President Poshard on the Radio
First, I started my day off to the dulcet tones of Jennifer Fuller interviewing President Poshard. It is an interesting interview, and I leave it up to you to decide if Fuller was as probing of President Poshard as she was of Dave Johnson last week.You can listen to it here:
First, note how President Poshard leads with the contract concern over salary. This is an overt attempt to focus on an issue the FA has made its lowest priority at the negotiation table, but the President would rather not frame it that way. Oh, those greedy, greedy faculty.
My favorite part, though, is about 15:30 minutes in when Fuller asks about the FA's allegations that increased tuition is bringing in more dollars. Note how the usually fluent Poshard stumbles over himself, first confirming the tuition contribution to a surplus but complaining about the FA wanting to spend it all on faculty (um, no) when the Administration has other projects it wants wants wants to spend it on. Note also that by the end of this answer he tries to reassert that there is not an increase in funds as a result of tuition increases, although he just confirmed that there is and our disagreement is a matter of spending priorities.
And did you hear that the Administration has never declared FE. Soooo....last spring's furloughs were made without an FE. We knew that, but thanks for clearing that bit of confusion up for the listening public, President Poshard.
The DL talk was, well, a bit strident and full of rhetorical questions that seem to make no distinction between those threatening, small for-profit online colleges stealing our students and the Administration's plan for DL here. Call that confirmation, I think, that the Administration has no interest in quality DL but just competitive DL for those lost tuition dollars. And remember, those small for-profit online universities don't exactly have a good record for their pedagogy or their completion rate. DL can be done quite well, but it seems clearer and clearer that that is not the primary motivation or goal of SIUC's push for more DL.
President Poshard in the Newspaper
President Poshard engaged in something of a media blitz this morning, adding an Op/Ed to the DE (although it appeared in the space usually reserved for sports news. Telling, that.). You can read the Op/Ed here:
This, of course, is an acknowledged reprint of arguments he's made earlier and elsewhere. I won't spend as much time on this bit of opinion. I think the FA would agree that there are certain aspects of the running of this university that are the sole purview of the Administration. I appreciate the acknowledgement of the faculty's control over "curriculum construction for each major, the overall core curriculum which each student will be required to take, academic admissions requirements and graduation requirements," although I have my doubts (given some recent practices) that the Administration actually keeps its fingers out of most of these.
But what I find particularly interesting is this bit regarding the Administration declaring FE:
The union can then file a grievance or an unfair labor charge if they continue to disagree with the actions taken by the administration.
White Papers and Ballots
I didn't actually receive the email including the "white paper" attachment from the FSN. I asked to be removed from their mailing list, and I thankfully respect that they heeded my wishes. Still, I sneaked a peek at a colleague's copy.
Granted, I think the proposal is much better than its harbinger email last week. But a few things caught my eye. First, the title page includes the following statement: "White Paper for Discussion and Comment." Perhaps the original email includes instructions on how to do that, but there is nothing in the paper itself to indicate mechanisms for comment or, more importantly, discussion. I reiterate my invitation to the FSN to establish a web presence where folks can engage in lively and helpful discussion of their proposal(s).
I appreciate that the white paper offers evidence that the structures they are proposing have precedents at another university. (For the record, so does the FA's original supposal for a joint commission to decide FE...just sayin'.) But what is missing in the proposal is any indication that the FS is on board with the significant changes they are proposing to the FS and the JRB, or the creation of an RFC. Given the difficulties in the last few years of getting upper administrators to respect the findings of the JRB, we should be very careful about imagining any group can simply (dare I say, "magically"?) strengthen this or any other campus entity.
In debate terms, we would say they have presented a plan but have indicated no procedures for implementation nor any mechanisms of enforcement. These are major deficiencies in the proposal -- important details that we cannot simply leave to "trust." These are parts of a proposal that, if the proposal is serious, should be given some attention before calling for faculty to vote on the options. It is professionally and ethically irresponsible to ask the faculty to choose between the status quo and a highly conjectural hypothetical. It certainly isn't sensible.
But for some reason, the FSN feels the need to create change on the wing, timing their swoop and predatory dive to coincide with the week's anticipated labor action by the extant representative bodies of four campus bargaining units. Keeping with this avian theme, I found a use for the petition card that showed up in my mailbox today, and based on the number I saw in the recycle bin I think we could potentially reach 1000. Maybe then, if certain Eastern proverbs are to be believed, this exercise could actually be beneficial for the campus.