10/19/00 PSC Memo on:

CUNY’s Unilateral Edict to Evaluate Department Chairs Violates Contract

The PSC has just learned that CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein recently issued a memorandum requiring college presidents, in unprecedented fashion, to formally evaluate department chairs. As part of this process, a standardized evaluation form accompanied the instruction. This unilateral change in the terms and conditions of employment of specifically covered members of our bargaining unit – department chairs – is in violation of our collective bargaining rights. The attempted imposition of this procedure was not even discussed with us beforehand. During this period of negotiations for a successor agreement, it is viewed as a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate us over a past management demand that failed:  the ouster of department chairs from the bargaining unit. 

We don’t need to remind you that, unlike the regular departmental faculty, chairs are elected by their peers to serve a crucial role in the process of peer judgment and in developing department policy. They are not appointed members of the administration, serving at the pleasure of a college president. While the college president does play a role in ratifying the election of department chairs and, in extraordinary cases, the recommendation of their removal, that role is subjugated first to consultation with the affected departmental faculty and then to the ultimate decision-making authority of the CUNY Board of Trustees.  

As stated, department chairs are specifically covered in the union contract as members of the collective bargaining unit.  And provisions regarding who is evaluated and how that process is conducted have been contained in PSC contracts since the beginning of collective bargaining history at CUNY.  Management, therefore, cannot unilaterally adopt and impose changes in those provisions. They must first negotiate with us. We have arbitral precedent and law on our side. If necessary, we will take all steps to enforce those rights, and we will do so expeditiously. For the time being, we urge department chairs to refrain wherever possible from participating in the newly announced evaluation process.

Steven London
First Vice President

Chancellor's 10/6/00 memo to college presidents on evaluating chairs (from the University Faculty Senate Website)

Chancellor's 11/6/00 clarification to college presidents on evaluating chairs.