Chancellor Pittman, BOT criticized at special meeting

Posted on 15 November 2017 by admin

Speakers call out administrators for creating budget strategies too quickly

Story by: Melissa Wilkinson

BOT meetingChancellor Pittman was met with heavy criticism from faculty and students alike at the Nov. 14 board meeting. The ‘special’ meeting was designed specifically to allow commentary on the document recently released by Pittman containing Budget Response Team (BRT) recommendations to the board. Among the recommendations was a proposal to cut up to 70 full-time faculty.

Full-time faculty, adjunct professors and students all spoke out against the potential reduction in force (RIF) and offered alternatives to earn or save money for the college. One criticism, included in many individual addresses, was the concern that the budget workgroups were only allowed to discuss for a few weeks before submitting their recommendations.

“Two weeks of discussions to make a recommendation on how to cut 5 million is not enough time, especially considering the implications,” said Charlyn Shepherd of the Missouri National Education Association.

Pittman defended the speed with which the Budget Response Team made their recommendations.

“We weren’t really given much time,” said Pittman. “The general assembly and the governor’s office announced the 5 million dollar cut rather suddenly. And that’s going into effect right away this coming fiscal year, so we had to react accordingly.”

Another topic which came up several times was the suggestion that administrators cut their own salaries in order to retain more faculty and staff. Marietta Williams, mother of a Florissant Valley graduate, questioned why the school is preparing to build a multimillion dollar building in the midst of terminating faculty.

“If you are able to get bond issues passed to get a new building then you must be financially stable getting those new buildings, so how can you…cut our teachers?” said Williams. “Maybe you need to consider cutting the wages of some of the fat cats up in administration before you cut faculty.”

But according to Pittman, that’s not a topic that employees want to consider.

“I think any group could consider cutting their salaries,” said Pittman.

Brett Williams, union representative and adjunct professor at Forest Park, said that such a move would be a step in the right direction.

“Chancellor Pittman makes over 300 thousand a year and receives a housing allowance and a car allowance,” said Williams. “If you’re making over 300 thousand a year you can afford your own house and car so I think those two things need to be cut. I think the administration does need to cut their pay and some of the administrators should be laid off as well.”

Williams did not address the board directly. While the board meeting occurred on the fifth floor of the Cosand Center in downtown St. Louis, Williams was leading an adjunct protest on the sidewalk outside the building. The adjuncts are seeking several objectives including a three percent raise, a working contract and payment in the event that one of their classes is cancelled suddenly. The chanting of adjuncts and their student allies could be heard from the conference room throughout the duration of the meeting.

According to Williams, he felt limited in what he could express facing the board due to an email sent out a few days before the meeting outlining policies that speakers must follow. Included in the policies were a strict two-minute limit for each person’s speech, a ban on demonstrations such as applause or booing and a limitation on “unduly repetitious” comments.

“We figured since those draconian rules of not being able to speak or clap or give expression, we figured we could do that here on the sidewalk because they can’t limit freedom of speech here,” said Williams.

After hearing all 24 speakers, Chairwoman Doris Graham thanked them and assured them that the board was listening.

“We know our faculty are some of the most dedicated in the entire world. We have listened to your comments and taken them to heart,” said Graham. “We know the decision we have to make is what we have to do. We will make the best decisions that we can make.”

Adjunct protest participants booed the entire Board of Trustees as they exited the building following the meeting, escorted by police.

The ultimate decision for how the budget deficit will be handled is to be voted on at the Nov. 30 board meeting at the Cosand Center. With the deadline looming, many speakers, including Forest Park adjunct Kathy Ratino, are encouraging Chancellor Pittman to rethink the BRT’s recommendations and spend more time looking for alternatives.

“I do think it’s very important that they slow this down,” said Ratino. “We’ve had almost no time to analyze other possibilities. In the meeting tonight many people came up with things we could cut here or here or here…instead of cutting the people who do the lion’s share of work in this institution.”


  • S.T.

    Pittman stands to receive about 75 thousand dollars over 2016 and 2017 for housing and car allowance above his already generous salary. Why does he need a car and housing allowance? Eliminating that could save a job.

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