Open Letter to President Robert L. Barchi,” included direct quotes and signatures from faculty members.

During the open session, Barchi introduced and thanked various committee members for their hard work and contributions to the University.

He also mentioned a news release issued earlier in the day, which stated that Rutgers plans to establish an enterprise risk, compliance and ethics office. Rutgers announced Ted Brown, former general counsel of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, to lead the program.

Physicists Eva Andrei and Karin Rabe were also named Rutgers Board of Governors professors, and Andrei was given a formal certificate during the meeting. The professorship was established in 1989 to recognize exceptional scholarship and accomplishment.

Barchi also discussed the final update of the University Strategic Plan, including the University’s mission, values and aspirations.

He said Rutgers has been gathering background data through nearly 80,000 surveys and quantitative analysis to achieve the Rutgers’ goal of being broadly recognized as one of the U.S.’s leading public universities.

Barchi said the Rutgers’ strengths include its celebrated history, humanities and natural science programs and physics and mathematics departments that are among the best in the nation.

Rutgers also benefits from its small but highly ranked performing and visual arts program, diverse student body and close proximity to major cities, he said.

Conversely, the University’s ranking in four out of five national polls is declining, its faculty recognition and productivity rates are below the average of similar universities and student satisfaction with the Rutgers experience is disappointingly low, he said.

For Rutgers to enter the echelon to which it aspires, Barchi said it must evaluate its foundational philosophy, find its strategic priorities and work on its integrating themes.

Barchi said Rutgers needs to envision how universities will be structured in the future by evaluating the near- and long-term impacts of technology and hybrid classrooms.

“How are we going to double the amount of students we have without bringing them on campus?” he said.

Barchi is also concerned with improving the student experience. He said Rutgers needs more Living-Learning Communities, which allow students to feel comfortable at the University.

The honors college Rutgers is building will improve the atmosphere, Barchi said, as well lessening the amount of time students spend on buses, which he understands is a significant source of complaints.

The new honors college will be ready for students to in the fall of 2015, and the Theological Seminary is in construction on Seminary Place.

Plans are also in the works for new buildings for the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and the Department of Engineering on Busch campus, Barchi said.

“They are tied to the strategic plan,” he said. “This not random construction. These are pieces that we are trying to achieve within the next five to six years.”

One of the major concerns Barchi addressed was establishing an excellent faculty by increasing the number of faculty members and redesigning the graduate program.

“We need to add 300 faculty members to [the] New Brunswick campuses to meet the average of our peer schools,” he said. “To reach the aspirational goals we need about 1,000.”

During the meeting there was no mention of the faculty union’s protest or the Board’s decision to deny them a chance to speak.

“The University is only as good as the faculty we have, [and] we do have some great faculty, [but] we need more,” Barchi said.

Gordon said being prohibited from speaking was discouraging and a bad sign about the Board’s attitude toward faculty members.

“Students need to understand that when the faculty have crappy working conditions and low compensation, the [students] are the ones who are being cheated,” Wolf said.

Correction: In a previous version of this article, the headline read "BOG refuses to hear faculty concerns." In addition, a statement from Rutgers University Media Relations has been included. 

By Danielle Gonzalez

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