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Brooklyn College faculty breaks with CUNY: votes to retake control of curriculum

Brooklyn College's iconic bell tower. Photo courtesy CUNY

Has 'no confidence' in CUNY Board of Trustees

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The full-time faculty at Brooklyn College passed a resolution on Wednesday to “retake control of curriculum decision making” and demand that the Brooklyn College and CUNY administrations “respect the faculty’s historic role in designing courses,” programs and degree requirements.

Professors are rejecting CUNY's move to “override faculty decision making” to implement the “inadequate” Pathways general education program, according to the Brooklyn College Faculty Council.

Pathways implements a set of course requirements that every student must complete to earn an undergraduate degree from CUNY, making it easier to transfer one CUNY college to another.

But professors complain that Pathways “waters down” the core curriculum and is meant as a cost-cutting measure. Faculty members say they were excluded from the planning stages of the program, and the move is an attempt to “consolidate power at the top.”

Fran Clark, spokesperson for CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress (PSC-CUNY), told the Brooklyn Eagle the Pathways program reduces significantly the number of credits a student has to take to fulfill their general education requirements.

The standardized, "compressed" curriculum will mean “less flexibility for students to pursue wide-ranging academic interests, and fewer opportunities for students to explore different and important ideas, because of a reduction in specialized course offerings,” Clark said. She said she feared the program would lead to a narrower understanding of cultures and international diversity.

Brooklyn College spokesperson Jason Carey told the Eagle on Wednesday, “While the President of Brooklyn College must transmit recommendations of the Faculty Council to the Chancellor, these proposals must be lawful and in line with recent court proceedings that ruled in favor of the CUNY Board of Trustees in initiating academic policy.”

He added that reviews of general education happen periodically at the college, and have been encouraged by the Provost. “Our faculty plays a key role in shaping the academic curriculum at Brooklyn College. When reviewing and revising our general education requirements, however, the College is obligated to be guided by the broad framework of the Pathways initiative approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees."

Professors from across the CUNY system have complained about Pathways, which was opposed by 92 percent of full-time faculty who voted in a referendum held last year.

Nivedita Majumdar, professor of English at John Jay College, said, “[Pathways] means students could graduate with a bachelor’s degree without ever having taken a literature or a history course or without any training in a foreign language or reduced time in science labs. Our students are denied the intrinsic value of a good education.”

Wednesday’s resolution calls for the Brooklyn College and CUNY administrations to abide by the decisions of local faculty in designing a new general education program at Brooklyn College. The vote was 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. “The current Board of Trustees is almost completely devoid of educators and is comprised of political appointees, whose main qualification was political support for current and former mayors and governors, rather than their expertise in educational policy,” according to the Faculty Council’s statement.

Updated on April 9 with a quote from Brooklyn College spokesperson Jason Carey.

April 8, 2014 - 5:19pm
Latest Revision Time: 
April 9, 2014 - 1:45pm


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