United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
26 March 2015
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF Tampa in EDU 150
The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, March 27, at 12 noon, on USF Tampa campus, in EDU 150. There will be sandwiches, chips, and drinks. All employees of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit are invited. Join the movement. Bring a colleague.
The Chapter Meeting on Friday, April 10, at noon, will be on USF Sarasota/ Manatee in room B226. Then the last Chapter Meeting of the semester will be on Friday, April 24, at noon, on USF Tampa in room EDU 150. As always all USF faculty and professionals – union members and nonmembers alike – are invited; check us out.
$ 500 Travel Scholarships for New UFF Members - and for UFF Members Who Recruit New Members
The USF Chapter of the UFF will award four $ 500 Travel Scholarships for next spring and summer.
If a new member is recruited, the new member is eligible for one of the scholarships for new members and the recruiter is eligible for one of the scholarships for current members. Membership forms and proposals must be in our hands by April 23, and two proposals by recruiters will be randomly selected for funding.
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.
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.
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IN THIS ISSUE
What's up in the Legislature
The big story of this year's legislative session is that the economy is improving, the state is unusually flushed with cash, and the government is facing a self-inflicted financial crunch. After years of crocodile tears over the Florida Retirement System – which is not facing financial problems – the Legislature is now facing some real (multi-) billion-dollar issues from "nuisance flooding" in southern Florida to the Medicaid paralysis (which threatens to leave hospitals on the lurch) to the not so recent realization that the Department of Transportation is running out of money.
This is the time for the legislature to face serious problems such as ... the lack of guns on campus. We take brief looks at some outstanding legislation.
Meanwhile, USF's colleges and departments are working on tenure criteria and guidelines.
- Status Reports. For status reports on this and other bills, see below or click here.
Returning to the Legislature, the union and the universities are keeping an eye on the money. For example, Gov. Scott has proposed doubling the amount of money in the performance metrics funding pot to over $400 million. Last year, USF did very well and received $22 million with which USF expanded career, disabilities, and other student support. This year, the top three universities were the University of Florida (44 points), the University of South Florida (42 points), and the University of Central Florida (39 points). What that will translate into in dollars depends on how much the Legislature allocates.
- Editorial Comment on Tenure and Promotion Criteria. As part of the process of tenure and promotion guidelines and criteria revision, USF Tampa departments and colleges are now working on new tenure and promotion criteria. For comments, see below or click here.
Performance funding will probably be with us for a while: Senate President Andy Gardiner said, "Performance funding is an important piece of higher education funding in Florida," and Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said, "Incentive-based funding for our universities is moving us toward better outcomes for our students."
Here are some bills we have been following closely.
As always, if you feel strongly on any outstanding legislation, you should contact your legislators. For more on doing that, see the 26 February 2015 Biweekly article on Talking to Legislators.
- House Bill 925 and Senate Bill 1420 would waive fees for graduate students. These bills are both waiting to be placed on the agenda of their respective higher education committees.
- House Bill 4005 and Senate Bill 176 would permit carrying concealed weapons on college and university campuses. These bills are strongly supported by the National Rifle Association and opposed by the Florida Board of Governors, the University Presidents, the University Police Chiefs, the League of Women Voters and at least 14 Florida newspapers. These bills both passed their respective higher education committees and are now before their respective judicial committees.
- Senate Bill 182 would provide exemptions to Florida's Sunshine Law as it pertains to university president, provost, and dean searches. The Senate Rules Committee postponed voting on the bill, which is a sign it may be in trouble.
- Senate Bill 583 requires that public facilities designated for a particular sex be restricted to use by persons of that sex. This bill presents problems for transgender and other non-gender conforming students, faculty, and staff. This bill was heard in the Government Operations subcommittee last week and is now before the Judiciary Committee.
- Senate Bill 938 would require that for an undergraduate course, a textbook cannot be changed unless it has been in continuous use for three years (unless granted an exemption by the university president); this also applies to course materials. This bill is now before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.
Editorial Comment on Tenure and Promotion Criteria
At USF Tampa, colleges and departments are working on the particulars of their new tenure and promotion criteria. We understand that some colleges are micromanaging departmental deliberations and conclusions. This is unwise.
Different departments represent different academic fields, and different academic fields have different practices and mores. For example, some (hyperactive) fields have researchers zooming from conference to conference generating progress reports (a.k.a. conference papers) on the latest breaking discovery. Other (more contemplative) fields have scholars developing comprehensive monographs that provide perspective on major areas. In between, some fields (believe it or not) have researchers publishing papers in journals.
In addition, coverage of different fields by various databases (some of which have impact and similar indices, and some of which do not) vary. For example, this editorial writer is in a department whose researchers publish primarily in three to six thousand refereed journals, most of whom do not produce citation reports and perhaps not coincidentally tend to be assigned low impact factors by databases (like the Web of Science) which ignore most of them, anyway. Naturally, other departments face different situations.
Moreover, while many departments rely on letters of recommendation from senior scholars and researchers, the mores and jargon and tone of these letters vary from field to field. It would take an anthropologist with expertise in letter-writing to adequately interpret letters from different fields; other nonexperts would be wise to tread carefully as some fields have effusive letters while others prefer understatement.
All this means that while guidelines for the process may well be within the competence of college- and university-wide committees and administrators, only departments possess the expertise necessary to develop criteria for deciding tenure and promotion. Criteria generated in ignorance or prejudice from higher up are likely to be counterproductive and undermine the development of excellence at USF.
Our recommendation is that Academic Affairs and the colleges show great respect for the recommendations of the departments on tenure and promotion criteria. We also recommend that departments assert themselves in developing and presenting tenure and promotion criteria that they believe are in the best interests of the departmental and university missions.
We emphasize this point by reminding everyone of the Administration's contractual commitment to shared faculty governance.
The next Chapter Meeting will be tomorrow, Friday, March 27, at 12 noon, on USF Tampa, in the Education Building, room EDU 150.
There will be sandwiches 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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