Expansion Decision Prompts Action

By HARRY HUGGINS with reporting by FAITH HEAPHY, MONIQUE JOHN, and LAURA CHANG
News Co-Editor with Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor and News Co-Editor
Published: March 28, 2012

Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) faculty and many student leaders are disappointed in the way the university administration decided to reallocate bed space in the new law school building opening in 2014. Faculty and student members of College Council first learned of the plans to extend the Gabelli School of Business (GSB) to the Lincoln Center campus during the March 8 meeting, where many professors voiced their disapproval in being left out of the decision making process.

During the meeting, Dean of FCLC Rev. Robert R. Grimes, S.J., revealed the plan to give 200 of the 436 new undergraduate beds that come with the new law school building to GSB students. These beds were previously expected to go to FCLC student expansion. This would be part of a new undergraduate business program on campus. The plan, which would take effect in 2014 when work on the new building ends, is being developed by the vice president’s task force at Fordham and has not been approved yet, according to Grimes.

The approximately 40 faculty members present in McMahon Hall 109 for the meeting voiced concerns about transparency and a change of academic culture at FCLC. In response, the Faculty Senate met on March 23 and passed, among other things, a resolution objecting to the lack of faculty involvement in the space allotment discussion.

According to faculty senate president Joel Reidenberg, the decision should have been made with input from professors, since half of the classes taken by the new GSB students would be liberal arts courses taught by FCLC faculty. “It has a great impact on the teaching resources available across the school,” Reidenberg said. “The senate is very disturbed by the lack of adherence to shared governance in this decision for the space allocation…Under university statutes, primary responsibility for university programming falls to the faculty.”

Fawzia Mustafa, associate professor of English, said the senate’s main argument was that since “decisions about space affect the nature and charge of what is taught, who is taught and how that teaching will happen, then space issues are very much curricular issues, and should involve professors.”

Frank Boyle, associate chair and professor of English, said that finding out about this at the “11th hour” makes things challenging when it comes to hiring faculty and planning for an influx of students, which he said takes a minimum two years of planning. He said that the plan, as faculty understood it, was to provide the majority of new beds to FCLC students.

“What is clear to me is that the program has been thrown together as a bare bones program and we’re being asked to actually make it work, and that’s just completely inappropriate governance for our university,” Boyle said. “Faculty are systematically excluded from the deliberations that went into this incredibly important issue.”

In addition, Boyle said that it is “upsetting” to hear that there are no representatives of faculty involved in this process. “I believe the university runs better when the people who actually do the work are involved with the planning,” he said.

Student leaders have also expressed frustration in being left out of the discussions. Five students are part of College Council, and three attended the March 8 meeting where the council passed a motion to attend the March 23 senate meeting. Faculty senate rules, however, prevent anyone but faculty members and guests invited by the senate to address specific issues from attending their meetings.

Prior to learning this, United Student Government (USG) Treasurer Chris Chromey, FCLC ’12, planned on attending the senate meeting to address his concerns. “I was disappointed,” Chromey said. “The student government has been there for the faculty numerous times in the past. It’s a little dangerous that the faculty is seeing this as a faculty issue, because this is a college made up of students. I think it’s unfortunate that we lost that input.”

Melissa Gazal, FCLC ’14, represented Commuter Student Awareness (CSA) at the March 8 meeting. She said she understands that there could be confidentiality issues with students attending faculty senate meetings. “It’s sort of a difficult situation,” Gazal said. “However, I do feel that the student voice should also be heard.”

The details of the plan itself are still in development, but Grimes said the “bare bones” plan will give 25 beds per year to incoming FCLC students over the next four years, raising the total population of the school. The other 100 beds will be reserved for students who would have been commuters.

If the plan takes effect, the resident-to-commuter ratio will change from its current 55-to-45 to 60-to-40. In addition, the GSB will develop a new program available at FCLC for students to major in business. In 2014, 50 freshmen will be accepted to the business program and it will increase by 50 students a year for a total of 200 business students.

Grimes said that Quinn Library will relocate to the current law school library’s space, however no other decisions for space have been made. Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, established the Lincoln Center Task Force to prepare for the expansion and space re-allocation.

In a release sent out detailing their recommendations, the Task Force laid out their reasoning behind the decision. Admission applications for FCLC are down 2 percent compared to last year, while GSB applications are up 20 percent. According to the release, the Task Force believes GSB is positioned for stronger growth.

“The introduction of new academic programs is vital to enrollment growth and strength of academic profile at Lincoln Center,” the release said. “The introduction of business education in a preferred format and the opportunity for new programs and synergies across departments in all schools at Lincoln Center is the foundation for a very promising future.”