When the Legislature decreed that USF would be consolidated, it mandated a Task Force to make recommendations on how it would be done, and what the result would be. The Task Force presented its recommendations last week. The Administration's Consolidation Implementation Committee will also present its recommendations shortly, and from these two sets of recommendations, the Board of Trustees must distill something to send to Tallahassee.
In addition, the statewide United Faculty of Florida is also holding its elections (the UFF has statewide elections every other year). Karen Morian was the sole nominee for the presidency, and therefore is elected by acclamation. There are three vice presidential nominees, plus five nominees for the two open Governance Board seats, so UFF members should keep an eye out for a ballot from the state. (More on the UFF in the next Biweekly.)
Meanwhile, the USF Tampa Senate is also holding elections, so watch your email.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon on USF Tampa in EDU 317. On the agenda: the chapter election, bargaining, consolidating USF, the upcoming legislative session (more on that in the next Biweekly) including legislation on guns, white nationalists on campus, and plans for the fall union recruiting campaign. Come and check us out.
This spring, we will meet on February 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.
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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).
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).
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By March 15, the last day of Spring Break, the USF Board of Trustees must submit a consolidation plan to the State University System Board of Governors. This plan is presumably to be guided by recommendations from a Task Force, which presented its recommendations to the Board last week. The Task Force recommended something that looks rather like the current "regional campus" model (minus separate accreditation), plus additional support for the instructional, research, and service missions of USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota / Manatee; this would transform USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota / Manatee into "branch campuses".
The Task Force recommended that the two smaller campuses have their own regional chancellors reporting directly to the USF president (apparently bypassing the provost, as they do now) and "...manage, supervise, hire, promote and fire all branch campus employees -- academic and nonacademic -- in a manner consistent with USF policies, procedures, and guidelines," and those two campuses would have their "...own budgetary and hiring authority." This was music to the ears of the Tampa Bay Times, which promptly endorsed the branch campus model.
Since USF is stuck between the Legislature and our accreditor, it may be a good idea to look at what they mandated.
On 11 March 2018, Governor Scott signed An Act Relating to Higher Education (see pp. 10 - 14), which mandated that USF be consolidated by 2 July 2020. By 15 February 2019 (last week) a Task Force would present recommendations that included how to maintain the "unique identity" of each campus, how to maintain "faculty input from all campuses" in developing general education requirements that reflect those unique identities, and how to equitably distribute instructional programs and resources.
But it's not that simple. To a considerable extent, federal dollars depends on maintaining accreditation, and that means consolidating USF in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
On 2 May 2018, representatives of USF and SACS met and discussed several options available to a consolidated university, in particular, that USF St. Petersburg and / or USF Sarasota / Manatee could be "branch campuses" or "instructional sites" (other options were not discussed, but not explicitly excluded). SACS said that the main campus will be at Tampa, but that the other campuses may, if they desire, call themselves USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota / Manatee. More to the point, while "SACSCOC requires one mission for the newly formed University...," USF's Board of Trustees "will [emphasis inferred] create a new mission statement ... that specifies the uniqueness of each campus." What does that mean? "Curricula for the same degree ... must be the same on each campus. We cannot have different programs of study ..." on the different campuses. Therefore (and the sooner faculty and departments start working on this one, the better) SACS "...recommends that the faculty review the current curricula and decide on one. That one curriculum can already be in existence on one of the current campuses or a hybrid curriculum of multiple campuses."
And there will be one College of Education, period, but as for the much-ballyhooed proposal for a named School of Business on one campus within a named College of Business on another, SACS doesn't seem to like it but equivocates on the issue. (On the other hand, for each academic field - pointedly including fields within business, there will be exactly one department.) SACS tended to use the word "advisory" when referring to decision-making at USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota / Manatee, which may indicate something of SACS's expectations in, say, hiring or budgetary matters.
The cartoonist Walt Kelly once said of two dogs quarrelling over a bone, "Did you ever see the bone fight?" The two regional campuses would like to be treated seriously and with respect, and in that they have the support of the Task Force. The USF Administration (whose own Consolidation Implementation Committee will also submit recommendations) would like to preserve its pre-eminent status - and the money that comes with it. SACS would like to maintain standards that their constituents and stakeholders have agreed to - and not get in trouble with the US Department of Education (whose attitude towards accreditation has become a bit weird as of late). The USF Board of Trustees and the Florida Board of Governors has to navigate all this while trying to anticipate the reaction of a new commissioner of education and a new governor. And of course, both the Legislature and SACS probably would like to have the last word.
Meanwhile, Representative Ray Rodrigues, one of the legislators behind the original consolidation bill, has filed a bill to require that the Florida SUS Board of Governors report on intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity (!) and to mandate various other actions, including a mandate that USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota / Manatee will be branch campuses (see pp. 12 - 15) and that certain programs of "strategic significance, including health care, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and other program priorities" will be offered at the USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota / Manatee branch campuses. The USF St. Petersburg student newspaper, the Crow's Nest, observed that the bill "does not include a specific definition of what a branch campus is" (indeed, "branch campus" has a specific meaning to SACS).
Unless the Legislature changes its mind about consolidation - always a possibility, as this is Florida - consolidation is going to happen. So faculty would be advised to follow SACS's advice and open diplomatic relations with their colleagues on other campuses now to discuss how they are going to run their departments.
Because of the importance of the consolidation issue, we have posted on our website front page links to our articles on consolidation.
John Abresch is an Assistant Librarian in the Collections & Discovery Department at the USF Library in Tampa. He received a $ 500 travel scholarship to participate in the 2018 Charleston Conference: Issues in Book and Serials Acquisitions in November last year (the theme being Oh, Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?). The conference is an annual meeting of librarians, publishers, consultants, electronic resource managers and vendors of library materials. This is his account.
I presented a juried poster session Using a community of practice approach to transform: How an academic library collections unit re-organized to meet growing demands for e-resources and services during a time of institutional change at the Charleston Conference in Charleston, South Carolina. Participation in this conference provided me an opportunity to liaise with librarians who are engaged in examining critical issues in collection management practice and scholarly communication. The Charleston Conference facilitates discussions on issues such as library business models and open access. My poster presentation illustrated aspects of my case study on using community of practice concepts in planning library technical services. My contribution provides a method for library technical services department professionals and staff to create social capital and new knowledge for more effective delivery of information solutions to library patrons.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, February 22, at noon, on USF Tampa in EDU 317.
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