Category Archives: Tenure

We didn’t sing the Helplessness Blues – we were an advocating machine!

Fleet Foxes has a song that just about sums up my feelings about the strike. We have all been taught that we are “something unique”, and we are. But we are also part of something beyond ourselves, and this year, it was the mighty, mighty union, APSCUF.

What strikes me now is that as chapter president, I was indeed a “cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.” From the students and faculty who worked on campus to the 14-campus group we were all part of, from my local executive council and our officers and strike team up to the state leadership, it was awe-inspiring to be in the middle of a movement. Let’s not forget that.

So, enjoy this song. It may not be your stylistic cup of tea, but it’s mighty inspiring.

Solidarity forever!

Mark

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Filed under APSCUF, Collective Bargaining, Communities, Contingent faculty, Contract Negotiations, Higher Ed history, liberal arts, lobbying, Public education, Public employee unions, Teacher unions, Tenure, Unions, VoteSmart.org, West Chester University

Speak up for faculty (and students) at Mount Saint Mary’s University

By now you’ve likely heard the news from Mount Saint Mary’s University about their recently hired president’s plan to improve the university’s retention rates and the aftermath. I’ll summarize below in case you haven’t followed it. If you have but haven’t yet signed this petition to Mount Saint Mary’s University to reinstate two fired faculty members, we encourage you to add your name. It’s an important statement in support of colleagues whose due process and academic freedom have been violated as ominously as any time I can remember.

Here’s a nutshell version of Newman’s retention plan–

  1. Early in the fall semester, identify students who are at risk–academically, emotionally, financially–of leaving the institution.
  2. Encourage them to drop out as quickly as possible so that you never have to report them as matriculated.
  3. Ergo, improve retention by reducing the number of “dropouts.”

[It’s worth a minute to look at President Simon Newman’s background before we keep going. Notice anything missing? Any experience whatsoever with higher ed before being appointed as president of a university. Anywho….]

To make matters worse, President Newman had an email exchange with campus leaders in which he said some controversial (yes, that’s understatement) things, the most disturbing of which was:

“This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”

When that quote showed up in the Washington Post and Inside Higher Ed, the story suddenly became national (read: embarrassing). And when President Newman learned that two faculty members–one tenured, one tenure-track–had leaked emails (one of the faculty was the advisor to the student newspaper), he fired them without any hearings, investigations, or procedures whatsoever. Clearly, his fundamental ignorance about how universities work and what faculty do made it seem logical for him to fire people who were “disloyal” (his word).

This is why we fight to protect tenure (and due process for colleagues with/without tenure). Signing this petition is a simple way to help. Indirectly, it’s also a statement on behalf of students who spent a lot of time, money, and emotional energy committing to a school run by somebody with such profound disregard for their well-being that he could think, much less say, what he did.

PS: In case you’re curious, the president tried to identify students to “drown” via a survey (as reported in Inside Higher Ed) that will make your skin crawl if you know anything about privacy or research ethics.

[Updated 5 pm Fri: The university has announced that it will reinstate the fired faculty in hopes of beginning what the president and board call a healing process; the board has reaffirmed their support of the president. The fired tenured faculty member says he has no intention of returning to the university.]

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Filed under Academic Freedom, Access, free speech, Inside Higher Ed, Retention, Tenure, Uncategorized

Our colleague Dr. Kevin Mahoney from KU says a lot here that I would also have said. He says it somewhat more savvily than I was going to, so I’m just reposting his version of it.

APSCUF-KU xchange

This past Saturday, APSCUF posted the following negotiations update on its blog:

APSCUF and PASSHE negotiators met Friday, September 14, at the Dixon Center in Harrisburg.  The Chancellor’s team passed a proposal on retrenchment language and made suggestions for future bargaining sessions. APSCUF caucused and responded to their proposal in writing. The two sides reconvened and failed to come to agreement on the language, but agreed to session definitions for the next two times: on Oct. 5th APSCUF will present on curriculum, class size, and distance education and on Oct. 22nd the Chancellor’s team will discuss temporary workload and concessions on retiree health care.   There was neither discussion of nor progress made on the Chancellor’s team’s demand for concessions on distance education, active and retiree health care, and temporary faculty workload.

There is so much packed into this statement, but I want to focus on one issue in…

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Benefits/Benefit Cuts, Budget, Budget Cuts, Collective Bargaining, Contingent faculty, Contract Negotiations, Office of the Chancellor, Tenure, Uncategorized

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

More evidence that Ed Reform movement is about busting unions than about students’ learning

Thanks to Mark Rimple for the link below.

If you’ve seen the movie “Waiting for Superman,” you know what a disingenuous account of teaching and learning it is. If you haven’t, don’t watch it unless you need something to make your blood pressure go up.

Luckily (if I mean “luckily” about ten thousand times more ironically than you thought I did), director Steven Brill has published a new book called Class Warfare that (wait for it…) lobs the exact same anti-union attacks as the movie did.

I would formulate a response to it myself, but fortunately Richard Rothstein did it before I could, and substantially better. Read it here.

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Filed under Advocacy, Arne Duncan, Collective Bargaining, Education reform, K-12 Education, Michelle Rhee, Public education, Public employee unions, Teacher unions, 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

Another flagrant attack on tenure

Seth is back from a much needed vacation, and I wish my first post of the summer brought better news.

From this morning’s Inside Higher Ed, an article called From Tenured to Adjunct describes the University of Louisiana system’s move to fire tenured faculty and rehire them as adjunct faculty. I won’t even summarize the details here–it’s too disheartening to rehash them, and you can read the story by clicking the link–but it’s clear that the financial issues are NOT at the heart of the matter. It’s also clear that because Louisiana law doesn’t require “financial exigency” as the standard they have to meet before they can retrench tenured faculty, they have a certain flexibility that PASSHE also has (because we don’t require it either).

As I’ve said dozens of times by now, in various settings: you may not find this frightening personally, although I can’t imagine how it doesn’t make you at least a little nervous. But even if it doesn’t scare you, it ought to BLOODY INFURIATE YOU that a bunch of suits would treat our colleagues and profession like this.

And again, as I’ve also said repeatedly here and elsewhere, thank whatever deity you believe in for our union, which makes it a whole lot harder for anti-education forces to have their way with us.

And when you get done thanking that deity, maybe it’s about time (if you haven’t already) for you to send an e-mail to your local APSCUF leadership asking what you can do to support our fight. Thankfulness is great; effort is better.

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Filed under APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Inside Higher Ed, PASSHE, Tenure, University of Louisiana