News | Administration

Teachers College faculty vote not to support proposed 2013-14 budget

  • David Brann / Senior Staff Photographer
    JUST SAY NO | Members of the Teachers College faculty voted on Thursday not to support the proposed 2013-14 budget for the school, decrying bonuses that senior administrators received in 2011-12 from the budget surplus.
  • David Brann / Senior Staff Photographer
    BONUS POINTS | JP Passero (l.), vice president of the Teachers College Student Senate, looks on and cheers as TC faculty announce their vote not to approve TC's 2013-14 budget.

The Teachers College faculty rejected the 2013-14 budget proposed by the college's administration Thursday, in a strong rebuke to TC President Susan Fuhrman's management of the perennially cash-strapped school.

Nearly all of the 103 TC professors who attended a faculty meeting Thursday voted to express their disapproval of the budget. Of the faculty that voted, 101 voted in favor of a resolution to reject the proposed budged, one voted in opposition of the resolution, and one abstained from voting. The vote came after TC's Faculty Executive Committee discovered that top administrators have been giving themselves bonuses from the college's 2011-12 budget surplus.

"The faculty are extremely concerned that recent decisions about the distribution of our institutional resources do not reflect the central mission of Teachers College," the resolution read.

"No one knew to ask about surpluses before," executive committee chair Steven Dubin said. "It turns out that there's no oversight on that whatsoever."

David Brann/ Senior Staff Photographer
NOT SO FAST | Teachers College faculty members discovered that top administrators gave themselves bonuses from the college's 2011-12 budget surplus.

According to TC's 990 form—a standard tax-exemption form detailing the financial activity of a nonprofit—Fuhrman received the largest bonus, $90,000. Vice President for Finance and Administration Harvey Spector received the second largest amount, $50,000, followed by Provost and Dean of the College Thomas James  who received $35,000. All TC senior staff members received a bonus, with the overall bonuses totaling $315,500.

According to a letter that administrators recently distributed to faculty, TC also plans to cut 10 administrative positions and 10 academic staff positions in the next academic year. The administration's proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year also includes a tuition hike of 4.5 percent, which would translate to $1,344 per point. The school has been raising the cost of attendance for the past five years, which has sparked widespread concern among students and faculty.

"No one's stepped back to see the long-term impact of this," Dubin said. "Soon, there are going to be diminishing returns" as fewer students are able to afford Teachers College, Dubin said.

Teachers College spokesperson James Gardner said in a statement that administrators "look forward to working with them over the next few months to address their concerns and suggestions."

Gardner noted that the proposed budget and resolution will be submitted to the TC board of trustees for reveiw, and also said that TC plans to eliminate 10 administrative and 10 academic staff positions in the next academic year. He added that these positions, some of which are already vacant, will be vacant by the end of August 2014. 

Prompted by the faculty's opposition to the bonuses, Andrea Lira, a doctorate student in TC, engaged with other students in a conversation about the state of the college, which focused on disparities in funding for master's and doctorate students, an allegedly declining quality of education, and what students consider to be a concerning partnership between Fuhrman and Pearson PLC, the largest for-profit education company. 

Students showed their support for the faculty's decision to oppose the proposed budget, lining the hallways leading to the conference room and holding signs in support of the faculty's decision.

"It was stunning," Dubin said of the students, who greeted the faculty with applause and chants. "Faculty was very impressed—there's a lot of energy right now."

cecilia.reyes@columbiaspectator.com  |  @kcecireyes

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Anonymous posted on

WAY TO GO!!!!!

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IndebtedToTC posted on

As someone who will be indebted to that school for years to come, I cheer the faculty for demanding better stewardship of the funds I had to borrow to complete my degree there.

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Anonymous posted on

Disgrace. This is like Wall Street. They should be using any money for new faculty, new programs, research, facilities, not on bonuses. The president should be fired.

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Anonymous posted on

This crap is why I transferred out of TC into another, funded, PhD program. The costs are too high, the quality is too low, and Fuhrman just pats herself on the back as the ship keeps sinking. Leaving was the best decision I've ever made.

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Anonymous posted on

There is an enormous conflict of interest between being the President of a teachers' training college and being on the board of a for-profit education company that designs the NYS ELA exams and DRA assessments. I am shocked that her presidency was not made contingent upon her resigning from the board of Pearson. She should either resign from the presidency or her membership on the Pearson board, preferably the former.

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Anonymous posted on

I sit across the country, on leave since Sept. 2012, halfway through my masters because I cannot afford to come back. My funding was cut 95% after I ended first year with a 3.93 GPA. And reading this, I know it doesn't work this way, but if four of those people had given up 5% their bonuses, I could have come back. Dubin was right on.

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Anonymous posted on

This is just a first step. Much more needs to get straighten up. It's the whole ship going into the wrong direction.

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ricosuavedork posted on

the pizza parties, tae bo classes, book signings, cheap wine and cheese functions need to be looked at as we face high tuition and limited financial support for extended studies. complacent board members, staff , faculty and student senate folks need to be challenged. but, this challenge must not come from the few....

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CU_Alum posted on

"...a tuition hike of 4.5 percent, which would translate to $1,344 per point."

$1,344 is the new cost per credit, including the increase. As written, this sentence says $1,344 is just the amount of the increase.

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TC and Out! posted on

There is a problem with the quality of the student experience at TC that I hope will surface in this discussion. As an MA student you are essentially left on your own to figure out your education with no guidance, no support, no assistance of any sort. Given the price and the constant trumpeting of the TC brand and its much over-stated affiliation with CU, it is a shame that TC delivers a truly sub-standard experience to its students. A TC education may be a strong brand but I certainly assert that it is no longer considered to be the RIGHT brand!

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Anonymous posted on

Fuhrman, Spector, and James -- what a bunch of phonies.

I taught a core class on the main campus and soon realized I made half of what every other CU grad student made to do the same job.

I wrote to Spector, Furhman, and Spector (among others) to see if this could be fixed. I was told TC didn't have the funds.

What a bunch of jerks.

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