Faculty union reps pull out of Minnesota's higher ed restructuring effort, cite concerns with transparency
Faculty union representatives have condemned Minnesota's system-wide higher education restructuring efforts, citing issues with transparency. Minnesota State College Faculty President Kevin Lindstrom, who represents faculty at two-year institutio...
Faculty union representatives have condemned Minnesota’s system-wide higher education restructuring efforts, citing issues with transparency.
Minnesota State College Faculty President Kevin Lindstrom, who represents faculty at two-year institutions and Inter Faculty Organization President Jim Grabowska, who represents faculty at four-year universities, sent a letter to the state’s higher education Chancellor Steven Rosenstone last week stating faculty would no longer take part in the “Charting the Future” initiative. The goal of the initiative is to foster collaboration, restructure higher education and spend money more effectively.
The letter sent by Lindstrom and Grabowska highlighted concerns that the Minnesota State Colleges and University system hadn’t been upfront about working on the initiative with a consulting firm.
“Our concerns are with the process, not with the fact there needs to be plan,” Lindstrom said.
“We absolutely believe as faculty we have a core contribution to make.”
But the system’s reaction to the faculty’s concerns hasn’t been promising.
“There has been a response, but it certainly hasn’t been ‘We need to rethink this,’” Lindstrom said. “It has been ‘We’re going to go ahead without them.’”
Faculty members hold two of the 18 seats on all eight Charting the Future implementation teams, Lindstrom said. He represents about 75 percent of the 4,700 faculty at two-year institutions in Minnesota, including employees at Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks.
Last summer, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported the Minnesota State Colleges and University system had been working on the initiative with McKinsey and Co., A New York City-based consulting firm.
That's how faculty found out about the partnership, and soon after, it was discovered the consulting firm had actually been involved in the process pro bono for two years before officially coming on board for $2 million.
MnSCU then provided a copy of McKinsey’s Charting the Future proposal to the public, but it was almost entirely redacted.
“When we were engaged in a process that was supposedly collaborative and built on trust and transparency, to find that kind of thing out in that manner was extremely frustrating,” Lindstrom said.
Full steam ahead
NCTC still plans to host state-sponsored gallery walks next week to gather public, staff and faculty input on Charting the Future. Attendees will have the chance to visit with implementation team members and view informational posters.
President Anne Temte said the events are open to faculty, even if there won’t be any official representation.
“They have taken a position as the assigned representation of all the faculty and they said there will be no official representation and we certainly respect that,” Temte said. “They have the right to make that decision. However, when we have this gallery walk, we’re going to let everybody know...that they’re welcome to come in as individuals and see what’s going on.”
Lindstrom said this doesn’t mean faculty are out of the picture forever.
“What we've indicated all along is we want to talk about these issues and we want to resolve them in a collaborative, honest way,” Lindstrom said. “We're ready to do that. We're not shutting the door on that at all. But it takes two parties to be willing to be in a collaborative conversation in order for that to happen. There has to be some trust rebuilding that goes on here.”
More information about the upcoming Charting the Future gallery walks can be found at http://bit.ly/1wFlj8P .