Saturday, April 23, 2011

FA: Negotiate, or we file "Right to Strike" notice

The Faculty Association is making some moves, albeit in a fairly low-key way so far. A new "fact sheet" entitled "Our Bargaining Rights", the first of a planned series of such items, notes that the FA's Department Representatives Council has given FA President Randy Hughes the authority to file a "Notice of Intent to Strike". Such a notice would not, despite its legal title, in fact obligate the FA to strike, but would remove the last legal hurdle to a strike, and thus would count as "more serious action" in the language of the fact sheet.

I say "would count" as more serious action because the FA has not yet in fact filed this notice, choosing instead to give the administration an opportunity to return to the bargaining table and engage in good faith bargaining "right away". I have heard not the slightest hint of any such negotiations taking place, however, which presumably means that the FA may file this notice fairly soon.

Friday, April 22, 2011

DE letter and guest column

In case there's anyone who reads this before the DE, be sure you catch the guest column by Robbie Lieberman, contrasting the vision offered inside the Chancellor's ceremony last week with the spirit and vision found outside, and Randy Auxier's letter on an apparent administrative effort to hijack the search for a new dean of of the College of Engineering.

The faculty on this campus appear to be getting uppity.

Changes to Grad School Operating Paper

This one will seem very wonky, but I bothered to read over the proposed changes to the operating paper of the graduate school and saw a couple of things that concerned me. I don't routinely teach graduate students, as it happens, but the graduate school also oversees research, officially, and I do conduct research, at least when I'm not blogging. Several of the more substantive changes appear to undermine the role of the graduate faculty in overseeing campus research.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"On Chancellor Cheng's Ultimatum"

The FA has released a document making its case that the FA negotiated in good faith while the administration failed to do so. To my not entirely unbiased mind it provides the clearest account of the breakdown in negotiations currently available. I would be curious to hear the administration's response. On Chancellor Cheng's Ultimatum

The business major debate

Ok, today's effort to get out of the union vs. administration bubble for a larger issue: the controversy surrounding undergraduate education in general and business majors in particular. It may be of some relevance given the argument that our administration, and indeed higher education administration in general, has grown too fond of the business model. For if business education is one of the weak links in higher ed, then it would be rather ironic were the business model guiding our administrators.

Here's a joint NY Times/Chronicle of Higher Education article on the business major, and here's a little NY Times debate follow-up (mainly defenses of business education). This debate is the latest ripple emanating from the publication of Academically Adrift (University of Chicago, 2011) by Richard Arum & Josipa Roska, who summarized their argument in a January Chronicle article (you'll need to be on campus, or log on via the library or VPN to make the Chronicle link work).

Unions schedule general meeting

The four IEA Unions (FA, NTT-FA, GA United, ACsE) have scheduled a "general meeting" for Monday, May 2, from 4:45-6:15 in Lawson 141. My understanding is that all represented faculty, GAs, and civil service members are welcome and encouraged to attend. This should be an excellent occasion to get some questions answered and share any concerns you may have with the leadership of all four locals.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why We Teach, Part 2

The following appeared in the Carbondale Times, Wednesday, April 20, 2011, p. 5

Why We Teach (Part 2)

Randall E. Auxier

Last week I explained my own small act of civil disobedience, the plan to teach my class on a designated “furlough day” and to dare anyone to stop me. As an update, I did receive a memorandum from my department chair (in the philosophy dept.), sent under the directive of the Dean of my college, that the administration “asserts the authority” to select furlough days for me that do not affect my “direct teaching.” This move actually contradicts the imposed language of the administration, but this administration has never worried too much about contradicting itself. If you want to read the particulars of this new imposition, go to:

The long and short of it is this: I will work, in my office, on campus, on any day the administration designates as a furlough day, and I am inviting them to remove me from campus if they think they have the authority to do that.

Provost search update

Laura Dreuth Zeman of Social Work and Women's Studies has an important op-ed in today's DE on the Provost Search.  It sounds like the main function of the search committee was to forward applicants to the Chancellor, rather than to select among candidates, though apparently two of the original six applicants either dropped out or were eliminated somehow or other. The DE's Monday story on the four finalists can be found here; the Southern story (which contains info on the open forums for the candidates) can be found here.

Chancellor Cheng at the City Council

D. Gorton, neighborhood activist (his neighborhood being also mine, the "Arbor District"), sent out a characteristically piquant report about the Chancellor's appearance at the City Council last night, during which she praised the mayor for his support of Saluki Way. His subject line: "Rita Cheng is a fool".  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Furloughs and research

My colleague VĂ©ronique Maisier asked me to pass along this note she wrote in response to a letter on furloughs from the Dean's office.--Dave

Dear Administrator,

This letter is in response to your letter dated 4/13/2011 that you sent notifying me that you have designated 4 furlough days for me “pursuant to section 18.01 of the terms of the one-year contract-offer implemented by the Board of Trustees.”

Let me first point out that there is no such thing as a “contract-offer.” A contract is signed and agreed upon by all sides involved. Therefore the terms unilaterally imposed by the current Chancellor do not constitute a contract. Likewise, an offer cannot be imposed on the other side(s) otherwise, by definition, it is not an offer any longer but rather a decree. Hence the strange new word “contract-offer” means absolutely nothing but clearly indicates that the administration is at a loss to name its own creation.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Administrative response to Why We Teach part 1

[A communication between me and George Schedler, Chair of Philosophy, and Alan Vaux, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.]

Hello George (and Alan). I regret to inform you that your action in the case of assigning my furlough days to the second week of May, apart from being illegal to begin with, is also not in even in accordance with the provisions of the imposed offer, and as such, I consider it null and void.

First, I have no contract with the University of the sort specified in your memorandum. A contract implies and requires the agreement of both parties. I have not agreed to the imposed offer, nor has any other agent legally authorized to speak for me. An imposed offer is not a contract and it does not bind me or anyone else.

Why We Teach, Part 1

Editor's note:  This is the first in a series of four articles by SIUC Philosophy Professor Randy Auxier that are to appear in the Carbondale Times.  Stay tuned for future installments.
I am writing these notices to draw attention to and to explain my own tiny act of civil disobedience amid the labor struggles at SIU and throughout the nation. I am a professor of philosophy at SIU and among the subjects I teach and write on are non-violence and civil disobedience. I have been on the fringes of various activist groups for most of my adult life, sometimes supplying music, sometimes money, sometimes logistical support, sometimes spoken and written words. But this column commemorates my first actual foray into civil disobedience.
Acts of civil disobedience infringe the "rules" in some way, and the perpetrator understands that punishment may ensue, and he must be ready to accept it. The act is done for its symbolic value, to draw attention to some injustice or some foolish policy so that, in due time, pressure may build against those responsible for the foolishness. Anyone who tries such a stunt is also likely to be derided and criticized for thinking himself morally good enough to stand out from the crowd. I don't think myself better than anyone, but the cheap shots people may take at me, including, I expect, my own employers, just go with the territory.
What is my chosen crime? I have decided to teach my Thursday class at SIU, for the next four weeks, even though it is meeting during my "furlough days." Before I say why I am doing this, full disclosure is needed.

Johnson releases old document on budget surplus!

Here's a post likely to be a great hit. It's something I wrote back in March, thinking the FA would release another White Paper thing. But it never saw the light of day--funny, but I suppose there were some people who thought that there wasn't much demand for a multi-page account of the 2010 budget surplus and its impact on FY 2011.

Larry Hickman on Democracy and Education

You can read the dueling DE stories on the protests and ceremony yourself (interestingly, the protests get larger front page play in the print edition but are a bit tough to spot online). But I thought I'd quickly call attention to the remarks by Larry Hickman at the ceremony, quoted (at some length) in the DE's story.  Money quote: 
“We are called on to take account and reflect on the historic achievements of democratic life. If education is about and for the promotion of democracy, and democracy is about and for the promotion of education, then we must have patterns of instruction that are aesthetically and morally thicker, not thinner."
The passages cited in the news story would appear to define both education and democracy rather too narrowly (surely there has been education, even liberal education, in non-democratic societies, and surely democracy has ends other than education). But Hickman is right to be calling us to think about higher goals for public higher education than career training.  It would be splendid if we had a Chancellor or President up to attempting to articulate such thoughts, but credit Cheng with choosing Hickman to give what sounds like an important speech.