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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
12 February 2015
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow Noon on USF Tampa - Followed by Tenure Workshop

Tomorrow Friday the Chapter will meet at 12 noon on USF Tampa at the Marshall Student Center in room MSC 3704. The meeting will be followed by a workshop on the tenure process (for details, see announcement below).

Here is the meeting schedule for the rest of the semester:

  • Tomorrow, 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; deadline is TOMORROW

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) -- or by voting. 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.


Renewal, Tenure, Promotion ... and Memories

Returning to our series inspired by the new tenure guidelines...

  • More Than Nature or Nurture. So how does one succeed in teaching, research, and service? For the next article in the series, see below or click here.
Links to previous articles in this Series on Performance, Evaluations, and the Reward Structure: Raises, Renewals, Tenure and Promotion are on the UFF USF website.

And recent news brings us back down Memory Lane.

  • Remembering tribus horrendum annis (or were they three horrible years?) Two of the major figures of USF's last great crisis are in the news, so this may be a moment to remember the crisis that forged the Chapter. For more, see below or click here.
A correction to last issue: the USF Sarasota Manatee faculty senate is a representative body. The senates are the leading voices of the faculty on academic matters, and they need our participation and support.

More Than Nature or Nurture

For some of us, the job is their life. For others, it's their livelihood. For still others, it's a calling. And for others, it's a stepping stone. And for some, it's something to fun to do.

This affects what kind of job we do, and what kind of job we want. And while the union usually focusses on how supervisors evaluate employees (a very serious consideration for raises, renewal, tenure, and promotion), when we think about how we are doing, it may be a good idea to start with the sort of job we want to do.

Keeping an eye on raises, renewal, tenure, and promotion, let's focus on "success". Contrary to the all-American fantasies about making it on American Idol, not to mention old-world notions that either you're born with it or you're not, there is a work-ethic school of thought about this. "Genius," said the Comte de Buffon, "is nothing but a greater aptitude for patience." Eddie Cantor said, "It took me twenty years to become an overnight success." Thomas Edison, who had a particular obsession about the subject, said that "The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense."

But there is more to it than that. Here is Edison again: "Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration." "Real work" does not mean avoiding mistakes. Edison made many mistakes and was proud of it: "I have not failed. I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work."

Self-help books have been all the rage ever since there was a social ladder and a controversy over whether or not it was worth climbing but recently the study of success has become more serious. Reporter Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers suggested that it's a matter of luck and intelligent stick-to-itiveness.

  • Luck. In Canada, age eligibility for youth soccer is determined by birthdate, so children born early in the year will be the largest in their teams and will be encouraged to continue, while children born late in the year will be the smallest and encouraged to do something else. Gladwell observed that leading Canadian soccer stars tend to be born early in the year.
  • Ten Thousand Hours. Gladwell trotted out (some say cherry-picked) examples of people who spent ten thousand hours working on one thing, and became very good at it. This observation was based on work by FSU Professor Anders Ericsson on the use of deliberate practice, a subject we will return to in later articles.
Observe that someone attempting to follow Thomas Edison's advice would need to have support. Innovation in education and research involves taking risks, and the current practice of continuous evaluation and accountability deters risk-taking. An instructor who tried a new pedagogical technique that did not pan out could get in trouble. If we really want excellence, we have to think carefully about our evaluation and reward structures.

Remembering tribus horrendum annis (or were they three horrible years?)

The next presidential election is only 635 days away, and one of the two leading candidates is former Florida Governor John Ellis (Jeb) Bush, who helped launch one of the major crises in Florida's higher education. While the crisis spanned the state, USF was particularly affected when 9/11 put USF in the international limelight. Thirteen and a half years later, Bush is back in the news; and, briefly, so is another major figure in the crisis, former USF Professor Sami Al-Arian.

With these two figures back in the news, perhaps it is time for a retrospective. After all, we've come a long way: since 2001, USF enrollment has grown over 21 %, research funding grew fourfold, and UFF membership at USF more than tripled.

Sixteen years ago, when Bush was governor, he met with then Florida House Speaker John Thrasher in an Orlando restaurant to discuss (among other things) the refusal of the Florida Board of Regents to be a lapdog for Tallahassee politicians like Bush and Thrasher. (Back then, the Board of Regents oversaw the State University System.) Bush and Thrasher decided to abolish the board and replace it with a scheme they drew out on a napkin: a system of boards at various levels that would be more ... accountable ... to the politicians.

There was some gravy. Bush was trying to get rid of the public employee unions, and reorganizing the university system seemed to provide a rationale for decertifying the United Faculty of Florida. By September 11, 2001, the game was afoot.

USF was soon involved - and entangled - in 9/11. Then-USF Computer Science Professor Robin Murphy brought robots to the WTC wreckage to help the search (she has since moved to Texas). Meanwhile, Fox News talk show host Bill O'Reilly invited USF Computer Science Professor (and Palestinian activist) Sami Al-Arian to his show, where he roasted Al-Arian for his connections with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other groups - none of which were involved in the 9/11 attacks.

The uproar over Al-Arian lasted until his arrest in 2003. The USF Administration and Board of Trustees came under enormous pressure, and Al-Arian was fired, unfired, and then left in limbo, barred from campus. The problem was that dismissing Al-Arian required grounds for dismissal. Back then, the USF Chapter of the UFF had a policy to represent all faculty facing dismissal, so the union defended his due process rights as an employee.

While Al-Arian's case got all the attention, the Bush-Thrasher reorganization went through, the Board of Regents was replaced by a statewide Board of Governors overseeing a system of boards of trustees, all answerable to Tallahassee. Many people, particularly former Governor Bob Graham, worried that the reorganization would politicize the universities, and they persuaded the people of Florida to pass a referendum to help insulate the boards from the governor and the legislature. The referendum did not stop the effort to decertify the United Faculty of Florida, which in USF found itself in a two-front war.

The union's involvement with Al-Arian ended with his arrest. But while that got USF out of the international limelight, it only ended one front for UFF. A union is certified if it wins a certification election in which employees vote on whether they want to be represented by that union. A certification election can be forced by getting enough employees to sign a petition asking for the election. At many universities, including USF, a majority of the faculty signed the petition, and the union hoped that the administrations would voluntarily recognize the union and forgo an election. After two university administrations actually forced and overwhelmingly lost certification elections, the rest of the administrations voluntarily recognized the union. That included USF, and on 13 December 2004, USF President Judy Genshaft and UFF USF Chapter President Roy Weatherford signed the first contract between UFF and USF. The three hard years were over.

Al-Arian was tried (and largely but not entirely acquitted). There was a plea bargain which was supposed to get Al-Arian deported at once, but during the following decade he was imprisoned and later put in house arrest. But now, as the Times and the Tribune reported, he has been deported to Turkey. Meanwhile, Bush is running for president and Thrasher is president of Florida State University.

As for UFF, in early 2002, when all this was getting started, statewide President Tom Auxter asked the USF Chapter to compile an archive for future scholarship. (The USF Library's Special Collections also kept an archive of the affair.) The Chapter decided to send out, every other week, to all faculty, links to the stories it encountered. Later, the links and comments were collected into a website on the entire affair, which is now an online archive (but after over a decade, many of the links have rotted away). The tradition of a biweekly email broadcast to all faculty continues as the UFF Biweekly.

There was one significant change. The statewide UFF decided that because pursuing grievances was expensive - in staff support and legal fees as well as the time of our volunteers - the union would no longer defend any employee who was not a member at the time the employee knew or should have known of the violation. We represent all in-unit employees in bargaining but not in grievances, so anyone who desires that protection should join today.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, February 13, on USF Tampa, in the Marshall Student Center, room 3704.

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.

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.