Sacramento State’s signed lease agreement with California Northstate University was the topic of discussion during the Faculty Senate meeting, as well as a proposed resolution to nullify the contract between the two institutions.
Faculty members on Thursday were upset they were not consulted about the lease agreement during the 18-month negotiation between Sac State and CNU.
“None of that time in the 18 months was the Faculty Senate consulted in the spirit of shared governance, and in particular there is a policy that indicates the Faculty Senate shall be consulted on fiscal matters, which affect the instructional programs,” said Christine Miller, communication studies professor and Sac State representative for the California State University Academic Senate.
Members of the Faculty Senate were concerned with negotiations between the two schools, which began with CNU establishing a doctoral program, and not an undergraduate degree program, for health sciences that closely resembled the Sac State program’s curriculum.
“When these negotiations 18 months ago first began, the program that was being discussed was a doctoral program, and somewhere along the way, it is not completely clear where, that shifted in the contract language to an undergraduate degree program in health sciences,” Miller said.
Confusion with the signed contract in terms of student services was also discussed.
Miller said the contract establishes additional services that are extended to CNU students, like parking, regional transit passes, OneCards, student health services and counseling services.
Miller also mentioned that the contract notes, but does not guarantee, CNU students will have access to The WELL, intramural sports, dining commons and flex meal plans, off-campus housing and equipment rental, as well as access to the Aquatic Center.
“These kinds of lease provisions blur the lines between CSUS and CNU,” said Miller. “Such that students who are not matriculating on our campus are going to be afforded the same kinds of services as those who are, and that makes this more than a real estate arrangement. It extends it in ways that is not just something about a building.”
Chemistry Professor Tom Savage expressed why he thought CNU is not the right fit as a tenant.
“My view is, while it would be wonderful to get a tenant, this [CNU] is the wrong tenant fundamentally,” said Savage. “I think it is important to remember that this brings an academic program to the campus that fundamentally is contrary to the CSU.”
Mike Lee, vice president and chief financial officer of Administration and Business Affairs, reminded the Senate why the decision to lease the third floor of Folsom hall to CNU was made.
“When the building was purchased we where required by the chancellor’s office to rent out 50 percent of the space to a non-CSUS entity, and then we fought because we knew that we were going to need more than 50 percent to put our program in there,” Lee said. “We fought and we got to 70 percent but we still had that 30 percent that we need to rent out.”
Lee advised the Faculty Senate that breaching a contract at this stage can cause consequences to Sac State.
“There are severe, severe punishable consequences when a party, who signs a contract, breaches a contract,” Lee said. “That is why I would not recommend that, but again this is Faculty Senate, you could do what you could do.”
This situation has led to a new resolution involving the ASCSU requesting an endorsement of an executive order governing campus lease agreements statewide.
“We are looking for a statewide approach that might govern off campuses,” said Miller. “So this would be a request to the chancellor to write an immediate executive order that essentially establishes what the practices and procedures are, in accordance with shared governance, to make sure that this doesn’t happen again on our campus or any other campus.”