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UFF Biweekly
United Faculty of Florida -- USF System Chapter
6 June 2019
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Advising, Support, and Student Success

Half a century ago, it was up to students to succeed academically. Freshman orientation at elite schools would start with a dash of cold water: look to the left, look to the right, next year, one of you will be gone. Those days are gone: the current expectation is that institutions will find some way for students to succeed. (If we do not, there is a queue of snake oil salesmen, campaign contributions in hand, lined up in front of the capital with promises and balderdash in pursuit of higher education funding.) So just as physicians spent the Nineteenth century trying to figure out what does - and what doesn't - work, educators are now trying to figure out how to get students to succeed. (Other than the traditional method of elbowing the competition for students with high SAT scores, that is.)

  • Student Success. A recent study suggests that advising and social infrastructure can greatly improve graduation rates. For details, see below or click here.
The UFF USF Biweekly continues to run short accounts by recipients of the travel scholarships.
  • Television Comedy and the Classroom. Martin Wendland, Internship Director and Instructor at the Department of Women's and Gender Studies, made a presentation on handling television comedy material in the classroom. For more, see below or click here.
And note below that at tomorrow's chapter meeting, we will count the ballots on the referendum to amend the constitution. All UFF members are invited to attend.

Chapter Meeting Tomorrow in Temple Terrace (near USF Tampa)

The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at noon at CDB Restaurant at 5104 E. Fowler Ave., just east of USF Tampa. There will be pizza (and salad). On the agenda: counting the ballots on the referendum to amend the constitution an bylaws; all UFF members are invited to attend. Come and check us out.

This summer, we will meet on June 7 & 21, and July 12 & 26 at noon at locations announced on the calendar on the UFF USF Website. Come and check us out.

Upcoming Events for UFF Members

Reception for President Genshaft. UFF invites all UFF members to a farewell social for President Judy Genshaft on Tuesday, June 18, starting at 4:30 pm, at the Top of the Palms on the third floor of the Marshall Student Center. She has been at USF longer than nearly three fourths of the employees of the UFF USF Bargaining Unit, and we have had a lot of adventures together. Come and join us: RSVP to the organizers.

USF UFF night at the Tampa Bay Rays. All UFF members are invited to join us for an exciting night of baseball with the Tampa Bay Rays. We have purchased a block of tickets for UFF members for the game versus the Baltimore Orioles on July 1, 2019. We will be sitting together in a group section (222) along the right field line. The game starts at 7:10 PM. To Reserve your tickets, contact Cecil Greek. Please indicate how many tickets you need. You will be sent an email with a link to download and print the tickets directly from the Tampa Bay Rays website (or you can form an account on their side and have the tickets sent to your phone.) If you have any questions, you can email Cecil or phone him at: 850-339-4268. Please reply by June 11.

Tailgate at the August 30 Game. UFF will host a tailgate tent at the August 30 football game between the USF Bulls and the University of Wisconsin Badgers. This NCAA game will be at the Raymond James Stadium, and attendees are responsible for getting their own tickets to the game. The UFF Tailgate Tent will is free to all UFF members and their families (we will have membership forms for UFF USF employees who want to join on the spot), and will open three hours before the game in Area 6D. Since we need to know how much food to order (and since attendees will probably want directions to the tent), please RSVP to the Tailgate organizer.

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 recent article accompanying the announcement of a Grievance Training Workshop on Thursday, June 13, 9:30 am, at Perkins Restaurant on 5002 E. Fowler Avenue, just east of USF Tampa. We will provide breakfast, and all UFF members are welcome.

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.

Student Success

During the past half century, society has come to regard student success as a responsibility of higher education institutions. Whatever student success is, it's up to the colleges and universities to accomplish it. At the college level, there is growing evidence that advising and support is critical.

The New York Times has just published a brief report on The College Dropout Crisis. The report takes a different approach from the more conventional view that it's all about improving the metrics (e.g. the four- and six-year graduation rates), and instead looks at the expected values of the metrics for the student body that institutions have and compares them to the actual metrics of those institutions.

For example, the authors' analysis suggests that both Western Kentucky University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, could expect a six-year graduation rate of about sixty percent. But WKU's actual six-year graduation rate is 67 % while UNLV's actual rate is 43 %. So what are Western Kentucky and other better-than-expected institutions doing? (This is of interest to USF, which is, from the point of view of this study, doing about as expected.)

There are some predictable answers, like money (students' finances are a major reason for dropping out). Some of the difference appears to be cultural: moving students into dormitories and building an environment where student networks can be formed more readily. And beefing up academic advising so that students get more advice, and more realistic advice.

The Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed Matthew Chingos of the Urban Institute, who helped with the study. Chingos told the Chronicle that many institutions are trying to improve their metrics by recruiting students with higher SAT scores rather than focusing on students after they are enrolled. As for how to help students, there was this exchange:

Q. ... some colleges are performing better because they offer a more supportive environment and a more structured academic path for students. Is this something that has come out in other research you've seen?
A. ... trying to provide a more structured academic environment, as well as a whole bunch of supports, has been shown to be successful ... more students living on campus seems to be associated with higher completion rates ... spending more on instruction and student services seems to lead to higher completion rates. But spending more [on institutional student aid] just to cut tuition doesnt seem to make much of a difference.

This study is consistent with studies of education at other levels. For example, a study of CUNY community colleges found that intensive advising and support greatly improved graduation rates.

Incidentally, this study counted students who enrolled at institution X and graduated from any institution Y within six years, thus producing higher graduation rates than, say, College Factual, which counted students who enrolled in institution X and graduated from institution X within six years.

Beefing up advising and support may not be the magic bullet - in the next Biweekly, we will look at the significance of teaching faculty (who students meet on a more regular basis) - but the spread of institutional performance on the better-than-expected to worse-than-expected on the six-year graduation rate suggests that there are things that can be done to help the students we have.

Television Comedy and the Classroom

Milton Wendland is an Instructor in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at USF Tampa. He received a $ 500 travel scholarship towards travel expenses to attend the 2018 annual conference of the Popular Culture / American Culture Association in the South (PCAS/ACAS) in New Orleans in October, 2018. This is his account.

I serve on the Executive Council, and I also presented work and chaired a panel on Television Comedies. My presentation on More than One Concept at a Time: Using the Netflix Series 'One Day at a Time' in the Classroom was directly related to my work at USF. I discussed uses and pitfalls of using popular culture forms (e.g. a situation comedy) in introductory and general education online courses, issues of diversity and inclusion, and strategies for keeping the popular culture form from overwhelming the substantive material of the course. My service as a member of the Executive Council was also directly related to my work at USF as I met with and directly mentored undergraduate students presenting at the conference for the first time. I was also able to network with several new colleagues in the field and this has already prompted preparation for a research panel for another conference based on these new contacts. Other conference duties included the council business luncheon and related events.


Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, June 7, at noon, at CDB Restaurant, 5104 E. Fowler Ave., Temple Terrace.

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.

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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