Pres. Pushes for Hire of Jennifer Rubain of Brooklyn College
By Clifford Michel
Professors clashed with CSI President William Fritz over his decision to waive a national search for the position of Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services at a recent College Council meeting.
Professors from CSI’s Executive Committee of the College Council and Faculty Senate, who share governance power with Fritz, voiced their opposition to the appointment, saying that CSI needed an administrator with more experience.
“If I tried to list this candidate as an ‘A’ when she’s really a ‘D,’” said one professor. “My committee wouldn’t have been able to bring her to CSI let alone offer her a job.”
“Jennifer Rubain, with no disrespect because I know her personally, does not have one year of experience in student affairs, she does not have one year of experience in enrollment services and she’s going to be the Vice President?” said Professor George Sanchez, CSI Chair of PSC-CUNY, a union that represents CUNY faculty and staff. “To do that now, on this campus at this time—to do a permanent appointment, to do a waiver request, was a very risky decision.”
Fritz countered, saying that a national search would take too long and that the College needed someone to start shaping CSI’s new strategic plan as the current plan (“Many Voices, One Vision”) is set to expire in 2016.
“I consider this to be one of those rare exceptions,” said Fritz.
“I think this is a critical area for the college and I think there are areas that need not interim leadership, but immediate leadership before we move forward with enrollment issues and the service issues that we’re talking about.”
National searches are used in the world of academia to attract top-tier administrators to college campuses.
Recently, President Fritz requested a waiver from the CUNY Board of Trustees to skip a national search and make an immediate hire: Jennifer Rubain.
Rubain worked as a senior level administrator at Brooklyn College for a decade and has worked in CUNY’s central office, but has no direct experience in the VP position at hand.
During his rebuttal, Fritz defended Rubain’s record.
“I think Jennifer brings a unique and valued set of skills and experience to the College of Staten Island, strategic planning, diversity and requirement, her experience with the central office,” said Fritz. “Jennifer is well thought of and highly regarded as a seasoned administrator, not only be the people of central office but by the people in the campuses where she worked.”
Fritz also noted that the College is conducting at least five searches this year: three deans, two associate provosts, and a director of auxiliary services.
During questioning, students also accused CSI administration of forcing the former Vice President of Student Affairs (which is now titled “VP of Student and Enrollment Services”) Ramona Brown to resign.
“I think Vice President Brown announced her retirement and I think that is a personnel issue that I don’t think is prudent to discuss at this time,” said Fritz.
The Executive Committees of the College Council and Faculty Senate sent a letter to Fritz earlier in the year expressing their grievances and arguing that a national search allows the entire campus to be involved in the decision-making process.
“The executive committees of the College Council and Faculty Senate do not support the request to seek a waiver for the purpose of hiring a new VP of Student Affairs without initiating a national search,” the letter read. “The committee has a well-established process, along with temporary acting appointments. The Vice President of Student Affairs position is an intricate and important one at a public urban university and thus all stake holders at the college will need to lend their voice in any permanent appointment.
“We strongly urge you to rescind the request for a waiver, that an announcement of a national search to fill the position be made, and that there be an interim appointment until said search concludes.”
Despite the opposition, President Fritz seems adamant in his commitment to his new hire.
“I think this is one of the points where we may have to agree to disagree,” said Fritz. “For the stability of the campus at this time I feel that this was the appropriate decision to make.”