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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
7 February 2019
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Tenure Season

This is tenure season. The departments have sent out the packets, and they are now rising through the hierarchy, collecting recommendations.

  • Tenure Season. For what the contract says about the tenure process, and some realities of the situation, see below or click here.
The UFF USF Biweekly continues to run short accounts by recipients of the travel scholarships.
  • Imagining Tampa's Future. Nathan Johnson made a presentation on competing "imaginaries" of the future that surface in Tampa's city planning. For more, see below or click here.
Meanwhile, the union's election season is upon us. This spring, we will be electing officers and representatives of the UFF USF Chapter. All union members - and only union members - may participate by running for office or representative seats, and by voting. (BUT YOU CAN JOIN TODAY AND PARTICIPATE: click here for the membership form.)

We have issued a Call for nominations; all nomination materials are due by March 1. We urge everyone to get involved.

In addition, the statewide United Faculty of Florida is also holding its elections (the UFF has statewide elections every other year). Anyone interested in serving as UFF President, UFF First Vice President, as a FEA Governance Board member, as a delegate to the NEA Representative Assembly, or as a delegate to the AFT National Convention, should submit a nomination form to the email addresses on the form by February 13. After the close of nominations, the statewide UFF will conduct an election. (Warning to UFF members: this means that there will be two elections, both with snailmail ballots - per federal requirements - this spring.)

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow on USF St. Petersburg

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon on USF St. Petersburg in USC in the Regatta Room (see USF St. Petersburg campus map). On the agenda: the chapter election, bargaining, consolidating USF, and plans for the fall recruiting campaign. Come and check us out.

This spring, we will meet on February 8 & 22, March 8 & 22, and April 5 & 19 at noon at locations announced on the calendar of Upcoming Events. In particular, on April 5, we will meet in USF Sarasota / Manatee. Come and check us out.

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; see also the main article (left).

$ 500 Travel Grants for UFF Members

The USF Chapter of the UFF will award six $ 500 Travel Scholarships for summer and fall. This will be for travel for participation in a professional activity. All applications are due by Wednesday, April 17, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the 2018 cycles of travel grants is eligible to apply, and members of the Executive Committee are ineligible. The six recipients shall be selected by lot at the April 19 chapter meeting. For more information, see the Travel Scholarship Flyer.

This initiative is part of our membership campaign. If you would like to become active in the UFF USF Membership Drive, contact the Membership Chair, Adrienne Berarducci (click here).

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.

Tenure Season

Three fifths of the employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit are tenured or on tenure track - in fact, a seventh are on tenure track - and for them the stakes are high. So the union has worked to get the tenure process properly defined in the contract.

The tenure process is governed by Article 15 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (see pp. 33 - 36); this agreement is the legally binding contract between the USF Board of Trustees and the employees of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit. Here are some basic items on the tenure processin the contract:

  1. While candidates may come up early or stop the tenure clock for up to a year - with the Administration's consent - candidates typically come up during their sixth year (or at some other year if their college so decides).
  2. There will be written criteria for awarding tenure at the departmental, college, and university level, and these criteria must be available to the candidate.
  3. The candidate produces a tenure packet, which consists of the material to be used in making the decision of whether or not to award tenure.
  4. The decision on whether to award tenure shall be based on annual performance evaluations, the needs of USF, and the past and anticipated contributions of the candidate. Notice that the Administration has considerable leeway for exercising its judgment.
  5. If a candidate goes up for tenure but is not awarded tenure, that employee must leave USF.
Here are some realities.
  • The bottom line is usually what is in the packet, and what goes in the packet is what the candidate did during the entire probationary period. The time to start thinking about the packet is not the spring before coming up for tenure; it is the fall after arriving at USF.
  • While some outliers may get away with not satisfying all the criteria - a world class scholar might get away with posting working drafts on ArXiv without publishing in journals or books - but realistic candidates should obtain the departmental, college, and university criteria upon arrival at USF and use them as a guide for what is necessary.
  • Departmental recommendations are critical, but it isn't always the case that what the department asks of candidates (e.g. could you help out with the following service assignment?) is what will help that candidate get a favorable recommendation from the department. USF is a public research institution with enormous teaching responsibilities, and candidates for tenure should keep that in mind.
  • The administrative hierarchy may exercise its judgment at several levels of the hierarchy, which means that the candidate needs the support of her chair, dean, and ultimately the provost. And here's one reality: whatever the criteria, many of these administrators go through a packet looking for a reason to recommend awarding tenure - as if the burden was on the candidate to provide that reason. That means that if they go looking for reasons for denying tenure, they probably don't have a reason for awarding tenure. This isn't in the criteria, but a good reason for getting tenure might make all the difference.
  • Things have gone wrong. For example, the contract says that no one may surreptitiously insert material into the tenure packet. This has happened. More than once. And many other kinds of irregularities occur, partly because (and I am not making this up) some chairs and deans have not read the contract. It is necessary for a candidate to keep track of the state of her packet.
If some irregularity messes up the process, well, that's what the grievance process is for. But UFF cannot represent an employee in a grievance who was not a dues-paying member at the time that the employee knew or should have known of the contract violation.

Tenure denial has always been traumatic, and is getting increasing press. One blogger recommended staying calm, not involving students, documenting everything, and working with your department's chair and senior faculty (if they support you). The blogger also suggested remembering "that many people who do not merit tenure actually do get tenure"; but that may not be as psychologically useful as remembering that many people who do merit tenure don't get it (at first). Famous examples include Stephen Cook, denied tenure from UC Berkeley and went on to essentially launch the most notorious problem in computer science; Martha Nussbaum, denied tenure from Harvard and went on to develop award-winning work in social justice; and Theda Skocpol, a sociologist denied tenure by Harvard (which later hired her back).

In fact, Nature recently ran a career feature on Tenure denial, and how early-career researchers can survive it, subtitled, "Scientists with first-hand experience of rejection offer their advice."

Tenure track faculty should keep in mind that the entire "probationary period" is probationary. As the Biweekly observed, as of three or four years ago, perhaps half the employees hired as tenure track professors ultimately get tenure, and a lot disappear before even coming up. There are lots of reasons why tenure track employees might leave before coming up, and one is non-reappointment, which is why tenure track employees should also pay attention to Article 12 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (see pp. 26 - 28). For example, for a tenure-track assistant professor who has been at USF for less than two years, the Administration must give at least one semester's notice for dismissal; if the tenure-track professor has been here for at least two years, dismissal requires a years' notice.

The USF Chapter has been posting links to Biweekly articles on tenure on the front page of the UFF USF website.

Imagining Tampa's Future

Nathan Johnson is an assistant professor of English. He received a $ 500 travel scholarship to participate in the annual meeting of the Association for the Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine (ARSTM). This is his account.

Nathan R. Johnson presented his research on Tampa Bay transportation policy on May 31, 2018 for the ARSTM. ARSTM members conduct research on how groups discuss science, technology, and medicine, and how their language changes the ways people live. His talk was titled Resilient City Planning: Transportation, Social Justice, and Urban Development and was co-presented with USF Associate Professor Meredith A. Johnson. The research talk documented four competing public "imaginaries" predicting Tampa's future that have been used in city planning meetings. Each imaginary has been used to forward different city policies. They named these imaginaries "global cities, government spaces, state ecologies, and localtopia." They ended the presentation by suggesting that sustainable transportation policies should ideally accommodate the goals of each public imaginary. Johnson also took minutes during the ARSTM's business meeting, where he credited UFF's support for his travel.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, February 8, at noon, on USF St. Petersburg, in the USC Regatta Room.

We will have lunch at the meeting. All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.

Our website is http://www.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.