As three contenders fight for Cal Poly’s top position, we should all address the tasks facing our next leader. For the last 30-plus years, Warren Baker has seen Cal Poly climb to national recognition and subsequently plummet in overall “excellence.” Statewide education cuts have made a significant dent in Cal Poly’s ability to achieve such excellence, but wasteful spending and other preventable factors have plagued this campus throughout the past three decades as well. Cal Poly needs a fresh face in the administration — one willing to steer the university back in the right direction.
As such, here are a few thoughts and questions that should be considered by our three final candidates:
Recently, Cal Poly has had a spotty record of First Amendment protection. From the Steve Hinkle case of 2002 to the Smile and Nod poster incident of 2007, Cal Poly has fumbled when it comes to free speech. This has cost us national embarrassment (Lou Dobbs of CNN called President Baker a “coward and a fool”) and over $40,000 in attorney fees, according to The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)
What will you do to preserve freedom of speech on campus, and how will you deal with the pressures of special interest groups or other offices unconstitutionally demanding punishment? Do you think the crop house incident was handled correctly? How will you manage administrators that demand punishment? And finally, do you think free speech should ever be compromised on a college campus?
(FIRE) has rated Cal Poly a “yellow-light” campus in matters of free speech, inferring that the current regulations of our campus produce a “chilling effect” for students wishing to express their First Amendment rights.
What will you do to change this tide of ignorance toward the First Amendment, and bring Cal Poly to “green-light” status?
Administrative-Faculty Relations and Transparency
The only time we seem to hear anything from our current president is when he announces a new costly construction project or the assignment of another unnecessary vice president. The current president has destroyed any chance of a relationship with the faculty after increasing his own salary once again in 2007. He currently earns, or rather “takes,” over $394,000 a year in salary and benefits, and has increased the salaries of our many vice presidents and administrators, the Sacramento Bee website reads. Just to give you an idea, Calfac estimates that the average full-time professor (with 25 years experience) receives $87,715 a year. When you consider all the lecturers and professors whose jobs could have been saved throughout the years, this is absolutely sickening. Greed has created a tremendous impasse in the relationship between administration and faculty.
What will you do to increase your visibility on campus and create a better relationship with students and faculty? Would you be willing to reduce your own salary or consolidate the excessive number of vice presidents in the administration? How do you plan on creating a more pleasant work environment for current and future faculty?
Additionally, transparency on campus is just short of being opaque. In our CSU system, millions in expenditures remain undisclosed, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed Senator Yee’s recent bill demanding transparency from the university system, the Fresno Bee reported. Contributing to this theme of shadiness, Cal Coast News stated that our current president has stealthily taken a $12 to 15 million line of credit from the ever-so-shady Cal Poly Corporation to fund recent construction projects. It seems as though the president’s legacy has come to be more important than the financial stability of our university.
How will you reassure the public about Cal Poly’s overall honesty and lawfulness with regards to the legality of funds? How will you ascertain that the university exercises complete fiscal accountability?
Lastly, the current Inclusive Excellence movement has taken a turn from the original outcomes of the Cal Poly curriculum. According to the American Association of Universities and Colleges, the ultimate goal is to promote a curriculum that emphasizes the diversity of perspective. Well, a quarter is only so long, which means that other valuable curriculum would need to be omitted in this attempt to promote diversity awareness. Moreover, they attribute the decline of “higher education graduation rates” among Americans to the “collective failure to educate students of color and those from lower socioeconomic groups.” Diverse students should be able to get accepted based on their merit. Their decline is not Cal Poly’s failure.
Do you think diversity awareness is more important as a workplace asset than depth of knowledge in a particular field? How will you prevent the slippery slope of affirmative action as the university attempts to bring more diversity to campus?
Cal Poly needs a “sustainable” president — one that is less concerned with building a legacy, and more concerned with preserving this fine institution. If you’re in it for the perks and the glory — go away. Cal Poly doesn’t need another 31 years of wastefulness and corruption.