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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reality Intrudes on the Garden Party Administration

From UT AAUP:


To: UT-AAUP Colleagues
From: Linda M. Rouillard, UT-AAUP Vice-President
Date: November 24, 2014
Interim President Naganathan and Interim Provost Barrett have indicated a desire to improve the Administration's relationship with the faculty. Here is a good place to start: a fair contract now for a faculty that has not seen so much as a cost-of-living increase since fall 2010. After prolonged negotiations of over 3 years, the new Administration, under the directive of the BOT, has filed for fact-finding.
We had our first negotiation meetings for a new contract in the spring semester of 2011, though the Administration later interrupted negotiations for several months as it awaited passage of SB5. When that union-busting legislation failed, the Administration returned to the table, only to protract the process even more, quibbling over the cost and process of distributing paper copies of a final contract to faculty, perplexed over a definition of shared governance, and determined that a mere name change to "Professor of Practice" would greatly improve the working condition of Lecturers. The Administration has flatly refused to negotiate workload.
In the summer of 2012, the Administration again left the table for several months as punishment for a UT-AAUP newsletter summarizing a Consumer's Report article on the state of UTMC.
The UT-AAUP presented its proposals on compensation and health benefits in the summer of 2012 by certified mail because the Administration would not meet with us. The Administration did not respond to the issue of compensation and health benefits until spring of 2014.
We have responded to numerous Administration proposals including proposals that would have eliminated merit for entire departments should one faculty member be late submitting book orders or grades, and most recently, a proposal tying merit to a 2% enrollment increase.
The Administration insists on spending money on everything and everyone but students and faculty. It bears repeating that UT-AAUP faculty salaries are consistently less than 10% of the academic budget.
The Administration has advised the UT-AAUP that if they do not like the fact-finder's report, the Board of Trustees will simply impose a contract. So much for negotiating in good faith. Will the Administration support its hard-working professoriate before the BOT, or will it follow the Jacobs' model of denigrating faculty?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Random comments

In viewing responses to my previous post it appears some folks have no real interest in answering questions but rather in venting.  In no particular order responses deal with Jacobs, the BOT, negotiations, our students and whatever qualifies as postmodern something or other.  While I understand the anger at Jacobs I'm not sure anyone is listening anymore.  I believe it is more important that the BOT be held to account for what is taking place now as in the search for a new president and negotiations with the union.  The BOT seemed eager to record our comments in public meetings but seems less than eager to allow us into the discussion.  I find that a little more than just bothersome.  Their attitude toward negotiations also seems to not take into account their role in the finances of this institution for the last eight years.  As to the quality of our students I'm not quite sure where the stats came from but I do know they will vary by major.  I will note that as long as I have been in higher education (35 years) faculty have complained about students.  I think we would be better served to dance with the ones who pay the tuition.  These are the students in our classes let's figure out how to teach them.  That is what I told the Search Committee back when we had those meetings.  If you want to be something, you have to work at it until people from the outside recognize that you're good at it.  I believed we should have been working toward being an excellent undergraduate institution with an ability to help first generation and ill prepared students.  I realize this doesn't give any university president bragging rights at cocktail parties but frankly I don't care.  I am much nearer to the end of my career than the beginning and I'm tired of the jargon spewed forth by some administrations and I am really tired of being treated like the serf who came with the land given to the duke.  The BOT needs to step up and include the faculty in a more forthright manner than it has to this point.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A question here and there

Dear Folks who read the blog:  (I can arrange counselling)

I have some questions that some of you may be able to answer.

1.  First I want to know where negotiations are at this time.  That has been answered in the post below although we don't exactly know who has what position and what exactly led to our needing to go to fact finding.  What have we asked for that they consider too much and what have they asked for that we consider too much.  Since I did not volunteer for this particular job, I'm not trying to place blame, merely get some infor for our 15 or 20 readers.

2.  So, how goes the search for a new big cheese of the milky way?  Are we to the point of actually meeting strange people in airports or are we still deciding what we're looking for.  Along those same lines I would certainly be interested in a response by the BOT to those meetings that they insisted be taped.  Did any of our wonderfully brilliant ideas make the cut?  I have an idea.  Why don't they just go over to our 36 million dollar simulator and create a president?  Is that simulator operational? Can I get it to simulate my doing any work?   Is it making any money?

3.  Is it true we've guaranteed 90 percent occupancy for those nifty new dorms?  New faculty might rent them; if they could afford them.

4.  So, how's our Schoolcraft effort going?  Any students?  Any faculty?  Any income?

5.  Can we blame any of this on global warming?  Look on the bright side, at least we'll all have ocean front property and the Indians won't have to play the Yankees anymore.  I'll bet water polo becomes a big sport.

Re Negotiations

The below is a negotiation update sent out Nov. 5 by UT--AAUP:

Dear UT-AAUP:

. . . . Regarding negotiations, the administration has now demanded that we go to fact-finding. Our legal representative, Erik G. Chappell of Lyden, Chappell & Dewhirst, Ltd., has met with the administration's negotiating team to choose fact-finders. The fact-finding will include articles on compensation (including summer teaching), health benefits, and workload for both units, and the article on evaluation for the Lecturer unit.
Sincerely,
Dr. Linda Marie Rouillard
Vice-President, UT-AAUP

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Arts and Sciences? Really?



Given the responses to the last post, there seems to be some interest in trying to revive (or not) the old Arts and Sciences College.  Anyone who was around knows that our previous president broke up the college because he was mad that anyone would question his decision to name an unqualified dean and did not like the fact that so many faculty actually got together and discussed stuff.  But, the real issue is, "Did he do the right thing for all the wrong reasons?"  or "Did he do the wrong thing for all the wrong reasons?"  It has always been my belief, often stated here, that almost any structure works if you have the right people and almost no structure works if you have the wrong ones.  So to help get the ball rolling let me throw the first log on the fire.  I am not in favor of returning to an Arts and Sciences College.  As a member of a primarily undergraduate program I often felt as if we got the short end of the goodies if we got any at all.  We are now in a much smaller college where we have common interests with the other departments and access to the dean.  Okay folks, have at it. Should we reconstitute the A and S College or not.  Please explain your answer.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Playing Together in the Sandbox of Life

Okay Playdate Friends:

There seems to be, on the part of a few responders, some misconceptions about what we do here in Bloggie Land.  First, we are not omniscient.  While some may believe that getting an advanced degree or being named an administrator comes with this ability, they are wrong.  It follows that we do not know everything about everybody.  We often have opinions, which since it is our blog, we feel free to expound upon.  Second, some of the opinions of responders will agravate some of our readers.  That's the nature of a blog.  Frankly I would be disappointed if someone wasn't getting mad about something.  Third, there are the false assumptions that some responders have about who we are.  To assume that those who respond to the blog aren't working toward bettering the university is nonsense.  I haven't been here over 27 years; served on numerous committees; and wasted enormous amounts of time doing make work that administrators said was important not to care what happens here.  Finally, I would suggest that how this administration handles its problems with deans in several colleges and negotiations with the union will go a long way toward giving the faculty some idea as to whom they really are. 

I lied.  I have one more thing to say.  The blog has no idea who responds to the posts.  They could be faculty, staff, students, alums, or dare I say it, administrators.  Since I'm the only one with a name, we'll just have to guess.  Now return to the previous post where you can confess to Father Bloggie.