The University Senate’s decision early this week to pass two separate resolutions effectively halting all implementation of shared support service centers is an exemplary display of determination and courage from faculty in the face of administrative might and insistence that this plan could work, despite its uncertainties and the consistent lack of communication.
President Stanley, who grew red in the face while barely able to maintain his composure, lambasted members of the senate for their refusal to go along with the shared service centers. From his point of view, it is understandable to see this as a huge hurdle in the success of Operational Excellence and a setback in the university’s constant struggle to cut its budget as fast as the State cuts it for them. “The status quo disappeared when we took $82 million essentially in budget cuts,” Stanley said to those who opposed him. But the faculty’s defense of their stance is one with students as the first priority.
“Our clients ultimately are the students. Whatever we do must facilitate the students access to services that meet their demands,” said a professor in the Humanities familiar with the discussions who wished to remain anonymous. This position runs parallel to the idea that many of the administrative processes targeted by these shared support centers are, in the eyes of the University Senate, are not in need of reform, nor should they be tinkered with for risk of doing more harm than good. “There are other things that you can jettison. Why jettison something that works well and helps students?” asked another professor in the Humanities who also wished to remain anonymous.
University faculty have now publically identified the shared support service center as not just a way of coping with budget cuts, but also a plan to alter the fundamental function of the university in areas where those very functioning parts do not feel as if they are inadequate or in need of restructuring. So as tuition rises and the state’s pressure on SUNY rises, the last thing we should be doing is increasing the stress on students and university employees, and finally members of our faculty have stood up to defend that position.