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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
9 April 2015
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Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF Sarasota/ Manatee

The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, April 10, at 12 noon, on USF Sarasota/ Manatee campus, in room B 226. There will be sandwiches, chips, and drinks. All employees of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit are invited. Check us out. Join the movement. Bring a colleague.

There will be a motion on the guns on campus bill on the agenda for the Chapter Meeting. For more information, see the article in this Biweekly.

Fight for $15 Minimum wage

On Wednesday, April 15, the Fight for $15 campaign will be demonstrating across the country – including at 10 AM in front of St. Petersburg City Hall and at 3 PM in Copeland Park in Tampa (northeast of the intersection of N. 15th St. and E. 109th Ave., about 1 1/2 miles southwest of USF Tampa). On their website it says, "We are fast food cashiers and cooks, retail employees, child care workers, adjunct professors, home care providers, and airport workers who have come together from all over the country – and the world – to fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation."

Indeed, at the last meeting of the West Central Florida Central Labor Council, the Council heard from a graduate student now working as an adjunct; he said that some adjunsts are making less than the minimum wage. The Council also heard from a fast food worker and elder care worker.

For more information, see their website and their Facebook page.

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

IMPORTANT: April 23 is the deadline

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.


Guns, Tenure, and Promotion

In this Biweekly…

  • Guns on Campus. A bill to permit adults over the age of 21 with conceal carry permits to carry their guns on campus has generated a lot of controversy. It is on the agenda for tomorrow’s Chapter Meeting. For more, see below or click here.
  • Tenure and Promotion Criteria. Right now, departments and colleges are composing criteria for tenure and promotion. For some comments and unsolicited advice about devising criteria for the four areas candidates are evaluated on, see below or click here.

Guns on Campus

Two bills to remove the prohibition against adults (with conceal carry permits) to carry guns on campus are moving through the Legislature. This legislation is supported by the National Rifle Association and opposed by Board of Governors, the university presidents, and the campus police chiefs. They are also opposed by the United Faculty of Florida.

The argument in favor of this legislation advanced by Florida NRA Board member and former President Marion Hammer is that: "Too often, college campuses are gun-free zones where murderers, rapists and other violent criminals can commit their crimes without fear of being harmed by their victims."

Many faculty are not convinced that permitting non-professionals to carry guns on campus is a good idea. A gun can be a temptation, and considering current problems with alcohol, suicide, and sexual and nonsexual bullying and abuse, adding guns to the mix may not be an improvement.

In addition, it is not clear that a gun-carrying non-professional would be able to deal with the sort of crisis (e.g., a gunman on campus) that supporters of this legislation envision. For example, let's compare the background of a non-professional with that of a professional.

The NRA offers training courses on the maintenance, handling, and operation of various kinds of guns, and their eight hour Basic Personal Protection In The Home Course requires such proficiency as a prerequisite. In addition, their 9-hour Level I Basics of Personal Protection Outside The Home Course has the "In The Home Course" as a prerequisite. At the last United Faculty of Florida Senate meeting, a UFF senator said that he had taken the NRA course and did not feel competent to deal with a gunman or a predator on campus using his gun.

In contrast, the Law Enforcement Training Academy at Hillsborough Community College offers a 25- to 27-week program that meets 40 hours a week to prepare a candidate to be considered by a police department (as a rookie).

In one way, a gun is like a musical instrument: a piece or situation that would challenge a professional is beyond the reach of an amateur.

At tomorrow's Chapter Meeting, the following resolution will be presented to the USF chapter:

HB 4005 and SB 176 would introduce a threat to public safety at USF, and we strongly recommend against the passage of this legislation.

If you have strong feelings about this motion, please feel free to communicate them to the UFF USF Executive Committee. If you have strong feelings about the proposed legislation, you can communicate them to your legislators: for more about that see the Biweekly article on Talking to Legislators.

Tenure and Promotion Criteria

It may be just as well that departments, colleges and units are composing written criteria for tenure and promotion. This will give candidates a more clear guide in designing their research programs and teaching practices. Written criteria will serve as a reminder (to be presented to faculty whenever a tenure or promotion decision is made) of what the departmental criteria are. And once these criteria are accepted by the Administration, that Administration has a moral and institutional duty to respect recommendations made by departments in conformity with the criteria that the Administration accepted.

This means that departments and colleges should take this project very seriously. But since this exercise is new for many units, it should not be expected that these criteria are chiseled in stone. If these criteria are used, they will be organic and evolve over time as the departments and the University evolves.

Once again, the new guidelines present a fourth criterion, that the activity of the candidate support the mission of the University (see the Biweekly article on the Fourth Criterion; all the articles in this tenure and promotion series are linked at the UFF USF website front page). While faculty and professionals are not evaluated annually on this fourth criterion, how a candidate's activity meets this fourth criterion should probably be addressed in any tenure or promotion packet. That means that it would be prudent for a department to compose a statement on its expectations of a candidate in advancing the department's mission and aspirations. Such a statement would serve two purposes:

  • It would give a candidate an idea of where to direct their energy.
  • It would present the college with a written statement of the department's view of itself, which the college has the (moral) obligation to accept or send back for revision.
The entire department should be involved in composing the statement as it involves the entire department and everyone has a stake in it. This particular statement should be flexible, and subject to (possibly annual) revision as the department's view of itself evolves. Indeed, this criterion may be useful in making sure that the department and the college are on the same page.

These statements would also provide invaluable information on the mission and aspirations of the University to the colleges and the Provost: in enterprises like universities, the actual work and progress is accomplished by the grassroots. Procrustean leadership guided by fashion and ideology and in ignorance of grassroots accomplishments and aspirations will only lead to mediocrity. And in view of the Administration's contractual obligations to academic freedom and shared faculty governance, a department's view of itself should be taken by the Administration as authoritative.

As for teaching, despite the contract's enumeration of materials to be used in evaluating teaching ("…class notes, syllabi, student exams and assignments, and any other materials relevant to the employee's teaching assignment. The teaching evaluation must take into account any relevant materials submitted by the employee, including the results of peer evaluations of teaching..."), there is a tendency to over-rely on student evaluations. As the University is under increasing pressure to enable student success, many new instruments for evaluating teaching will appear over the next few years. The written criteria should take this emphasis and this flux into account.

While the Administration's tenure and promotion guidelines make no specific requirement on the history of teaching evaluations for candidates for tenure, the word "excellence" does appear. Since many departments hire assistant professors with limited teaching experience, their criteria might focus on either the previous few years or the general trend of teaching performance of a candidate.

At USF, many if not most assistant professors are hired because of their research and scholarship credentials. USF has high and rising research and scholarship expectations. But measuring research and scholarship performance is tricky. When composing criteria for tenure and promotion, a department should make clear how its members disseminate their discoveries and creations: books, journals, refereed conferences, industrial and commercial products, performances, artifacts placed or posted, etc. Because lazy evaluators have grown more sophisticated – no dean puts a stack of preprints on a postage scale anymore – departments should anticipate the use and abuse of impact factors, citation indices, and similar devices. If the department has expectations beyond a simple stack of publications, the department should make those expectations clear. One possibility is to look at categories required by various grant agencies such as the National Science Foudation's "intellectual merit" and "broader impacts": see the NSF's Proposal and Award Processes and Procedures Guide for ideas.

Speaking of grants, some lazy administrators replaced their postage scales with cash registers: how much money has the candidate won from grant-giving agencies? Unfortunately, funding is flat while the number of proposals is growing, so many of the agencies are growing increasingly conservative. We will look at winning grants in a later article, but for the moment we pass on two pieces of advice to faculty seeking funding and look at the implications of this advice for using grants in written criteria:

  • Only a small fraction of grant proposals are funded, so faculty seeking funding should anticipate composing many proposals. One recommendation is two or three proposals a year. Some agencies permit the submission of revised proposals while others would prefer different proposals be different components of a single research program. Faculty should take the reviews to be assessments of how well the proposal fits into the agency's agenda and use that feedback in composing the next proposal.
  • Since the NSF estimates that each proposal takes six "man-weeks", a single person can spend an entire semester composing two or three proposals. In fact, many proposals are stronger when there are several Principal Investigators, and junior faculty should be encouraged to seek senior faculty as co-PIs. This spreads the burden and helps new faculty build track records.
Returning to criteria, a faculty member who is exploring a frontier but not necessarily hot problem may find that overstretched grant awarding agencies are wary of funding it. Tenure and promotion decisions based on actually winning funding may tend to reward fashion at the expense of innovation. A department may want to look at alternative metrics besides just asking whether or not a candidate won funding.

Also, for many departments, the traditional way of evaluating research is to solicit letters from senior and knowledgeable people in the field. Departmental criteria should be clear on the weight given these letters.

Finally, several colleges are exploring adjustments to their tenure and promotion Guidelines, and one proposal is that a tenure candidate be permitted to extend her or his probationary period if all parties agree. This proposal is in draft form, and the union has not taken any position on it, but we have received many comments and queries about the proposal. So we have placed it as a discussion item on the agenda for tomorrow's Chapter Meeting, and everyone interested in this issue is invited to attend. We also welcome comments and queries sent to our email address.


The next Chapter Meeting will be tomorrow, Friday, April 9, at 12 noon, on USF Sarasota/ Manatee, in room B 226.

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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