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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
13 November 2014
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The UFF is participating in the West Central Florida Federation of Labor's toy drive again this year. We are collecting new, unwrapped toys for children ages 0 - 17. These toys will be given to children in need this holiday season.

  • The toys will be collected at the Central Labor Council's Holiday Special (party) on December 2 at 6:30 pm. All UFF members are welcome; just bring toys. It's at the IBEW 824 building at 6603 E. Chelsea Street in Tampa. For details, see the Council's flyer.
  • If you cannot come to the Special, or if you are not a UFF member, but you still want to participate, you can leave toys at the office of the USF Tampa Department of Mathematics & Statistics, CMC 342, in care of Gregory McColm. The deadline for donating toys is December 2.
Thank you.

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.

Incidentally, in honor of Thanksgiving, there will be no chapter meeting on Friday, November 28. Similarly, there will be no Biweekly on Thursday, November 27. (There will be a chapter meeting on December 5, and hence a Biweekly issue on December 4.) Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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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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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.


More on Tenure ... and some Politics

In this Biweekly, we continue our series on getting tenure at USF. But in the aftermath of a somewhat disappointing election day, we look forward to a spring legislative session with a newly re-elected governor and a reinvigorated legislature. We also look at an effort by one of our national affiliates to call attention to a disturbing trend in academia.

  • Teaching, Research, Service, and... Under the old guidelines, candidates for tenure evaluated under teaching, research, and service. There is now a fourth criterion, which we will review in the next Biweekly. For more, see below or click here.
  • Tallahassee in a Crystal Ball. The hopeful - wistful? - talk about how Scott and the Tallahassee legislative leadership would react to a mandate started even before the election. It may be best to hope for the best but keep our powder dry. For more, see below or click here.
  • What is Academia for? The pendulum in Academia has always swung between idealists interested in truth and beauty, and pragmatists interested in paying the bills. The National Education Association is concerned that the pendulum has swung too far away from idealism. For details, see below or click here.

Teaching, Research and Service

In the previous issue of the Biweekly, we began our series on the new tenure (and promotion) guidelines at USF. Since the stakes are higher in tenure decisions, we are focusing more on tenure.

Here at USF, the primary document on tenure is the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the contract, not subject to unilateral change, and enforceable by law: the tenure process is fixed in Article 15 (pp. 32 - 35) while the promotion process is fixed in Article 14 (pp. 31 - 32). Next down (for the USF system) is USF Regulation 10.105, recently unilaterally changed by the Board of Trustees (promotion is handled by USF Regulation 10.106, also unilaterally changed).

But the key document showing the views of the USF Tampa Administration is the new Guidelines for Tenure and Promotion, which supersedes the old Guidelines for Tenure and Promotion. The new guidelines apply only to USF Tampa; the other campuses are expected to come up with their own replacements to the 1998 guidelines.

Let's now look more closely at teaching, research, and service under these two sets of guidelines.

  • Teaching. Under the old guidelines, "Effective teaching ... is best judged by a peer review process ..." which may consider materials like student evaluations, peer evaluations based on class visits, reviews of course materials and student work, etc. The standards boil down to: "Acknowledged record of success in teaching, or other comparable activity appropriate for the unit, including a record of such activities as participation on thesis and/or dissertation committees, and successful direction of the work of master's and doctoral candidates, where applicable."
          The new guidelines begins with "The first component in the tenure decision process is an evaluation of effectiveness in teaching or comparable activity appropriate for the unit. As discussed in these guidelines, teaching effectiveness is understood to be fundamentally grounded in demonstrable learning outcomes." Then comes a longer list of things for the evaluators to look at. Teaching is considered more broadly, and the wider list of materials to consider includes evidence of favorable outcomes.
  • Research and Creative Works. Under the old guidelines, evaluation of research and creative work should include materials like book and article reviews, criticism of creative work, grant application reviews, citations, and the quality of journals or presses that published the candidate's work. And three to six letters from external reviewers. "The contribution of a candidate for tenure must be judged against the national standards in the discipline, focusing on the significance of the work and the quality of the contribution made, rather than on the quantity of publications." The standards boil down to: "Focused program of independent and collaborative research/creative work, supported by substantial publications or their equivalent. Original or creative work of a professional nature may be considered an equivalent. The record should be sufficient to predict, with a high degree of confidence, continuing productivity in research/creative work throughout the individual's career."
          Under the new guidelines, "In order to attain tenure, a faculty member is expected to have established an original, coherent and meaningful program of research and/or creative scholarship and to have demonstrated and clearly documented a continuous and progressive record of research and creative scholarship indicative of potential for sustained contribution throughout his or her career." Little change here - indeed, no mention of considerations besides excellence in this section. And the burden of proof is on the candidate: "Recommendations for tenure should present a clear and compelling case for the merit of an application in the context of the kind of scholarship in which the candidate's work has been conducted, leading to high confidence in the candidate’s prospects for continuing and meaningful contributions."
  • Service. Under the old guidelines, record of service is desired, but it boils down to: "Substantive contributions in the area of service." The new guidelines are not so dismissive, but there is a twist: community-engagement may fall under research or service, or conceivably both.
The new guidelines also have more precise descriptions of the process, which candidates (and the evaluators!) should review.

We will continue our analysis in the next (December 5 - is the semester ending that quickly?) issue of the Biweekly.

Tallahassee in a Crystal Ball

The election was last week, and first and most important, thank you to all of you who went and voted. A democracy is only as strong as the commitment of its citizens.

The Florida Education Association is now looking towards spring, and the spring legislative session.

There is also problem with reality. The 2016 presidential election is now looming, southern Florida counties are whining about rising sea levels, and school boards are rebelling over standardized tests. Hopefully, Tallahassee will be in a more mature mood in spring. But we are not counting on it.

What is Academia for?

If anything symbolizes the increasingly mercenary view of higher education, it is the trillion dollar bubble of student debt weighing down the next generation. Since higher education is viewed as a private good by many politicians, they see little need to support college students. That's why so many of our students are working full-time jobs while being full-time students, and falling asleep in class, not having enough time to do homework, and taking longer to get through a degree program. To make it, many of them take out loans, sometimes staggering loans.

The National Education Association (one of UFF's national affiliates) has launched a campaign, degrees not debt, with a petition drive, to publicize the problem.

Everyone concerned about this crisis, union members and otherwise, are invited to participate.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, November 14, 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.

NOTE: The USF-UFF Chapter website is http://www.uff.ourusf.org, and our e-mail address is uff@ourusf.org.

About this broadcast: This Newsletter was broadcast from uff.ourusf.org, hosted at ICDsoft.com, and is intended for all members of the UFF USF Bargaining unit (USF faculty and professionals at most departments). A (usually identical) version will be broadcast to USF-News and USF-Talk from mccolm@usf.edu.

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