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Home » Issues » Timeline: Resistance to Pathways

Timeline: Resistance to Pathways

APRIL 8,2014. Brooklyn College Faculty Vote to Retake Curricular Control; Vote No Confidence in CUNY Board of Trustees.

For the first time in decades, the entire full-time faculty at Brooklyn College passed a resolution at a special college-wide meeting on April 8, 2014 to demand that the Brooklyn College and CUNY administrations respect the faculty’s historic role in designing courses, general education programs, and degree requirements. The resolution passed by a vote of 298 in favor, 9 against and 18 abstentions.

The resolution also states that the faculty have “no confidence” in the CUNY Board of Trustees to make curricular decisions.

APRIL 8,2014. Brooklyn College Faculty Vote to Retake Curricular Control; Vote No Confidence in CUNY Board of Trustees.

For the first time in decades, the entire full-time faculty at Brooklyn College passed a resolution at a special college-wide meeting on April 8, 2014 to demand that the Brooklyn College and CUNY administrations respect the faculty’s historic role in designing courses, general education programs, and degree requirements. The resolution passed by a vote of 298 in favor, 9 against and 18 abstentions.

The resolution also states that the faculty have “no confidence” in the CUNY Board of Trustees to make curricular decisions.

FEBRUARY 25, 2014. New York City Council Hearing on Pathways.

On February 25, 2014 the City Council’s higher education committee held its first hearing on CUNY’s controversial Pathways curriculum. Faculty members warned that the narrower, administration-imposed curriculum is damaging the quality of students’ education.

FEBRUARY 21, 2014. A Statement by Barbara Bowen and Terrence Martell on Pathways lawsuit decision.

On February 21, 2014 State Supreme Court Judge Anil Singh ruled to dismiss a lawsuit contesting the original Pathways resolution passed by the Board of Trustees in 2011 (the ruling). The lawsuit was filed by leaders of the Professional Staff Congress and the University Faculty Senate. A lawsuit filed by the union against CUNY charging that the University violated the state’s Open Meetings Law in the implementation of Pathways was also dismissed (the ruling).

FEBRUARY 19, 2014. Speak Out on Pathways at 2/25/14 City Council Hearing!

President Barbara Bowen invites members to speak at the City Council hearing.

“The terrain is shifting on Pathways. The union’s sustained fight has begun to produce results. Two months ago, an arbitrator concluded that the union contract does cover faculty rights on curriculum, and ruled that the PSC’s grievance on Pathways must be heard. Two weeks ago, CUNY central administration announced the first significant changes to Pathways: the cap on course hours in the Common Core has been lifted, and some role is now being given to elected faculty bodies.”

FEBRUARY 3, 2014. CUNY Begins to Yield on Pathways.

The CUNY central administration finally began to listen to the majority of faculty about Pathways. Changes to the new core curriculum were announced to begin in Fall 2014, according a memo from Interim Chancellor William Kelly. The memo outlined the changes to Pathways that were the result of a review required by the Board of Trustees resolution that established the program.

DECEMBER 12, 2013. Contract Rights Upheld in Pathways Grievance.

CUNY management was defeated in its attempt to block consideration of a union grievance on the way the University implemented Pathways, and was told in no uncertain terms that faculty’s curricular duties are terms and conditions of employment covered by the PSC’s contract. The ruling was issued by an independent arbitrator of a grievance filed by the PSC. CUNY had petitioned for the grievance to be dismissed, arguing that issues of governance are not covered by the PSC contract and cannot be challenged by the PSC. The petition to dismiss was an attempt to narrow scope of the contract, and was soundly rejected by the arbitrator.

OCTOBER 21, 2013. UFS Responds to Chancellor Goldstein’s Reply to AAUP about Pathways.

Several memos were exchanged between the AAUP and the CUNY Chancellery concerning the Pathways Initiative and matters of academic freedom and shared governance.

Many of former Chancellor Matthew Goldstein’s statements about this subject are inaccurate or misleading; furthermore, many portray CUNY faculty in an unfairly negative fashion. Goldstein’s letter on June 21, 2013 was in response to a communication by AAUP official Robert Kreiser, who called the Chancellor’s attention to the “Resolution in Support of Faculty Control of Curriculum at the City University of New York” adopted at the AAUP Annual Meeting on June 15, 2013.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2013. Images from the No Austerity Contract! No Austerity Education! Rally

Two hundred PSC members joined a union rally at the CUNY Board of Trustees meeting at Baruch College Monday, September 30, 2013. Faculty and staff demonstrated inside the Board meeting and in the street outside Baruch to reiterate the union’s refusal to accept an austerity contract for its members or an austerity education for CUNY students. A fair contract, quality education for CUNY students and action in response to the 92% No Confidence in Pathways vote were the union’s demands of the CUNY Board. Students from the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY who were beaten and arrested by police at a September 17 demonstration against CUNY’s appointment of former CIA chief General David Petraeus turned out at the rally to show solidarity with the union. PSC leaders asked them to speak and repeated the union’s defense of the right of peaceful protest at CUNY without fear of police violence.

SEPTEMBER 23, 2013. Testimony Demanding Action on the No Confidence Vote.

Testimony of Professional Staff Congress/CUNY,
CUNY Board of Trustees Hearing, September 23, 2013
Delivered by Dr. Barbara Bowen.

“Good afternoon, members of the Board of Trustees, colleagues and students. As president of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, the union that represents the 25,000 faculty and professional staff who make this University work, I call on the Board to act on the 92% vote of No Confidence in Pathways conducted last spring.”

AUGUST 19, 2013. Demanding an Unbiased Review of Pathways.

The June 2011 CUNY Board of Trustees resolution that established Pathways mandates annual reviews of all Pathways policies and processes, beginning in 2013. The resolution is silent on who will conduct the review and how it will be conducted. In an open letter about the first annual review of Pathways, sent to Trustees Chair Benno Schmidt on August 15, 2013, PSC President Barbara Bowen demanded an unbiased, faculty-driven review of the curriculum.

JUNE 1, 2013. 92% Vote No Confidence in Pathways, CUNY’S New Curriculum.

Traditionally used to confront profound failures of university leadership, a vote of No Confidence is the most serious expression of opposition that a faculty governance body can make. The 2013 CUNY vote was exceptional because it involved thousands of faculty—far more than would usually vote on a resolution of No Confidence. The result was a stunning rebuke to the Pathways curriculum, which faculty say reduces the quality of a CUNY education.

MAY 9, 2013. Resolution on Pathways Transfers to the Grove School of Engineering.

Another college body has taken a stand against Pathways.

On May 9, 2013, faculty of the Grove School of Engineering (GSOE) voted unanimously for a resolution asserting their right to set admissions and transfer requirements.

MAY 9-31, 2013. No Confidence in Pathways Vote.

As University Chancellor Matthew Goldstein stepped down and Board of Trustees Chair Benno Schmidt’s term ended, PSC launched a CUNY-wide No Confidence in Pathways referendum to send a message to the next administration. A strong vote of No Confidence would show that the faculty have no confidence in the quality and rigor of the Pathways curriculum.

MAY 6, 2013. Pathways Online Ad Campaign Launched.

PSC launched an online ad campaign to support the No Confidence in Pathways campaign. Ads featuring the same faculty spokespeople as the print campaign appeared on the home pages of Inside Higher Ed, the Chronicle of Higher Education and other websites. Ads also appeared on Facebook and with Google search results.

APRIL 25, 2013. Why a No Confidence Vote, and Why Now?

A message from Dr. Barbara Bowen, president of the PSC.

“Why a No Confidence vote, and why now? Because this is the strategic moment to send a message to the incoming CUNY administration in a form they cannot ignore—and because the opposition to Pathways is so profound that it merits a No Confidence vote.”

MARCH 21, 2013. Barbara Bowen and Lexa Logue on WNYC.

“The conflict spilled into view this week, with ads published in several newspapers” reported WNYC’s and National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” in a story about Pathways on March 21, 2013. Listen to PSC President Barbara Bowen and CUNY Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lexa Logue interviewed by WNYC’s Amy Eddings.

MARCH 18, 2013. Pathways Print Ad Campaign Launched.

Dr. Blanche Wiesen Cook, distinguished professor of history, Dr. Manfred Philipp, professor of chemistry, Frank Deale, JD., professor of law, and Dr. Aranzazu Borrachero, associate professor of Spanish, are featured in a new PSC ad campaign opposing Pathways. The ads appeared in the New York Times and the Daily News. They called on CUNY to “listen to the faculty” and “protect the quality of a CUNY education,” and they criticize the new core curriculum for requiring “reduced foreign language study and less rigorous basic science classes without lab work.”

JANUARY 5, 2013. Modern Language Association Vote Opposing Pathways.

The Delegate Assembly of the Modern Language Association passed a resolution opposing Pathways at their January meeting in Boston. The organization serves a membership of 30,000 English and foreign language faculty in 100 countries. According to Inside Higher Ed, the resolution “criticiz[es] the CUNY administration at the City University of New York, arguing that administrators infringed on faculty rights in creating and requiring a curricular system to ease transfer from the system’s community colleges to its four-year institutions.” It goes on to support a moratorium on implementation of the new curriculum.

NOVEMBER 19, 2012. National Petition for a Moratorium on Pathways.

In its first four weeks, 5,000 people signed a national petition in support of a moratorium on implementing CUNY’s Pathways initiative. Fully one-third of the signers also left a comment – a truly surprising rate for an online petition.

Clearly the issue touched a chord far beyond the City University of New York: thousands of comments were left by faculty working at other colleges and universities. A selection of those comments appears here.

NOVEMBER 13, 2012. Victory for Shared Governance in QCC English Department.

In early November 2012, QCC President Diane Call informed the English department on that campus that she planned to reject their near three-fourths majority vote to elect a new chair. The struggles of the QCC English department made headlines when faculty members were threatened with mass firings after the department voted against reducing classroom hours for Pathways-compliant composition courses.

Over the following days, more than 900 CUNY faculty signed a petition from the QCC English department faculty urging President Call to reconsider her decision to deny their vote for chair. On Tuesday, November 13, 2012 President Call did just that, upholding the election.

NOVEMBER 12, 2012. CUNY Must Honor the Results of Department Chair Elections.

“The PSC fully supports the right of CUNY faculty to elect their department chairs, as established in the CUNY bylaws. When faculty vote to make a change in their department leadership, as happened recently with the English department at Queensborough Community College (QCC), the college president should accept the results of the vote and honor the wishes of the faculty.”

NOVEMBER 9, 2012. Rally at Step 2 Grievance Hearing on Pathways.

On Friday, November 9,2012 PSC presented arguments in a Step 2 Grievance hearing on Pathways. Dozens of PSC members attended the hearing overflowing from the hearing room to a rally outside the building. The PSC in its grievance maintained that CUNY had violated the right of faculty control over curriculum as stipulated in its bylaws and in college governance plans.

NOVEMBER 8, 2012. College of Staten Island Faculty Senate demands moratorium on Pathways.

On Thursday, November 8, 2012, the Faculty Senate of the College of Staten Island passed a resolution holding that it would “not compromise academic rigor and quality of curricula at CSI.” The resolution stated that the “majority of full time faculty, department chairs, and members of the faculty governance and related committees continue to oppose Pathways” and called for a “moratorium on all matters related to Pathways implementation.”

NOVEMBER 7, 2012. Bronx Students Hold Forum on Pathways.

The Political Science Club at Bronx Community College sponsored a forum on Pathways on Wed., Nov. 7 to examine the impact Pathways will have on students. One hundred students attended the event, which featured reports from a student, two department chairs and the BCC dean of student success, followed by a question and answer session.

OCTOBER 12, 2012. PSC/UFS Joint Conference on Pathways.

The UFS/PSC conference put the Pathways struggle in the context of a national push to corporatize universities. Transfer systems at other large public university systems were examined, the PSC/UFS Alternative to Pathways Working Group gave an update, and researchers presented their findings. One panel shared research debunking a major rationale for Pathways: that transfer problems are the primary reason some CUNY students accumulate excess credits. Click here to read the report.

OCTOBER 2, 2012. Unity and Resolve at Meeting of Community College English Department Faculty.

“Unity is our best defense and we will not stand for coercion” was the message when dozens of faculty from English departments at CUNY community colleges met to discuss a collective response to the threats of reprisal they received after voting on Composition courses for Pathways.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2012. AAUP on Pathways.

The American Association of University Professors, a national affiliate of the PSC, weighed in on Pathways several times. They warned CUNY against attacks on academic freedom and shared governance and raised faculty objections.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2012. PSC Delegate Assembly Passes Resolution Demanding a Moratorium on Pathways.

At its September 2012 meeting, the PSC Delegate Assembly passed a resolution reiterating the PSC’s demand for the repeal of Pathways and calling for an immediate moratorium on all further implementation until the CUNY Central Administration explicitly withdraws all forms of coercion and pressure directed at faculty, staff, departments and other governance bodies. The PSC encourages faculty senates, disciplinary councils, departments and other governance bodies to adopt or adapt this resolution as they see fit. Faculty Senates at College of Staten Island and Borough of Manhattan Community College passed their own resolutions declaring moratoriums on Pathways.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2012. Update on Threatened Reprisals at QCC: PSC Responds to VP Steele’s Public Apology.

The response to Queensborough Community College Vice President Karen B. Steele’s announcement of sweeping reprisals against the QCC English Department following its rejection of proposed curriculum changes for Pathways has been swift, intense and national. Condemnation came not only from the PSC, but also from CUNY’s English Discipline Council, from other English department faculty, and from the AAUP.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2012. QCC Chapter Chair’s Response to Vice-President’s Apology.

“Although the English department faculty and many others appreciate your apology and your attempt to clarify the administration’s position, there are still questions regarding the status of the English department’s composition courses and the department’s faculty.”

SEPTEMBER 15, 2012. PSC Response to Pathways Reprisals.

PSC responsed to the outrageous reprisals Queensborough Community College Vice President Karen Steele announced after the English Department voted ‘no’ on three-hour, three-credit composition courses for Pathways.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2012. Campus Community Protests Retaliation Against QCC English Department.

On Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, the English Department at Queensborough Community College voted overwhelmingly to reject proposed curriculum changes for Pathways, namely a reduction of hours for English composition courses from four to three. The faculty’s decision was guided by a deep commitment to sustaining a quality education for students. The QCC administration responded with reprisals, but met stiff resistance campus-wide, CUNY-wide and nationally.

AUGUST 2012. Opposition to Pathways Intensifies; PSC Goes to Court to Stop the Initiative.

Curriculum Lawsuit

PSC President Barbara Bowen is one of three plaintiffs in a lawsuit urging the State Supreme Court to stop CUNY from further implementing Pathways. University Faculty Senate (UFS) Chair Dr. Sandi Cooper and UFS Vice-Chair Dr. Terrence Martell joined President Bowen in bringing the lawsuit, which argued that the CUNY administration exceeded its authority in matters of curriculum and failed to follow university bylaws and faculty governance procedures in the development of Pathways.

AUGUST 1, 2012. Second Joint PSC/UFS Lawsuit Based on the Open Meetings Law Filed.

On August 1, 2012 the PSC and the University Faculty Senate filed a new lawsuit against Pathways, arguing that the administration’s efforts to implement it are in violation of New York’s Open Meetings Law.

JUNE 18, 2012. Thirty PSC Members Testify Against Pathways at Board of Trustees Hearing.

Thirty CUNY faculty and staff presented testimony about problems with Pathways at the June 18, 2012 CUNY Board of Trustees borough hearing. Their testimony offered a varied and detailed analysis of how Pathways would hurt students and undermine the value of the CUNY degree.

MAY 16, 2012. A Read Transfer Process for CUNY Students.

The University Faculty Senate, supported by the Professional Staff Congress, began a major effort to develop an alternative to Pathways, including making a proposal by the end of the fall 2012 semester, aimed at facilitating student transfer while upholding the quality of a CUNY degree.

APRIL 30, 2012. Petition to Repeal Pathways with 5,676 Signatures Submitted to the Board of Trustees.

“Nearly 6,000 have spoken, Pathways is broken!” That was the message PSC members brought to the CUNY Board of Trustees after delivering petitions signed by 5,676 faculty, staff and retirees. The thousands of signers urged the trustees to repeal and replace the “Pathways initiative,” CUNY’s controversial overhaul of general education and transfer.

MARCH 26, 2012. First Joint PSC/UFS Lawsuit Based on the Bylaws Filed.

University Faculty Senate (UFS) Chair Dr. Sandi Cooper and UFS Vice-Chair Dr. Terrence Martell joined President Bowen in bringing the lawsuit, which argued that the CUNY administration exceeded its authority in matters of curriculum and failed to follow university bylaws and faculty governance procedures in the development of Pathways. Read the court papers.

MARCH 8, 2012. Videos from Town Hall Meeting on Pathways.

Videos excerpting two of the speakers from the Town Hall meeting, PSC President Barbara Bowen and Terrence Martell, Vice Chair UFS and Saxe Distinguished Professor of Finance, Baruch College.

MARCH 8, 2012. Campaign Launched With a Town Hall Meeting.

Nearly 350 faculty, staff and students attended a March 8th PSC Town Hall Meeting on Pathways, launching the campaign against CUNY’s top-down overhaul of general education and transfer. About 30 people spoke during an hour-long open mic, criticizing Pathways and demanding an alternative.

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