The Request for Information garnered eight responses, featuring football stadiums, graduate student housing, research and office space, and entertainment and recreation facilities. There were promises to "mitigate replacement of wetlands" and "protect as much of the conservation area as possible." And there was a proposal from the Hillsborough County Commission to preserve the Preserve in perpetuity. The USF Administration announced that within weeks, it will create an advisory committee - with faculty and student representation - to vet the proposals and make a recommendation.
This entire episode - together with the implication that the USF leadership will name the committee - raises the issue of where shared governance is going at USF. The RFI was posted without consulting stakeholders, and after a great deal of noise, recommendations will be solicited from a committee of unclear provenance. The rest of the USF community is relegated to the peanut gallery. And recalling the (still unrescinded) proposal to cut Education funding, the announcement that USF will reopen in fall, and the shifting of monies from USF St. Petersburg to All Children's Hospital, this is not the only recent example of this pattern. And this pattern is not just happening at USF.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on Zoom. On the agenda: the June 8 Board of Trustees meeting (when the proposed Strategic Plan - see below - will be discussed), reopening in fall, salaries and assignments across campuses, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.
Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one. This summer, we will be meeting on alternate Fridays at 12 noon over Zoom: the dates are June 4 & 18, July 2, 16 & 30, and August 13. Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but 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.
UFF will sponsor a Tailgate Social for the first home football game of the USF Bulls vs. the Florida Gators on Sept. 11, 2021. The game will be at Raymond James stadium in Tampa. The game is scheduled to start at noon, but kickoff time is subject to change. Regardless, we are planning a tent, chairs, coolers, and food for 50 UFF members and families members before the game. In the past, our Tailgates have been at a prime location to watch the bands and players enter, meet up with Rocky, and enjoy the fans.
RSVP to Steve Lang if you plan to participate and let us know who is coming (like a spouse or children). We will need to order food and maybe extra chairs.
If you already have tickets to the game, that’s great! Otherwise, you can get tickets at the Go USF Bulls (Football Tickets) website. For the last few years there was an employee discount, so call them and ask. If you do not have tickets and would like UFF to ask for a group or tickets together, then let us know ASAP and we will try to arrange it. This game will be sold out! No one actually knows what the mask or vaccination policy will be at Raymond James Stadium at this time.
Please provide an email so that we can update folks with information about the time of the game, location of the Tailgate, parking, food choices, and tickets.
We have had some really great tailgate parties in the past few years at the Rays, Rowdies, and USF Bulls, so hopefully this will be a back-to-normal event.
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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.
Yes, we are on social media.
The American Association of University Professors was founded a century ago after several faculty at several universities lost their jobs. Originally concerned with academic freedom (a notion that goes back thousands of years) and tenure (a notion borrowed from unions), the AAUP became concerned about shared faculty-administration governance in the aftermath of the McCarthy years.
Recently, many higher ed adminstrations grew rather authoritarian as governance itself became increasingly opaque. The pandemic has aggravated the situation, and the AAUP has just issued a Special Report on COVID-19 and Academic Governance, concerning decisions made "by administrative fiat" and "little or no consultation with faculty." After reviewing sixteen examples, the report states that, "Perhaps the most obvious shared element among these examples and the eight cases discussed in this report is the pandemic’s exacerbation of years of preexisting financial difficulties caused primarily by stagnant or declining enrollments at small private institutions coupled with, at public institutions, ever-lower levels of state funding."
Decisions were made without faculty input, and to the AAUP "faculty input" means faculty representatives chosen by the faculty, not the administration. Instead, ad hoc committees were formed by administrative fiat to rapidly generate advice that the administration could rapidly act on, circumventing the usual procedures. Budgetary crisis was the usual justification, although administrations seem to be allergic to the phrase, "financial exigency."
"Though it would be premature to say that we have entered a new era of institutional governance ...," the AAUP is worried that the authoritarianism and opacity of governance will continue after the pandemic. To prevent this, the AAUP recommends returning to the principles enunciated in the AAUP Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities.
The report has been picked up by the higher education press. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Shared Governance Was Eroding Before Covid-19. Now It’s a Landslide, AAUP Report Says, and said that the four "takeaways" from the report were:
The situation may be more complicated then this report suggests: the AAUP conducted a survey of faculty governance leaders and 15 % of the respondents reported an increase in faculty influence, 24 % reported a decrease, and 61 % reported no change. However, the majority reported that faculty had no influence on budgetary decisions - and a quarter of the respondents reported that faculty feared reprisals for criticizing their administrations.
So where are the accrediting agencies in the midst of all this? Our accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools - Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) observes in its Principles of Accreditation paper, "Effective academic policies related to an institution's educational programs are developed in concert with appropriate input and participation of the constituencies affected by the policies..." (p. 23), and more specifically, "The tradition of shared governance within American higher education recognizes the importance of both faculty and administrative involvement in the approval of educational programs" (p. 17, which, presumably, would also mean faculty and administrative involvement in the modification or discontinuation of such programs). SACSCOC's Accrediting Standards says that "To gain or maintain accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), an institution must comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation..." What action (if any) the accrediting agencies will take in response to the degradation of shared governance remains to be seen.
Speaking of governance, the Strategic Plan is supposed to guide the university administration in developing policy. If the USF Administration is committed to "[adhere] to principles of shared governance" (to quote the Collective Bargaining Agreement), it would include sharing the development of the Plan.
On Wednesday, May 26, the USF Board of Trustees' Strategic Initiatives Committee discussed a proposed Strategic Plan (see the Workshop Agenda, pp. 2 - 47; a video of the meeting has been posted at the BOT site); the next step is at the June 8 meeting of the full Board of Trustees.
Among other things, the proposed Plan lists five aspirations. Three of the five aspirations are very much what USF should aspire to: improving student success outcomes and students' educational experiences, nurturing faculty success through the identification and promulgation of best practices across the institution, and increasing institutional impact as an engine for innovation and economic growth. But the other two suggest a certain insecurity.
That decisions are being made can be seen from page 24, where seven "signature initiatives" are listed (in order): Global and National Security; Environmental, Oceanographic, and Sustainability sciences; Health, Society and Biomedical Science; Social Justice and Human Rights; Design, Arts, and Performance; Analytics and Data Science; and Biology 2.0. Where these initiatives came from is unclear, but since such initiatives involve decisions about allocating resources, so we should pay attention to them...
We should pay attention to the entire Plan, as it will greatly influence where our university will go during the coming decade.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, June 4, at 12 noon, via Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.the Chapter Secretary. Come and join the movement.
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