Archive for October, 2008

Bargaining Friday, October 31, 3-5 pm

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Yesterday afternoon, I heard from the Trustees bargaining team that the Trustees did have a response to the UFF’s proposed Memorandum of Understanding. The next bargaining session will be this Friday, 3-5 pm, in location TBA.


USF total compensation and compensation to upper-level administrators, 2006 and 2007

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Last winter, the chapter expressed its concern to the provost over the possibility that the normal morale implications of budget cutbacks could be exacerbated if faculty perceived that upper-level administrators were being exempt from the pressures. After discussion among union leadership over an e-mail list and over several meetings, we phrased the issue as follows: Through the budget-reduction process, there should be no increase in the proportion of total university compensation going to associate vice presidents and above throughout the university, including academic deans and those of similar rank. To find some benchmarks, we asked the university to provide sum totals of all compensation at USF in calendar years 2006 and 2007 (the sum of what would appear in Box 1 of all W-2s) and then the sum of all compensation for 78 upper-level administrators (again, the sum of all data from Box 1 of W-2s). Below is the data that USF reported in response to this request:





Total compensation

$437.4 million

$469.0 million


Compensation to upper administration

$9.1 million

$11.2 million


Proportion of compensation to upper administration




The upper-administration compensation data for 2006 is overestimated because the individual list sent to USF for the request included several administrators who joined upper ranks in the middle of 2006 or in 2007. However, I suspect the figures above are close to what would be an exact amount. The chapter will make a similar request in early February 2009 to cover the calendar year 2008.


Minutes October 17, 2008

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

USF-UFF Chapter Meeting

There were twelve people in attendance.

Agenda & Introductions.
Agenda approved and introductions made.

The minutes from the October 3 meeting were approved.

There was a discussion of issues of concern to potential members.


  • Grievances: Reports on three grievances and other matters.
  • Political Action: update.
  • Bargaining: The Chief Negotiator reported on the current situation.
  • Faculty Senate: Report on current activity in the Senate, and a discussion of possible joint efforts.
  • Treasury: we have money.
  • Communications: report on current communications.

Meeting Adjourned.

These minutes respectfully submitted by G. McColm on October 25, 2008.


Trustees’ bargaining team note to faculty

Friday, October 24th, 2008

After the bargaining session this afternoon and a few minutes before I sent out a bargaining update, the Trustees’ Chief Negotiator sent the following out to in-unit faculty:

On behalf of the USF Board of Trustees’ bargaining team, I am pleased to share the following update on the collective bargaining efforts between the University and the faculty union.

USF’s Board of Trustees remains steadfast in its commitment to raising faculty base salaries even in these increasingly difficult economic times. On August 22, 2008, the USF Board of Trustees first proposed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would have immediately awarded faculty salary increases. Unfortunately, this proposal was rejected at that time by the faculty union. Earlier today the faculty union presented the USF Board of Trustees’ bargaining team with such a MOU for in-unit faculty. We expect to provide a response very soon.

That’s not quite my memory of the Trustees’ proposed MOU. But if the Trustees decide that the MOU put on the table today serves their interests, I will be satisfied and won’t particularly worry about the spin they put on it beforehand. An agreement is an agreement by both parties.


Improving your teaching by soliciting early feedback

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

The student surveys at the end of the semester are too late to help you fine-tune your teaching that term, but you can solicit feedback from students early enough to make midcourse corrections.

HOW TO ASK: You can set up an online survey through Blackboard or Survey Monkey. You could pass out a paper form. You could even ask students to tear out a sheet of paper and answer a few questions. Make clear to students that you are asking them for feedback because you care about their perspectives.

WHEN TO ASK: Ask students for feedback once or twice, at a point when you have the time to analyze the results and quickly let students know what you have learned (and what you might change, or not).

WHAT TO ASK: Ask the questions you want answered from a student perspective. One colleague at USF simply asks students to write a plus sign at the top of a notebok page and a delta sign in the middle and tell her what works well and what needs changing. Other colleagues have a number of questions about presentations, discussions, readings, and so forth. Ask few questions if you want in-depth answers on each. Ask more questions if you do not need long answers, but we recommend having at least one open-ended question. Make clear to students whether the information is anonymous (e.g., state explicitly if a Blackboard survey will tell you which students participated and what the responses were, but not which response was provided by which student).

ANALYZING THE RESULTS: You can quickly sort answers into functional categories—What you should and can change this term, what you could change in another term, and what common concern needs to be discussed though you will not change it.

REPORTING BACK TO STUDENTS: As early as possible after the survey, you should report back to students with the results. You can report distributions on quantitative questions; you can report
themes from open-ended items. But you should always thank the students for their participation and tell them what you can change this semester, what might change in a later semester, and (ALWAYS!) what common requests cannot be accommodated and why not. And, finally, repeat your appreciation that they provided feedback in the middle of the semester.

My thanks to Diane Williams of the Center for 21st Century Teaching Excellence for providing feedback on a draft.


Priscilla Brewer

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

From the former and current chair of Humanities and American Studies:

Dear Colleagues,

We are very sorry to inform you that our friend and colleague, Dr. Priscilla Brewer, Professor of American Studies, passed away on October 6 at about 6:00 a.m. She had been fighting cancer for several months and, though very recently she seemed to be winning the battle, a sudden turn of events changed all that.

This is a huge loss. Not only was Priscilla a friend for whom we all felt immense affection, she was a real department “trooper,” who would do almost anything to help students and colleagues. Her courses were demanding and no one got a grade from her they didn’t earn. She willingly taught lectures capping in the hundreds, and no matter how high the cap was, the courses filled, even though students registering would knew they would have to work like crazy even to get a “C.” The graduate students she mentored and who taught for us as TAs and often, later, as adjuncts, had the greatest respect for and deepest devotion to her. They are as devastated by this as we are, as many of you will be as you get this news.

Priscilla was a thorough, meticulous scholar with two very successful and substantial books to her credit. One dealt with the Shakers and the other focused on the development of the cast iron stove and its impact on American family life and social history. A third book, dealing with student life in Northern women’s colleges at the turn of the century, was in progress.

The loss can’t be calculated, but we are grateful for what we had: Priscilla’s work, intelligence, energy, and generosity, which has touched so many of us in so many positive ways.

A memorial service to honor Priscilla’s life has been scheduled for Thursday, October 23rd. It will begin at 5:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church., 11400 Morris Bridge Road. A memory book will be available and a potluck reception will follow the service.


Dan Belgrad
Silvio Gaggi


Early voting begins tomorrow!

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

A complete list of West Central Florida Federation of Labor endorsements cover all of the counties in the Tampa Bay region and dozens of races. The top of the ticket is the presidential race, and all of our affiliates have endorsed Barack Obama, the Democratic Party nominee.

Early voting starts Monday, October 20. To find out your nearest early-voting locations, there is a simple form at the Vote for Change website. There is still time to request a mail-in ballot, and you do NOT need to trust the U.S. mails. You can personally deliver your mail-in ballot to your county’s Supervisor of Elections office. (You cannot bring mail-in ballots to voting places.)


The value of probity

Friday, October 17th, 2008

An anonymous community-college dean describes an all-too-common administrative response to an eroding environment, as well as the alternative:

The usual administrator’s playbook says that when things get bad, you get evasive. Change the subject, or find something to praise, or if you’re really stuck, trot out the vague cliches. This is actually better than having a meltdown, but it doesn’t really inspire confidence, either. At best, it’s a holding action. Sometimes that’s the best you can do, of course, but it rarely has the desired effect.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a new approach. On a few recent occasions, as things have become particularly scary, I’ve gone into public discussions with my guard down and plenty of facts at hand. Instead of bracing for confrontation, I’ve simply admitted the limits of what I know, put the facts out there, acknowledged my own biases, and asked for input. And I have to admit being embarrassed at how badly I’ve underestimated some of my colleagues.

Since most of his readers don’t have any way to check his claims, we have to take this epiphany on faith, but the principles are right.

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Why layoffs are bad for business

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Stanford business and engineering professor Bob Sutton writes today on why massive layoffs are bad business decisions:

One big lesson from research on downsizing is that when organizations hold-off on layoffs as long as possible and do less deep cuts, they tend to bounce back faster (compared to similar organizations that rely more heavily on layoffs) when the upturn hits (especially organizations with skilled workers). This happens, in part, because they save recruiting and training costs when the demand for their people returns, and by keeping their experienced workforce around, they can move more effectively than competitors who are scrambling to hire and train new employees with the right skills.


Minutes October 3, 2008

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

USF-UFF Chapter Meeting

There were twelve people in attendance.

Agenda & Introductions.
Agenda approved and introductions made.

The minutes from the September 19 meeting were approved.


  1. The Membership Chair reported on Michael Berube’s visit.
  2. The Membership Chair presented a Memorandum of Agreement proposing a study.
    • Motion to table Memorandum of Agreement made, seconded, and passed.
  3. Follow-up on UFF Senate item: discussion of the organization of a Membership Committee.

Legal Matters.
A legal matter was discussed.

There will be a consultation with the Administration on Tuesday at 9:30 am. Discussion of consultation agenda.

Member Survey.
Discussion of proposed survey of members, and of communications between union and membership.

  • Motion to table implementation of proposed survey made, seconded, and passed.


  • UFF Senate follow-up: as of November 5, UFF will not represent non-members in grievances.
  • Grievances: discussion of an outstanding grievance.
  • Bargaining: the Chief Negotiator reported on the current situation.
  • USF Senate: discussion of common concerns of UFF and the Faculty Senate.
  • Treasury: we have money.
  • Communications: report on current communications.

Meeting Adjourned.

These minutes respectfully submitted by G. McColm on October 4, 2008.