The listening tour by the SFAI board: info & thoughts

Dear SFAI Adjuncts: 
The new leadership of SFAI’s Board of Trustees is conducting a listening tour to “build bridges of trust and listen to what is on the minds and in the hearts of the community.” They have segmented the tour into various groups of SFAI affiliates. You may find full details of the event for adjuncts below, including these aspects of the meeting’s design: 

  • Speaking time is limited to a maximum of five minutes
  • Board members present will only listen, and not respond, to participants’ contributions
  • The SFAI Administration will not be present, though Human Resources will attend to help moderate

While opinion may be divided among us concerning the adequacy of the Board leadership’s approach to building bridges — some of us may understand the event as a good-faith attempt on their part at receptivity; other may believe that adjuncts have already provided ample information, and need answers more than the mere opportunity to be heard — we believe that it is in our interest to continue to communicate with the Board, especially in this direct format. Up until recently, we were the largest group of employees at SFAI. Though we cannot anticipate how many adjuncts the school will incorporate into its teaching faculty in future years, we have begun bargaining for our next contract, and therefore we have a vested interest in asserting our perspectives and concerns to the Board now at this time of leadership change. 
Based on our experience with the board over the past few months, we believe that many board members are ignorant of the professional lives of adjuncts at SFAI. The Board of Trustees never sought direct engagement with adjuncts prior to our efforts to prevent the sale of the Diego Rivera mural. In the wake of public statements and cooperation with journalists about the sale, the adjunct leadership agreed to a meeting initiated by the Board of Trustees, where some Board members confessed that they had no knowledge about adjunct working conditions, and even appeared not to recognize a difference between adjunct and full-time faculty. Arguably, it should not be the burden of unemployed faculty to fill substantial gaps in the awareness of an institution’s governing body. We believe that education and advocacy benefits all of us, even when dramatically belated and imperfectly sought, but we respect your prerogative to determine if you think this labor is productive and ethical.
SFAI Adjunct Leadership

Board Listening Tour with SEIU Members

Tue Apr 6, 2021 4pm – 5:30pm Pacific Time

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(ID: 97896654428, passcode: 607438)
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(US) +1 301-715-8592 (passcode: 607438)
Joining instructions

From SFAI:

The SFAI Board Listening Tour has been established as a vehicle by which the new board leadership, consisting of Lonnie Graham as chair and John Marx as vice chair, can reach out to the San Francisco Art Institute community. The full Board will be invited to attend, while the Admin Team will be absent from these first sessions. HR will be in attendance to help moderate. In order to keep the size of the meetings small and effective, separate meetings with the Art Institute faculty, staff, students, alum, and emeriti will be scheduled in order to cultivate substantive relationships upon which we might build a stable future. Our intention is to build bridges of trust and listen to what is on the minds and in the hearts of the community.

The Board is interested in listening to individual’s opinions and thoughts on our current state of distrust and divisiveness and what we can do to improve this condition. We understand this has evolved over a long period of time, and we would like to acknowledge the pain and suffering this may have caused some of you. During these initial meetings, the Board will be in attendance to listen only and we will not respond during the meeting. This is because we feel it is important to listen intensely and without judgement, in order to insure the greatest clarity in hearing your stories and concerns. After these listening sessions, we will conduct a series of more interactive meetings.

Toward that end, we are hoping that everyone who wishes to do so will speak for no longer than five minutes. If there is time, we may be able to provide space for your follow-up comments, after everyone has had a chance to speak. We look forward to hearing your open and honest discourse.

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