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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
3 November 2022
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Storm Clouds

Tenure in American Academia was originally for protecting teachers and public intellectuals in universities; the transformation of tenure into a perk for researchers - increasingly for senior researchers - is largely a post-Seventies phenomenon. Even so, since tenure creates expectations about how faculty should be treated and affects regulations affecting faculty, and since more farsighted tenured faculty know that what threatens non-tenured faculty ultimately threatens everyone, tenure provides some protection for non-tenured and non-tenure-track faculty as well.

Which is exactly why many politicians think tenure is a problem, or at least a target for election season performance art.

  • Tenure Wars. Tenure is being attenuated or ignored across the country. For more, see below or click here.
Added in just the last minute: POST TENURE REVIEW IS BACK. In September, the Board of Governors (BoG) posted a post-tenure review proposal, which soon disappeared. A new version, very similar to the old one, has just surfaced. It's at the end of the agenda for the BoG's Academic and Student Affairs Committee, which meets next week on Thursday, November 10, from 8:30 am to 9:15 am; there are six items for this 45-minute meeting, so it will probably move briskly. (Interestingly, the item on the top of the agenda is a Civil Discourse Final Report - which also covers free expression and association - complete with seven recommendations.) As of now, the location of the meeting has not been posted, but we understand that it will be in downtown Tampa; one is reminded of the decision of King Louis XIV of France to move the royal court from Paris to Versailles - in order to keep subordinates in line and be far away from the riff-raff. We will be watching the situation closely, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees of Florida's second oldest university continue their campaign to make their institution into America's leading academic soap opera.

  • Gainesville Update. A lot of the UF community didn't like the secrecy in the process for selecting a new university president, while others didn't like the resulting selection. For more, see below or click here.
Recalling who appointed the Board of Governors and the various boards of trustees, early voting will continue through Sunday, November 6, in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties. Don't forget to bring photo ID (e.g. Florida Driver's License or ID Card). For more information for voters, see the For Voters page in the website for the Florida Division of Elections. And you can look up your county supervisor of elections here. Remember: we get the government we elect, so the burden is on us.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow at 12 Noon on USF Tampa - and on Zoom

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on USF Tampa in EDU 261; it will also be hybrid on Zoom. There will be sandwiches, fruit, drinks, and sweets starting at 11:30. On the agenda: Post tenure review and the upcoming Board of Governors meetings, Getting Out The Vote, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.

Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but to Zoom in you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one.

Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.

Join UFF Today!

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.


We were happy to see US News & World Report recognize USF's rising profile in research and scholarship. Their 2022-2023 Best Global Universities Rankings are based on an array of research and scholarship indicators, and USF ranked # 317-320 out of 2,165 institutions with a score of 57.6 out of 100 in a four-way tie with Duy Tan, Simon Fraser, and Technion Israel.


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.

USF United Support Fund for Food Pantries

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.

We are on Social Media

Yes, we are on social media.

  • We have a Facebook group: see United Faculty of Florida at USF. This 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 on the page. If you are a UFF member, ask to join on the page, and the moderator will invite every UFF member that asks to join. Non-members are welcome to look (but you need a Facebook account to do that). So check us out.
  • We have a blog: see The USF Faculty Blog. This has news items as they come up.
  • We are twitter-pated: follow us on Twitter via @UffUsf.
  • We even have a You-Tube channel: check out our videos
If you want to help with media matters, contact the Communications Committee chair.

Tenure Wars

Abolition of academic tenure would seem to be a populist position, for most Americans seem to accept the notion that an employer may fire employees who disagree on political, social, economic, philosophical, scientific or technological issues. (Why most Americans accept this notion is an interesting question, but it may be related to the tendency of regarding employers as manorial lords out of medieval Europe.) On the other hand, YouGovAmerica reports that most Americas oppose laws regulating what college faculty can discuss in class while only a fifth support such laws.

It seems that the American public is inclined to support the freedom of academic speech and expression.

On a similar note, Pew reports that Americans value America's role as a leader in science but are divided over the role of scientists in public policy debates, with two thirds of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents saying that scientists should take an active role while two thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents saying that they should not. Altogether, trust in scientists remains on par with trust in the military, and substantially higher than trust in business leaders, elected officials, police officers, and religious leaders.

Nevertheless, politicians - who depend on popular support for their job security - and the administrators that they hire have been whittling away at academic freedom for some time, and not just in Florida, a sign that attenuating or even eliminating academic freedom resonates with many voters. And that brings us to tenure, part of the armory of academic freedom. In recent news…

And despite the University System of Georgia's assurance that Georgia university administrations "...have worked with faculty to develop strong institutional post-tenure, annual evaluation and student success policies..." to "...strengthen tenure by allowing tenured faculty to be held accountable by their peers...," Georgia faculty continue to oppose recent efforts to attenuate tenure there.

It used to be that state legislatures would grumble about academic tenure but not do anything about it because abolishing or attenuating tenure would put their own institutions at a competitive disadvantage. (After all, Pew reported that Americans are anxious about America's competitiveness in science and technology.) No more, and there is growing concern that competitive disadvantage may be coming.

Gainesville Update

The fallout continues the selection of Senator Ben Sasse as the sole finalist in the search for president of the University of Florida. Their faculty senate voted that they had no confidence in the process - although they were careful to stress that they were not commenting Sasse himself. Meanwhile, UF students protested against Sasse himself, and the UF administration responded by announcing that it would resume enforcing an old ban against indoors demonstrations, an announcement that induced a complaint by Pen America that the ban amounted to prior restraint.

Then on Tuesday, after an amicable interview with the UF Board of Trustees, featuring Sasse making reassurances and UF Chair Mori Hossieni defending and praising the search process, and after a sequence of speakers decried the search process and questioned Sasse's credentials and fitness to serve (none of whom brought up the loyalty oaths that Midland University demanded faculty sign during Sasse's presidency there), the Board unanimously voted to hire Sasse as president. The final step is the SUS Board of Governors meeting on the day after the election, where we understand that they will meet in the safety of USF Tampa's medical complex downtown.

With an air of introducing a cold dash of reality, Forbes asked what do university presidents do, anyway? (Answer: raise money from alumni, community leaders, and politicians, which may involve a different skills set then the largely academic post of, say, provost.) But people in the university community have certain expectations, and when a board appoints a president with no community support, that president is on thin ice, indeed.

For a more detailed take of Senator Sasse's tenure at Midland, see The Alligator's account.


The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, November 4, at 12 noon, on USF Tampa in EDU 261. At 11:30, there will be sandwiches, fruit, drinks and sweets. It will be hybrid on Zoom, and for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary. All UFF USF employees are welcome.

All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. To get the link to Zoom, contact the Chapter Secretary. 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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