SF State lecturers lose jobs
January 29, 2009 10:52 PM
Some long-time SF State lecturers have not returned for the spring 2009 semester due to the serious financial issues SF State and many other California schools have been facing.
There is no way of knowing the amount of lecturers that have not been reappointed this semester until March 1 because transactions are still being processed, according to Henry McCoy, director of academic personnel and human resources information systems, and Michael Martin, executive director of risk management.
SF State has the largest number of lecturers not reappointed in the entire CSU system, according to Sheila Tully, vice president of the SF State California Faculty Association (CFA) chapter lecturer.
SF State President Robert A. Corrigan announced in August that 141 sections had been cut for the fall 2008 semester.
The budget crisis deepened as an additional 150 sections were cut for spring 2009, according to Tully.
Ian Stuart, 25, a graduate student in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program, found out last semester that Vietnamese language instructor Mr. Tran, who wished for his first name to be omitted, would not be returning to teach in the spring semester and was driven to action.
"Tran is an instructor of unmatchable character and quality," wrote Stuart in a letter to the College of Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies department. "I have never encountered a teacher who so tirelessly and sincerely cares for his craft and his students... it would be a shame to lose his presence at SFSU."
"I was upset by the injustice of it," Stuart said. "This lack of job security a lecturer of 11 years faces and the willingness of those in the decision-making tenured positions of the department to [cut] someone who's been at the school so long rather than come up with some other solution that more evenly distributes the burden of the budget cuts is, to me, disgusting and sad... but I know that Ethnic studies or AAS are not entirely at fault and maybe there are people there who did the best they could to prevent this from happening"
"It shouldn't be [the students'] fight," Tran said. "If more lecturers are let go, education will go down and [the university] will be betraying their educational goals."
At the Dec. 9 Academic Senate's town hall meeting, SF State Vice President Leroy Morishita and Chief Fincial Officer Provost John Gemello said that the university would not lay off permanent employees or junior faculty.
Instead, faculty members not tenured or tenure-track were at risk in losing their jobs.
"There are lecturer, faculty and staff positions that are designated as temporary," wrote Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies Kenneth P. Monteiro in an email. "They signed up for positions to work if and when work is available, meaning if we have the money and the need. But when budget cuts come, we may still have a need for them, but we may not have the money -- no matter how we feel about it."
The Asian American Studies department cut 12 classes according to Lorraine Dong, AAS department chair.
In addition to Tran, three lecturers from her department were not offered a teaching assignment this semester because of the budget cuts, stated Dong
"Significantly, many of us who were lucky enough to be reappointed, are teaching fewer courses... we are even more underemployed than usual," Tully wrote. "Some lecturers who were offered only one course have lost health benefits... The situation for lecturers, many of whom are long-term 'part-time temporary' lecturers have been teaching at SFSU for more than 5 years, is dire."
Currently, lecturers are approximately 23,500 -- more than 50 percent -- of CSU faculty, according to the California Faculty Association.
"Lecturers do comprise of significant roles and there are concerns amongst the intellectuals in the department," said Samuel Harvell, an Ethnic Studies lecturer. "There is a sense of uncertainty. I do have fears because my job... is a major source of income. It's only natural I fear for [it]. I would like some sense that my job is secure."
But unless money arrives, there is no certainty.
"With less money, you have less to pay costs and employ fewer people," Monteiro wrote. "It all comes back to the original problem, the State of California isn't sending the full payment for the educational need. The money for these lecturers is not here on campus."
"The real plan must be to push the state and federal government for long-term financial solutions or we are just rearranging chairs on a budgetary Titanic," Monteiro said. "The most important strategy is working through the CSU Alliance, the alliance of students, faculty, staff and administrators, to encourage legislators to support higher education."
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