CCSF faculty irked by planned departmental changeups

City College of San Francisco administrators and faculty are clashing over a potential series of changes to various departments, fueled by a purported lack of communication between faculty and the college district.

The recent announcement for departmental reorganization would reduce the number of department chairs from 60 to about 55. Of the remaining 55 chairs, around 30 would be unaffected, according to CCSF officials. Some faculty members are questioning what problems the restructuring solves, and how the changes will help with student success.

Specifically, changes that some department chairs oppose include merging cinema, journalism and photography; and broadcast, media and electronic arts with visual media design; as well as splitting English as a second language into credit and noncredit sections. Separating humanities from English is another concern among faculty. But CCSF administrators contend that the changes are part of structural improvements recommended by the state's Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, as well as the school's accrediting body, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

“These reforms are necessary for fiscal stability and maximum responsiveness to our students' needs,” Larry Kamer, spokesman for CCSF, wrote in an email to The San Francisco Examiner. “Under current labor agreements, CCSF leadership has the prerogative to undertake these changes on its own, but our preferred course of action is consultative process with our faculty chair union.”

However, at a recent meeting between several members of CCSF's faculty union, the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, and Chancellor Art Tyler, “no justification” was given for the potential shake-up in which some faculty feel there has been “a low level of consultation,” said Tim Killikelly, the union's president.

“I think everybody is very upset that the input was so little and that our voices are not being heard,” Killikelly said. “Not only have I not identified any problems with a department in a particular way, it doesn't seem [that administrators] have either.”

Killikelly noted that faculty members are unclear how the amendments would promote student success.

“There is no evidence that the reorganization will benefit students,” said Jeff Liss, an English instructor at CCSF.

Darlene Alioto, chief negotiator for the department chairs, said the district ultimately wants to reduce the number of departments purportedly to increase efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.

“I would say we have all of that already,” Alioto said. “The current system represents our students well. Our students are successful, our programs are delivered with quality.”

Regardless, union leaders say a broader discussion among the CCSF community about the changes would ease faculty members' concerns.

“[The administration] really needs to engage in a collegewide dialogue about what problems are they solving by this reorganization, and how it is related to student success,” Killikelly said.

The changes are slated to go into effect next fall.

Meanwhile, closing arguments are expected Tuesday in a trial over alleged unfair evaluations of CCSF that threatened the school's accreditation. Separately, in January, the ACCJC is anticipated to decide whether to grant CCSF restoration status, which would give it two more years to meet accrediting requirements.

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