While it is tempting to think that during a crisis the sole priority is the crisis, and that thinking about what happens after the crisis is a luxury, the reality is that if you don't think ahead during the crisis, you may find yourself in a fix afterwards. It is reassuring that the USF Administration has been thinking about what happens afterwards, but it is also clear that more thought is required.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on Zoom. On the agenda: the budget cut process, the impact of the election, the status of the pandemic, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.
Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one. We are meeting on alternate Fridays at noon over Zoom. Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.
Every year, the West Central Florida Federation of Labor conducts a toy drive for the Children's Home Society of Florida. The pandemic precludes collecting toys this year, but there are still children having a lonely holiday season, so the Federation of Labor is conducting a Holiday Gift Card Toy Drive this year. To donate a gift card, go to the Toy Drive Site. And Happy Holidays! (And safely!)
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. Here is the membership form. Come and join the movement.
If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement or the recent Memorandum of Understanding, 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 Grievances Page.
Many of our students are struggling during this crisis, and the USF Foundation is supporting the USF Food Pantries to help out. They are accepting non-perishable donations, but one can also make monetary donations for the pantries at St. Petersburg, Sarasota / Manatee, and Tampa.
Yes, we are on social media.
But there are serious problems. Inside Higher Ed observed that education programs across the country are being cut while Moody's Investors' Service projects a general decline in tuition income and the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a number of vital statistics for higher education are going down (which led Vanderbilt University Public Policy Professor William Doyle to warn that Higher Education faces A Nightmare Scenario).
A major issue - perhaps the major issue - was the involvement of faculty and other stakeholders in the decision. The Faculty Senate has presented questions on the budget crisis and how it is to be addressed, and we understand that answers shall be forthcoming. And all of us must be engaged; readers may recall American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten's advice in the 24 September 2020 Biweekly on winning reforms: "it’s .... activism that matters."
On October 18, 1967, Clark Kerr gave a Lecture to the Centennial Meeting of the City College Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa on The Urban-Grant University : A Model for the Future. Kerr began with the land grant universities created in the Nineteenth century "to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts," but "without excluding other scientific and classical studies...." That is to say (which Kerr didn't so bluntly), the land grant universities were not modelled after the elite European schools, but instead were addressing contemporary American concerns.
By 1967, land grant institutions like the University of California were eye-to-eye with the European universities, but Kerr was concerned about unaddressed American problems, most notably inequality and access to education. Quoting the "father of City College,"
|To open the doors to all. Let the children of the rich and the poor take their seats together and know of no distinction save that of industry, good conduct and intellect,|
This would require rethinking what the aspirations of a university - even an elite university - should be. "There will be a controversy within it over the question of quality." Kerr's focus was on urban problems, and he complained of faculty who would not work "...on the problems of their own city, because they regarded such work as somehow beneath them." But, Kerr claimed, "We should recognize that local city problems today need and justify work of the very highest quality."
It has been over half a century since his speech, and the federal government's response to Kerr's clarion has been lacking. And while the urban problems Kerr alluded to remain, we face additional challenges, from the degradation of democracy (especially of local government!) to ominous climatic changes. Perhaps the universities should not wait on the federal government, but go ahead ourselves, and recreate ourselves for the future. We already know about the economic impact of higher education and the continuing problem of material and cultural poverty, but now we face additional challenges. And noting Kerr's criticism of Harvard's relative indifference to its own community, perhaps we should develop our own goals rather than follow fashion mavens like the American Association of Universities; after all, considering the importance of education in reversing the degradation of democracy, and considering the importance of agriculture in providing for an overpopulated world in an era of climate change, is this really the time to deprioritize those two fields?
The physicist Isadore Rabi once said of himself and his fellow faculty, we are the university. This may be a good time to think about where our university should go.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, November 6, at 12 noon, via Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.the Chapter Secretary. Come and join the movement.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.