In a post earlier this month, we laid out for you the strategy behind our decision to take the Board of Trustees to binding arbitration over their June 27th resolution, which essentially voided the Academic Senate bylaws then in effect and charged President Keen with writing new ones. As a quick reminder, these are the two items we placed before the arbitrator:
- That, in passing its resolution, the Board acted in an “arbitrary, capricious and/or unreasonable” manner;
- That those same adjectives should be attached to, and should therefore render invalid, any governance structure President Keen might try to impose unilaterally and without our active participation as a result of that resolution.
The arbitration meeting took place on August 24th, with a due date for the arbitrator’s award of September 1st. We now have the arbitrator’s decision about the Board’s authority in hand, which means we also have the final text of what will be our new Academic Senate bylaws. You can read the decision here and the bylaws here (final version) and here (redline version).
Frankly, we would have preferred not to have had to resort to arbitration. We would have preferred to resolve the Middle States-related and any other issues surrounding the senate bylaws internally, but the authority the Board arrogated to itself through its resolution left us little choice. To his credit, President Keen chose to fulfill the charge contained in that resolution in an inclusive manner, reconvening the Governance Review Task Force (GRTF) and inviting the elected faculty leadership to participate. As we explained in our earlier post, your elected leaders decided to accept that invitation—all of us, the Academic Senate Executive Committee, the NCCFT Executive Committee, the outgoing and incoming Chairs of Academic Department Chairs, the AFA President—because we believed that being part of the process would help us make a stronger argument at the arbitration session itself. As importantly, though, we did not want to exclude ourselves, and therefore you, from a process we knew would have a profound impact on all of our professional lives.
Because it would do an injustice to that process, to the new bylaws themselves, and to the arbitration as a whole, we will not cherry pick particular items to talk about here. That discussion needs to wait until all the documents are made public and you have had a chance to read and digest them. We can, however, stand firmly behind the process through which the new bylaws took shape. Discussions around the table at GRTF meetings were frank and collegial, even when they were contentious; and both sides agreed to compromise on difficult issues, even ones which at times seemed intractable.
That process, it seems to us, embodied the essence of shared governance, demonstrating a shared commitment to moving Nassau Community College forward. We look forward to being a part of that process as it unfolds into the future.