United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
4 December 2014
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow Noon in Tampa
Tomorrow Friday the Chapter will meet at 12 noon at CDB Restaurant, just east of USF Tampa, on 5104 E. Fowler Ave. All employees of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit are invited. There will be pizza and salad and drinks. Check us out. Join the movement. Bring a colleague.
This will be the last UFF USF Chapter meeting of this semester and the agenda includes:
Have a Merrie Winter Break!
- Determining the meeting schedule in spring.
- Appointing an Elections Committee (all offices and representative seats are open for election this spring.
Join UFF Today!
Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. Come and join the movement.
Last Call to Vote on proposed UFF USF Constitutional Amendment
Members of UFF are now voting on an amendment to the UFF USF Constitution on filling vacancies in the Executive Committee and representative (UFF Senate and FEA Delegate) seats. Only UFF members are eligible to vote in this referendum.
If you are a UFF member, you should have received by now two letters, each with your code for voting on the amendment.
For more information on the proposed amendment, see the UFF USF website. The deadline for voting is Saturday, December 6, at 5 pm.
- If you have voted, thank you.
- If you have not voted, please do so.
- If you did not receive a letter with your code for voting, please contact the UFF USF Secretary.
POSTSCRIPT. UFF USF is a democracy, and its executive committee and representatives are elected by its dues-paying members each spring. If you are not a member, but wish to vote or run for a position, join today.
If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, you have thirty days from the time you knew or should have known of the violation to file a grievance. If you are, and at the time of the violation were, a dues-paying member of the United Faculty of Florida, you have the right to union representation. To contact the UFF USF Grievance Committee, go to the online contact form. For more information, see our web-page on grievances.
Visit Us on Facebook
Visit the United Faculty of Florida at USF Facebook page. This is a page is a place where UFF members can exchange thoughts and ideas. The page is "public", but only dues-paying UFF members are eligible to post items the page. If you are a UFF member, ask to join on the page, or contact the Communications Committee. The Committee will invite every UFF member that asks to join. So check us out. UFF members are welcome to join, and non-members are welcome to look.
IN THIS ISSUE
The Fourth Criterion
In this Biweekly, we conclude our series on the new tenure guidelines. We will continue with several issues on other aspects of getting tenure (and promotions) next semester.
Have a Merrie Winter Break! Come January, we will continue with this series on tenure and related issues, going on beyond the guidelines. We will also keep a watchful eye on Tallahassee's shenanigans.
- The Fourth Criterion. In addition to high performance in teaching, research, and service, there is a new criterion - actually two new criteria - for getting tenure at USF. Faculty seeking tenure and advancement are expected to fit in with the Administration's vision of the future of USF, and to play well with others. This poses some challenges for shared faculty governance and for the future of USF. For details, see below or click here.
- Foggy Areas. Some activities are not readily classified by criteria, and since some criteria appear more important than others (!), this can affect tenure decisions. For details, see below or click here.
The Fourth Criterion
In the previous two Biweeklies, we took a broad look at the new tenure guidelines and focused on the new language for teaching, research, and service.
But while candidates are evaluated on teaching, research, and service, there is an additional requirement: the candidate needs to fit in with the Administration's vision of where USF is going, and to be ... cooperative. This paragraph in the new guidelines is worth quoting in full:
In addition, collegiality and participation as a citizen of the University are integral parts of faculty performance. Because the decision projects lifetime performance from the first few years of a faculty member's career, tenure must be awarded only as a result of rigorous assessment over a period of time sufficient to judge the faculty member's documented accomplishments, ability, and probability of sustained future productivity. A judgment must be made that the faculty member's record represents a pattern indicative of a lifetime of continued accomplishment and productivity with potential for high impact on the field or society. Each recommendation for tenure should be accompanied by a statement of the mission, goals and educational needs of the department and college and the importance of the contributions the candidate has made and is expected to make in the future toward achieving the mission and goals and meeting the educational needs of the unit and university. Careful consideration must be given to the candidate's ability and willingness to work cooperatively within the department, college, and/or campus.
(Notice the "... high impact on the field or society." Is that a typo: is it supposed to read "... high impact on the field or on society"? That is not the only issue this paragraph raises...)
This paragraph is probably the single biggest change from the old guidelines, and should be considered carefully by all candidates and departments. It appears to be a motley with two dominant ingredients:
As for the fashionability of fields, responsible academic governance and Article 5.4 of the contract indicate that the vision of USF's future should be one developed in collaboration with the faculty. And as for insisting on "collegiality", a sideways glance at unclubbable academics past suggest that that would be a recipe for a boring mediocrity - and since this is inevitably subjective, a "collegiality" (well, "cooperative") criterion is an invitation for abuse and litigation.
- Is the candidate's field (currently) fashionable? In considering the "...goals and educational needs of the department and college and the importance of the contributions the candidate has made and is expected to make in the future toward achieving the mission and goals and meeting the educational needs of the unit and university," the question becomes whether the candidate fits the (Administrations' view of the) university's needs and desiderata. And to paraphrase Dorothy in Munchkinland, frontier fields come and go so quickly here. Just because a candidate was hired when a field was fashionable doesn't mean that when coming up for tenure six years later, the field is still fashionable. Something for chairs to think about, since this will probably be the chair's headache.
- Is the candidate clubbable? In bargaining during the last decade, the Administration tried to get the word "collegiality" into the contract. UFF managed to keep the word out. While Merriam-Webster says that collegiality means "the cooperative relationship of colleagues; specifically: the participation of bishops in the government of the Roman Catholic Church in collaboration with the pope," Administrative Humpty Dumpties often use the word to mean "gets along." UFF is suspicious because of Sam Rayburn's advice to new representatives: "If you want to get along, go along."
But the guidelines are out there, in writing, so tenure candidates should be aware of them. In particular, a tenure packet should make a case that the candidate is not only good, but would be good for USF.
We understand that a few administrators have told faculty that publications in (certain) pedagogical journals will count towards teaching, not research. Meanwhile, the new guidelines themselves state that some activities traditionally regarded as "service" may be regarded as "teaching" or "research". And there are several rumors going around which may (or may not) reflect minutes, memoranda, or even verbal communications with administrators.
There is also folk wisdom that does not appear in the guidelines (possibly because it might irritate any politicians who stumbled across it), like: research is more important for getting tenure than teaching, and teaching is more important than service.
Meanwhile, there is a rumor going around that under the new guidelines, a tenure applicant must be rated Outstanding under all criteria. Actually, the word "outstanding" does not appear in the new guidelines; instead the word "excellence" appears ten times, once under teaching and once under research, both times with modifiers that do not articulate with standard evaluations, and not at all under service. What all this means is unclear, but it is possible that applications in which candidates were not rated Outstanding in both teaching and research will have difficulty. (Ratings are nice and virtually numerical, and are thus often mistaken for objective data.)
Another rumor is that the new guidelines encourage interdisciplinary work in some way. While there is some language in the guidelines in which such encouragement might be read between the lines (and perhaps in the Fourth Criterion described above), what there is is some nudge, nudge, wink, wink, but no explicit statement.
Such fog can interfere with the tenure process. A candidate who the university would want to keep may decide, based on reports from Dame Rumour, that she does not have a chance and start searching for a job elsewhere. Another may get unhelpful guidance and wind up sabotaging his chances. And people in the tenure process may themselves get confused and make incorrect decisions based on what they've heard.
Unions are creatures of process, so we like to get things in writing. Verbal statements by administrators and rumors heard over coffee may be suggestive or helpful but they are too ephemeral to rely on. Besides, guidelines in writing and criteria in writing are more useful when contractual disputes arise. So we strongly encourage departments to get their own guidelines and criteria in writing.
In addition, a department that desires to advance its own vision of its future within USF should develop its own strategy for building its future. And in a system of shared faculty governance, which USF is supposed to be under Section 5.4 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, faculty should develop the criteria for tenure in collaboration with the Administration.
And these criteria should not create paralyzing or counterproductive classification problems. For example, since research consists of teaching oneself something, then one's colleagues, then one's students, the line between instruction and scholarship is at best blurred, and procrustean partitions of works are unwise. These criteria should clear enough for the process to be predictable and replicable: if there are surprise decisions, then there is something wrong with the process. And clarity is critical: if we do not make our expectations clear, we are sabotaging our young faculty while compromising the future of the university.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, December 5, at CDB Restaurant, just east of USF Tampa, on 5104 E. Fowler Ave.
There will be pizza, salad, and drinks. All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.
Membership: Everyone in the UFF USF System Bargaining unit is eligible for UFF membership: to join, simply fill out and send in the membership form.
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