By Lauren Kastner
The future of Charting the Future is questioned as trust and transparency issues lead to faculty unions backing out of the program that aims to improve the college and university experience for students.
On Friday, Jim Grabowska, President of the Inter Faculty Organization (IFO) and Kevin Lindstrom, President of the Minnesota State College Faculty (MSCF) sent a letter to Chancellor Rosenstone announcing the unions’ withdraw
“We want to emphasize that this is not about the ideas contained within Charting the Future. Both the IFO and MSCF continue to embrace the values and commitments in [Charting the Future] with regard to access, affordability and an extraordinary education. We continue our dedication to ‘increasing the success of all learners; of expanding pathways to success; of expanding the innovative use of technology’…but in the end, we believe that our concerns about trust and transparency in the process will not be resolved,” the letter said.
The letter goes on to highlight the administration’s decision to hire an outside consulting company, McKinsey & Company, without disclosing this to Charting the Future participants. This decisions is one of the reasons the faculty unions elected to withdraw from Charting the Future. What the unions say is an example of the lack of transparency in the process, also suggests to them that the administration has a predetermined outcome for the project.
“From the revelation of the paid involvement by McKinsey, to the revelation that McKinsey had actually been involved much earlier in the process…we believe that the process has been veiled with the intent to claim constituent-based input leading to predetermined results. We are, therefore, declining to participate further in the Charting the Future process,” the joint-union letter said.
In an email sent out to all ARCC students, faculty and staff that preceded the announcement made by MSCF and IFO, Chancellor Rosenstone writes of rumors that the unions will pull out of the program. Rosenstone responds to complaints made by the unions.
“Unfortunately, we have heard rumors that the heads of some of our unions have decided to walk away from the Charting the Future effort … Change is hard, and is always accompanied by high emotion and complication. Without a doubt, some things could have been handled differently, and some handled better. I remain committed to doing my best to make sure all opinions are heard and all people are treated respectfully.”
The Chancellor told students, faculty, and staff that Charting the Future has been an inclusive project and will continue to move forward in its effort to improve the system for students.
“The process continues to be one that welcomes everyone’s best ideas … We will continue to use this effort as a roadmap to serve our students better and strengthen our colleges and universities. While the heads of the unions may have made the regrettable decision to walk away from the table, their seats will be there for them whenever they decide to return.”
Two year student rep for MSCSA and president of student government at ARCC, Kevin Parker responded to the Unions decision with disappointment.
“I am disappointed that the faculty unions have withdrawn from charting the future as their knowledge and expertise in the system is valuable. However, it has been clear for some time that they were not and have not been pleased with the process or how it came to be. Due to this fact I am not surprised they have withdrawn”.
Parker goes on to highlight some of the extreme difficulties facing students and his hope that the unions reconsider and come back to the program
“We are struggling and fighting to keep our students fed, housed, educated, and on a pathway to success everyday. Their blood, sweat, and tears are poured into our institutions and it has been pooling up around our waists for some time now. Any opportunity to change this is a worthy opportunity, and Charting the Future is one of those opportunities. I had hoped this would outweigh any concerns or issues with the McKinsey contract or the lack of transparency, and it has not … As to the future of Charting the Future, I am uncertain. It seems like we shall continue moving forward with the option for the faculty unions to come back to the table at anytime, and I hope they do. If they do not, then we must press forward to address the issues that are on the table before us”.
On Monday the Charting the Future Implementation teams are hosting a “Gallery Walk” on the Coon Rapids campus from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Legacy Room. A “Gallery Walk” will be hosted on the Cambridge campus Fri. Nov. 21 from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. in Auditorium A.