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United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
9 January 2014
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow Noon on USF Tampa in the Marshall Center

The UFF USF Chapter will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on USF Tampa in MSC 2702. Here is the spring schedule for Chapter meetings.

  • On January 10 in USF Tampa and on January 24 in USF St. Petersburg.
  • On February 7 in USF Tampa and on February 21 in USF Sarasota / Manatee.
  • On March 7 in USF Tampa and on March 21 in USF St. Petersburg.
  • On April 4 in USF Tampa and on April 18 in USF Sarasota / Manatee.
  • On May 2 in USF Tampa.
All meetings will be at 12 noon; the rooms for subsequent meetings are to be announced. There will be sandwiches, soda, and chips. All UFF USF employees - UFF members and non-members alike - are invited.

$ 500 Travel Scholarships for New UFF Members - and for UFF Members Who Recruit New Members

Last call for proposals for travel: all proposals from eligible UFF members are due TODAY: proposals may be submitted electronically to the UFF USF Chapter Secretary; they must be RECEIVED by 5 pm Thursday, January 9.

UFF members are eligible if they joined after August 25, 2013, or if they recruited a new members after August 25, 2013. A proposal is a brief (100 - 200 words) description of the purpose of the travel.

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.

IN THIS ISSUE

Use it or Lose it

It is often said that freedom isn't free, and part of the price we pay is with our time and effort. If we do not exercise our freedoms regularly, they will slowly and gradually be taken away from us. The same is true of our influence, our standing, and our rights.

Last year, the USF Administration instituted many substantive changes, partly rationalized by a financial crisis that the Administration ultimately admitted did not exist. Meanwhile, a major overhaul of the tenure and promotion system is going through the works. If any year showed the need for greater faculty involvement, it was 2013. It is time to start the new year with a resolution to stop watching (and complaining in the hallways) and take action.

  • Participate or Perish. The American Association of University Professors has a flagship journal, and the November / December issue was on faculty participation, especially on dealing with politicians outside of the university. For an overview, see below or online.
  • Faculty Involvement at USF .. and beyond. Last year saw major academic changes at USF, and the legislature will be in session during this semester. The two major places for faculty to get involved is the union and the senate. For more, see below or online.
At USF, spring is the democratic semester. The UFF USF Chapter will be conducting its annual election this spring - as will the faculty senates. The time has come to get involved, and one place to start is at tomorrow's Chapter Meeting, where the Election Committee will present an election proposal for this spring, including a schedule. All UFF members are encouraged to attend.

AAUP Academe Issue on Faculty Participation

In 2003, when AAUP representatives met with Virginia legislators, "what we heard most often from our elected representatives was their surprise to learn that faculty members have a voice separate from that of university presidents." With these words, Brian Turner introduced a special issue of Academe on faculty participation on all levels of college and university leadership. "The lesson learned was that we needed to do more to make ourselves heard."

For nearly a century, the American Association of University Professors has been a leading advocate for higher education faculty, and it's flagship journal is Academe. The November-December issue on Participate or Perish was guest edited by Brian Turner, of Randolph-Macon College's Department of International Studies. In his introduction, Turner noted that on academic matters, "We are the professionals with experience and expertise, but too often our expertise is ignored or, more likely, we do not even offer it to external decision makers who influence our work."

The problem is time: "We know that the 'ivory tower' is a myth, but the professional and campuswide demands on our time lead us to act as if the myth were true and to believe that we can somehow live divorced from the politics that takes place off campus." (Or even, we might add, from the politics that takes place on campus.)

The five feature articles were:

  • The right of faculty at private institutions to organize unions. A quarter century ago, Yeshiva University faculty tried to organize a union, and the National Labor Relations Board upheld their right to do so. But the Board's decision was overturned by the U. S. Supreme Court in 1980. Cornell professor of labor law Risa Lieberwitz outlines recent efforts to chip away at this decision, and describes the challenge posed by an increasingly hostile judiciary as well as by Congress.
  • Using ballot initiatives to effect legislation that legislators from gerrymandered districts won't pass. The Ohio legislature passed a law to strip public employees of many of their collective bargaining rights. AAUP Ohio Conference Executive Director Sara Kilpatrick described how the We Are Ohio coalition successfully campaigned for a ballot initiative that overturned the law.
  • California's efforts to cut retirement benefits. California is one of many states whittling away public employee pensions. Jonathan Karpf, of San Jose State University's Department of Anthropology claims that most faculty are uninformed about their own retirement plans - and what was happening to them.
  • "Performance-Based Funding." Florida is one of many states toying with abandoning old funding formulas (based on providing sufficient resources for enrollment, research expectations, etc.) with formulas based on "performance" as measured by trendy and easily computed metrics (like number of degrees awarded, student completion of 'gateway' courses, etc.). Simmons Centennial Professor of Education Policy and Leadership Michael McLendon at Southern Methodist University, and Professor James Hearn of the University of Georgia, found that implementation of performance-based funding depends largely on the ideological orientation of the legislatures.
  • Participating on the State Board. Kentucky, like Florida, has faculty (and student) representatives on its state higher education boards. Professor and librarian Nancy McKenney described her experience serving on the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, and concluded that "it is good for board members to hear directly from faculty when making decisions on behalf of higher education," and that the "faculty ... will be heard only if they insist on it."
There are two messages from this issue. One is that the issues are serious, and the future of higher education is at stake. Some of the issues are on campus (tenure and promotion, program changes), and some come from outside (institutional funding, and as we saw in the 2011 legislative session, tenure and job security - and in 2012, retirement).

The other message is that this is our university, and it is up to us to defend it. We have relied on the kindness of strangers for too long, and we are a defunded punching bag as a result.

So what does one do?

Faculty Involvement at USF

Organizations for faculty and professional involvement at USF already exist.

  • The shared governance system consists of the departmental, college, campus, and system-side committees and councils. The three faculty senates and the System Faculty Council oversees this system, and the System Faculty Council's chair represents faculty at the USF Board of Trustees. This system oversees academic affairs from departmental colloquium speakers to college recommendations for tenure. Legally, all these bodies are advisory, but in reality they do much of the administrative work of the university.
  • The United Faculty of Florida represents all faculty and professionals in the UFF USF bargaining unit, but it consists of those employees who choose to join. It is concerned with the terms and conditions of employment, and thus bargains and enforces our contract. The union has legal standing at USF, but in reality it's ability to do things depends on the support it receives from its members.
Both organizations are only as strong as the commitment of faculty and professionals to them. Recalling Boss Tweed's dictum that the way to get power is to take it, if we are to have a say in how our university is run, we need to exercise our influence. That means participating in the committees and councils of USF's shared governance system and in the union.

And both the shared governance system, and the union, have spoken with Tampa Bay area legislators and other politicians in the past, and we should not be shy about doing so now. We have a stake in their decisions, and their constituents have a stake in our university. It is time we talked.

Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, January 10, at 12 noon in MSC 2702 on USF Tampa.

There will be free sandwiches, chips, and soda pop. 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.

If you do not want to receive the UFF Biweekly, you can unsubscribe below. If you do not receive the Biweekly, but want to, e-mail a message to gmccolm@tampabay.rr.com.