‘Clarification’: Academic Calendar & “Studio” Days

Dear UFCT Members,

In my 8/24 email re. the new academic-calendar, studio-days, and ‘poaching’, I stated the following: “The Administration did not have a hand in “poaching”. Yet, I wholeheartedly agree, the Pratt “roll-out” for “studio days” is clumsy at best…”

It turns out, my statement is not completely accurate. Some administrators have indeed had a hand in poaching, as pointed-out and explained by our faculty colleague: Chris Jensen (Associate Professor, Math & Science, conferred tenure 2014, congrats!)

Note the following “summary of the poaching problem” which comes from Chris, a UFCT member and faculty representative on the campus-wide Calendar Committee. This summary represents Chris’ perspective alone and is not necessarily shared by other (faculty and non-faculty) members of the Calendar Committee…

“Based on what I learned as a member of the Calendar Committee, parts of Pratt’s Administration have definitely had a hand in the problem of class time ‘poaching’. Individual instructors also poach time, but this happens more rarely and much less systematically. The biggest poaching problems involve an administrator — most prominently department chairs in Interior Design, Communications Design, Industrial Design, and Architecture — who “schedules” one to five days of mandatory views/crits/survey; during this time students are expected to prioritize these studio activities over regularly-scheduled non-studio courses. This has been going on for a long time, and as far as I can tell represents a form of insubordination: the Provost and Registrar say this cannot happen, but certain Department Chairs just go ahead and poach time anyway.

The new calendar was designed to end this practice by giving those programs that hold comprehensive “crit weeks” the space they need to operate. Rather than having these departments steal time, the Calendar Committee figured that we should just give these programs what they claim to need. We all realized that these year-end crits are valuable; they just could no longer poach time from other courses.

The Calendar Committee considered the CBA in making its recommendation for Studio Days to the Provost. Whether or not these administrator-imposed crit weeks represent a violation of the CBA comes down to contact hours. If instructors show up for their normal weekly contact hours during the crit week — but just do so on a modified schedule — then presumably this is not a violation insofar as there is not expectation of any contact with students during the following “finals week”. Studio Days need not violate the CBA if properly scheduled and implemented by department and program chairs. That said, UFCT members should be vigilant, looking out for Studio Days requests on their time that exceed their contractually-mandated total of contact hours per course.”

Many thanks to Chris for this clarification.

In Solidarity,