Meeting with Dean Owens and Ethnic and Gender Studies faculty

Posted: July 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

Here are some notes from our meeting with Dean Owens and Ethnic and Gender Studies faculty.  Also, it includes a response from Director Milmon Harrison, of AAAS, that y’all should examine carefully.  The minutes were edited by Adela de la Torre, Wendy Ho, and Inez Hernandez-Avila.  The response if just from Milmon Harrison.


”  Dear All

The Town Hall, which was not really a town hall since not all members of the staff were invited. Unfortunately, the SAOs were excluded as well as Griselda Castro. However, other staff were invited , Karen MSO Hart, Ian- associate dean HArCS, and the Veronice Passalacqua, Curator of the Gorman Museum, and Cris Brevick the social sciences dean office student advisor.
Faculty present included- NAS- Haleah, Ines, Steven Crumm, Martha, Stefano
African American Studies- Milmon and Halifu Osumare
Asian American STudies- Wendy Ho
American Studies- Carolyn de la Pena
Women Studies- Maxine Craig, Kimberly Nettles
Dean Owens
Students included- 1 grad student NAS, 1 NAS community member, about 2-3 other NAS Students
From original student activist group-Tiffany Martinez, Sebastian Zuniga, Raul Navarro, and Jessica Alvarez
1- Asian American student
Dean Owens opened with a discussion of the space and FTE issue in general terms– she did not directly speak to her plan about specific FTE for the units.
She indicated that space would be discussed with Jess or Jeff Lacov ? ( Griselda knows who this is) and there would be a space analysis. She hopes to get the computer space town stairs and additional space in Hart Hall. NAS student raised issue about student space. The Dean alluded to the new building that would be built next door to Hart to accommodate some students and faculty. [W:  Concerns were also raised that there was need for more faculty and departmental space for TAs for example.]
NO commitments were made [except] that we would be involved in the planning process
Discussion continued concerning the reorg plan. All the directors as well as members in the audience agreed that ethnic studies students[W: this would also apply to Women and Gender Studies concerns] need to have a “face” present that reflects them. Concern was raised from American and Women studies staff that they will not have staff to serve their needs. The issue of a separate [W: an advisor] for women’s studies was raised. There was some debate on whether the reorg would be permanent or not. [W:  There was mention of a review or assessment in a timely manner as to whether the reorg is working or not in order to make decisions on what structure actually works.]  Karen was willing to be flexible on this. But there was concern that the front office consolidation could cause confusion and distress from some members. Wendy highlighted the workload issue for the AAS staff that they would now be working over 100%.  Steffano highlighted this as well in terms of their class and work load  position and implications for the units.
The students raised concern about the process issue. They were concerned that they were be contacted AFTER the Dean had started the process of allocating space and FTE. This was not the agreed process based on the minutes of the meeting with the Chancellor
The Dean responded defensively that she had met with the Directors and implied that we were moving forward. I  disagreed at this point  with the Dean and indicated that the CS faculty did not agree with the FTE allocation as stated or the process so far.  I also indicated that she had not responded to the letter we sent regarding  our proposal for the 10 FTE. I also recommended that we need to have an organic process that includes the students and faculty. I also indicated that based on the meetings from the Chancellor that I felt each department should meet with their students and develop a plan that represents their unique interests. A faculty member in African American Studies suggested that we have 1 student per group. But the Dean supported my assertion that each department is culturally unique and we should move within the context of each department’s culture. I also highlighted the need for complete transparency.
Milmon indicated that African American Studies is better off with FTE allocations because they strategically decided to hire young faculty so they will not have retirements ( implying that the other units are in bad shape because we have faculty retiring)–Milmon please check this, is this what you meant?
He indicated that there is a narrative out there about this, and I said I have never heard this narrative. He is concerned that they may not get additional FTE because they had a better plan than the others who have older faculty who will be  retiring.
It was our understanding that over the summer our plans would be developed organically at the unit level. We also will work on our own metrics to defend our rationalization for FTE and space. For the CS faculty, I will ask Letty when she returns, to schedule meetings over the summer so we can meet with students, faculty, Griselda, and Alma  to determine our needs and interests and present these to the Dean, the Provost and the Chancellor
Other issues that surfaced were the following;
Carolyn Maxine] suggested that we should be allowed to hire president’s post docs—the dean responded that this is not possible since there will be no future FTEs for these hires and that HArCS needs to reduce FTE by 2012 and they are struggling to do this right now.
She also suggested the need for queer /sexuality studies faculty- Wendy indicated that this may occur in ASA]  and she will follow up with Nolan [W: I have asked him about this query as of 7/2/10.]
In general, we agreed that the next process is to work over the summer with our groups to develop our respective plans and have these complete by Oct 1 if possible. “

Milmon’s Response to the Notes:

Response to 6/30 Town Hall Meeting Notes:  Milmon F. Harrison (AAAS Program)

No, Adela, this is not exactly what I meant.  Let me explain in more detail below:

1. Although my concerns were expressed at the table on Wednesday primarily in terms of retirements, I should have spoken more clearly in terms of a broader range of FTE-related issues, including strategic hiring choices, retention of faculty, and mentoring to advancement up through the ranks of junior and mid-level faculty over the past decade.   The internal politics of other Ethnic Studies (E.S.) units is none of our concern in AAAS; however, now that we’re all attempting to garner much-needed resources and recoup losses in light of the current economic threats we all face, we in AAAS do not intend to stand by while other E.S. units paint a picture (especially for students) depicting themselves as unfairly targeted/neglected and also depicting us as either unscathed or somehow favored and therefore having less of a need than they do.  So what I meant to convey was that as far as FTEs go all of us in E.S. are where we are now at least partly as a result of the decisions we have made over the past decade with respect to the hiring, the retention, and the advancement of our faculty.  I think we need to own that and be honest about it, again especially when/if we talk to students about these issues.

2.  Our concern is that because AAAS has not experienced the FTE losses as other Ethnic Studies units during the past few years we may not appear to have a need in terms of FTE replacements (including, but certainly not exclusively, due to retirements).  The harsh reality informing my position on this issue is the fact that AAAS, as the fourth of the E.S. units in Hart, remains the most under-resourced and, most importantly, is still the only one that is not a department.  Our students expressed their own displeasure about this state of affairs in no uncertain terms.  We have the fewest number of FTEs (either actual or promised) than all the other HIP units although we are virtually always among the highest producers of SCHs, for example.  At this critical moment we most definitely need additional FTEs as we continue to move toward submitting our own proposal for departmental status.  We need those additional FTEs now to ensure we make the strongest possible argument on behalf of our Program and our students.  Why should a legacy of under-funding of AAAS be allowed to keep us from reaching the same status as the rest of the Ethnic Studies units because we haven’t lost FTEs in recent years to retirements, retention or other issues that don’t apply to us?  That’s what I’m fighting for in these meetings.

3.  As far as that “narrative” goes, I have personally witnessed faculty and staff (including SAOs—who we all know are a critical source of program/departmental information to students) explaining the current Hart Hall situation to students in a way that made it seem as though their departments’ FTE losses over the past few years were somehow more critical than our already lower FTE numbers in AAAS—or, even worse, that certain units were “favored” by the Dean and have not had their FTEs reduced as a result of that favor.  What irritates me most about this reading of the situation is the fact that despite their very real losses all three of the other three E.S. units still have more resources than we do in AAAS (in FTE and also, very importantly for the re-org discussions to come, in space and staff).  The emails below provide a tiny example of what I’m referring to, with a Chair leaving it to an SAO to provide students information about, in this case, FTE losses that, at least to my mind and others’ of my faculty, feeds the students’ existing perception of an “attack” on these particular Ethnic Studies programs and not on others.  A student at the first Town Hall was under the mistaken impression that AAAS had received $100K from the Chancellor, which is absolutely false (and the real details of that money were actually published in The Aggie); thank God I was one of the few faculty there to correct that untruth!  Perception is everything right now in my mind as we all struggle to get what we need and think we deserve.  This is partly what I mean about the way certain narratives about these issues are being constructed in what I believe are self-serving and irresponsible ways.  The fact is that we are all already suffering and are all being asked to give up something more.  One problem in the midst of all this, though, is that some of us have more to begin with than do others of us, and I think it would be great if we could all bear that in mind as we try to work together in the coming months/years.

[Copied and pasted from 2 emails I received:

On 5/6/10 4:39 PM, My Diem Nguyen wrote:

hi abrham,

here is what Nolan Zane, chair of ASA, would like to share on behalf of the department of asian american studies:

My Diem:

Yes, inform him about the FTE losses in ASA in just the last 2 years:  1.0 FTE loss due to Prof. Parrenas leaving; .50 FTE loss due to Prof. Bill Hing transferring his .50 FTE to Law and then subsequent retirement; and .50 FTE loss due to Prof. Stan Sue’s retirement.

That’s a total of 2.0 FTE loss in a faculty of only 8.0 FTE as of 2 years ago. In other words, a reduction of 25% in ASA faculty FTE in just 2 years .


On Thu, May 6, 2010 at 1:49 PM, Abrham Castillo-Ruiz wrote:

Hi there!

My name is Abrham Castillo-Ruiz, and I am an ASUCD Senator.  One of my main platform goals as a Senator is to address the FTE positions that have not been restored to Chicana/o Studies.  However, due to the increasingly disturbing cuts and moves that are taking place in Hart Hall, I wanted to extend this to the other Ethnic Studies.

I am meeting with Dean Owens this Monday (May 10th) 2pm, and I would like to know if there is anything that any of you would like to bring up specifically relating to your respective Department.  Please let me know as soon as possible if there is any way I can help; an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.  I hope to hear from you soon.”


A student response was issued to Director Milmon Harrison, which is in the following post.


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