Archive for the ‘Academic freedom’ Category

Travel ban overturned by federal district court

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Federal district court judge Patricia Seitz has struck down the state’s “Travel Act” from last year that interfered with faculty who used non-state money to travel to Cuba and several other countries. This was a federal lawsuit sponsored by the ACLU and where several UFF members were plaintiffs. There is a separate state lawsuit that UFF filed that is working its way through the process as well, and I am hopeful from this decision that at least one of those lawsuits will settle in the issue in favor of academic freedom.


Grievances filed over USF Academic Affairs reorganization

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

United Faculty of Florida is representing several faculty members who filed individual grievances July 11 in response to the reorganization of Academic Affairs. The grievants are from the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Business Administration.

On June 12, the provost announced that he was moving entire units between colleges and creating a new college out of FMHI and several departments from Arts and Sciences. The grievances assert that the reorganization occurred without either notice to the grievants or an opportunity for the grievants to provide input. The grievances assert that a unilateral reorganization of colleges in this manner violates Section 5.4 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (on-line as a PDF), which reads: “On the part of the Administration, Academic Responsibility implies a commitment actively to foster within the University a climate favorable to responsible exercise of freedom, by adherence to principles of shared governance, which require that in the development of academic policies and processes, the professional judgments of employees are of primary importance.”

A resolution approved at a chapter meeting this spring opposed unilateral reorganizations that went beyond what was necessary for budget cuts, and the chapter notified both the administration and the Board of Trustees that reorganizations required more discussion and consultation and that the process of reorganization should be separated from the timeline for budget cuts. A letter to the provost this spring from the majority of chairs in Arts and Sciences expressed parallel concerns and made a similar request for more measured deliberations about reorganization.

Instead of responding to the concerns of CAS chairs and the chapter, the provost announced reorganization as a fait accompli June 12, without giving the entire faculty in affected colleges an opportunity to provide input on either the specifics or the general shape of the reorganization.

“Only a minority of faculty in the affected colleges thinks that both the process and the results of reorganization were appropriate,” chapter president Sherman Dorn said. “At least a substantial plurality of faculty thinks that either the process or the results are inappropriate.

“At a great university, faculty are at the heart of crucial decisions about the future. An administrator who acts as if he or she believes in benevolent despotism only increases the cynicism and erodes the morale of the faculty. In a time of severe budget cuts, the University of South Florida cannot afford either.”

While more UFF members in the affected colleges might want to participate, the collective bargaining agreement requires that grievances be filed within 30 days of a contractual violation. July 11 represented the “safe date” deadline after the reorganization’s announcement on June 12, and grievances were filed though many who might want to join were out of town.


UFF sponsors visit of Michael Bérubé to USF in September

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

At yesterday’s meeting, the USF chapter of the United Faculty of Florida agreed to sponsor the visit of Michael Bérubé to campus as part of the fall membership activities. Bérubé has agreed to come, give a public lecture, and also talk with both faculty and graduate-assistant activists and union members. While the exact dates of Bérubé’s public talk and other events are not set yet, it will be in the early part of the week of September 22-26.

Michael Bérubé is Paterno Professor in English Literature and Science, Technology, and Society and the author of What’s Liberal about the Liberal Arts?, Higher Education under Fire, Rhetorical Occasions, The Employment of English, and Life as We Know It, among his books. He is also a member of the National Council of the American Association of University Professors.

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