ABC Anchor Distorts Faculty Salaries
In the Democratic presidential debate last night at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, moderator Charlie Gibson asked a question of Hillary Clinton about two college professors making more than $100,000 (from the NY Times rush transcript posted at
MR. GIBSON: If you take a family of — if you take a family of two professors here at Saint Anselm, they’re going to be in the $200,000 category that you’re talking about lifting the taxes on. And — (laughter).
MR. EDWARDS: I don’t think they agree with you.
SEN. OBAMA: I’m not sure that that’s — (laughter) –
SEN. CLINTON: That may be NYU, Charlie.I don’t think it’s — (laughter) — Saint Anselm.
Senator Clinton is absolutely right. According to the AAUP salary survey data on St. Anselm (posted at
http://chronicle.com/stats/aaup/aaupdetail.php?ID=2195), the mean salary for full professors at the college in 2006-07 was $77,400, and the mean salary for assistant professors was $49,600, about half of what Gibson assumed. (Clinton was underestimating the average full-professor salary at NYU, which was $149,500 in the AAUP survey. It’s probably close to $100K if you look at faculty overall.)
Gibson’s hypothetical shows an amazing ignorance of higher education, especially small private colleges.
At USF, the AAUP survey reports that full professors outside medicine made on average about $100,000 in 2006-07, but that hides considerable variation by discipline (music and English professors don’t make anywhere close to that). To put that into a national perspective, among Research I institutions, USF salaries for assistant, associate, and full professors rank in the fourth quintile, with more than 60% of research institutions paying more than USF does.
January 24, 2008
Call for Nominations
Each spring, the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida elects its President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and its UFF Senators and FEA Delegates. The open executive positions are:
- Vice President
In addition, the open representative positions are several seats in the United Faculty of Florida Senate (meeting twice annually) and the Florida Education Association (meeting once annually).
Only union members may make nominations, stand for election, run, and vote. We encourage all union members to consider standing for election, and to vote.
If you would like to stand for election, or if you think someone else would, please send a letter of nomination to:
CHAIR, Election Committee
United Faculty of Florida
USF Box 30238
Or email to:
The letter should contain:
- Your name,
- The name of the nominee (self-nominations are encouraged), and
- The office the nomination is for.
All nominations – including permission by the nominee to be a candidate – must be received by January 31.
All nominees are strongly encouraged to submit a short (250 words or less) self-description and/or campaign statement, which must be received by January 31 to be included in the ballot materials.
Election will be by secret mail ballot; members will be responsible for getting their ballots returned by the deadline. The ballots will be sent out in mid-February, and be due by Wednesday, March 5; they will be counted at the March 7 chapter meeting, to which all members are invited to attend.
On April 1, newly elected officers and representatives formally assume their duties.
ODD NUMBERS ON USF SALARY REPORT TO AAUP
In its report to the American Association of University Professors, USF said that non-Medicine faculty continuing from 2006-07 to 2007-08 received on average a 2.1% increase. (See http://www.ods.usf.edu/DSS/Resources/AAUP.asp for the numbers reported by USF.) Some observers pointed out the fact that there has been no collective bargaining agreement on salaries yet this year for faculty, and because relatively few faculty receive promotions in any year, how could there be an average raise more than 0.5%? The explanation is that the data used for the AAUP salary survey is taken from payroll records and not records of annual base salaries. For this report, USF staff identified the pay periods including October 1 for 2006 and 2007 and then compared the salaries received for the pay periods. Because the last legislatively-mandated raise kicked in on October 1, 2006, the pay period used for the baseline (in 2006) ran from September 22, 2006, through October 5, 2006,
and only included four workdays with the post-raise salary. The USF report for 2007-08 exaggerates the average increase in faculty base salaries because of the measure used.
It should be noted that even if the report to the AAUP were fully reflected in our paychecks today, that would still be less than raises this year for Hillsborough Community College (3%) and K-12 teachers in Hillsborough County (8%). If we looked at raises since 2001, USF's faculty raises would be much less than at HCC, where the starting salary for someone with just a masters degree rose 54% in a six-year period.
February 7, 2008
HOW BUDGET CUTS AFFECT STUDENTS
In talking with legislators, it’s crucial to explain how budget cuts at USF affect students and the general public: For students, cuts result in larger classes, fewer courses offered, larger problems in scheduling classes needed for graduation. And that’s for the students who are admitted; USF will have to turn away more students as a result of cuts. As the St Petersburg Times reported earlier this week (see http://www.sptimes.com/2008/02/05/State/Colleges_could_turn_a.shtml), the universities will be shutting out more students as the peak of the baby boom echo reaches adulthood over the next few years.
Editorial boards around the state have commented recently on higher-education budget, including the Tampa Tribune (see http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/feb/03/bz-universities-at-a-crossroads-in-deciding-qualit/), the St. Petersburg Times (see http://www.sptimes.com/2008/02/04/Opinion/Lawmakers_let_univers.shtml), and the Florida Sun-Sentinel (see http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/sfl-editaftuitionpnfeb07,0,7203694.story), and reporting on the consequences of budget cuts continues in the Times, Palm Beach Post (see http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/south/epaper/2008/01/31/s3b_FAUMEET_0131.html), Miami Herald (see http://www.miamiherald.com/news/florida/story/407891.html), and elsewhere.
When you talk with legislators, always explain the real-life consequences of budget cuts for students and those who will not become students because of the cuts.
GRAHAM-FREY LAWSUIT REFILED
The group of plaintiffs in the lawsuit over the Board of Governors’ constitutional authority refiled their lawsuit Monday in Tallahassee (see http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/state/orl-tuition0508feb05,0,5439690.story). The judge in the case had ruled early in January that the plaintiffs, including the Board of Governors, did not have standing to sue in state court.
This lawsuit is about tuition authority (a crucial question this year!) but more generally about who controls Florida’s universities. In 2002, the United Faculty of Florida supported the constitutional amendment that created the Board of Governors, as faculty were tired of seeing legislative politics deciding educational issues. If the Board of Governors wins this lawsuit, future decisions may have political overtunes, but we will see far less of the shenanigans of the past decade, where legislative influence and not educational need determined whether new schools were built, and on which campuses.
A decision is not going to happen for several months at the lower-court level, and any decision is likely to be appealed until the Florida Supreme Court decides the issue.
FOOTBALL COACH SALARY TRIPLES IN THREE YEARS
According to an article this morning in the St Pete Times (see http://www.sptimes.com/2008/02/01/Sports/USF_offers_Leavitt_de.shtml), USF offered a raise of 70% to football coach Jim Leavitt, bringing his 2008 salary to $1.5 million, up from $537,680 in 2005. At a time of extraordinary budget pressures, the treatment of a football coach is an extraordinary contrast with how the Florida university system is preparing to treat faculty and staff.
GRADUATE STUDENTS SUPPORT GAU BARGAINING
The GAU chapter and the USF Board of Trustees began bargaining this afternoon, and several dozen graduate assistants crowded into the room to observe. GAU Co-President Jason Simms made an opening statement, as did Graduate Dean Delcie Durham and Gerard Solis of the USF General Counsel’s office. The GAU bargaining team distributed proposals on several articles, explained the rationale, and there was a discussion about the proposal to put more solidity into offers. The GAU team’s preference is to preserve as many 0.25 and 0.50 FTE appointments as possible rather than give USF discretion to carve out small portions of GA time. The bargaining session recessed while the two teams caucused. The faculty observer (Sherman Dorn) left before the session resumed.
The USF Oracle (the student newspaper) published an article on the opening of bargaining in the January 31 edition (see http://media.www.usforacle.com/media/storage/paper880/news/2008/01/31/News/Graduate.Assistants.Pursue.Negotiations.Amid.Budget.Cuts-3180176.shtml?reffeature=mostemailedtab).
Some recognition is due several administrators at the University of South Florida for recent actions or consistency:
The individuals in the first four cases are not named in part to protect confidentiality and in part to recognize that there are plenty of correct decisions made quietly by faculty committees and administrators. A faculty union’s job is to protect due process and faculty interests, and the chapter will point out where its perspective differs from that of the administration or BOT, but there are also plenty of correct decisions made.
- A dean who worked to help faculty protect the tenure process in a college
- A dean and associate dean who helped find a grant-funded position for a professional employee who otherwise would have been laid off
- An administrator who took time to address the personal needs of individual faculty in a unique crisis
- A chair/director who protected tenure-track faculty research time in an emergency schedule shuffle
- Lakeland-campus academic administrators, who have continued to teach regularly-scheduled courses in their home departments.
DANGERS OF AD-HOC INVESTIGATIONS
Last spring, the UFF-USF chapter leadership discussed Youtube with the administration, concerned about the possibility of surreptitious recordings of classes, and both sides agreed that faculty could place reasonable restrictions on class recordings in a syllabus.
The concern from a union perspective was with the possibility of an anonymous video prompting an inappropriate investigation from the public nature of Youtube. The dangers of ad-hoc investigations of teaching have become clear in the last few years, most recently at Brandeis, where the faculty senate and the provost are at odds over the provost’s investigation of a faculty member’s conduct, including placing a member of the administration in the class to monitor the faculty’s conduct (see http://insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/24/brandeis). This case has attracted the attention of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (see http://www.thefire.org/index.php/case/755.html) and the ACLU of Massachusetts (see http://www.massrightsblog.org/2008/01/press-release-aclu-of-massachusetts_7938.html), among others.
The case, very briefly: Donald Hindley was accused by a small number of students of using the term "wetback" in class in a derogatory fashion. Hindley claimed he was explaining the social context of the term, the provost assigned a monitor for the class without a hearing, and singled him out by requiring him to attend what the provost described as "anti-discrimination training."*
The Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU explained the substantive and procedural issues clearly:
"The ACLU of Massachusetts supports the right of all students to equal educational opportunity. Severe, pervasive, or targeted harassment of a student based on race, national origin, or ethnicity can interfere with the ability of students to obtain an education and would violate our state and federal civil rights laws. However, incidental comments by a professor in class, even if offensive to some, do not constitute illegal harassment under the law, and imposing punishment on a faculty member for occasional comments significantly jeopardizes freedom of thought and academic freedom which are so integral to a university and the quality of education that students will receive there.
"Students plainly have the right to complain about a professor, to raise their complaints with a professor, organize with other students to discuss with the professor their objections, and debate what has gone on. However, faculty members also have the right to a fair process when they have been accused of wrongdoing, and Brandeis appears to have denied that process to Professor Hindley.
"We are also troubled by this incident because it comes after several other recent incidents at Brandeis in which the University administration’s initial impulse has been to shut down unpopular expression rather than affirm the principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom which are integral to a university community."
While the situation at Brandeis is different from the concerns about Youtube the UFF-USF chapter raised in consultation, the dangers of ad-hoc investigations are clear in this case and parallel: Brandeis’s provost made ad-hoc decisions that skirted serious concerns about procedural and substantive due process. The rush to judgment at Brandeis has been roundly criticized by the university’s faculty senate and civil-rights organizations.
* - Several years ago, the UFF-USF chapter filed a grievance when the administration wanted to require diversity training of all faculty without bargaining the change in assignments. Then-chapter president Mitch Silverman explained to the faculty senate that he attended one of the diversity seminars, he thought it was well done and recommended it to everyone, but that the university could not require it. The grievance was settled when the administration withdrew the requirement.
March 6, 2008
WILL THE BUDGET CRISIS AFFECT TENURE DECISIONS?
There is something President Genshaft did not mention in her webcast Friday (see http://netcast.usf.edu/public/announce/admin/president/2008/webcast-022908.asx) that I know is on the minds of many tenure-track faculty who have e-mailed me, talked with their chairs, and thought about their futures: tenure criteria. I have talked with several associate deans and with the Provost and Senior Vice Provost, and I am confident that tenure decisions next year will be made in the same way that they have been for the last several years. I have said the same thing to every tenure-track faculty member who has asked: it is in no administrator’s interest to change how tenure decisions are made because of budget cuts. Every administrator I have spoken with agrees with me on this as a matter of principle, and as the president of the faculty union chapter on campus, I will take immediate steps if I see any signs that the tenure gateway is becoming a place to address budget cuts.
For those who are coming up for tenure this fall, the United Faculty of Florida is holding tenure workshops this week in Tampa and will schedule additional workshops in Tampa and on the regional campuses later this spring. To get classroom space in the middle of the week, we had to schedule the workshops beginning at 8 am. Despite the early hour, I hope to see many of you there. These workshops are for members of the United Faculty of Florida–if you are not currently a member, you can sign up at the beginning of the workshop. More information is available at http://faculty.ourusf.org/2008/02/19/tenure-workshops-march-3-4-and-5-tampa/.
I know that everyone at USF is affected by budget anxiety fatigue. If you are coming to one of the tenure workshops next week, we can certainly talk about it, and I encourage you to e-mail me at email@example.com if you have questions.
THE RIGHT PRINCIPLE AT WORK, I HOPE
In last Friday’s webcast (see http://netcast.usf.edu/public/announce/admin/president/2008/webcast-022908.asx), President Genshaft announced two promotions, of Michael Pearce to university technology officer (from associate vice president to vice president), and of Michael Hoad from USF Health communications to a new VP spot for communications. President Genshaft noted that neither received a raise with the change in title.
Over the past few weeks, UFF has made the point to the administration that in a budget crunch, the proportion of payroll that goes to upper-level administration should not rise. Faculty want to know that the core parts of USF (departments and faculty) do not receive a disproportionate cut. At the same time, I do not and will not suggest anything about an individual administrator; a reasonable approach, as suggested through consultation with several dozen union members, was that the proportion of payroll for upper administrators should not increase in a budget crisis. (By upper-level administrators, I think of anyone above a department chair in academic areas and equivalent positions in non-academic VP areas.)
I don’t know how this will all shape up, and two personnel decisions do not make a pattern; at the end of the academic year, I’ll probably look at the data we have in the chapter and maybe make a request for additional payroll data over a few years from USF. But if the central administration is listening to faculty concerns over budget cuts, and President Genshaft’s announcement is an indication of that open ear, we’ll come out much better as a university than if faculty concerns were ignored.
March 20, 2008
MAJOR HIGHER ED NEWS IN FLORIDA
During break and in the last week, higher-education news in Florida has been dominated by the budget crunch and by Senate President Ken Pruitt proposal’s to strip the Board of Governors of its constitutional authority, replacing that authority with whatever is delegated by the legislature.
Higher education governance
The proposal by the senate (SJR 2308) would place a measure on the fall ballot to shrink the size of the Board of Governors and replace its constitutional authority to govern the university system with whatever the legislature delegates.
The universally-accepted explanation for this is that Senate President Pruitt is upset that the Board of Governors wants to exercise authority over tuition, because increasing tuition to replace cuts from the state budgets would force the legislature to restructure Bright Futures, the scholarship program that is funded partly by the lottery and party by the state budget. It is that latter part (the state budget) and Senator Pruitt’s investment of time in and identity with Bright Futures that is motivating the proposed amendment.
The amendment is sailing through Senate committees because Senator Pruitt combined the higher-education governance change with something that Senate Democrats wanted, a return to an elected education commissioner for the state.
Right now, the proposal’s status is uncertain; while it moved through one committee on the House side, UFF officials know of several House Republicans who have either voted against it in committee or voiced reservations. The proposal would need 60% of each house in the legislature to go on the ballot; that means 72 votes in the House, and there are 77 Republicans. If a small number of Republicans join all House Democrats in opposing the proposal, it dies…
Thus far, the opponents of higher-education governance change include UFF, the Association of Faculty Senate Presidents, the Board of Governors, the (business-oriented) Council of 100, and every single newspaper editorial board that has written on the topic. USF’s Faculty Senate joined that list this week, and most of the system’s presidents (including USF President Judy Genshaft) have voiced extraordinary concerns about a third round of governance change this decade.
Because most of the dirty work of the legislature happens in swaps between the two leaders of the houses in the last few days, the greatest chance for passage is in one of those swaps.
In the first week of the session, the university system’s base budget was cut 1.9%, the second cut this year. The budget woes continue, with estimates that the legislature will cut more than $2 billion in the next budget. K-12 and higher education represent more than 50% of general revenue expenditures in Florida, and since the majority Republicans in the legislature are opposed to any new revenues, they will cut the state’s budget. Both Governor Crist and the Democrats have suggested dipping into the rainy-day fund, given that it’s thundering, but there are no guarantees either that it will happen or that it will be more than a small buffer against the budget tides.
What we can do
The United Faculty of Florida is asking that all members of the bargaining unit use their own resources to contact legislators about the budget and contact their representatives in the state house about higher-education governance, since it is the House that has the greatest chance of blocking governance change from getting on the fall ballot.
The chapter has decided to sponsor drawings for gift cards for faculty and professional employees in the bargaining unit who place letters to the editor during the session or write to their legislators and receive a response on either the budget or higher-education governance. For more, read http://faculty.ourusf.org/educate-the-public/.
EXTERNAL REVIEWERS FOR TENURE
USF is now asking faculty going up for tenure and promotion to submit names of potential reviewers to their chairs earlier than in the past. If you are up for tenure or promotion in the fall, you should begin your research into potential reviewers now, and look for a members-only tenure workshop or external-reviewers mini-workshop announcement in the next week. The following information is included in the workshop, but the tenure workshop includes a great deal more about the identification of external reviewers.
The USF tenure and promotion guidelines say that faculty and their chairs can both suggest external reviewers, and they should jointly select external reviewers. If there is disagreement, each gets to select half.
If faculty present a credible list of potential reviewers to their chairs, they make the chair’s job easier and give faculty the best opportunity to have input on the selection of external reviewers. A credible list includes at least 6-8 potential reviewers with the following information for each:
All solicited letters which are received must be included in the candidate’s file."
- Current affiliation and rank
- Any notable professional society offices held or awards won
- Current contact information (e-mail)
- A brief description of why this individual would be a good reviewer
- An explicit statement addressing any potential conflicts or an explicit statement that there is no potential conflict (e.g., “My primary contact with Peter Schickele was at the last three P.D.Q. Retrospaetzle Symposia, and he was the chair on one 2007 panel where I presented ‘The Lost Manuscript of “Three Hands Viola and the Half-Blood Piccolo.”‘”).
- Below is the language from the 1998 T&P guidelines:
- "The department chair ordinarily will include in the tenure and promotion packet a minimum of three letters (but not exceeding six from external reviewers who are expert in the individual’s field or a related scholarly field. The candidate and the department chair will suggest external reviewers. The department Tenure and Promotion Committee may also suggest external reviewers. These reviewers should have no significant relationship to the candidate (e.g., major professor, co-author), unless there are mitigating circumstances hat would indicate otherwise (e.g., to review scholarship so specialized that few expert reviewers exist). The chair and the candidate will jointly select the reviewers. In the event of disagreement each party will elect one-half the number of qualified reviewers to be utilized. Letters from external reviewers should be in the candidate’s file prior to the final recommendations by the Tenure and Promotion Committee.
DOMESTIC PARTNER HEALTH INSURANCE COMMITTEE FINISHES WORK
At the end of the fall, the joint USF-UFF committee to look at domestic partner health insurance benefits submitted its recommendations to both sides. At the March 7, 2008, collective bargaining session, the UFF team put language almost identical to the committee report on the table.
As Chief Negotiator Bob Welker noted, the committee’s recommendations represented the work of both sides, and while those recommendations are not binding on the parties, UFF does not want the work to be wasted; regardless of financial circumstances at the moment, the two sides should be able to negotiate eligibility conditions and the general shape of benefits for when the financial circumstances allow the creation of the program.
April 3, 2008
In the past two weeks, the university told deans and chairs to cut the summer schedule dramatically, or rather cut the budget for summer teaching. For students, this reduces their choices available. For faculty who have a regular 9-month contract, there are two important things to keep in mind:
Faculty should be paid at a pro-rated basis for a summer course. A three-hour course should be worth three contact hours, or 12.5% of your academic-year salary. If an administrator has approached you with a request to be paid less for summer teaching, please contact the chapter’s grievance chair immediately (Mark Klisch, of email address firstname.lastname@example.org).
Equitable opportunities. Chairs must treat in-unit employees on an equitable basis in making summer appointments. That does not mean that nine-month faculty are guaranteed their pick of teaching opportunities, but that if two faculty are equally qualified to teach a range of courses and say that they are interested in teaching during the summer, it would be wrong for the chair to offer two courses to one faculty member and no courses to the other. Below is the language from the Collective Bargaining Agreement:
Available supplemental summer appointments shall be offered equitably and as appropriate to qualified employees, not later than five weeks prior to the beginning of the appointment, if practicable, in accordance with written criteria. The criteria shall be made available in each department/unit. [A memo issued by Dr. Kofi Glover on this summer’s appointments was issued in the fall.]
For many 12-month faculty, summer teaching appointments are part of the regular assignment for the year. Given the uncertainties, it is to be expected that even after the last two weeks’ cutting of the summer schedule, there will still be some uncertainties for 9-month faculty, but when most 9-month faculty have their summer schedules, 12-month faculty certainly should.
THE REAL ISSUE WITH DROP DOUBLE-DIPPING
by Sherman Dorn
In the last six weeks, longtime St. Petersburg Times reporter Lucy Morgan has reported on what she calls double-dipping (see http://www.sptimes.com/2008/02/23/State/State_retiree_loophol.shtml), or public employees who returned to work after committing to the state’s DROP program that gave experienced public employees an incentive to retire (retire, be paid for working another five years after the eligibility for the program started, and have pensions for that work-time go into a secure account for that last chunk of time working). Morgan’s language of double-dipping and triple-dipping (see http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/state/article427663.ece) implies that the problem with the DROP program is that the rules aren’t very strict on returning to employment after retirement.
The real problem with the DROP program is that the state legislature thought it could be clever, operating government on the cheap and discounting the value of experienced public servants. First, the legislature thought it could dangle an incentive in front of experienced public employees, get them to retire, and replace them with much cheaper, younger workers. Then, the legislature discovered that there was a shortage of people willing to teach and do other important jobs because they were taking early retirement through DROP, so they created an exception for areas with documented shortages. Then the legislature expanded those exceptions.
And now Lucy Morgan is pointing out that a program designed to operate government on the cheap is costing the state in the long run.
From a union standpoint, there are a few concerns with Morgan’s story. One is the substantive and scandalous examples, such as Miami-Dade College president Eduardo Padron, who is technically retired with a $14,631 monthly pension but returned to work for an annual $328,860 salary on top of the pension. That’s the hook Morgan uses, and those few cases are clearly scandalous.
But in many cases, as with the retired faculty at USF who are offered a pittance to teach as adjuncts after they finish DROP, it’s not as though paying a Distinguished University Professor emeritus $2000 a semester is a public boondoggle. I’m not sure how to view administrative DROP returns: on the one hand, Morgan and readers might argue that these individuals took retirement and shouldn’t double-dip. But the university faces a no-win situation in a bad budget year, either asking these individuals to leave and having to replace them either out of the ranks of faculty (leaving fewer faculty to teach) or by hiring someone from the outside (and inevitably paying more than the salary of the person who left).
I am also concerned with the inequity (administrators get to return from DROP, but not most regular faculty), but it’s the big picture that galls me: this came from a legislative initiative to run government on the cheap, and we’re seeing what often happens with such efforts: you pay more in the long run when you try to get by on the cheap.
CONFERRING IN WASHINGTON
Every spring, the National Education Association holds a conference on higher education. This year, the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers held a Higher Education Joint Conference in Washington, D.C. The theme was “Building Alliances for Education and the Public Good.” Twenty-six UFF members from Florida attended, including five from USF.
The conference opened as the cherry blossoms bloomed. In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo donated three thousand cherry trees to Washington, D.C., and since then cherry trees have appeared all over town. (The U.S. reciprocated with a gift of dogwood trees, and since then there have been several exchanges of trees.) Every year, about a week after spring, the city is invaded by small, pinkish white flowers (as the magnolias enviously wield their large, whitish pink flowers). There is a National Cherry Blossom Festival, with kite-flying for the children. Box kites, dragon kites, kites that look like planes, kites that look like helicopters, even traditional Charlie Brown kites, all float alongside groves of cherry trees beneath the Washington Monument.
Meanwhile, conference attendees were attending sessions covering current trends in education and union issues, workshops on how to do things (UFF is, after all, a volunteer organization composed of faculty and university professionals, and we have to do most things ourselves), and occasional motivational plenary speakers. During the next few issues, USF attendees will write about their experiences at the conference that opened on national kite-flying week.
CUTTINGS OF THE POISONOUS TREE
by Greg McColm
In 2000, Los Angeles prosecutor Richard Ceballos reported to his superior in the District Attorney’s office that the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department had relied on an inaccurate affidavit to obtain a search warrant. There was sound, fury, and office politics, and subsequently Ceballos was reassigned, transferred, and denied a promotion. He sued, and the case – Garcetti v. Ceballos (the 2006 ruling is on-line at http://supremecourtus.gov/opinions/05pdf/04-473.pdf) – was resolved by a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the majority ruled that Ceballos did not enjoy First Amendment protection for statements he made as part of his official duties.
Outside of the Mad magazine aspect of the case (a district attorney’s office defends the right to punish a prosecutor for reporting official misconduct – and the Supreme Court says that the prosecutor would be protected if he had leaked the story instead), there is the question of what the case implies for faculty governance. Justice Souter, dissenting, wrote that "...I have to hope that today’s majority does not mean to imperil First Amendment protection of academic freedom in public colleges and universities...", an issue that the majority conspicuously stepped around, Justice Kennedy writing that "We...do not, decide whether the analysis we conduct today would apply in the same manner to a case involving speech related to scholarship or teaching." Notice that Kennedy did not mention governance. (The Biweekly covered the issue in http://uff.ourusf.org/biweekly/Spring06.html#050406speech and http://uff.ourusf.org/biweekly/Summer06.html#060106update.)
The Supreme Court may have to face the question, as attendees heard in a Legal Forum Workshop at the Joint Conference. Dan McNeil, Assistant Director of the AFT Legal Department, told us that whatever the Supreme Court majority’s view of academic freedom in Garcetti v. Ceballos, the ruling is already being used against faculty in lower courts.
Earlier this decade, Chemical Engineering Professor Juan Hong of UC Irvine expressed his opinion, as part of his departmental governance duties, on several personnel matters. When he was denied a merit pay increase, he sued. UC Irvine moved for summary dismissal, which the District Court granted: the court ruled that as Professor Hong was expressing his opinions as part of the governance component of his job, under Garcetti v. Ceballos he was not protected in expressing those opinions. Hong has just appealed to Circuit Court, and the American Association of University Professors and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression have filed an Amici Curiae brief, which is posted at http://www.aaup.org/NR/rdonlyres/E0C569DB-DE60-4D19-8208-C5C8EC584132/0/HongAmicusBriefFILED031708.pdf.
At the Legal Forum workshop, there were some questions about how faculty can participate in faculty governance if they can be disciplined for saying the wrong things in committee meetings. (I raised the question of what protection an employee has if they are simultaneously required to report observed misconduct and also subject to discipline for making such a report – even if the report was true). The best answer McNeil gave was to have employee protections written into the contract.
At USF, we do have such protection. Article 5, Section 2 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement reads, “Academic Freedom is the freedom of the employee to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, to speak freely on all matters of university governance, to speak, write or act as an individual, all without institutional discipline or restraint.” This is contractual language, enforceable in grievance proceedings and in court.
So while we hope for the best in Hong v. Grant, we can consider the advantage of being at a unionized institution like USF, complete with an bargained and enforceable contract, rather than a non-union institution like UC Irvine.
April 17, 2008
FLORIDA'S WAR ON KNOWLEDGE
This week, Anthropology Chair Elizabeth Bird’s column appeared in the St Petersburg times: Florida’s War on Knowledge (see http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/essays/article453658.ece). In it, Professor Bird captures the problems with Florida higher education policy and the dangers with budget cuts and a threatened governance change.
The public needs to know more about the effects of budget cuts, and the position of the UFF chapter is that all faculty at USF should participate in educating the public and policymakers. See http://faculty.ourusf.org/educate-the-public/ for more information on the chapter’s gift-card drawings tied to educating the public.
NON-REAPPOINTMENT AND UNION PROTECTIONS
There are hundreds of employees at USF who are not represented by any union, and this is what can happen if your employer can change the terms and conditions of employment at whim: USF is shrinking non-reappointment notice requirements for those outside bargaining units (see http://usfweb2.usf.edu/usfgc/ogc%20web/notices/10-210-NOTICE_040808.htm). Inside the unit, apart from soft-money (grant-funded) positions, a professional employee has one semester’s notice for the first two years and one year’s notice afterwards. Outside the bargaining unit, the new rules give only 30 days’ notice of nonreappointment in the first two years and three months’ notice afterwards. Non-reappointment is ending employment without cause; in the unit as well as out of it, USF has the right to terminate people with cause, after due process. One of the protections for professional employees inside the bargaining unit is a longer non-reappointment period.
CHAPTER RESOLUTION ON CONSOLIDATION WITHIN CAS
Passed by voice vote at the UFF-USF Chapter meeting April 4, 2008:
WHEREAS the study of women, African Americans, Africa, Latin American and the Caribbean are vital areas of research and teaching that are fundamental to the mission of a modern university in an ever more globalized and multicultural world, a goal explicitly recognized in the USF Strategic Plan’s goals of global engagement and impact, as well as the Provost’s e-mails to the faculty the week of March 31;
WHEREAS such programs need to be recognized and supported through their maintenance as clearly discernable, separate and autonomous units with full voice and vote;
WHEREAS sweeping all these units into a special unit under one chair would diminish their importance, identity, strength and vigor and undo the years of hard work and intellectual labor that scores of faculty members, students and administrators have invested in these areas in order to start and develop separate and independent programs that can offer the careful study and elucidation of such vital areas of human endeavor and provide national and international visibility to the University of South Florida;
BE IT RESOLVED that the autonomy and integrity of the Department of Women’s Studies, the Department of Africana Studies, the Institute on Black Life, and the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean must be protected in these difficult times, and that great care need be taken not to foster the impression that these units and their subjects of study are of lesser importance to the University and its mission to serve our diverse and internationalized community.
ADDRESSING THE BUDGET SEPARATELY FROM LONG-TERM ISSUES
Last Friday, department chairs and school directors made one point clear with the Provost: there had been insufficient open discussion about reorganization issues within colleges. In an e-mail to chairs over the weekend, the Provost agreed to address budget issues separately and on a different schedule from anything that falls under “realignment” for longer-term reasons.
In the past few months, several faculty have made comparisons between our current situation and the recent book by Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (see http://worldcat.org/oclc/128236664&referer=brief_results; you can read an online summary of her argument at http://www.democruptcy.com/disaster-capitalism/). Klein argues that advocates of free-market or neoliberal policies have deliberately crafted a strategy of waiting until a natural or economic disaster strikes and then pouncing with policies that would never be approved in a stable environment. I have heard the argument that there are always ideas and vague plans for restructuring that float around USF, and they become viable when there is a shock such as the current budget crisis. Whether or not the idea is tied to the concrete circumstances we face, it becomes far more likely.
There is also the sociologists’ term institutional isomorphism (JSTOR article at http://www.jstor.org/pss/2095101) to describe the diffusion of institutional structures. In some cases, the parallels are coerced, as when the No Child Left Behind Act required that all states receiving Title I fund (for the education of poor children) also agree to test all children, every year, in grades 3-8. In other cases, the parallels come through a normative process, and there is no doubt that the language of the USF Strategic Plan is all about this type of institutional isomorphism. Our Board of Trustees wants us to be AAU (the American Association of Universities), AAU eligible, or at least like AAU institutions. This institutional ambition isn’t new at USF, and plenty of other institutions have trod in the prior path of higher-status institutions (or tried to follow the trajectory of aspirational peers, if you prefer that language).
And to some extent, faculty and departments will use such isomorphic tendencies to their tactical advantage when seeking faculty lines, operational support, and so forth.
But now we face a budget crisis, and anyone who looks at the university should fear that USF’s language of AAU status is looking less realistic and more like the “high school script” that almost all high schools follow, which Mary Metz described almost two decades ago. Are we an AAU-worthy institution, or will we just play one in the movies? The aftermath of reorganization beyond budget cuts will be embedded in the academic culture of an institution. The productivity costs of reorganization are real, and while they may be justified in some cases by budget savings, to use the budget crisis to reorganize beyond what is necessary has impeded the type of transparency that both Renu Khator and Ralph Wilcox promised.
Reorganization may be useful, or it may drive faculty away from USF and set us spinning our wheels for several years just responding to the reorganization. The chairs are correct: the two sets of decisions (addressing the budget crisis and addressing long-term issues) need to be done on separate schedules.
(This entry is adapted from a longer discussion of the WST, AFA, IBL, and ISLAC situation posted at http://faculty.ourusf.org/2008/04/06/money-or-something-else/.)
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DEPARTMENT IS MERGED
by Chapter President Sherman Dorn
I am in one of the departments that may be affected by departmental reorganization within USF. My dean has called a meeting with my department for this afternoon, and I strongly suspect that we will be merging with another department. The faculty in both departments have made their preferences known, as has our dean to the provost, but I suspect we’re merging anyway. There are some important practical matters after merger to pay attention to, and this is solely about those practical matters.
Transitions on annual evaluations: faculty have the right under Article 10 to be evaluated every year under procedures and disciplinary criteria that department employees approved by vote. When departments merge, the annual evaluation policies for the component units will almost certainly be different, and department faculty have at least three choices:
If my department is merged, as I suspect, I will recommend the last option to my current and future colleagues; we don’t need to be spending our time and energy on something when we can agree on a transitional framework that will last us for a year or so. Tenure and promotion issues: The bottom line for the chapter is that reorganization should not force tenure-track faculty to educate a new batch of colleagues about their work at the department/unit level. At a consultation between the UFF-USF chapter and the administration Tuesday, the administration agreed to written, binding agreements so that tenure-track faculty could retain continuity of colleagues for T&P evaluation purposes. The devil’s in the details, and the chapter will be looking after those details for any affected tenure-track faculty.
- Draft an entirely new set of evaluation procedures.
- Adopt one of the former department’s procedures as the procedure for the entire unit, entirely or with slight modifications.
- Vote to treat faculty from the former departments separately and under the former procedures of their former departments for a transition period, until there is time to craft a unified set of procedures.
Summer teaching opportunities. The common expectation of both UFF and the USF administration is that each unit has an explicit set of procedures on offering teaching opportunities (covered under Article 8). Merging departments will not be able to address the transition in the same way as for annual evaluations, and it is important that faculty in any merged units talk in the summer and craft a single policy in the fall, well before summer 2009 comes around.
Other governance issues. While most other departmental governance issues are outside the collective bargaining agreement, merged units will also need to figure out how to handle governance. In some cases (as in course/program approval processes), transitional arrangements with minimal disruption may be possible.
Have more questions on practical issues? E-mail me at email@example.com.
EXTERNAL REVIEWER MINI-WORKSHOP TO GO
Going up for tenure and needing help putting together a proposed list of external reviewers? Put together a small group of colleagues and you get a mini-workshop brought to you. Here’s what you do:
Find a colleague or two to work with: both must be union members or willing to sign up (this is a member-only mini-workshop).
Check my calendar for times before 2:30 pm that I am free (I generally am not free after 2:30 pm).
Get a room.
Send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) with two proposed time slots (45-60 minutes are enough, if you’re at Tampa, and if you’re at another campus, I’ll figure out the drive time).
I’ll respond within a day or two to say if I can make one of those times.
I bring materials, you bring a list of potential reviewer nominations and what you know about them.
May 1, 2008
BUT WILL IT FLY?
Economists warn us that we are facing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and that we should expect hard times through 2010 or 2011. Florida has been hit harder than other states, and several state universities have announced major cuts: Florida International announced that it could lay off two hundred employees, while Gainesville warned that some of the most popular programs in the state faced the knife. USF administrators have proposed many rearrangements, some of them having little to do with the immediate financial crunch.
The fiscal year ends in two months, and after the governor takes a veto pen to the legislature's budget, USF will be informed what its budget will be next year. Even now, the proposed budget is grim, and if the governor vetoes the 6% tuition hike included in the budget, the financial outlook will be grimmer. Even that budget may be inflated: at the latest United Faculty of Florida Senate meeting, UFF (statewide) president Tom Auxter warned that the real figures may not come out until November. Our legislative contacts report that Florida’s political leadership may be trying to make it through the elections without letting on how bad the fiscal situation is, and a special legislative session after the election might cut the state budget further. When Provost Ralph Wilcox says that USF has an obligation to meet its payroll, he is expressing a welcome realism.
On the other hand, the administration says that much of the reorganization is not just for budget-cutting. As observed previously (see Sherman Dorn’s commentary), many faculty think that administrators can take advantage of emergencies to institute otherwise impolitic changes – even changes having little to do with the emergency. And although our administration sold much of the reorganization as an opportunity for future accomplishment rather than a necessity for dealing with the immediate crisis, the administration has followed the hard sell strategy of insisting on committing to reorganization NOW.
It is during a crisis that clarity is most valuable, so we should separate out the two threads of the emergency and the opportunity. Let's begin with the emergency.
Background on the Emergency and the Opportunity
Last fall, Provost Khator, in consultation with the Faculty Senate, charged a Budget Priorities Task Force to "review all academic centers, institutes, departments, and programs, and prepare recommendations that would allow us to make budget reductions strategically." This task force only examined academic units within Academic Affairs on the Tampa campus, and was structured so that no reviewer was connected to a unit that reviewer helped evaluate. On February 29, the Budget Priorities Task Force submitted its report (see the 126-page PDF document), which listed brief ratings (on "centrality", "quality", "demand", and "viability") and evaluations of the colleges and departments. The document was released publicly, before chairs, directors, and deans had the opportunity to respond. Considering the number of units evaluated, the evaluations were inevitably terse and occasionally inconsistent with past reviews conducted by external panels drawn from a unit’s own discipline. That inconsistency and the lack of a pre-release review opportunity led to some departments’ being surprised and disappointed at both the process and the result of the task force. Many departments responded in March.
The evaluations did suggest some cost savings, and in particular tended to recommend that free-standing institutes find new funding sources. Several departmental mergers were proposed, particularly of units that seemed to be having difficulties. Perhaps the idea was that the synergy of merging two departments would improve performance, but certainly such mergers would reduce administrative costs.
Editorial comment: it is not clear that reducing resources – either by merger or by other means – would help any unit. If the university has a strong stake in a unit, then a wiser course may be to provide additional resources and perhaps additional nagging. On the other hand, if the university is trying a tactful way of abandoning a low-priority program at a time of budgetary stress, a merger can provide good cover.
In March, the second (opportunity) thread appeared when Arts & Science chairs received notice that administrators were contemplating breaking up the college, with natural sciences being merged with engineering. That move would be accompanied by other shuffling throughout the university. Decisions on these changes were to be made within a month, and in this compressed time scale the emergency and opportunity threads appeared to be conflated. At the April 14 meeting with engineering and natural science faculty, the provost and a few supporters of the college-level reorganization spoke of benefits to natural science of having its understaffed departments merged into a large college, although speakers were vague on how these benefits would materialize and in what form. Most faculty expressed concerns, most notably why an immediate commitment was necessary for changes unrelated to the budget problem.
Some faculty supporters of the merger hoped that it would resolve longstanding administrative problems, notably inequitable allocation of credit for external funding. But the suggestion that the university might simply address these administrative kinks was met by a pointed response by Engineering Dean John Wiencek that the opportunity called for more than "tweaking" policy.
Reactions and the Future of the Reorganization
After Arts and Sciences chairs complained about the discussion (or the insufficiency thereof), the administration has backed down from its initial plan to commit to the reorganization in April, and now plans to make the commitment by July 1 when the next fiscal year begins. And at its April meeting, the Faculty Senate resolved to "establish the Faculty Senate Task Force to Review the Administrative Structure of the University of South Florida," and to meet on May 21.
But the most visible publicity this spring has focused on the proposal that Africana Studies, Women's Studies, the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean (ISLAC), and the Institute on Black Life (IBL) be merged. The proposed merger was seen as downgrading these units, and the resulting uproar, including last week’s student protest, was reported in the local newspapers, Inside Higher Ed, and the Chronicle for Higher Education. Some money would be saved – not much – so this could be a cost saving measure or perhaps (as some feared) a tactful way of abandoning low-priority programs.
Legally, the reorganization of USF is a management decision, but it has academic consequences, and as the reorganization proceeds, the Faculty Senate will be engaged over the next year. And reorganization affects the terms and conditions of employment, so the United Faculty of Florida watching the situation very carefully, especially the consequences for tenure-track faculty. A few dozen faculty have consulted with chapter officers over the past few months, and that will certainly continue. (The current officer list is posted on-line).
But will this reorganization work? As a package, it is supposed to cut the budget while seizing an opportunity to develop interdisciplinary research and not harm academics. The stakes are high: USF faces tens of millions of dollars in cuts, and these cuts must come from somewhere. In bad budget years, nerves fray and morale sinks as the administration faces only bad choices and worse choices. And this is a horrible budget year.
An effective reorganization requires not only much political capital but also broad support and widespread assistance. A top-down reorganization, devised and dictated by a small group of people, will cost a lot of political capital to sell and may have too little support and assistance from faculty and professional ranks to succeed. Every university that aspires to greatness must be a "loosely-coupled" system requiring the voluntary and committed action of faculty.
This is the hard-headed argument for faculty governance: because faculty work in the gut of the university, it is better to have broad support for an imperfect organization than apathy about theoretically better one. Several years ago, the Board of Trustees and the United Faculty of Florida agreed to language in the Collective Bargaining Agreement committing both parties "... to principles of shared governance, which require that in the development of academic policies and processes, the professional judgments of employees are of primary importance." That lofty language carries a gritty reality. The goals of the university can best be met when faculty and administrators work together. This summer, the choices that the upper-level administration makes, and the process involved, will not only determine whether few or many have a stake in USF's success, but whether USF succeeds.