It is with disappointment, but little surprise, that the Save Catholic community learns of the June 5 decision by the Catholic University Board of Trustees to approve the “Academic Renewal” proposal.
While this was not the outcome that anyone at Save Catholic hoped for, there are some bright spots. In March 2018, the Academic Renewal proposal contained a tiered system categorizing departments as “professional,” “undergraduate,” and “graduate.” Many felt that the tiers would have created a caste system dividing the faculty. That tiered system is gone.
The March 2018 version of the Academic Renewal proposal also explicitly stated that 10 faculty would be fired from the University, and it advanced a case for the legitimacy of firing tenured faculty. The amended Academic Renewal proposal of May 11, 2018 brought that number down to 3, and removed all references to firing tenured faculty. Although the University leadership still refuses to affirm the inviolability of tenure, the University administration has now stated in the media that it values tenure, and that these firings are no longer necessary. This is a significant shift in tone from just a few weeks ago.
These positive changes are due, in part, to this website. Before Save Catholic launched on April 30, the concerns of the faculty and wider community had received very little media attention. The website provided journalists with the opportunity to examine relevant documents and financial data, and to access and present a different narrative than that of the University administration.
Save Catholic is also the first space where members of the community – alumni, faculty, staff, and students – have been able to share, without fear of retribution or reprisal, a wide range of reactions to the direction taken by the current administration. The discussion has been frank, honest, spirited, and productive. We hope that it continues over the coming months.
Save Catholic also applauds the newly reconstituted Faculty Assembly, which has already done a great deal to help the voice of the faculty be heard. We hope that the Faculty Assembly continues to advocate for shared governance and to convey the views and suggestions of the faculty—without whom there is no University—to the administration, to the Board of Trustees, and to the media. We also remain deeply grateful to the Ad Hoc Committee for compiling such a thorough and strong response to the Academic Renewal proposal.
Much remains to be done. As we have demonstrated, drawing on a great deal of empirical evidence, the “Academic Renewal” proposal is a symptom of a much wider set of serious problems at Catholic University, stretching from finances, to management, to communication, to marketing, to recruiting, and beyond. These are challenges that the Catholic University faculty, staff, students, and alumni must continue to face with bravery, focus, and solidarity, in the months and years ahead.