Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dueling emails

After the break I post the dueling emails, since I've gotten a request (from the indefatigable Kristi Brownfield) to do so.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Strikeometer #1

[Note: Those lucky enough to be too young to remember the "Doomsday Clock" of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists may not understand this splendid new feature. The "clock" reflects my guesstimate as to how close we are to a strike (and so the starting time is decidedly arbitrary).  The clock can move closer or farther from midnight, depending on developments.  Don't worry: by January first, the clock should be set in the AM.  The Atomic Scientists, by the way, currently have their clock set at 11:54 PM (they now include the threat of a manmade catastrophe from either nuclear weapons or climate change). 

Strikeometer = 11:48:37 PM

After reading tonight's dueling emails which--whatever your point of view--clearly talked past one another, I've decided to institute an exciting new deo volente feature, the Strikeometer.  You'll note that I've invested in a nifty digital clock, which is uncannily accurate to the nearest second, thanks to a proprietary formula I've purchased from an outside firm.

At midnight, Strikeometer time, we (or at least many of us) would go on strike.

Hughes v. Cheng

Dueling emails this evening, as FA President Randy Hughes attempted to rally faculty for the demonstration tomorrow at 11-1 (at Grand Ave and Route 51), while the Chancellor attempts to rain on the union parade by pointing to the "false assumptions that appear to be held in some parts of a campus".

Hughes' email, which includes a report from the FA bargaining team, makes it clear that little progress has been made during the first bargaining sessions this fall. In addition to the perennial issues of tenure and furloughs, there is a cluster of issues about distance learning. While the administration has made a positive step by moving control over distance education from continuing education to academic units, it appears to be insisting on the right to require individual faculty members to teach distance learning courses, to outsource distance learning work to other institutions, and to not include distance learning students when calculating the student/Faculty ratio the contract is supposed to protect.

The bargaining team also reports that they have been told that the Chancellor is working hard to attempt to offer faculty the following generous compensation package:  -2% for FY 11 (counting furloughs); 0%  for FY 12; 0.5% for FY 13, and a whopping 1% for FY 14. Some context: the current rate of inflation (as measured by the CPI) is 3.6%. SIUC's budget (tuition and fees + state appropriations) for next year, assuming static enrollment, will go up $4.1 million dollars in FY 2012 (-$1.3 in state appropriations, +$5.4 million in tuition and fees--this from the reports the Chancellor references in her email).  That's approximately a 2% increase in the budget (tuition & fees and state appropriations). Thus SIUC has a hiring freeze for faculty, decreasing our numbers greatly, and says that, over a four year contract period, it can't even compensate faculty for the 2% cut they took last year. I believe it is safe to conclude that the administration plans to give Faculty a smaller and smaller share of campus resources.

After the break, a first take on the Chancellor's email.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Poshard on performance funding, marketing, enrollment

A more journalistic wrap up of Poshard's interview on WSIU.

Enrollment. The closest thing to news in the interview was Poshard's prediction that overall enrollment would be "about flat". The best he seems to be hoping for is that it will be better this time around than the 300 student decline we had last fall. Marketing, whatever its virtues, isn't going to help us retain students, which seems to be the biggest problem around here (unless, I suppose, marketing can land us more students with more staying power--better students).  More on performance based funding, logogate, and Poshard's goals after the break.

Poshard, the meal ticket, and diversity

President Poshard was on WSIU again on Monday.  I'll cover his interview in a couple of posts--though it wasn't terribly newsworthy, it did raise some issues that I will bloviate about.  Here I start at the end, with his peroration.  The next post will cover more journalistic nuts and bolts: what he said about spending on the logo & marketing, enrollment, etc.

After the break, I'll print what Poshard said when asked what his message was for new students.  If you remember, I hammered him last time for treating a college education solely as a meal ticket.  He said a bit more this time, but I'm not sure he helped his/our case any.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

On Tenure: The AAUP Standards

This is the first of what I expect will be two postings on tenure. In this one I give a distilled version of the AAUP position on tenure, a position that originates with the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure agreed upon by the AAUP (American Association of University Presidents) and the Association of American Colleges (AAC, an association representing college presidents, which is now the AACU--The Association of American Colleges and Universities). These principles have subsequently endorsed by over 200 academic organizations and associations. Some of the procedures I outline come from subsequent AAUP documents, which haven't been as universally endorsed. I'll try to make clear which is which. For some readers this stuff will be old hat. But it wasn't for me (as I discovered when engaged in a rather spirited dispute with a persnickety anonymous commentator).  And the details matter.

For the purposes of these posts I am simply going to assume that the AAUP principles, which have long been the norm at respectable American universities and colleges, are the standard we should aim to uphold, though no doubt some will question this--and other institutions have undermined these principles in recent years, so SIUC would have some company, if not particularly good company, were it to go that route. A second post will discuss the current status of these principles at SIUC.