by Andrew Shryock, Councilor-at-large
On January 28, representatives of Berklee Faculty Union leadership met with the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. Senior administrators of the College and Conservatory were also in attendance. The two groups met several years ago, and since that time, the Union has sought to establish an ongoing dialogue, in order to share faculty perspective on long-term planning and institutional strategy at Berklee.
Union President Jackson Schultz opened with a brief history of the Union, including conditions and circumstances that prompted its formation in 1986. He encouraged Trustees to visit the Union website for a summary of collective progress. He further emphasized ways in which faculty conditions affect the student experience at Berklee.
To illustrate specific intersections of faculty working conditions and student learning conditions, Union Executive Committee members Prince Charles Alexander, Wendy Rolfe, Andrew Shryock, and Will Silvio discussed ways in which increased attention in some areas would benefit students and faculty alike. Will Silvio discussed benefits of improved facilities, including expanded and ongoing investment in classroom technology as well as physical office and meeting space. Wendy Rolfe emphasized that increased commitment to current part-time faculty – and reduced dependence on part-time faculty, in general – would enhance the Berklee experience for students, many of whom rely for professional advice and mentorship on individuals currently shuttling between many institutions. Prince Charles Alexander and Andrew Shryock highlighted ways that high faculty workload endangers the quality of education delivered to Berklee students, especially students unaccustomed to American higher education, students requiring accommodation, and students who seek an enriching and demanding educational experience.
Trustees acknowledged these concerns while also emphasizing their obligation to many constituencies at the College. They further affirmed a commitment to seeking technology-based solutions to pressing needs, such as physical space.
President Roger Brown concluded the meeting by thanking the Union for the collaborative and proactive spirit with which it ensures a safe and inclusive environment for all community members. Jackson Schultz echoed the sentiment, encouraging ongoing dialogue and collaboration between Berklee faculty and Trustees.