Category Archives: AAUP

Another Aspect of Shared Governance

If you’ve talked to me about academic labor politics for more than 2 or 3 minutes, you probably know that I’ve become something of an evangelist about contingent labor in the last couple of years. It would be fair, I think, to accuse me of speaking with the righteousness of the converted, although that conversion–in my estimation–took about a decade longer than it should have.

I have also been writing, on and off over the last few years, about ways to expand our conception of shared governance to include populations that will help pressure management to cede back to faculty, and the communities we serve, at least a reasonable share of authority over our working conditions and areas of expertise.

Enter today’s (Monday, Nov 14) Chronicle of Higher Ed, featuring a story about an AAUP panel recommending that contingent faculty have access to shared governance just like regular full-time faculty on their campuses. For the record, these are draft recommendations; the final version isn’t on any official timetable.

Intuitively, this makes perfect sense to me. Anybody who has a stake in a policy should have something meaningful to say about whether the policy gets established and what it does. And, intuitively it makes sense to me that contingent faculty are a lot more likely to be policy allies than managers are, at least about most things most of the time.

There are criticisms coming from fulltime faculty, none of which is surprising, but no less galling (in my personal opinion) for their predictability. I won’t even give them the airtime by repeating them. Read them if you want. What they all boil down to is this: “We hate the exploitation of contingent faculty until altering the structure of academic labor costs us something.”

That’s not good enough.

 

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Filed under AAUP, Advocacy, APSCUF, Chronicle of Higher Ed, Communities, Contingent faculty, shared governance, Tenure

And yet another attack on tenure

Our friends at Inside Higher Ed just keep the hits comin’.

This morning (6/8), IHE gives the floor to Naomi Schaefer Riley, whose pithily (snark!) titled new book The Faculty Lounges hits the streets soon.

Schaefer, who has written about arts and education for the Wall Street Journal, is (predictably) not a big fan of higher ed, even though both of her parents were professors.

Anyway, as you read this interview, all I’ll add editorially is this: in my estimation, her concern for adjunct faculty (her argument is that tenure enables the exploitation of adjunct faculty because as tenure makes us lazier, somebody has to do all the real work) is nothing but a smokescreen behind which her real agenda (a very barely masked Horowitzian political attack) lurks. She refers, obliquely but repeatedly, to the problems of faculty who are conservative (they’re the ones most at risk if the protections of tenure go away) and to the notion that fixed-term contracts will help “diversify” (Horowitz’s buzzterm for “make more conservative) faculties.

In short, after years of hearing David Horowitz, Lynne Cheney, and their ilk blusterblusterbluster about radicalism in the academy to no avail, I suspect Riley is supposed to sound like the voice of reason. And she does, except for the fact that almost everything she says is wrong.

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Filed under AAUP, Academic Freedom, APSCUF, Inside Higher Ed, Public education, Tenure

An Open Letter to PA University Students

[Professor Amy Walters from Slippery Rock U shared this letter with me this morning, with an invitation to distribute it far and wide.  The letter is an Open Letter from the PA chapter of the AAUP (American Association of University Professors).  Feel free to distribute it farther and wider!  –Seth]

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To Pennsylvania Students:

Last week, your Governor, Tom Corbett, proposed his first budget. Despite the fact that Governor Corbett pledged to place a high priority on jobs and the economy, his budget assures that Pennsylvania will be a competitive disadvantage economically.  He warned that his budget would be painful, and it was.  If passed, this budget will likely ensure that yours will be the first generation to have a lower standard of living than that of your parents.  You will confront massive challenges in your lifetime. There will be increased competition from within the US and abroad, where men and women are better educated than ever before. The best educated will develop the most significant advances in technology.  Opportunities will still exist; and education will remain critical to your surviving and thriving.  Unfortunately, you will have less help from the state government than any generation since World War II.

As a society, we face tough choices.  We are facing a deep recession; many people are hurting. Although there is wealth in our society, this budget does not ask the appropriate sacrifice from those who are more fortunate, nor from those in the financial sector who have brought this calamity upon us. Rather, this budget asks you and your families to sacrifice.

As the representatives of tens of thousands of college and university faculty throughout the Commonwealth, we wanted to write our objections to this proposal and to encourage the Governor and legislature to reconsider the drastic and devastating cuts proposed last week.  The proposed budget will result in higher costs and fewer loans for students; it will result in fewer faculty and more crowded classrooms; as a consequence, it will result in a less educated and less competitive Pennsylvania.

Just to summarize, the budget proposed last week cut state funding to the state owned institutions 54%, down to 1983 levels.  It is hard to see how PSSHE (Millersville, Slippery Rock, etc) will cope with those cuts without cutting faculty and staff (secretaries, maintenance workers, etc.), without cancelling classes and important programs.  Instead of your finishing your education in four years, it will likely take you five or six.

The state-related institutions (Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln) took similar cuts in the proposed budgets.  Penn State’s President, Graham Spanier, is predicting tuition increases of 10-20%, at what is already the most expensive public institution in the country.  In addition to firing faculty, he predicts closing some branch campuses.

PHEAA, which funds loans for both public and private college students, was cut by almost 3% and, for private schools, the cuts may reach 7 %.  Thus student aid will go down as tuition goes up.  Likewise,  community colleges will cut classes and faculty, making it harder for citizens to start or restart their education.

Pennsylvania faces a large budget deficit of approximately $4 billion; there are no easy fixes. However, you all know that no economy thrives for long without a middle class. Cutting higher education means cutting the opportunity for many to move into or remain in the middle class. So, cutting money spent on education is akin to eating your seed corn.

Students did not cause this economic crisis; neither did their parents.  Faculty did not. University staff did not.  The middle class did not; but now we are being asked to pay for it.

As leaders of the Commonwealth, the governor and legislature have an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of millions of Pennsylvanians.  The budget proposed last week was only a first step, and you should take the opportunity not only to get justification of funding from the universities cut, but to think about your priorities and those of the state.  In the end, we think you will realize the wise thing to do is to restore the funding for higher education. We think that, eventually, they   will recognize the need to plant the seeds of education, so the Commonwealth will reap the benefits.

This is not a time for silence. As educators and as citizens we need to step up and be heard on this matter. Clicking on this http://www.legis.state.pa.us/ will take you to the Pennsylvania legislature’s website, which contains contact information for the state House of Representatives and Senate. We encourage you to use this resource to contact your local representative and or state senator to voice your opinion on this proposal.  Let them know that that the budget proposal is a bad deal for all Pennsylvanians.

 

 

Executive Board of the PA-AAUP.

 

 

 

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Filed under AAUP, Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, PASSHE, Penn State University, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, University of Pittsburgh