UMass Students Protest at President’s Office

Photo by John Kane

Photo by John Kane

Taylor Fife

It seems like most of the UMass-Boston community has gotten used to the idea of CPCS constantly being in turmoil, but after the recent staff cuts and student protests the situation may be reaching points we have not seen before. On Tuesday the 19th and Wednesday the 20th dozens of students from the College of Public and Community Service protested outside of the office of UMass President Wilson.

The current conflicts in CPCS are concerning the cancellation of 26 courses and the subsequent release of over a dozen CPCS adjunct professors. The College of Liberal Arts had 27 courses cancelled, but CPCS suffered the heaviest losses as a percentage of total courses offered.

Although the administration’s policy is to try not to cancel classes that are required to graduate, some CPCS students say that their anticipated graduation dates will have to be pushed back due the cancellations.

CPCS students and the CPCS policy board have been trying to create awareness around campus about the issues they are facing. At the last general meeting of the Undergraduate Student Senate class cancellations at CPCS were discussed. Chancellor Collins noted that out of 66 under-enrolled courses in CPCS, only 26 were actually cancelled. At the September 13th meeting complaints about Dean Adenrele Awotona were also raised.

Dean Awotona has been a controversial figure since first coming to CPCS last year. Last semester he received two votes of no confidence from CPCS faculty. The storm around Dean Awotona began after two staff members were moved from CPCS to admissions. Students and faculty complain that the Dean acts on important issues unilaterally and fails to communicate with other members of the college.

Other members of the faculty and administration claim that the Dean is only working to better the college and that claims made against him are unwarranted. Some claim that there is a highly organized group at CPCS hoping to remove the Dean for personal reasons. Others claim that the controversy surrounding the Dean stems from racism.

Some students and faculty at CPCS have suggested that the university administration is “out to get CPCS” or is trying to close the college. The administration has strongly denied all of these rumors and dismissed them as having no factual basis.

“The College of Public and Community Service, along with every college in the university, saw under-enrolled courses and canceled courses,” said spokesman Ed Hayward, as reported in the Boston Herald. “The college has more than adequate resources and full-time faculty to meet the needs of its student body.”

Members outside of the university community are beginning to take notice of the uproar at CPCS. Mayor Thomas M. Menino, a graduate of the college has been notified of the cuts.

“The mayor is aware and concerned about the situation at UMass-Boston’s College of Public and Community Service,” a Menino spokeswoman said in a statement. “The city has met with university leadership, and the mayor hopes the faculty and administration will be able to agree on a future path for the school.”