President Insisted on Plan Despite Widespread Opposition
By: Angelina Salvador
The College of Staten Island’s President William J. Fritz has announced his retirement from his position as of today. He released a statement earlier today.
“I write today to announce my retirement at the end of this calendar year,” Former President Fritz said. “A decision I have delayed several times over the past two years at the request of the Chancellor in order to work on issues that I believe are critical to the future and long-term success of our institution.”
The governance plan had never gained the support of the faculty, which had been occurring for quite some time.
On October 4th, the results of the referendum came in. “In a recent referendum in which half of the instructional staff participated, 87% voted no. That’s a resounding rejection of the President’s proposed governance plan.” Professor Lara Saguisag said. “That should be the end of the story.”
A letter from the New York State AAUP has recognized the situation happening between the faculty and the president. “The Governance Plan of Colleges and Universities delineates the responsibilities of faculty and administration and, as such, should be written by both parties. It is not an acceptable practice for the President of a college to write this document without significant faculty input and approval.”
In a one-on-one interview with President Fitz and David Pizzuto, the interim director of communications, the president discussed the governance plan. President Fitz explained that he wants to listen to the faculty’s concerns.
But, the faculty of CSI have been concerned about the plan he had been pushing for and explanations.
Before his resignation, they continued to voice their thoughts against the governance plan, which not only affects the faculty and staff of the college but the students as well.
President William J. Fritz proposed a new governance plan that calls for the three groups to remain voiceless when it comes to decision-making at the college.
“At first glance, this appears to be nothing more than a conflict between the administration and faculty/staff,” Professor Saguisag said. “It might simply seem as if these two sides are wrestling each other for power and arguing about how the college should be run. But this is really a matter that directly affects students.”
Professors Susan Smith-Peter, Professor Lara Sagusiag, and many others are in favor of the students and faculty at CSI. The faculty aren’t only concerned about themselves, but about the students and their well-being at the college.
There are many issues already happening at the college concerning students who are experiencing financial troubles, mental health issues, and the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken a lot from the students in the CSI community.
“The President has misplaced priorities,” said Saguisag. “He spent so many resources pushing for this plan while the college is in the middle of its Middle States accreditation process. We are also in the middle of the pandemic.”
“These are the urgent issues we need to focus on as a college. But President Fritz keeps pushing this plan instead of giving us the resources that we need to support our students.” Saguisag said.
As President Fitz continues to push the new governance plan, many are left quite concerned about what this means for the college. With the drastic opposing votes against his new plan, a lot of faculty and staff are not being acknowledged. This includes students as well.
“The plan gets rid of the budget committee and the curriculum committee.” Professor Smith-Peter said. “It creates a new structure of committees where there would be a student affairs committee and a committee for student evaluation of courses.”
“But it’s not clear what it is that they’re focusing on and how the topics of the old committees will be distributed.” She explained.
We’ve reached out to President Fitz and his office, but received no response.
As of October 27th, 2021 at 1:17 pm, which had been sent out to the entire CSI campus from President Fritz himself. There has been no lead on who will take over his position, and what will happen to the CSI’s newly proposed governance plan.
The former college President Fritz ends his retirement letter about the future of CSI.
“My concluding belief is that the College of Staten Island has a bright future. It cannot fail in its mission to provide access and quality. It is located in too strategic a region, with such a unique campus that it will succeed and take its rightful place as one of the stars of American public higher education. I call on the entire campus community to work together to make that happen.”