Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thankful for the Kind Words of My Colleagues @FairfieldU

On Tuesday, before Chitunga and I embarked on our cross Sound adventure, Fairfield University hosted its final General Faculty Meeting. There, Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka presented the George E. Lank, Jr. Award with the following words.

George Lang Award 2017
Presented by Jocelyn M. Boryczka
The Tenth Annual CT State Conference AAUP George Lang Award is presented on behalf of the Faculty Welfare Committee, Fairfield University’s AAUP Chapter, in honor of dear friend and colleague George Lang.  George Lang was a Professor of Mathematics and a faculty leader at Fairfield for thirty-six years, as well as an AAUP leader at the chapter, state, and national level.  His colleagues on the CSC-AAUP honor his memory by “recognizing a faculty member at Fairfield who early in his or her career has shown awareness of and dedication to the important AAUP issues such as academic freedom, faculty governance, and faculty rights and responsibilities.” Previous recipients of this award are:  Jocelyn Boryczka, Bob Epstein, Sonya Huber, Deb Strauss, and Paul Braginski.

Joining the ranks of these outstanding faculty leaders, this year’s recipient has been a committed member to the FWC as a pre-tenured colleague who has served on Fairfield University’s Faculty Salary Committee that engages in collegial discussions with the Administration regarding compensation and benefits.  This recipient does the everyday work of making sure that notes are carefully taken at each meeting with the Administration, a key factor in holding them accountable, and increasingly has found a voice in standing up to the Administration on key faculty issues despite his non-tenured status.  Further, this year’s recipient embodies the commitment to social justice that animated our dear friend and colleague George Lang.  He is a tireless advocate on behalf of teachers in the Bridgeport Public School System and of African refugee youth resettled here in the United States.  At this critical juncture in American political history, voices such as this year’s recipient are essential in both arenas of public education and refugee rights.

This year’s recipient is Prof. Bryan Ripley Crandall  (invite to stand with me).

His colleagues on and off the Faculty Salary Committee capture Bryan’s important contributions to their work:

Current member of the FSC, Prof. Paul Lakeland shares:  "Bryan is a humble man who sets a high moral tone for the work that he does. He is not afraid to speak his mind but does so in a way that builds up rather than tears down. He has worked tirelessly this year on the salary committee, always producing minutes of our conversations within minutes--real minutes--of the end of the meeting. It is hard to separate his concern for the faculty and his concern for his students, which is exactly as it should be."

Prof. Sonya Huber and past recipient of this award, conveys the intersection of his commitments:  “Bryan Ripley Crandall has been justifiably recognized many times at Fairfield and in Bridgeport for his commitment to K-12 education through his tireless work with the National Writing Project. He’s a busy guy, and with those kinds of commitments, he would have every excuse to put off demands on his time from his colleagues on campus, especially for the hugely demanding work of the salary committee. Instead, Bryan brings to his on-campus work the same passion for building community and seeking justice as he does to his many other roles and projects. In salary committee meetings, Bryan’s reactions and questions often helped to center the discussion on what really mattered. Whenever I see Bryan in the hallways, I am reminded to laugh, to hug, and to connect with and enjoy my colleagues. His heart and his brain work in tandem to provide us with a wonderful example of true solidarity at Fairfield.“

FWC President and Prof. Irene Mulvey, who is so very disappointed not to be here this event, shared these thoughts, “In the past, it has been difficult to find an Assistant Professor willing to serve in the Assistant Professor slot on our FSC. But, Bryan served a partial term and then (glutton for punishment?) agreed to run and was elected to serve a full three-year term. The time commitment on the FSC is ENORMOUS. And, every year, there is a fresh crisis – willful disregard of earlier agreements, the threat of Board intervention, etc. So, in addition to the time commitment, serving on the FSC takes an enormous personal toll on the members as they work as hard as they can on behalf of the faculty in the face of unreasonable demands, threats of unilateral imposition of terms and, what’s probably the worst for a faculty member, dealing with people who will not listen to reason and who are not swayed by good arguments that benefit both faculty and administration.

Bryan deals with all of this, and takes notes of it all as well. And, as any good academic will do, after getting the lay of the land for a year or so, so now he understands the issues, the threats and what a gain or loss will really mean for Fairfield University long term and, as a result, he is speaking up more. 

The chapter selected Bryan for this STATE AWARD to show appreciation for his willingness to step up and work for the good of the faculty, for his appreciation for genuine academic freedom which allows our nearly 50-year tradition of “collegial discussions” leading to a contract that is brought to the General Faculty for approval to continue to be productive for faculty. We are grateful for Bryan’s willingness to work so hard for faculty, to learn about and appreciate fundamental AAUP principles, and to fight the good fight for us.”

Please join me in congratulating Prof. Bryan Ripley Crandall, this year’s George Lang Award recipient.

I argued with the FWC that I was not worthy of this recognition, but they kept telling me to be quiet and to stop degrading myself. I don't think they understand how much Woody Allen I have inside. I am, however, extremely appreciative of the kindness, especially the prose and presentation of Jocelyn. She was amazing.

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