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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
29 January 2015
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow Noon in USF St. Petersburg

Tomorrow Friday the Chapter will meet at 12 noon at USF St. Petersburg, at the University Student Center (200 6th Ave. S., denoted USC in the USFSP campus map) in the Ocean Room.

Here is the meeting schedule for the spring semester:

  • Tomorrow, Jan. 30, on USF St. Petersburg, at the University Student Center, in the Ocean Room.
  • Feb. 13, on USF Tampa, in MSC 3704.
  • Feb. 27, on USF Sarasota / Manatee, location TBA.
  • Mar. 13, on USF Tampa, in MSC 3704.
  • Mar. 27, Apr. 10 & Apr. 24, on USF Tampa, location TBA.
All meetings will be at noon, and we will serve lunch. All employees of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit are invited. Check us out. Join the movement. Bring a colleague.

Tenure & Promotion Workshop on February 13

The UFF USF Chapter will conduct a workshop on the tenure and promotion process on Friday, February 13, from 2 pm to 4:30 pm on USF Tampa in the Marshall Student Center, room MSC 3704. The workshop is open to all UFF members, and we will have membership forms for anyone who wants to join. RSVPs would be nice as we would like to know how many handouts and cookies to bring; you can send RSVPs to the Chapter Secretary.

Call for Nominations

The UFF USF Chapter will be holding elections this spring. All union members, and only union members, may participate by running for one of the four elective offices (president, vice president, secretary, treasurer) or one of the representative seats (UFF senator or FEA delegate). The Election Committee is now seeking nominations, and self-nominations are encouraged. The nomination form is posted online, and completed nomination forms may be sent to the chapter secretary.

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

The USF Chapter of the UFF will award four $ 500 Travel Scholarships for next spring and summer.

If a new member is recruited, the new member is eligible for one of the scholarships for new members and the recruiter is eligible for one of the scholarships for current members. Membership forms and proposals must be in our hands by April 23, and two proposals by recruiters will be randomly selected for funding.

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.


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.

Visit Us on Facebook

Visit the United Faculty of Florida at USF Facebook page. 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, 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.


Evaluations - and Elections, Too!

It's that time of year again. Annual evaluations. And for some of us, promotions or even tenure. The union focusses on the integrity of the process by which employees are evaluated and evaluations acted upon, for things do go wrong. But for most employees, the issue is the content of the evaluation folder or the promotion packet. We continue our occasional series about job performance.

  • Evaluations. Assuming that the evaluation is conducted properly, what is being evaluated? For more, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, this is election season, and not just for the United Faculty of Florida. The USF Tampa Faculty Senate will also be conducting elections soon.
  • Support Your Faculty Senate! Important issues from tenure to the budget come before the senates, and faculty engagement is critical for the health of the university. For more, see below or click here.
This is your university. Get involved!


Since evaluation time is coming, this may be as good a time as any to review the 10 January 2013 issue on preparing evaluations. But with departments reviewing their tenure criteria, this may be a good time to ask hard questions about what the evaluations are for.

The current fashion is to boil someone's performance down to a clutch of numbers. In fact, in schools across the country, resources are being diverted from education to test preparation - i.e., generating numbers for evaluating students, teachers, schools, parents, politicians, birds migrating over the playground, etc. There are high stakes involved, and as a result, there is a sort of Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle at work here: the act of measuring has an effect on whatever is being measured.

There are at least two questions we should ask when thinking about how to evaluate performance.

  • What do we want? Recalling Ivan Pavlov's work on reflexes, what is evaluated is what gets the resources. For example, ever since former Board of Regents member Steven Uhlfelder persuaded the BOR to require that student evaluations be posted, student evaluations have been the tail that wags the dog. But now, the legislature is pressuring the universities to get students through the program (this is the retention issue). Meanwhile, employers are complaining about student skills. These are three different goals, and it would be naive to think that one can address all three at once. So what is a teacher to do?
For their own self-preservation, many employees will do what the evaluation criteria pushes them to do. If supervisors base their evaluations on student evaluations, that will be the priority of many teachers.
  • What are we measuring? Figures don't lie, but liars can figure, and worst of all, incompetently or randomly generated figures look impressive. For example, one of the popular evaluations of research is to check a researcher's impact factor in a database like the Web of Knowledge, which uses a formula based on citations in publications listed in the Web of Knowledge (but not elsewhere), which means that having a high impact factor means that you are impressive in the Web of Knowledge's neck of the woods. Since most publications are not counted by the Web of Knowledge, it is not clear a Web of Knowledge impact factor means. This is but one quirk in the current fashion of measuring performance by counting citations. There are other quirks: some impact factors tend to favor researchers who publish a lot of frequently cited articles, as opposed to, say, researchers who publish a few very highly cited articles.
This is why, ahem, in annual evaluations, the evaluator is supposed to stick to the submitted material and not introduce foreign material into the evaluation packet (see Section 11.1 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement); that includes Web of Science citation reports. If the evaluator wants citation reports, the evaluator can ask for them, and the evaluated employee has a chance to investigate the citation system and place the report in context. (For promotion or tenure, foreign material may be introduced into the packet, but the candidate must be notified and given a chance to respond: see Sections 14.3 and 15.5B.)

This may seem a bother. We were hired as scholars in our own fields, not in metrics. But since our assignments depend on how administrators perceive our performance, we have to understand how our performance is measured. And, if necessary, educate our colleagues on how to improve evaluations in our own departments.

Support Your Faculty Senate!

While the United Faculty of Florida is the independent voice of the faculty, with the legal standing to bargain and enforce the terms and conditions of our employment, it is the shared faculty governance system through which faculty speak on academic issues. This system consists of the departmental, college, and campus committees that oversee everything from textbook selection to promotions. All these committees are technically advisory, but in reality faculty do much of the work at the university and administrators usually accept the advice in order to keep the wheels turning.

The importance of the shared governance system is in the contract. From Article 4.5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement: "... Academic Responsibility implies a commitment actively to foster within the University a climate favorable to responsible exercise of freedom, by adherence 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."

On each campus, at the top of the shared governance system is a faculty senate. The USF St. Petersburg Senate and the USF Tampa Senate are elected by faculty; the USF Sarasota / Manatee Senate is the faculty. (Above the three senates is the System Faculty Council, chaired by the faculty representative to the USF Board of Trustees.)

From the budget "crisis" of fall, 2013, to the tenure guideline revisions of spring, 2014, major issues come before the senates. And if the Administration's consultation with the senates is inadequate, that's all the more reason for vigilance there.

This spring, the USF Tampa senate will be conducting its election. They are currently collecting nominations; the deadline is February 13. We encourage all Tampa faculty to consider serving their colleagues by running for the senate: the nomination form is posted online.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, January 30, on USF St. Petersburg, in the University Student Center, in the Ocean Room.

There will be sandwiches 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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