The administration justified their paltry salary proposal by arguing that the university just can’t afford more. Is this true? Dr. Howard Bunsis has analyzed the university’s budget and will present the findings to the university community.
A new Oregon state chapter (“State Conference”) of the American Association of University Professors was started in 2013, largely the initiative of the AAUP collective bargaining chapters at Portland State University (PSU-‐AAUP) and the University of Oregon (United Academics), and the AAUP chapter at Oregon State University. AAUP-‐Oregon is a member-‐driven initiative—by faculty and academic professionals, for students, faculty, and academic professionals—to give us voice in the direction of higher education in our state. The Annual Conference is a gathering with our members, and our allies, from across the state, to develop a common vision, strategy, skills, connections, and goals for the year ahead.
Registration information and agenda: AAUP-OR Agenda.
On Thursday, February 26, Chris Newfield, Professor of English at UC-Santa Barbara, presented “The Price of Privatization: Faculty Governance – How it Can Be Rebuilt.” Newfield offered a structural diagnosis of the decline of public universities and offered some tentative solutions, particularly in regard to faculty governance.
Broadly, Newfield talked about the post World War II settlement that created the great public universities of the 20th century and thereby a very large, educated middle class. This settlement has gone into sharp decline in the last 30 years, however, through political attacks on the university, the withdrawal of state financial support, and internal corporate restructuring.
Newfield discussed the centrality of faculty governance in the early 20th century, including key roles in the areas of academic planning, communication with governing boards, administrative hiring, faculty hiring and promotion, and budget. This is being replaced, however, with a “post-faculty” university structure that is much more hierarchical, image-driven, and profit-focused—and in which tuition on students is continually raised and faculty are relegated to a politically weakened labor force. Austerity and technical bias makes professional judgment seem disposable and obstructionist, as a logic of efficiency trumps everything else.
Newfield offers some practical steps to confront this grim scenario. These include focused effort on the faculty decision-making about educational practices; academic rigor in management practices; research-based, independent voices on planning and budget; and the reframing of the university’s public mission via professional autonomy and the university as a place to develop skills, and creative capabilities.
On Friday afternoon, fifteen tenure-track, research, and instructional NTT faculty from the College of Education met with their United Academics assembly representatives and stewards. It was an opportunity for the reps and stewards to understand the diverse experiences across the college and for faculty to share their concerns and questions. United Academics’ Executive Director, Dave Cecil, was also present to answer questions about the CBA and current proposals under discussion at the bargaining table. One of the major concerns expressed by COE faculty was that while salary increases are much appreciated, but if they are not already written into funded grants, the increases create hardship in research centers that have no external support from the university administration. Everyone felt this was a good beginning of two-way sharing between UA and faculty in the COE. Town-hall meetings will be scheduled across campus in spring term.
On March 3, United Academics held its general membership meeting for the winter term. The turnout was great, considering that it took place in week nine of the ten-week term. Our agenda was sprinkled with raffle drawings in which the gifts included the AAUP Anniversary Redbook. Over food and drinks we heard reports from our officers and committee chairs. Elections are on the horizon and nomination forms were handed out. We also celebrated the one-year anniversary of our formal union structure and the 100th anniversary of the AAUP with a large, beautiful, and vegan chocolate cake.
The core of our meeting was devoted to a general discussion of our members’ concerns. One of the hot topics is the current consternation within the College of Arts and Sciences regarding the process for developing workload policies for non-tenure-track faculty. Committees in departments throughout CAS worked many hours to develop policies that reflected their current practices, and made changes to reflect the many variables that go into teaching a course in each unit. The process described in our CBA empowers faculty to develop policies appropriate to the unique practices of their disciplines. In most departments, unfortunately, the CAS deans erased most of the faculty’s contributions and inserted a one-size-fits-all standard of courses (nine per year in Humanities and Social Sciences, six per year in Natural Sciences), plus 10% service for all NTT faculty. The administration is abusing the processes proposed by the CBA to assert a standardization of workload across the college regardless of faculty input. Members discussed various plans for pushing back.
United Academics will begin bargaining its second contract this Winter and we need to hear from you. Despite the many gains in our first contract, much remains to be done. Please attend one of these listening sessions to share your concerns and ideas, and answer questions about the contract and bargaining.
VP for NTTF Instructional Affairs, Ron Bramhall, will be available:
Wednesday, October 15
Rogue River Room (EMU)
Friday, October 17
United Academics Office
Wednesday, October 22
Rogue River Room (EMU)
Friday, October 24
South Dining West (EMU-conference room off South Dining Room)
Vp for TTF Affairs, Gina Psaki, will be available:
Friday, October 24
Tuesday, October 28
Wednesday, October 29
Coquille River Room
Friday, October 31
I encourage you to not only join, but also recruit your colleagues to take part in these conversations. This is a great opportunity for all to influence our next contract.