Akron-AAUP - The American Association of University Professors at The University of Akron: Protecting Academic Freedom For a Free Society
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From our newsletter: Budget Crisis at UA – FYI

As you have doubtless heard, the administration’s preliminary budget for next year calls for nearly $15 million in cuts, with $9.1 million to come from the academic core of the university and $5.7 million from administration.

Department chairs, who have the task of finding any remaining non-essential items to cut from their budgets, are protesting that $9.1 million in cuts is impossible, especially after the cuts of the last two years. There are simply no more “efficiencies” to be found. These cuts are now being characterized as an “exercise” or the first steps in a “conversation”, but past experience has shown that similarly presented “exercises” have a way of turning into reality.

Read the entire article here.

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UA’s Program Review Gets National Atention

“But when faced with any conflicting priorities, our administrators typically view everything in terms of either-or choices. Where are the innovative efforts to find unconventional ways to save some of these programs?…We keep hearing about the need for institutions to find innovative ways to work together and to share resources. But when bottom-line decisions are being made, those assertions seem always to ring hollowly—to be exposed as completely empty rhetoric. It is simply more expedient just to draw a line at some arbitrary number of majors and to cut any program that falls below that line.”

See the entire entry on the blog of Academe.

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Program Review and the Role of Faculty in Shared Governance

From The Akron-AAUP Newsletter: February 17, 2014

On Tuesday, February 4th, the University of Akron administration issued a memo to the Deans, the Faculty Senate, Chairs and Faculty, and the Akron-AAUP detailing its plans to close 55 programs. In the memo, it was asserted that the list of program closures came as a result of the 9 year long Academic Program Review process.

In stark contrast to the length of time taken to complete the Academic Program Review process, the administration has requested that Faculty Senate review the recommendations and provide a response by April 3rd. Students are already being advised that these programs may no longer exist, and in fact, they have been removed as options on the application for new, incoming students. This action was taken without a vote by Faculty Senate or the Board of Trustees.

We find this to be a violation of the principles of real shared governance.
Many faculty have expressed frustration with the way the APR itself has been conducted. Urgent requests for data and rationale came from the administration, faculty scrambled to compile information and make it fit spreadsheets and short-forms that did not allow the full story of a program’s value to the  university and community to be told. Long periods of waiting ensued. The faculty role in this has been limited from the start, and the lack of detail provided in the administration’s Sharepoint site only makes this painfully apparent.

Adding to the confusion, there have been two additional program review processes to the APR; an analysis and recommendation from the Graduate School (an analysis that included faculty age as one of its criteria), and another independent analysis with recommendations from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. It is not at all clear that the results of the three analyses are consistent with each other. (Continued)

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According to an Independent Report Full Time Faculty Salaries Are Not Responsible For Rising Tuition Costs

According to a recent statement by university officials staffing the university with nothing but full-time faculty would necessitate a tuition increase of up to 30-40%. A new independent study simply doesn’t support claims that FT faculty numbers are the cause of rising tuition.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education Online:

“You see it on every campus—an increase in administration and a decrease in full-time faculty, and an increase in the use of part-time faculty,” he said. With that trend, along with rising tuition and falling state support, “you’re painting a pretty fair picture of higher ed,” he continued. “It’s not what it should be. What’s broken in higher ed is the priorities, and it’s been broken for a long time.”

“…new administrative positions—particularly in student services—drove a 28-percent expansion of the higher-ed work force from 2000 to 2012.”

“…the number of full-time faculty and staff members per professional or managerial administrator has declined 40 percent, to around 2.5 to 1.”

“…And the kicker: You can’t blame faculty salaries for the rise in tuition. Faculty salaries were “essentially flat” from 2000 to 2012, the report says. And “we didn’t see the savings that we would have expected from the shift to part-time faculty”

We refer you to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s online edition for details in their piece “Administrator Hiring Drove 28% Boom in Higher-Ed Work Force, Report Says” by Scott Carlson

If our links don’t work properly try copying and pasting this link into your browser:  http://chronicle.com/article/Administrator-Hiring-Drove-28-/144519/

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INVESTMENT IN PROGRAMS IS THE SOLUTION TO BUDGET ISSUES. REALIGNMENT AND REORGANIZATION IS A PATH TO OBLIVION.

Prior to the holidays faculty and staff received from the upper administration an emailed message of seasonal cheer.  In that message acknowledgement was made of the anxiety long present on campus over the uncertain fate of programs, departments, and jobs.  Unsurprisingly, the message contained no facts, no concrete plans, no answers; simply an implicit statement — one which has far too long summed up the administration’s negligent approach to shared governance–  “We’ll let you know what we decide.”  Happy Holidays, indeed.

–We Suggest A Clear Policy Decision Not to Implement Organizational Changes

The Provost’s office has been in possession of the recommendations of the program review committee since the end of last spring semester.  To date nothing has been done.

We strongly urge the Provost and other upper administration personnel not to implement further proposed changes.

Both the President and the Provost have spoken of the presumed need for significant reorganization. But we’ll point out two things: There have been no clear discussions anywhere detailing the specific concrete, material benefits to be gained. And this–both the President and the Provost are leaving the University.  Neither of these gentlemen will be present to endure the consequences of a plan, the implementation of which remains poorly articulated and communicated; a plan which we consider to be dangerous in its consequences to The University of Akron, its faculty and its students.

(Continued)

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Final Text of New Collective Bargaining Agreement

The University of Akron and The Akron-AAUP have agreed to the final form and language of the third collective bargaining agreement.  All negotiated changes have been folded in to the new contract with items that remain unchanged. Important dates have been updated, expired dates have been removed. The entire agreement is available HERE.

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Holiday Wishes to Our Members

Colleagues,

The Akron-AAUP Executive Committee, Negotiating Team, and Communications Committee wish all of our loyal members a very happy and safe holiday season.  We all look forward to getting back to the work we have to do in the New Year.  For now, enjoy your break and we’ll look forward to seeing you in 2014.

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New Time and Attendance System

Another Slap in the Face to Part-time Faculty

Shared governance structures are allegedly in place at UA to guarantee faculty input in discussions of policy changes and implementation of changes to management of resources. The lack of shared governance at The University of Akron has been severely criticized in the past by The Higher Learning Commission.  Now, we’re forced to ask: Why was there absolutely no discussion of the new time and attendance system that was recently implemented?

Changes to how full-time faculty report absences and submit sick leave requests seem simple enough; little more than an online substitute for the former required paper trail. Part-time faculty, however, must now report each and every week a detailed accounting of their time spent in and out of class in the prosecution of their important and already grievously and cynically undervalued duties.

Some departments simply do not use part-time faculty; others employ them for over 70% of their instructional offerings.  Institution-wide part-time faculty perform 52% of scheduled instruction. Currently, this means about 1500 part time faculty are now required to submit detailed weekly reports of their time.

Part-time faculty have never had to keep records like this in the past. The Affordable Care Act has clearly put a scare into the administration – a scare that none of our sister institutions in Ohio, other than Shawnee State perhaps, have taken very seriously. In response, The University of Akron has already cut many of these part time faculty to only two classes per semester (many were teaching as many as four) – the logic being that time spent in preparation and delivery of three or more classes would be too close to full time, and thus require the institution to provide federally mandated health care benefits.

Now, it seems that in addition to losing classes–and income– part-timers will have to carefully document that they do not work too many hours per week.  At an institution in a profession that depends for its public reputation on absolute integrity–in scholarship, research, teaching and financial management–our colleagues are now placed in a difficult ethical position.

Department chairs and faculty supervisors must approve these submissions every week. How will department chairs address instances wherein their part-time charges are over the full-time hour limit? Will they feel compelled to participate in falsifying the record in order to keep class sections open? If not, how will they offer classes the administration often demands must be offered when they are forced to cut teaching options for their part-time colleagues?

What are the options for part-time faculty who discover that they consistently work more than 30 hours per week? Should they reduce the amount of effort expended in providing instruction to their students? Should they intentionally and secretly devalue their own work, already performed for indefensibly low wages, and falsify the results in order to come in under some arbitrary target? What happens if they report honestly the amount of time and labor expended in service to the University of Akron and come in over this target? What options are available for the institution?  Will course loads–and therefore, pay–be cut? Will part-time faculty, the most contingent of all contingent faculty, simply not be re-hired? There is no obligation for the university to continue employment beyond the current contracted term.

Of course, the University will always have the option to do the just, moral and ethical thing and provide the legally mandated benefits to their loyal employees.  They could, in fact, do just that.

But let’s be serious.

This kind of burden imposed on the part-time faculty places them in the untenable and fearful position of having to choose between scaling back the quality of teaching they offer, their honesty in evaluating their own work, or preserving their jobs and income.  That may be the way to run a for-profit corporation, but it’s a deplorable and cynical way to manage the affairs of a not-for-profit institution of higher education. And in the context of an institution willing to provide millions of dollars in golden parachute retirement deals to departing administrators; in a state in which the Governor’s hand-picked minion chosen to oversee the affordability of college education in Ohio is one of the most egregiously overpaid college administrators in the history of the business, it’s also an insult to every thinking member of the profession.

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Letter From OC-AAUP President John McNay to Governor Kasich

John McVay, President of The Ohio Conference of AAUP sent the following letter to Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Dear Gov. Kasich:

I am writing on behalf of the Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which represents approximately 4,500 college and university faculty across the state of Ohio.

I recently read of your appointment of Mr. E. Gordon Gee to lead an initiative that addresses college “affordability” and “relevance.”  First, I commend you for your focus on higher education issues.  I agree with you that we cannot maintain the status quo.

Students must have access to an affordable college education, which has always been the promise of the Ohio public university system.  Unfortunately, though, the decline in state support, the pervasive problem of “administrative bloat,” and the consistent misallocation of resources to issues peripheral to the educational enterprise at our institutions has driven up the price of tuition to the point of saddling graduates with massive debt, or worse, dissuading people from choosing to pursue a degree in the first place.   (Continued)

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A Change in Leadership: Onward and Upward For Our Colleagues and Friends, Mike Cheung and Dave Witt

Faculty members at UA may often take for granted many qualities of academic life: academic freedom, shared governance related to evaluating and selecting chairs and Deans, intellectual property rights, objective criteria for raises, and faculty-driven RTP guidelines, among many others.  In other states, and at other universities, these and other rights are often nonexistent or in peril.  A daily reading of The Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Education is proof enough of that.

Over the last decade, a handful of your UA colleagues have guaranteed your contractual and legal rights on these subjects and your representation at the table when they are negotiated in the future.  In this day and age, that is no small thing.

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Dave at the AAUP Summer Institute, Reno, Nevada

Dave Witt

Professor Dave Witt is one of those colleagues.  Dave was one of the leaders of the successful collective bargaining campaign at UA, which guaranteed faculty these rights.  Dave helped make the case for collective bargaining, which almost 2/3rds of the faculty supported.  Dave wrote fact-finding briefs in support of the Akron-AAUP’s first contract negotiation, which led to one of the best first contracts in the history of Ohio higher education.  Dave has given workshops on faculty rights and how to achieve them to faculty from across the US.  He has given of his time and expertise to go to other campuses and help them get through similar experiences.  When Senate Bill 5 in Ohio was introduced to strip faculty of these rights, Dave helped to defeat it.  Over the years, Dave has spent thousands of hours, at no compensation, doing this for you and others. In addition to his own work, he has inspired countless others to follow his example. And he often made us laugh through all of the struggle.  If any individual can be said to exemplify the spirit of strength through collective action, it’s Dave Witt.

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Mike signs the sealed ballot box for Contract 1.0

Mike Cheung

Many people have made personal and professional sacrifices in establishing the Akron-AAUP as a viable and effective representative of faculty concerns at The University of Akron.  They have committed almost unthinkable amounts of time and energy to the improvement of faculty life here, from our initial Akron-AAUP union campaign, to negotiating the excruciating details of collective bargaining agreements and their subsequent successful implementation.  None has done more than Professor Mike Cheung, of the Department of Chemical and  Biomolecular Engineering.

Mike has served as Chief Negotiator since the beginning of our collective bargaining endeavor, shepherding three agreements through long, difficult, at times contentious, and ultimately successful negotiations. Recently Mike resigned this position in order to accept an appointment as Chair of his department.

(Continued)

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