Two-thirds of the faculty senators approved the addition of a no-confidence measure to the agenda at the Academic Senate meeting Nov. 9, calling on the Board of Trustees and California State University Chancellor Mildred Garcia to conduct a formal investigation to evaluate the actions of University President Soraya M. Coley.
The initial resolution criticizes Coley for her perceived deficit in shared governance and notes her failure to consult with the Senate as well as other leadership groups before dismissing former Provost Jennifer Brown. Additionally, the resolution cited concerns about the number interim positions Coley put in place across campus, again without consulting the Senate.
According to the resolution, Coley is a “weak leader,” and the Senate proclaims no confidence in her for reasons stated previously. It also states Coley consistently fails to communicate and govern as a democracy, leading issues to build up and worsen. Physics Associate Professor Alex Small is tired of the listed issues professors face due to weak leadership coming from Coley and her administration.
“We are usually swimming against the tide,” Small said. “Everything about this place makes it harder to do the things that need to be done, and then they have the gall to take credit when things work. There is leadership failure here.”
Staff unions issued a vote of no-confidence against Coley in February. The statements came from a unanimous decision from the Executive Board of the CSUEU, Chapter 319.
In an LA Times article published 25 years ago, faculty had a 14-page list of complaints directed at former CPP president Bob H. Suzuki. There was a 292 to 104 vote expressing no confidence in Suzuki’s leadership.
According to the resolution, since Coley started working at CPP in 2015, enrollment has increased by 13.38% yet tenure density on campus dropped by 9.27%. Tenure density is the percentage of full-time faculty members who are on the tenure-track, meaning these professors are paid better, have secured jobs, teach fewer classes and generally have more academic freedom.
On the same day as the Senate meeting, Coley, who was scheduled to be in attendance but was absent due to a conflict in her schedule, postponed the campus conversation to the spring semester. Typically, the campus conversation is meant to be a place to discuss state funding and where money will be allocated to further “support student success and academic excellence.”
The Senate continues to demand change regarding leadership and the many issues they face. Even if the a no-confidence vote passes against Coley, the community is unsure of when it will be effective or if she will even be removed as president.
A second resolution from the Academic Senate meeting detailed a list of 10 issues faculty are facing, including lack of shared governance, inaccurate and late payroll and increased workload, among others. Each issue contained bullet points further explaining problems and faculty expectations. The second resolutions states faculty are often underpaid, paid late and given extra work to do, none of which is appreciated by Coley and her administration. Jessie Vallejo, an associate professor in the music department, spoke out during the meeting on pressing concerns on behalf of several constituents.
“There is a general sense of chaos and dysfunction at the faculty and staff levels, and this is a strong sentiment with this crisis management resolution,” Vallejo said.
Some Senate members agreed the list outlined in the resolution was far too long to make any difference in their work environments. Department Chair of Mathematics and Statistics Berit Givens is concerned this will lead higher ups at the university to make excuses and only resolve the least important issues.
“I think the sheer length of it dilutes the power of the list,” said Givens. “If I had been asked for a list of things that were needed for chair support that would not have been my list.”
Before the next meeting, senators will speak with their constituents to discuss any changes they can make to resolution documents. The second debate on both resolutions will occur next month. The next senate meeting will be held Dec. 6 in Building 98P2-007 and is open for students to attend.
“The truth is that it’s already affecting students, and students deserve a lot more than what this campus is currently offering,” Guererro said. “All faculty in this room have deserved a lot better for years.”