Archive for the ‘Values’ Category

Chapter resolution on consolidation within CAS

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Passed by voice vote at the UFF-USF Chapter meeting April 4, 2008:

WHEREAS the study of women, African Americans, Africa, Latin American and the Caribbean are vital areas of research and teaching that are fundamental to the mission of a modern university in an ever more globalized and multicultural world, a goal explicitly recognized in the USF Strategic Plan’s goals of global engagement and impact, as well as the Provost’s e-mails to the faculty the week of March 31;

WHEREAS such programs need to be recognized and supported through their maintenance as clearly discernable, separate and autonomous units with full voice and vote;

WHEREAS sweeping all these units into a special unit under one chair would diminish their importance, identity, strength and vigor and undo the years of hard work and intellectual labor that scores of faculty members, students and administrators have invested in these areas in order to start and develop separate and independent programs that can offer the careful study and elucidation of such vital areas of human endeavor and provide national and international visibility to the University of South Florida;

BE IT RESOLVED that the autonomy and integrity of the Department of Women’s Studies, the Department of Africana Studies, the Institute on Black Life, and the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean must be protected in these difficult times, and that great care need be taken not to foster the impression that these units and their subjects of study are of lesser importance to the University and its mission to serve our diverse and internationalized community.

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Cuttings of the poisonous tree

Friday, April 4th, 2008

In 2000, Los Angeles prosecutor Richard Ceballos reported to his superior in the District Attorney’s office that the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department had relied on an inaccurate affidavit to obtain a search warrant. There was sound, fury, and office politics, and subsequently Ceballos was reassigned, transferred, and denied a promotion. He sued, and the case – Garcetti v. Ceballos – was resolved by a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the majority ruled that Ceballos did not enjoy First Amendment protection for statements he made as part of his official duties.

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The real issue with DROP double-dipping

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

In the last six weeks, longtime St. Petersburg Times reporter Lucy Morgan has reported on what she calls double-dipping, or public employees who returned to work after committing to the state’s DROP program that gave experienced public employees an incentive to retire (retire, be paid for working another five years after the eligibility for the program started, and have pensions for that work-time go into a secure account for that last chunk of time working). Morgan’s language of double-dipping and triple-dipping implies that the problem with the DROP program is that the rules aren’t very strict on returning to employment after retirement.

The real problem with the DROP program is that the state legislature thought it could be clever, operating government on the cheap and discounting the value of experienced public servants. First, the legislature thought it could dangle an incentive in front of experienced public employees, get them to retire, and replace them with much cheaper, younger workers. Then, the legislature discovered that there was a shortage of people willing to teach and do other important jobs because they were taking early retirement through DROP, so they created an exception for areas with documented shortages. Then the legislature expanded those exceptions.

And now Lucy Morgan is pointing out that a program designed to operate government on the cheap is costing the state in the long run.

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Secret tenure rules

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

This week’s story of Baylor University’s administration, which reportedly changed its internal expectations for tenure without telling faculty, is one more reason why having a union is a sensible protection for faculty: no secret rules here. UFF will not and cannot guarantee anyone tenure, but we can guarantee that you will know the rules, and we offer tenure workshops to help tenure-earning faculty show what they’ve done.

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Will the budget crisis affect tenure decisions?

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

There is something President Genshaft did not mention in her webcast Friday that I know is on the minds of many tenure-track faculty who have e-mailed me, talked with their chairs, and thought about their futures: tenure criteria. I have talked with several associate deans and with the Provost and Senior Vice Provost, and I am confident that tenure decisions next year will be made in the same way that they have been for the last several years. I have said the same thing to every tenure-track faculty member who has asked: it is in no administrator’s interest to change how tenure decisions are made because of budget cuts. Every administrator I have spoken with agrees with me on this as a matter of principle, and as the president of the faculty union chapter on campus, I will take immediate steps if I see any signs that the tenure gateway is becoming a place to address budget cuts.

For those who are coming up for tenure this fall, the United Faculty of Florida is holding tenure workshops this week in Tampa and will schedule additional workshops in Tampa and on the regional campuses later this spring. To get classroom space in the middle of the week, we had to schedule the workshops beginning at 8 am. Despite the early hour, I hope to see many of you there. These workshops are for members of the United Faculty of Florida–if you are not currently a member, you can sign up at the beginning of the workshop. More information is available at http://faculty.ourusf.org/2008/02/19/tenure-workshops-march-3-4-and-5-tampa/.

I know that everyone at USF is affected by budget anxiety fatigue. If you are coming to one of the tenure workshops next week, we can certainly talk about it, and I encourage you to e-mail me (sherman@ourusf.org) if you have questions.

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The right principle at work, I hope

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

In last Friday’s webcast, President Genshaft announced two promotions, of Michael Pearce to university technology officer (from associate vice president to vice president), and of Michael Hoad from USF Health communications to a new VP spot for communications. President Genshaft noted that neither received a raise with the change in title.

Over the past few weeks, UFF has made the point to the administration that in a budget crunch, the proportion of payroll that goes to upper-level administration should not rise. Faculty want to know that the core parts of USF (departments and faculty) do not receive a disproportionate cut. At the same time, I do not and will not suggest anything about an individual administrator; a reasonable approach, as suggested through consultation with several dozen union members, was that the proportion of payroll for upper administrators should not increase in a budget crisis. (By upper-level administrators, I think of anyone above a department chair in academic areas and equivalent positions in non-academic VP areas.)

I don’t know how this will all shape up, and two personnel decisions do not make a pattern; at the end of the academic year, I’ll probably look at the data we have in the chapter and maybe make a request for additional payroll data over a few years from USF. But if the central administration is listening to faculty concerns over budget cuts, and President Genshaft’s announcement is an indication of that open ear, we’ll come out much better as a university than if faculty concerns were ignored.

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Advice on annual evaluations

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

It’s spring, and in most USF colleges, faculty are either working on or have just finished their reports of activities in 2007, and both peer committees and chairs are starting or anticipating the review process. Some reminders of provisions in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (PDF) and some common-sense advice:

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What have unions done for us?

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Australian unions have one great answer on Youtube, but let’s be specific about faculty in Florida, beyond things that unions in general have fought for (minimum wage, the 40-hour work week, the Family and Medical Leave Act, health and safety laws, etc.):

  • Protection of academic freedom
  • Intellectual-property rights
  • An annual evaluation system whose specific guidelines department faculty determine
  • An independent advocate in Tallahassee (e.g., defeating the Baxley bill in 2005)
  • Phased retirement
  • A watchdog over the Florida Retirement System
  • Anti-discrimination language that includes sexual orientation
  • A grievance system to resolve disputes

If you haven’t already, join UFF today.

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How budget cuts affect students

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

In talking with legislators, it’s crucial to explain how budget cuts at USF affect students and the general public: For students, cuts result in larger classes, fewer courses offered, larger problems in scheduling classes needed for graduation. And that’s for the students who are admitted; USF will have to turn away more students as a result of cuts. As the St Petersburg Times reported earlier this week, the universities will be shutting out more students as the peak of the baby boom echo reaches adulthood over the next few years.

Editorial boards around the state have commented recently on higher-education budget, including the Tampa Tribune, the St. Petersburg Times, and the Florida Sun-Sentinel, and reporting on the consequences of budget cuts continues in the Times, Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, and elsewhere.

When you talk with legislators, always explain the real-life consequences of budget cuts for students and those who will not become students because of the cuts.

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Administrative kudos

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Some recognition is due several administrators at the University of South Florida for recent actions or consistency:

  • A dean who worked to help faculty protect the tenure process in a college
  • A dean and associate dean who helped find a grant-funded position for a professional employee who otherwise would have been laid off
  • An administrator who took time to address the personal needs of individual faculty in a unique crisis
  • A chair/director who protected tenure-track faculty research time in an emergency schedule shuffle
  • Lakeland-campus academic administrators, who have continued to teach regularly-scheduled courses in their home departments.

The individuals in the first four cases are not named in part to protect confidentiality and in part to recognize that there are plenty of correct decisions made quietly by faculty committees and administrators. A faculty union’s job is to protect due process and faculty interests, and the chapter will point out where its perspective differs from that of the administration or BOT, but there are also plenty of correct decisions made.

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