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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Let’s Tell the Truth About CPCS:

For over 30 years, the College of Public and Community Service has been a unique asset to UMass Boston and to the University’s urban mission. Indeed, the College was created to help fulfill that mission. Through our educational programs and our partnerships with community and labor organizations CPCS has endeavored to remain faithful to its original mission and to bring it into the 21st century.

CPCS has consistently served the most diverse group of students at UMass Boston. We have been committed to providing meaningful access to an educational experience for “non-traditional” learners that combines an interdisciplinary general education program with rigorous preparation for careers in public and community service. We have majors that are among the only such programs at the undergraduate level in the US. We are committed to delivering our program through a competency-based model that recognizes the value of experiential learning and affords students the opportunity to earn their degrees in ways that match their learning styles and their experience. Our faculty and staff are internationally renowned for their original work on some of the most pressing social issues of the day. And you will find our students and alumni in every area of public and community service – from the statehouse to city hall to community based organizations to labor unions – working to make a difference.

Like so many other public and community-based organizations, CPCS has faced numerous challenges along the way. Like many of you, we have been impacted by declining support for public programs and declining support for accessible and affordable education. We have been hit by budget crises and by ideological shifts. But we have fought hard to stay true to our mission.

The truth is…CPCS is in a fight for its life.

Right now, CPCS is facing a threat like never before. We find ourselves fighting the corporatization of education, the abandonment of the urban mission, the increasing inaccessibility of public higher education to low income people, and a shift in values away from public service. We find ourselves facing a University administration that seeks students who will pay more for their education, that seeks partners who will pay for university services, in contrast with low budget community organizations who cannot. We are facing an administration that is intent on imposing a hierarchical and authoritarian administrative structure that runs contrary to our historical traditions of democratic participation in decision-making. .

We are facing a crisis that has been years in the making. Several years ago, Provost Paul Fonteyn actually had a plan to eliminate CPCS. When he realized that politically this wouldn’t be possible, he embarked on a campaign to transform the college into something that would fit into the corporate model of education. Fonteyn has used resource cuts and restraints on enrollments in an attempt to demonstrate that CPCS is not viable as an integrated, full-service college dedicated to education for social justice. He has made clear that he wants CPCS transformed into something similar to the College of Management, an upper division college in which our students would do their general education through traditional courses in the College of Liberal Arts.

In the past, we were able to stave off attacks on the College because we had leadership within the College that advocated and fought for the “essence” of CPCS. But since Provost Fonteyn ousted Dean Ismael Ramirez-Soto in 2003, our front line of defense has been severely weakened and the threat against us has intensified.

Now under the current Dean, whom Fonteyn hired, we find ourselves facing internal, as well as external threats. Since his appointment in July 2005, Adenrele Awotona, with the support of the Provost, has taken unilateral and extremely hurtful actions toward staff and faculty at the College. He is dismantling the Office of Student Services, which is pivotal to serving our students’ needs and central to our mission. He has suspended our democratically created and ratified Constitution; refused to recognize and work with the elected College governance; failed to appoint duly elected faculty leaders; and acted without consultation to restructure the academic programs of the College in ways that that undermine our mission.

In response to these destructive actions, on February 13 and 14 the tenured faculty at CPCS voted 18-0 NO CONFIDENCE in Dean Awotona. On February 15 and 16, the full staff and faculty at the College voted 45-0 NO CONFIDENCE in Dean Awotona.

Since these votes, the Dean, the Provost and the Chancellor (despite our pleas) have refused to revisit, negotiate or discuss the issues that led to these two votes.

Instead, ? They say that they are committed to CPCS. ? What don’t they say? The CPCS they are committed to will serve a very different student population paying full price and with a different kind of educational philosophy devoid of the urban mission.? They say that our enrollments are declining and that they can turn things around by dismantling our Office of Student Services and centralizing control.? What don’t they say? Our enrollments are up by 15% this year due to the efforts of the very office they are trying to eliminate. Central administration was responsible for declining enrollments in previous years – through resource cuts, centralization of recruitment and admissions, and indeed even discouraging CPCS applicants. Their changes will destroy the very office that has demonstrated that it can build admissions at CPCS, and that also has been essential for student retention.? They say that the CPCS faculty teach fewer courses than faculty in other colleges.? What don’t they say? CPCS faculty, on average, spend at least as many hours per week with students, not only teaching courses, but in directed study learning, prior learning evaluation, community projects, and intensivevising and support.

The Truth is. . . ? We are fighting the destruction of student services at CPCS? We are fighting the destruction of our capacity to recruit and retain the kinds of students we have always been committed to serving? We are fighting for democratic and participatory governance at the College: ? We are fighting to maintain the integrity of our academic programs? We are fighting for the urban mission? We are fighting for the heart and soul of CPCS

And we can’t win without you!

We are not crying wolf. If we don’t win this one, the CPCS we know is gone. We have come to you before and we fear that coming to you for support again is too much to ask. But this is your school, too. You have helped to build it and sustain it. Your past support has maintained and nourished the real public, urban and community mission embodied within the graduates, students and unique programs of CPCS.

Please let your voice be heard:

? COME TO the “SAVE CPCS” Community Meeting Monday, April 24, 6:00-9:00 p.m. @ Media Arts Center, Roxbury Community College? Contact : Your legislators – at: http://www.mass.gov/legis/citytown or 617-722-2000 Your City Councilors – www.cityofboston.gov/contact or 617-635-4000

Tell them you are concerned about what is happening at CPCS and ask them to get involved.

? For more information email us at: [email protected]