USF has long had a faculty retention problem, at least in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit. In the 10 September 2015 Issue, we reported that most tenure track faculty hired as assistant professors ultimately fail to get tenure within six years. In the 23 June 2016 Issue, we reported that during the six years from 2009 to 2015, about 60% of the instructors and instructors had left while about 40% of the professors (all ranks) had left. In the 5 December 2019 Issue, we reported that the Colleges of Arts & Sciences and Business had the best retention rates while the Library had the worst. In the 18 June 2020 Issue, we reported that discrepancy in retention by race was greater than discrepancy by sex - and that (ahem) USF had too few "American Indian / Alaska Native" faculty to get statistically significant results for that group. And in the 4 August 2022 Issue, we reported that our retention problems are still with us.
Late last fall, inspired by a Working Conditions Survey of University of Florida faculty (within their Bargaining Unit) conducted by the USF UF chapter, the UFF USF conducted a Working Conditions Survey of faculty in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit to find out how things are going.
Readers may recall that UFF invited everyone to comment. There were 1,381 comments. In addition, UFF launched a petition to Protect Tenure in Florida’s University System - and as of this morning, it had 3,375 signatures.
And now the Board has decided to kick the can further down the road, perhaps to March 28 - 29 meeting at FAMU, although a spokesperson said she didn't know when the agendum will appear. Meanwhile, UFF intends to keep up the pressure - and so does the governor [USF ID required]. Stay tuned.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 pm at USF Tampa in on Zoom. On the agenda: the latest from Tallahassee, talking to legislators, the organizing campaign, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.
Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but to Zoom in you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one.
Meetings and events are posted on the Events Calendar of the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.
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If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement or the recent Memorandum of Understanding, 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 Grievances Page.
Many of our students are struggling during this crisis, and the USF Foundation is supporting the USF Food Pantries to help out. They are accepting non-perishable donations, but one can also make monetary donations for the pantries at St. Petersburg, Sarasota / Manatee, and Tampa.
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Last fall, the USF Chapter of the UFF conducted a Faculty Working Conditions Survey to find out how employees in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit were doing. The survey was conducted from October 24 to December 8, and garnered 486 results, for a 28% response rate - an unusually high response for a survey of this sort, suggesting an unusually high interest.
A preliminary presentation on the results of the survey were presented to the UFF USF Chapter on January 13. Here are some highlights from that presentation.
Most questions requested the following responses: 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neutral, 4 = agree, 5 = strongly agree; most questions also had "N/A or do not wish to divulge."
These may be the primary takeaways (click on the graph to expand):
There is a national movement to dismantle diversity / equity / inclusion programs [USF login required], and Florida is at the forefront. On January 11, the Florida Office of Policy and Budget told the State University System that, "Our office has learned that several state universities provide services to persons suffering from gender dysphoria. On behalf of the Governor, I hereby request that you respond to the enclosed inquiries related to such services." (The Mayo Clinic defines gender dysphoria as "the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth or sex-related physical characteristics.") The Office included instructions on how to respond. Since the letter says that this is part of the budgeting process and the legislative session is coming up, this may lead to some invasive legislation - a possibility confirmed yesterday by Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez.
Starting with the University of North Florida's Spinnaker's article, the story made it to WUSF, NPR, Politico, , and NBC.
But another letter seems to have gotten even international attention. The College Board is developing a high school Advanced Placement course on African American Studies, and naturally, a working draft surfaced on the web. The Florida Department of Education sent a letter to the College Board stating that the Department does not approve of the AP course that the College Board is still developing on the grounds that, "the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value," but promising to revisit its decision if the College Board proposes "lawful, historically accurate content" (assuming, of course, that it would be possible to compose content for the course that is simultaneously lawful and historically accurate).
The Department's letter promptly got a lot of attention. The Florida Standard, the Tampa Bay Times, CNN, Fox News, Brietbart, and BBC all reported the news. See also the segment on the PBS News Hour, with American Federation of Teachers Secretary-Treasurer Fed Ingram. It may be cynical to suggest that the Florida Department of Education appreciated the attention.
Returning to the problem at hand, the Department did not tell the College Board what their objections to the new AP course were. The Department should not be objecting to the idea of an African American Studies course, for the Florida State Statute 1003.42(2)(h) requires high school instruction on African American history, and the Department has a page dedicated to the subject. But as the Department made no specific objections, anything is possible.
Recalling that the gender dysphoria memo was posted by a student newspaper, many students are not appreciative of all this ideological coddling. The USF Oracle posted an op-ed claiming that Banning books is the first step toward destabilizing students' education (although another warned that not obeying the STOP WOKE law may lead to litigation), and the Washington Post reported that Students want new books - Thanks to new restrictions, librarians can't buy them [USF ID required].
The Books Should Be Boring movement is rampant, and we wonder why so many students aren't in the habit of reading books on their own.
Meanwhile, readers may recall that last December, the Office of the Governor asked for information on "the expenditure of state resources on programs and initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion, and critical race theory within our state colleges and universities." Here are their responses (USF's responses are on pp. 16 & 17). We may see what this leads to during the budgeting process in the upcoming legislative session.
The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, January 27, at 12 pm on USF Tampa campus in EDU 415 and on Zoom; for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary. All UFF USF employees are welcome.the Chapter Secretary. Come and join the movement.
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