Friday, April 1, 2016

Friday updates

1. Financial exigency. I emailed President Dunn a week ago but have received no response as to what he meant when he said the board might need to declare a financial emergency. As far as I can gather, no one else on the Carbondale campus knows what Dunn meant, either. There are concerns about a short-term liquidity problem as well as the long-term problem if our state funding is cut on the order of 20%, as the Governor has proposed (particularly when that cut is compounded by lower enrollment thanks to the state's failure to fund universities this year). The short-term liquidity problem may arise over the summer; Dunn may have been alluding to Board action required to deal with that. Furloughs of staff on contract over the summer would seem to be one possibility.

Update on turning in the keys and the rally at Chicago (whence the picture below) after the break.

UIC rally
UIC supporters join Chicago teachers at rally, April 1 2016.

Rally on April 1

The Speak for Illinois group is gaining momentum; President Dunn and state senate candidate Sheila Simon joined their last meeting, and they are holding a rally today (Friday April 1) at 11 at Morris library.

State to fund state universities

At the close of a previously unannounced meeting between Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders, Rauner announced that public funds will be used to fund public colleges and universities.

"While we have not been able to implement every element of my Turnaround Agenda, the state certainly has taken a turn, even if some people are sayin' it's for the worse," Rauner said. "Hell, could be a year of no fundin' is enough reformin' for right now, even for those public universities, which have sure been livin' high on the hog."

Rauner, a Dartmouth and Harvard graduate whose greatest passion is education, had previously vetoed all bills using state funds to fund state universities, arguing that the best way to promote business in Illinois was to cut off state funding for state universities.

Image result for rauner madigan

As of press time, no specific amount of public funding for public universities had been announced.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Administrative Self-importance Syndrome (ASS)

It's 7:00 p.m. on a Thursday. You're still at the office, at your administrative post—been there since 8:00 a.m. Everyone else is gone, and good riddance, too, as now you can finally get some work done, as they aren't coming to you one after another, students, faculty, and staff,  with their problems, their complaints, and their chit-chat. They can live their lives, do their own research, if that's what moves them, though you doubt many are working on that just now as you toil away in the darkened building, seeing to the University's business.

Congratulations, you've got Administrative Self-importance Syndrome (ASS).

Advice for the Governor

A photo from a colleague at NEIU, shared via EIU-UPI; faculty on both campuses are preparing for large rally in Chicago on April 1.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Turning in keys at Chicago State

All staff and students at Chicago State University are being asked to turn in their keys. The move is designed to safeguard state property after the university runs out of money on May 1.
Unlike more financially stable public schools such as the University of Illinois or Southern Illinois University, about one-third of Chicago State's budget — about $36 million — comes from the state, and the school doesn't have a large enough endowment or cash reserves to keep it afloat.
If you thought the link on "Southern Illinois University" might bring a silver lining, think again: it's basically a dead end. I don't know where the Tribune got the 1/3 figure for state funding for CSU.  At SIUC, more like 1/2 of our unrestricted funds come from the state. Though lots of restrictions have  been lifted this past year to keep us afloat, we won't be able to survive much longer by robbing other accounts. The University of Illinois can make it through another academic year without state funding, I've been told; SIUC can't, at least not without massive cuts, including numerous layoffs.

Unless something changes, this is where we're all headed. Enjoy your key while you can. The state obviously has a high interest in preserving empty offices and classrooms. Perhaps they can recoup something by selling the desks.

Supreme Court splits 4-4, preserving fair share

[Update: the Guardian has a more detailed story on the case.]

The remaining 8 Justices on the Supreme Court announced a 4-4 split today, leaving a lower court precedent in place that preserves fair share. A number of California teachers had sued, arguing their free speech rights were imperiled by having to pay for union representation.  This from the NY Times story:
A ruling in the teachers’ favor would have affected millions of government workers and weakened public-sector unions, which stood to lose fees from both workers who objected to the positions the unions take and those who simply chose not to join while benefiting from the unions’ efforts on their behalf.
The last part of that sentence explains why unions call it "fair share": they argue that all employees who benefit from union representation should pay for it. The only campus IEA union not to have the option to get fair share is the FA. NTT, GA's, and AScE (Civil Service) bargained contract provisions last time that would give them fair share if they could get to 50% membership first. Fair share is one of many items being bargained by the FA right now.

This 4-4 split, which took place only because Scalia is now off the court, means that fair share is on the table at SIU--at least if Rauner doesn't succeed in taking it off the table.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Administrative positions steady; TT faculty down 20%.

I've skimmed the data in Sunday's article on administrative lines in the Southern--which helpfully links to various tables and charts. But I can't fairly evaluate them as they don't readily provide definitions of what counts as "administrative", something that may vary across campuses. I'm more comfortable looking at data from SIUC itself, which is readily available on the Institutional Research website. Recent hiring trends ought to tell us something about the direction we're moving in.

We're not moving in the right direction. Our total enrollment is down 17.7% over the ten years, from 2006 to 2015. TT faculty are down by 20.5%. Perhaps classes taught by missing TT positions were covered by NTT colleagues, whose numbers held steady.

But despite losing one in five students, we have just as many "Executive Administrative Professional" positions as we did ten years ago.  And we have 6.5% more "Professional Non-Faculty".

So over the last ten years we lost 175  TT faculty; we gained 98 "Professional Non-Faculty". In 2006 we had 46 more TT faculty than Professional AP staff, the more familiar category of "Professional Non-Faculty" (845 to 799). But in 2015 we had 152 more AP than TT.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Southern article on administrative spending

The Southern published an ambitious article on administrative salaries * today.

I'll try to return to this issue when I have the time to dig into the data. I've attacked administrative bloat at SIU when I've seen it, as in those FA White Papers from the last crisis. I'll attack it again if I see it--but the Southern's data is ultimately inconclusive. Here's the larger point, I think.

While the story in the Southern is quite well done,  their choice of topic plays into the hands of Rauner and his allies. "Administrative costs", in their hands, are basically what "fraud and abuse" are in the hands of those who attack social safety-net programs. Administrative bloat at universities and social service fraud both exist. But those who talk the most loudly about them are often not friends of universities or social services.

Is is hypocritical of me to play the administrative bloat card in 2010 but reject it in 2016?  Well, I say no, predictably. No because in 2010 we were facing a cut of $7 million, and enrollment was relatively steady--compared to what it will be next year. So we did some analysis, and argued that cuts to administration could go a long way toward dealing with that supposed crisis.  The Governor's proposed budget next year would cut us $20 million, after a year with zero funding (roughly $1oo million lost), and with enrollment (and therefore tuition revenue) bound to shrink drastically. You simply can't wring that much out of administration.


* Just fixed the link [3/28]. Sorry about the typo earlier.