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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
27 June 2013
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No Chapter Meeting Tomorrow

The UFF USF Chapter Meeting scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled.

There will be one more chapter meeting this summer: on Friday, July 26, at 12 noon, at a restaurant TBA in Sarasota near USF Sarasota / Manatee. Food and drinks will be provided by the chapter, and all UFF USF employees - members and non-members - are invited to attend.

Chapter meetings will resume for Fall on Friday, August 30, at 12 noon, and will run on alternate Fridays through the semester. The first meeting will be on USF Tampa in a room TBA; a meeting on the USF St. Petersburg campus will be scheduled early in the semester. During the semester, all UFF USF employees - UFF members and non-members alike - are invited to attend. There will be sandwiches and soda pop.

Bargaining is Underway

The UFF USF Collective Bargaining Agreement - the contract between USF faculty and professionals and the USF Board of Trustees - is due to be replaced. The current contract was scheduled to run from 2010 to 2013, and the United Faculty of Florida (representing UFF USF employees) and the USF Administration (representing the Board of Trustees) are now negotiating a successor contract.

The two bargaining teams will meet on Friday, July 12, at 2 pm, at the Patel Center in the fourth floor conference room. Bargaining sessions are open to the public, and all UFF members are invited to attend.

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. AND YOU CAN JOIN NOW AND AS A DUES PAYING MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE A $ 100 REBATE NEXT SPRING. Come and join the movement.


Academic Ranking and Two Updates

Mitch Silverman, a former president of the UFF USF Chapter, used to say that USF grew despite the powers that be. There was a need and a demand for higher education and for research and scholarship in the region, and we faculty and professionals have endeavored to meet that need as best we can. So how are we doing, and where do we go from here?

  • But First, Two Updates. Will Weatherford is not finished with our pensions, and the good guys won in FAU. For more, click here or see below.
  • The Rankings Game. Benchmarks can be useful, if they are showing you how you are progressing towards your goals. For universities, there are several rankings systems, and they look at different things. For more, click here or see below.
The July 11 Biweekly will have a follow-up on academic rankings.

But First, Two Updates

Let's start with our pocketbooks. The Tampa Tribune reported that Attacks on state pension fund not over and that while Florida House Speaker Will "Weatherford’s pension overhaul bill didn’t pass this legislative session [thanks mostly to the FEA], he promises to bring it back next year."

Well, maybe not next year. There's an election that fall, and some observers suspect that Weatherford will wait until 2015. But the issue is still alive, and that means that we need to educate our legislators.

And now for a reminder that when we fight the good fight, we can win. Readers may remember Florida Atlantic University teacher Deandre Poole, who was suspended after a student was offended by a classroom exercise. The Faculty Senate fought this one, and FAU has just announced that Poole will be returning to the classroom. Coincidentally, FAU president Mary Jane Saunders is looking for a new job.

The Rankings Game

In 1989, USF President Frances Borkowski vowed that USF would be one of the top twenty-five public universities in the USA by 2001. Well, we do have football now, but how are we doing?

Rankings tend to be superficial, procrustean things. Ranking organizations have their own agendas, and different institutions have different missions. The institutions' communities have different aspirations. All too often, ratings and rankings reveal more about the rankers than the ranked. But there is something that they might tell us.

The USF Office of Planning and Analysis has posted two lists of eight national peer institutions (of USF) and three aspirational peers. Comparing USF's ratings with those of these other institutions could give us a better idea of where we are (from a fashionably superficial point of view) and how far we have to go - in comparison with our peers and role models.

Alas, the The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning no longer ranks institutions; it only classifies them. For example, USF is one of 108 Research Universities with Very High research (RU/VH) activity (the highest classification). But there are other, less reputable, lists...

Very roughly, the spectrum seems to run from USN&WR's interest in education (parents buy the magazine after all) to ARWU's advertised interest in research. So here is the list of USF and its peers, and their rankings (USN&WR in the USA, the other three world-wide) (it wasn't clear which Rutgers was our peer, so both big ones are listed):

North Carolina State 106291301-350 151-200
Rutgers (New Brunswick)6826099 61
Rutgers (Newark)115451-500unlistedunlisted
SUNY Buffalo106313198 201-300
SUNY Stony Brook92300162 151-200
U. Alabama at Birmingham151unlistedunlisted 201-300
UC Irvine4415596 45
U. Cincinnati139389226-250 201-300
U. Illinois at Chicago147180184 151-200
U. S. F.170501-550226-250201-300
And here are our three aspirational peers:
Georgia Tech368825 101-150
U. Pittsburgh589876 58
UC San Diego38703815

Of course, this is just a snapshot: for serious study, one should browse publications like the 2011 Report of the Center for Measuring University Performance. But it's a start.

Now for two reality checks.

There is a delusion - to which Floridian politicians are particularly subject - that there is a cheap and easy road to excellence. If that was true, there would be a lot more excellence. There is no substitute for resources, and an outstanding institution without deep pockets will be relegated to be a farm team.

We will continue our look at the rankings and our peers in the next Biweekly.


There is no Chapter Meeting tomorrow. The next chapter meeting is on Friday, July 26, in Sarasota at a restaurant TBA.

Lunch on July 16 is on the house. 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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