Professors in the state university system say their voices aren't being heard, and they want more input as the college system deals with a growing budget deficit.
The oversight system of four state universities was merged with 12 community colleges and one online school back in 2011. It created the Board of Regents for Higher Education. Since then, things haven't run that well, according to university faculty.
“We just want a true collaboration,” said Elena Tapia, president of CSU-AAUP -- it's the faculty union of the state's four universities. She's also a linguistics professor at Eastern.
“We've been through four presidents,” Tapia said, “and each time there's a new initiative -- like Transform 2020, or Go Back to Get Ahead -- and each time the CSU-AAUP faculty and leadership have attempted to work with the administration at the system office, and it's just gone badly."
The latest initiative was a plan to consolidate the state's community colleges into one school with 12 campuses. But that plan hit a roadblock with the accrediting agency. Tapia said university faculty were involved, but “many faculty felt like we were just there for window dressing.”
System President Mark Ojakian disagreed. He said he's been listening to faculty every step of the way.
“Are you gonna be able to please everybody all the time? Absolutely not,” Ojakian said.
He’s made attempts to work with the faculty union, he said, but those are often unsuccessful.
“I don't think it's all on me,” Ojakian said. “Could I have done a better job? Perhaps, but I also think they could have been more open to working towards change."
Faculty opposition to the Board of Regents has been strong since 2011. Ojakian said it's time to stop thinking about the past and work together to find solutions that benefit students.