Chronicle of Higher Ed Newsblog: Union Protests Layoffs of 5 Tenured Professors as Florida Atlantic U. Slashes Its Budget

The Chronicle of Higher Education

News Blog

June 9, 2009

Union Protests Layoffs of 5 Tenured Professors as Florida Atlantic U. Slashes Its Budget

A budget-cutting reorganization plan at Florida Atlantic University has resulted in layoff notices to at least five tenured professors, causing anger among union officials at the institution.

Florida Atlantic’s president, Frank T. Brogan, has called for eliminating a total of 170 faculty and staff jobs, 30 of which are currently filled, to deal with a $16.7-million cut in state support for the 2009-10 academic year. Those cuts are outlined in a proposed budget that Mr. Brogan will present to the university’s Board of Directors on Wednesday, the president said in a video message on Florida Atlantic’s Web site.

The five professors who received layoff notices last month have not been publicly identified, but all are in the university’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, and all have been teaching at the university for more than 15 years, said Sharmila Vishwasrao, an associate professor and the union’s chief negotiator. All five were told to clear out their offices by August.

The layoffs violate union rules mandating that nontenured faculty members be the first to be eliminated and that any person who had worked at the university for more than three years should be given a year’s notice, Ms. Vishwasrao said. “If they need to do the layoffs, they need to lay off the appropriate people,” she said. “They’re trying to get around the rule.”

The university’s associate provost, Diane Alperin, said that the layoffs did not violate union rules because the same courses will still be offered with tenured professors. Different departments were teaching similar courses, she said, and the university restructured the departments to reduce the duplication.

“The reorganization plan was developed for reasons primarily related to academics and budget, with the goal of defining a more sustainable future for the college in order to improve effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of programs,” Ms. Alperin said.

As for whether the professors should have been given more notice, she said that the contract calls for one year’s notice “if practicable, where circumstances permit.” That, unfortunately, was not practicable in this case, she said.

Ms. Vishwasrao said some of the laid-off professors would file grievances, while others were considering other legal action. —Marc Beja


1. Four observations.
1. Mr. Beja should have asked either the negotiator or the provost for a copy of the contract and made available to his audience the exact wording of the “year’s notice” section.
2. “same courses still offered with tenured professors”: so what? Do the union rules say “ok to fire one tenured if another tenured teaches his course”? Again, where’s the relevant contract language?
3. “similar courses”? Prove it. From my experience, the same course – name, number, and department – taught by different professors (or precepted by different assistants) is not “similar”.
4. “similar courses”: if so, why didn’t the university say, “Get together. Decide who’s going to teach this course. The rest: teach something else.”

— oldnassau’67    Jun 9, 08:24 PM    #

2. The restructuring wasn’t done for budgetary reasons , as the faculty were told multiple times by the dean of engineering – but instead for ‘efficiencies’. In any case, the curriculum will necessarily be affected – different departments focus on different topics within each course, as appropriate to their specialization – even though courses might have similar titles. The idea that it won’t affect academics is ludicrous. It is also absolutely amazing that the administration is claiming to better position FAU and Florida’s students for the future – massive retirements in the engineering workforce are expected over the next 10 years, but here the college of engineering is downsizing!

— jonathon    Jun 9, 09:14 PM    #

3. I’m glad to hear that the victims of this gross violation are considering suing, and I hope they do. If the university is forced to pay out the nose for this, they might not continue to do it in the future.

If, on the other hand, the administration sees no penalty for this action, they will continue to lay off tenured professors until every course on campus is taught by adjuncts, and an FAU degree means nothing.

— Amy    Jun 9, 09:28 PM    #

4. As a new assistant professor, and many years in private industry, I am not sure what the fuss is about. If you are a valuable member of an organization, then the administration will keep you. If you are simply resting on your laurels as a tenured professor, then maybe someone needs to light a fire under them and say, if you are not going to do the work, then even with tenure, we are going to get rid of you. I am opposed to the way the University did this, and the one year notice sounds reasonable, but in order to alert other tenured professors that tenure does not mean you can simply lay back and do nothing, some firings might be a good business move.

— Michelle    Jun 9, 09:34 PM    #

5. Michelle (#4):

Why do you presume that these five professors were simply laying back and doing nothing? The article neither says nor implies anything of the sort. Indeed, FAU’s own statements suggest that performance was not a major factor in the layoffs.

— CU Alum    Jun 9, 09:43 PM    #

6. Tenure Under Attack

What is not mentioned in the article is that the reorganization was clearly manipulated to support termination of tenured faculty in violation of accepted principles of tenure. The reorganization was undertaken at a time when it was known that layoffs would be necessary. It created 4 new “functional units” that cut across departmental lines. The assignment of faculty to these new units was then contrived so that one of the units had only tenured faculty. All instructors and untenured tenure-track faculty were assigned to the other three units along with many tenured faculty. Even visiting faculty were protected. Assignment of faculty to the new units was done less than a month before those terminated were notified. Terminations were done exclusively in the unit with only tenured faculty.

That the administration can create a unit and selectively populate it in order to protect untenured faculty from layoffs cuts to the heart of tenure. It leaves every tenured faculty member vulnerable to selective termination.

— FAU Prof    Jun 9, 10:27 PM    #

7. Based on the union documents I have seen for the FAU budget, this was totally unnecessary and unrelated to the performance of these 5 faculty members. So all FAU faculty should beware: they could be the next victims of politically motivated “reorganization”. Of course, given that FAU faculty is among the lowest paid doctoral granting institutions in the state, those who can leave are already working on doing so. Regrettably, this only assists the administration in replacing the faculty with as many adjuncts as possible. Education is simply NOT a priority at FAU and I feel sorry for the good students we have who are more or less trapped here for geographic reasons.

— ATFAU    Jun 9, 10:55 PM    #

8. The article does not mention that the University Faculty Senate unanimously condemned the action on June 5th.Now the College of Engineering Dean is claiming that the decision on terminations was internal to the College, contrary to Alperin’s assertion above.

This is largely the work of FAU’s President Frank Brogan, Jeb Bush’s “gift” to FAU and winner of Bush’s admiration partially through his vehement opposition of K-12 teachers’ unions and tenure back when he was Florida’s Commissioner of Education.

His contempt for tenure and unions apparently endures at FAU, as he runs roughshod over faculty governance and bargaining agreements, demanding “100% productivity” from his faculty and staff. A business consultant who knows nothing about higher education was hired for $150 per hour to inform Brogan on which faculty were to be fired in Engineering, and which at large will be the next to go. Administrators such as Alperin who know better should speak up but remain intimidated. Republican Board of Trustees showers Brogan with praise. The nightmare continues…

— FAU Prof2    Jun 9, 11:56 PM    #

9. There were no single vote took place during the entire restructuring process. Amongst those laid off tenured professors, were best teachers with excellent annual evaluations over their entire career. In engineering, performance is often expressed in terms of efficiency. How will laying off FAU’s high performing tenured professors improve efficiency? The Wall Street example of a manager getting a big raise while driving the organization to the ground seems to fit this case. The Dean got a $40K raise while the college suffered budget cuts last year explained how FAU’s management team operates by greed and personal gain.

— Adam Brogan    Jun 10, 12:28 AM    #

10. As an outside observer to this mess, notified of it by some friends in Florida, I can’t believe that this is happening in the US! If you are opposed to tenure, then fine, start from the bottom up, tell faculty coming in we’re not going to give tenure anymore (P.S. see what kind of quality people you get then!), but you can’t just throw out the whole system on a whim, especially with, what is it, one or two months notice? Obviously the poster above, the ‘new asst prof’ hasn’t been through a career in academia, where the ultimate goal is the academic freedom and leeway gained with tenure… not to mention the university getting a truly experienced, seasoned teacher. You only learn that skill, as an educator, with time…

A couple of other thoughts:

It is FAU president, Frank T. Brogan’s personal political agenda to attack the Tenure system. He seems to want to gain publicity by doing so and it is no secret that he covets more political power. Make no mistake, he is not dedicated or serious about his current position, and it is but a stepping stone to something else.The fact that these incompetent administrators are trying to cover his rear makes this whole thing so ridiculous. Does FAU really want to become the joke of higher education? Florida as a state already has a bad enough rep education wise.

The 5 laid off professors were trapped into the same new unit as stated above without any say. This was all done without consultation with the faculty. So basically these administrators are the best ones to make a decision about the academic future of the school? Add to that this farce of he said, she said, between dean, provost, president, whoever else… what an absolutely idiotic situation. After one month of the new re-organization, they received layoff notification. There is no Unit Head and not a single activity yet. How you justify the effectiveness, efficiency, or even reduce duplications? The Unit is not functioning yet and was formed solely for the layoffs. If you review the case for UF a year or so ago where an asst/assoc professor was laid off, she got the decision overturned on far less strong of a case. They again tried to claim she was a unit and it was rebuked in arbitration… but at least they gave her a year! It seems like FAU really wants to get slapped around and sued, or else the people in charge are REALLY stupid.

All tenured professors are vulnerable now. If this goes through other institutions are sure to follow suit. Here comes the administrative shuffle, and in the game of musical chairs, who knows what tenured professor could be next. Forget about Academic Freedom, this totally destroys the individual’s human dignity!

— NYC PhD    Jun 10, 12:33 AM    #


Frank Brogan is doing his job and is one of the few in Higher Education in the State of Florida to have the Nerve to make hard decisions. I am sorry for those losing jobs, but the future of the university must come first.

Perhaps Tenure does need to be reviewed !!

— A Sad State of Florida Resident    Jun 10, 05:52 AM    #

12. @ “A Sad State of Florida Resident”

If you truly believe that “the future of the university must come first,” then you ought not to be supporting these layoffs.

We’re already losing many of our best and brightest faculty all across the state because the entire State University System of Florida is woefully under-funded. Now FAU is adding fuel to the fire by saying that even those who have dedicated themselves most to these institutions (those who have earned tenure) can be turned out onto the streets without any due process. How do you think that will impact recruitment and retention of the best professors at FAU? And how will that, in turn, impact the educational and research (economic impact) missions of the university?

Even if you believe that for some (unlikely) reason these five professors really should have been laid off, violating contracts, violating trust, and destroying the relationship between faculty and administration is no way to put the future of the university first. There are ways of laying people off that stay within the law, and Frank Brogan should have used them.

It seems to me we’d all be better off if he was the one getting a pink slip.

— A rational State of Florida resident    Jun 10, 06:31 AM    #

13. Put the tenure question aside. Either a collective bargaining agreement means something, or it is just a piece of paper that the employer can violate on a whim. If the latter, then we are in trouble. The dodge that these layoffs are OK because the classes will still be taught shows utter disregard and contempt for the union contract, and suggests that the university administration does not understand their legal obligations under it.

— flprof    Jun 10, 06:32 AM    #

14. Anybody in the business world knows that making decisions that get your company sued on the front page is not a sound formula for a favorable performance review.

Boy, who did the risk assessment for this decision? FAU should fire them instead!

This is clearly a union-busting ploy for somebody who is looking to a new job. Help him find it quick!

As for the fired faculty, they may be good teachers but if you look closely, I’ll bet you find they didn’t generate much grant money last year. Unfunded grant applications don’t count with a Prez who doesn’t understand how grants work, but only sees the dollar figures.

Five engineering and computer science faculty: imagine the dollar value of those lawsuits! We could be reading about this one for awhile.

Is this how one gets elected governor in Florida?

— Mervyn Emrys    Jun 10, 06:35 AM    #

Large payoffs for errors in dismissing personnel are common under Frank Brogan’s leadership. Remember Davenport who was paid 578K severance (GOP pal)? Frank Brogan did not tell the press the truth at first, then had to fess up. And, how about this year’s raises for his staff? Everyone in Frank Brogan’s office received a raise… all during a time when faculty and staff have had no raises. The only exception was the provost’s office – no raises there. Other administrative units in the university helped themselves to fat raises last year, student tuition has been raised to the highest levels ever, and more cuts are expected.
What I do not understand is why this administration did not give these faculty a one year notice? Not only is that required in the contract and is clearly the industry standard, but that is the humane thing to do. The administration’s response is that a year’s notice was not “practical”… are they serious? Clearly FAU has priorities other than teaching, learning and faculty. Raises and perks go to those who align themselves with former Lt. Governor Frank Brogan who is now FAU’s president.
Isn’t FAU accepting stimulus monies? This sure seems like action that needs to be reported to President Obama. He said that abuses of those monies will be taken seriously. Laying off tenured faculty without notice in fields that are in high demand (engineering and computer science) seems to be suspect behaviors. Where is President Obama when we really need him???

— doc    Jun 10, 07:02 AM    #

16. Tenure means nothing. Time for us to kiss up to keep our jobs. Bend over so I can kiss.

— mathew    Jun 10, 07:06 AM    #

17. Some of us are really out of touch. Does anyone truly understand the deep cuts colleges have to make? The academy needs to change and become leaner. When states are making 3-25% cuts it will affect the status quo. This is a good place for the Union to become part of the solution and not part of the problem. Just think of Chrysler, GM, Delta/NWA, air traffic, etc.

As for tenure being under attack. Folks, tenure is ALWAYS under attack. Anyone talk to anyone outside of higher education, or the legislature, and try to explain the value of tenure during these times?!

Lastly, forget about the five and the personal agendas attacking the President. 170 positions will not be filled or eliminated, 30 of which are currently filled. This is more than eliminating academic positions, these are deep university cuts that nobody wants to have to do. This is just FAU. USF, FSU, and Florida, not to mention South Carolina and California schools are making similar or worse cuts. This isn’t so much about the Union and individual faculty as it is about keeping the doors open.

— Jax    Jun 10, 08:28 AM    #

18. “Does anyone truly understand the deep cuts colleges have to make?”

Who cares? This is a matter of the state government choosing not to fund the universities. I couldn’t care less what budget “problems” they have voluntarily heaped onto themselves. I’d like to buy a new house, but only have $40K, so somebody better come through and make up the difference for me.

A contract is a contract, people. Anyone not understanding that is obviously naive about how the business world works.

— me    Jun 10, 08:43 AM    #

19. #4: You are an assistant professor for a reason—you are new to the academy and have yet to demonstrate that you deserve to stay there. Tenured ‘professors,’ on the other hand, have indeed shown that they deserved tenure and the promotions that come with it. So, please stop sounding like a person with no knowledge of university teaching. Your experience is in business. Now you are at a university. Please learn about a university’s culture. One more thing, and I don’t mean to sound petty, but your assertion that tenured professors ‘lay back’ should really be ‘lie back.’

— Ann    Jun 10, 08:56 AM    #

20. How do you measure “efficiency”?

— A Grey Beard    Jun 10, 09:14 AM    #

21. The argument that the university needs to make “deep cuts” would be easier to swallow if FAU’s administrators weren’t punishing faculty (eliminating travel funds, refusing to give raises, and— now— laying off tenured professors without cause) while also giving themselves massive raises and severance packages.

— E.E.    Jun 10, 09:56 AM    #

22. This is the most ridiculous thing that I ever heard of. Professors worked hard to earn their tenure. FAU should consider firing its Deans and Administrators who made these harsh, arbitrary, bias, and discriminatory decisions. Firing FAU’s deans and administrators can actually help save the budget crisis at FAU!

— A Tenured Professor    Jun 10, 10:08 AM    #

23. Universities around the world have been wasting money on reproducing useless “research” and publications, and now it’s pay back time. Where were voices when highly motivated young assistant professors were denied tenure on groundless basis?

— Academic    Jun 10, 10:10 AM    #

24. What the state of Florida, among others with no income tax, needs to discuss is the positive impact that even a nominal income tax would have on its economic situation. The continuous hand-wringing is disingenuous in the extreme under the current “no income tax” regime in Florida and elsewhere. Rational planning would help, too, but that is another matter.

— Bill    Jun 10, 10:17 AM    #

25. #23: Sour grapes, anyone? Which university turned you down for tenure? (I know your response: “I got tenure at a top research university, that’s just my objective observation.”)

Putting aside the question of what you would teach if faculty weren’t doing research, and all the other obvious issues, what does your comment have to do with FAU breaking their contract?

— me    Jun 10, 10:18 AM    #

26. Perhaps a more suitable outcome would have been enough furloughed days to generate the salary of these 5 professors. At least no one gets a pink slip. As it turns out, at my university, certain staff (not all), administrators and non-tenure earning faculty will bear an avg of 4 furlough days per semester. Its a pay cut in a sense but its better than saying Adios to a colleague.

— Tridaddy    Jun 10, 10:33 AM    #

27. Aww, waaaaaa!

— Ryan    Jun 10, 10:53 AM    #

28. Tridaddy, what makes you think that after being furloughed, there won’t be layoffs? At my university, faculty are being furloughed one week per semester, and COL and incremental raises are frozen for at least 2 years. So much for contracts.
And, yes, we have a hefty income tax already.

— LitProf    Jun 10, 10:56 AM    #

29. Time for tenure to die.

— dp    Jun 10, 11:21 AM    #

30. Any one who still believes that tradition tenure still exists is blind!

— Dr. J    Jun 10, 11:24 AM    #

31. Tenure is intended to protect faculty members from arbitrary administrative or politically motivated actions. It is not some kind of entitlement that allows one to shirk the expectations that go with being in the professoriate. Most tenured faculty worked hard to earn that status, and most continue to be fully professionally engaged for the rest of their careers. That some abuse the system is undeniable, and their presence is more a symptom of poor management than anything else. That being said, since FAU does not seem to be questioning the performance of these particular faculty, apparently there is some other reason for firing them. If their academic discipline (as identified by their scholarly history more so than their degree title) has been eliminated (which is different than offering courses in a discipline; e.g., a psychology department may offer a statistics course), then that is grounds for dismissal, although most institutions would provide a good bit more notice. FAU has a history of administrative scandal and ineptitude right up to the present day that suggests there is more going on than this post reveals.

— CW    Jun 10, 11:46 AM    #

32. I am both shocked and saddened to learn of the lay offs of FAU’s top professors. As a former student of one of the tenured professors that were laid off this time, I credit my success to this outstanding mentor. He is an inspiration for all students! Obviously injustice is being served here!

— Chief Engineer    Jun 10, 11:57 AM    #

33. It is time for the tenured professors to realize what they are… they are just employees of the college or university they work for. Deal with loosing your jobs you pampered elitists! You had zero problems telling others who work in HE, i.e. student lenders to find new jobs, now it is your turn….

— Remember the Alamo    Jun 10, 12:43 PM    #

34. I am not one of the five, but as an FAU professor, this matter does affect me, if only as a warning of what might be to come.

I know people who have worked in industry, and it is true that they go through a period of probation, usually three to six months, during which they can be let go. And, people in industry look at tenure for professors as some special perk that they don’t have.

Hence, I thought a little background on the tenure system might be appropriate. The future professor earns a baccalaureate and rather than joining his friends in the working world, stays for another five or six years in a graduate program. Meanwhile, his friend’s retirement packages have started growing.

Now, at age 27 or 28, he enters accepts a position at a university. In doing so, he has almost always moved many miles away from family and friends. He is now expected to work hard for five or six years years for the illustrious tenure designation. To be awarded tenure, the assistant professor has to maintain a good teaching record, a decent record of university governance service, and is expected to produce research that is at least as good as the that done by those already holding tenure.

The process for the awarding of tenure is also a long one, usually taking eight months or more. One starts with a portfolio demonstrating the accomplishments and it is reviewed by department, chairman, college committee, dean, university committee, provost, and sometimes by the university president and the board of trustees or board of governors. Add to this that many universities have a six and out rule — if you don’t get tenure after six years, you are history.

It would not be unusual for an assistant professor to wait until achieving tenure before buying a house — as his friends did twelve years ago.

The step to full professor is more arduous, but less nerve-wracking. The associate professor must have shown an even higher level research, while dealing with an increased service and teaching load.

Now, while the professor is going through these steps, he is teaching undergraduate and graduate students. Frequently, the students leaving the institution with a baccalaureate degree have starting salaries above that of the professor. This is especially true in highly technical areas. Industry values the skills we impart to our students.

Why do professors put up with this? The academic life has much to give. We are generally doing things we enjoy — mixed in with tasks we find onerous. It is a joy to see students understand an idea. Except for class periods, we have quite a bit of flexibility in our schedules. I’ve seen professors who prefer to start work at 5:00 a.m., and others who work until 3:00 a.m. It would be very difficult to have this flexibility in industry. It is also a joy to see your research first cited twenty years after you published when it turns out that it is a major steps in the solution of an interesting problem. Without tenure, there would be too much emphasis on research that is immediately applicable. In fact, there is already a great deal of pressure in this direction, due to the mechanisms of research funding in this country.

Finally, I apologize for not writing she/he throughout, as it seems rather ungainly. Of course, all my statements above refer also to female professors. However, they also have the added burden of child-raising which can certainly interfere with their progress towards tenure and promotion.

— Another Tenured FAU Professor    Jun 10, 12:50 PM    #

35. Our dear dean very recently engineered the creation of 4 bogus “functional units” to pull off this assault on the faculty. On top of the usual departmental structure, he assigned faculty to one of four functional categories: 1) Pre-engineering; 2) Honors; 3) Undergraduate; and 4) Graduate & Research.

All the tenured firings were in the new “Undergraduate functional unit.” Conveniently, no assistant professors or lecturers had been assigned to that unit so there was simply no choice but to fire tenured faculty. Of those fired, one is too old, one is too female, and one spoke out against the reorganization. The other two were highly paid – hence it was efficient to fire them. And of course, the deed was done in the summer months.

Meanwhile the University’s president, who never went through the tenure process and never earned a doctorate, is . . . well . . . still learning about things academic. As a political wannabe who couldn’t cut it as Jeb Bush’s lieutenant governor (and so was shuffled off to Boca Raton to get him out of Tallahassee), he would like to enhance his get-tough-on-tenure credentials and is willing to make the University pay big time (lawsuits plus academic reputation) to achieve this personal ambition.

— FAU Prof3    Jun 10, 01:26 PM    #

36. President Frank T. Brogan remarked today to his Board of Trustees that he in fact respects tenure, blaming the layoffs on “the academy.” This after his Republican BOT spurned the Faculty Senate Chair’s suggestions about the FS’s repudiation of the firing of faculty. You might not want to come to FAU unless you desire “tenure light.” I feel as if my tenure here is essentially meaningless at this point and am very ashamed of our university and its leadership.

— FAU Prof2    Jun 10, 04:02 PM    #

37. Dear FAUProf2: Are you saying that your president blamed “the academy” for layoffs (meaning faculty)? What the heck does that mean? No wonder you are ashamed of the university and leadership.
Is there anyway to get this guy his job back as Lt. Governor so he will leave FAU?

— doc    Jun 10, 06:27 PM    #

38. What’s a fact?

Today the FAU president was quoted in the Palm Beach Post saying, “This University supports tenure. That’s a fact.”

Does he mean “Most everyone around here kind of supports tenure in theory but not necessarily in practice”?

Does this man not see the logical contradiction between 1) supporting tenure and 2) firing tenured faculty while retaining untenured faculty in the same department?

— FAU Prof3    Jun 10, 06:29 PM    #

39. What many don’t understand is that tenure is a minimum quality standard. It means passing a very severe 6-year review. The system doesn’t permit universities to retain professors who don’t make the grade. But if you eliminate tenure, you permit the university to hire or retain faculty without regard to their performance or qualifications. The means the university is able to turn professor jobs into political appointments, and pay less. You could be a McDonald’s chef one day and be a professor the next, plus the university could put you in the classroom for a whole lot less money than would be required for someone who passed a 6-year rigorous achievement review. THIS IS BACK DOOR CHEAP EDUCATION. CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP.

— Concerned Parent    Jun 10, 07:07 PM    #

40. THIS IS AGE DISCRIMINATION. The poor folks at FAU probably don’t realize this, but laying off those professors was age discrimination, pure and simple. I hope they realize this and file the appropriate federal complaint and law suit.

— –Recession Victime    Jun 10, 07:16 PM    #

41. No one seems to have thought about what lies at the root of all this. Florida’s “system” of higher education has no effective checks and balances other than the bottom line of appropriations.

Once upon a time there was a Board of Regents for all of the state universities and a significant part of its task was to prevent duplication and unnecessary expansion of programs. That Board was eliminated and now it’s “every university on its own” with its own board and a weak oversight structure.

If one believes that the proper way to run a university is to expand as much as possible and spend every possible dollar in the good times, then there is nothing in reserve and no remedy for the bad times except to lay off faculty – the single largest item in any university’s budget.

— Socrates    Jun 10, 08:55 PM    #

42. Dear doc, FAU Prof3, and Concerned Parent,

Brogan has essentially created a bogus financial crisis because of a 7% state reduction in FAU’s overall budget over the past few years to scare faculty and staff (imagine a Republican scaring people to get what he wants!). This provides a pretext to “reorganize” the university and make it more “lean and mean.” However, FAU can’t legally claim financial exigency because it’s sitting on over $70 million in reserves, largely from the sale of digital bandwidth to Clearwire Communications, which has also agreed to pay an additional $5 million per year for the bandwidth for the next twenty years. Brogan has informed his provost and deans that the colleges only get so much money and will have to find a way to get by. Thus, if a college is shortchanged through his reorganization plans, “the academy” is to blame—not him. He is extremely sensitive to criticism and has surrounded himself with people who will tell him that he’s right. There is very little logic involved here, only blind ambition and contempt for faculty. Brogan actually said today regarding the Engineering faculty, “Look, these people aren’t Renaissance people,” referring apparently to their expertise in certain areas of the field. In the end, the deans and provosts who gleefully jump through hoops for Brogan are as much to blame for this. If they had any integrity they would tell the him “Enough,” and defend their programs and faculty.

— FAU Prof2    Jun 10, 09:08 PM    #

43. Oh, hey, everybody is being way too hard on Frank Brogan. It’s really hard to understand the real world when you’re living in a taxpayer provided mansion. I’m sure once somebody explains to him that you don’t normally get a severance package of $570,000 dollars for every two years you work at FAU, like he tried to give his pal Davenport, he’ll realize he’s not doing the tenured faculty a favor. Man, you’d really think that that $150 dollar an hour consultant they hired as a ‘facilitator’ would have told them that! Here’s some advice that won’t cost you $150 dollars an hour: If you take away tenure from the lowest paid faculty in the state, and show them that even serving the university for over fifteen years means nothing, all your good people will run. Hey, maybe when you don’t have any more students because none of them can find a job, you can focus completely on that new football team! Maybe the coach has a cousin or something you can hire for $90,000 a year as an ‘assistant’. All the rest of the FAU professors better get their resumes ready, because the meeting agenda said that this reorganization is just the beginning.

Heckuva job, Brogan!

— James Bean    Jun 10, 10:31 PM    #

44. It seems to me that this development at FAU just shows the long term trend of ever weakening academic labor power.

Many schools don’t even have any faculty union. FAU has one, but what else has it done in addition to issuing some statement which the administration can easily nullify?

Deans/dept chairs are likely more concerned about their own career advancement and rewards from their boss, than protecting their programs and faculty members. “Integrity” is now such a big “Great Expectation” from people at the bottom of the food chain.

Even the surviving faculty members might not be that interested in speaking up for the unfortunate ones, possibly fearing of any future retaliation and/or of becoming ear-tagged for the next round of layoff.

Well, the higher education has been a net beneficiary of the decade-long credit bubble that now is bursting.
We are only at the beginning of the end game.

— kinglear    Jun 10, 10:39 PM    #

45. Let me tell you something about Mr. Smiley and the consultant hired to ‘reshape the university.’

First, Mr. Smiley, oh sorry, i.e., Brogan (please, if you haven’t yet, look up a picture of him, this really is his only redeeming feature, as intelligence has passed him by). So first, let’s look at Mr. Smiley’s credentials from wiki:
‘In 1976, Frank Brogan became the first member in his family to earn a college degree when he received his bachelor’s degree in education magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati. In 1981, he earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Florida Atlantic University.’

Ok at the risk of alienating the education profs., Mr. Smiley has a master’s in ‘educational leadership.’ I think it is safe to say, any degree that has “leadership” in the title will get you just what FAU has now. Someone who was hired, in spite of literally zero academic credentials, for one reason only, his political connections to raise funds for the university! How ironic it is then that the only part of the BOT’s criticism of him in their annual evaluations is his lack of fund-raising! The point, once a hack with no credentials, just a hack!

Now the best part of all. Below is the ‘esteemed’ consultant hired by FAU. This comes from what FAU has released about her, and if you check her background and the ‘vision buzzwords’ they match. So an FIU hack hired by FAU, interesting!!! And, a visiting prof as well. I guess she will have a full time job at FAU soon, probably in Smiley’s office.

Gee, now I see why Brogan was hired, when you see what credentials this ‘consultant’ has.

By the way, $150/hr is not too much to pay for a real consultant, quite cheap really. But why bother when you violate contracts left and right.

— Lil Frank    Jun 10, 11:38 PM    #

46. Regarding the illegally-short notice given to the 5 professors, Ms. Aperin says that the one-year rule applies “if practicable, where circumstances permit.”

This doesn’t make any sense. The administration claimed that it couldn’t use stimulus money or the $70 million reserves for faculty raises. But it certainly used those monies to give the 5 professors a one year’s notice.

It seems unconscionable that the administration would give such a short notice when there was any way to avoid it. They certainly could have given a one-year notice if they had wanted to. So the big question is this: what was their motive for giving such a short notice? Were they going out of their way to hurt the 5 professors?

I hate to use harsh words, but the short notice seems to be an inhumane act that didn’t serve any legitimate purpose. Is this how you treat good employees how have faithfully served the university for more than 15 years? Why not be kind enough to at least give them a fair chance at relocating? Everyone knows that even in good job markets professors aren’t hired in the summer. The financial damage to the 5 professors seems unfair and heartless.

— JShort    Jun 10, 11:43 PM    #

47. Florida Sunshine Act. Why doesn’t the faculty union serve the administration with a Florida Sunshine Act notice requesting to be advised of all meetings, no matter how small, or whether by telephone, relating to this sort of thing? I’ve heard that even informal hallway discussions between 2 administrators fall under the Sunshine Act.

— Confused    Jun 11, 12:07 AM    #

48. Dear A Sad State of Florida Resident #11. Are you Mr. Brogan’s only friend? Or, are you Mr. Brogan himself? If this is correct, then you are right to be in a “Sad State of Florida Resident”.

— Professor    Jun 11, 12:33 AM    #

49. If these layoffs were really an unfortunate necessity, the dean and Alperin would demonstrate some sympathy and unhappiness about the situation and offer up their own salaries to keep these people going, at least part-time. What happened to the concept of the “captain” going down with the ship? AS of immediately, these people have no salaries and no health insurance. And those heartless, greedy administrators couldn’t care less!

— Roger    Jun 11, 08:34 AM    #

50. My fellow faculty members — FAU is not the first or the only university to lay off tenured faculty during tough economic times. These 5 layoffs are coming as a result of a reorganization that made it clear there was no need for these faculty. Tenure is a faculty right and should be protected, but paying for tenured faculty that we don’t need only opens the door for REAL attacks on our tenure system. I think we need to dial down the rhetoric and take a long, hard look at what is going on in the real world. Hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their jobs will feel NO SYMPATHY if we demand the university keep five people that we don’t need.

Think about it.

— A Dose of Reality    Jun 11, 08:48 AM    #

51. Hey, a pampered administrator who knows his job is safe is coming here to tell us about the real world! Don’t buy into the line he’s feeding you. Go to the FAU Board of Trustees agenda yourselves and have a look. This is only ‘preliminary restructuring’! They’ve flagged another 121 majors for additional review. Let them do this, and your job could be next. At any time. All they have to do is ‘restructure’, and you’re out in thirty days, thanks for the 15+ years of service, see ya! This is an illegal restructuring aimed at giving them precedent for removing anybody they like whenever they like, in violation of the contracts that they’ve signed.

— James Bean    Jun 11, 09:45 AM    #

52. To: A Dose of Reality #50. Now that the administrative team at FAU from the President’s office learned of this posting (as of this morning), the underdogs and Ass- kissers (lack of better wording) are surfacing! It all boils down to you are a bunch of heartless creatures!

— A Concerned Parent    Jun 11, 09:53 AM    #

53. #51 is absolutely right! All tenured faculty members at FAU should be extremely concerned right now, as the second wave of lay offs is coming and will hit you without warning – you got 30 days to move out of your office of 15+ years . . .

— A Tenured Professor    Jun 11, 10:11 AM    #

54. I wonder how FAU is going to explain breaking a contract and ignoring the tenure agreements in light of ethical integrity to SACS

— CD    Jun 11, 10:32 AM    #

55. When the chair of BOT asked Dean Stevens during yesterday meeting, “Anytime you receive any negative comment?”, Dean Stevens reassure her, this is a very open process, no negative comment from the faculty.

— another professor    Jun 11, 10:52 AM    #

56. This isn’t just an attack on tenure, or on a particular collective bargaining agreement violation. (It is both.) IT’S A DIRECT ATTACK ON COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.

Why did they pick on Engineering? My theory is that they decided to pick on an area with a good job market, thus increasing the chances that the 5 professors would just quickly find a job elsewhere, and without a big fight. They want to pick the easiest case to set a precedent.

I don’t think it was any accident that they did the dirty deed with only a couple of month’s notice. They want to get the 5 professors off campus as fast as possible, to prevent support building for them, especially among their students. From what I’ve read, it’s likely that their would be a groundswell of student support for at least one of the five professors. The administrators don’t want to be faced with a student revolt and the embarrassment of laying off popular professors. That would mess up their propaganda regarding a vision for the future.

— –one more prof    Jun 11, 11:10 AM    #

57. In response to the need of one year notice, it went like this:
Stevens “ No linkage between the Plan and layoff”. Brogan “ Even with money how to use redundant people? No financial means to keep these five people. He asked “ If we give you $500,000, does it make sense to keep these five people? The answer from Dean is no.” Stevens then went on to assert he can’t support gross inefficiency and unproductive use of resource to continue burning $500K for people you don’t need. This is better for the future of the College. He claimed all allegations are unfair and unfounded.

— another professor    Jun 11, 11:11 AM    #

58. It seems to me that a year or so ago, FAU’s administrators starting making noise about canceling one of their two summer sessions, and the resulting backlash from students led them to re-think their plan. Obviously, the administration doesn’t care what the faculty has to say, but it seems to me that students (and their parents) ought to start sending letters and making phone calls— contact Frank Brogan’s office, or the provost’s office, or your state representative, or even Governor Crist. The fact of the matter is, these people think the citizens of Florida are too stupid to realize that firing the most qualified professors will result in a substandard education for FAU students. If the students and their parents stand up and say, “You’re not fooling anyone; we’ll take our tuition dollars elsewhere,” these bean counters will likely sit up and take notice.

— E.E.    Jun 11, 11:11 AM    #

59. Another Professor, I think the argument about not needing the 5 professors is baloney. Those professors could simply be reassigned to teach different courses. To put it exactly, those 5 professors could be reassigned to teach courses taught by non-tenure-track individuals who are not being laid off, and the non-tenured-track individuals could be laid off instead.

Professors can easily retool for new courses within their discipline. This happens all the time. It’s not like knowledge and courses in the university are static anyway.

Another thing. Someone should look at recent hires in Engineering and pending retirements. It wouldn’t surprise me if layoffs could have been avoided by not making recent hires, or by waiting a year or so for retirements or normal departures.

Do you think that the administrators offered the 5 professors an opportunity to teach different courses? Should they have? Why didn’t they?

I tend to support the idea that the whole purpose of this thing was to make a test case at breaking the collective bargaining agreement. Who knows what their strategy is. Perhaps they will try to pay the 5 professors to throw their cases in arbitration, thus secretly buying a precedent.

Don’t think that this isn’t a direct plan of Brogan. A college Dean wouldn’t do this without involvement of the President.

— -still another professor    Jun 11, 11:44 AM    #

60. What’s wrong with all you whiners crying about layoffs?

Those professors had been around for many years and had probably grown old and stale in the system.

To make a university work well it needs new, young blood. Give the younger generation a chance, and let these older guys take their fat pensions and retire early!!

— -Friend of FAU    Jun 11, 11:54 AM    #

61. First of all, what pensions are you talking about? Is this Frank Brogan here? Look, I tried to explain this to you earlier: professors don’t get half a million dollars for every two years worked at FAU. So we need to fire old professors because we need new professors! We’ll say we don’t have enough money to pay the old ones, and we’ll pay the new professors … uh … well, I guess they can bunk with Frank Brogan in the President’s mansion.

— James Bean    Jun 11, 12:18 PM    #

62. Dear Friend of FAU: You are a friend of FAU . . why? Because you like to smear the faculty?

— FAU Prof3    Jun 11, 12:57 PM    #

63. Reply to #60, two layoff tenured professors are woman in EE, one have a baby recently and the other is a single mom. They serve at FAU with high distinction for 16 and 25 years respectively. Their salary is the 60K range, less than some of their new BS students. Their specialty and their class are in high demand. They are far from retirement age.

— another professor    Jun 11, 01:15 PM    #

64. It is notable that the two women laid off are the only women in the layoff unit and two of the three women in the EE Department. Makes you wonder who did the risk analysis.

— FAU Prof    Jun 11, 01:34 PM    #

65. #62, 63 64.

You make my point. The best professors are the youngest ones just out of college. So it makes good sense to get rid of the older ones. By the age of 35 they should either move into administration or retire. Haven’t you heard that Einstein was 22 when he developed his most famous theory? Then when he was older he couldn’t cope with quantum theory?

So I applaud admin for targeting the oldest professors first. Plus, it makes good economic sense. You can probably get new professors for less money.

— —Friend of FAU    Jun 11, 02:02 PM    #

66. No, I hadn’t heard that Albert Einstein, who was born in 1879, and published his famous papers in 1905, developed his most famous theory when he was 22. You can’t seriously be arguing that no professor has made any discoveries after he turned 35, can you?

— James Bean    Jun 11, 02:26 PM    #

67. #65
You got to be kidding making such a discriminatory statement! You are implying that the majority of the faculty at FAU needs to retire or be laid off if they can’t be one of these corrupted administrators. That explains why you are a “friend” of FAU. You are as shallow as the current administration!

— A Tenured Professor    Jun 11, 02:37 PM    #

68. #66 and #67. Actually, I’m saying that after 35, professors should move into the area of administration, where it is much less mentally demanding. But professors who are really bright should seek a second career.

I think the current administration understands this model. That’s why they would like to get rid of the older faculty. The idea is that if they older faculty aren’t smart enough to move into the admin work that is less mentally challenging, then they certainly aren’t smart enough to continue in the classroom.

— —Friend FAU    Jun 11, 03:28 PM    #

69. Just a couple points of fact: it is commonly understood in many fields that new hires get paid more, not less than older profs. One is usually lucky to keep up with new hires because state raises (especially in this state) do not keep up with that market.

The next point here is the following: If tenure were to be abolished at all other quality universities, i.e., Harvard, Chicago, Berkeley, then naturally FAU and all other universities would follow suit and salaries would probably be much higher than they are now. But it is insane for a place like FAU to try to be a leader in a pursuit that NO OTHER quality university is adopting. Think of it, no one else is doing it, so when FAU goes to hire more profs, which they always do, the new profs will not come because word is out that we are firing tenured people, no other quality place is, and contracts mean nothing at rinky dinky places like FAU.

Finally, one other observation, I amend my previous comments about Brogan. Never has someone with so little gotten so far, just think, a big smile worth $340k a year, so maybe he is smarter than we think.

— Lil Frank    Jun 11, 03:31 PM    #

70. So the current administration has made up some sort of model and has randomly sprung it upon faculty members who have been teacher there? That’s sheer idiocy. If anybody needed proof that the administration is after your jobs, tenure or no, there’s Friend of FAU, giving you a friendly warning … if you’re over 35.

— James Bean    Jun 11, 03:52 PM    #

71. I think Friend of FAU makes a really compelling point about professors over 35. I mean, face it— a really ambitious and productive academic may get his or her terminal degree by the time he or she is 29, if he or she goes straight through without taking time off for any reason whatsoever. So, six years as an assistant professor and then… boom! Tenure AND a six-figure administrator’s salary for everyone! It makes perfect sense, really. Someone should put Friend of FAU in charge of… something.

— E.E.    Jun 11, 04:06 PM    #

72. Difficult to judge from 10,000 feet, but this smells. Logic seems to indicate that the University will slash more of the budget shortfall with fewer layoffs in this manner, but in the end it is awful publicity from an Alumni point of view…and it will be that much more difficult to attract great professors and students going forward. Brogan doesn’t seem to be on the right side on this one.

— TD, ’87 & ’88    Jun 11, 05:29 PM    #

73. #71. I would love to be in charge, but I haven’t yet ascended to that level.

It’s not so much about the 6-figure salary after six years of being an assistant professor, it’s more about finding shelter from the mental decline that one starts to suffer at that point. That’s where joining administration helps: in administration, mental decline isn’t such a big issue.

— –Friend    Jun 11, 05:34 PM    #

74. Friend— Now I think I understand you. Your point is that college administration is a good career for the feeble-minded, yes?

Still, I don’t see what age has to do with it. I mean, in fact, research suggests that we reach our peak cognitive performance at around the age of 22, then start to decline at 27. So it seems to me that if we’re going to make cognitive performance the most important qualification for a job in academia, clearly the only people qualified to teach are our students.

— E.E.    Jun 11, 05:57 PM    #

75. UFF and faculty at FAU need to get radical, boycotts, demonstrations,sick-outs,etc….I refer you all to Kimbery Miller’s article April 18, 2009, Despite Hiring Freeze, FAU Shells Out $13 Million for 495 New Employees….$175,000 for a basketball coach, $90,000 for the basketball coach’s son, $110,000 for an associate general counsel, & $220,000 for a biomedical science professor….Fight FAU Fascists Administrators Now!!!!

— Zorro    Jun 11, 06:09 PM    #

76. Hello everyone. The firing of the 5 profs smells like illegal age discrimination. A few years back the US Supreme court ruled that those discriminated against on the basis of age can use as evidence the fact that a policy or act disproportionately affects an age group. An intentional act of discrimination is not required.

Someone should file age discrimination complaints directly with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, . It is not necessary to first go through the institutional grievance process, complaints must be filed within 180 days of the act, and complaints can be filed online.

Private suits in federal court are not permitted unless a complaint is filed first. Also, the normal procedure is for the OCR to require mediation. This would force FAU to enter into mediation discussions with affected faculty.

This document briefly explains rights and procedures: .

— KenR    Jun 11, 08:00 PM    #

77. #64- As far as risk analysis goes, Old Dean Stevens could probably collect huge raises for the “mission accomplished”. He could retire (second time) soon, collect his fat pension, and enjoy his retirement house in Colorado, which should be finished by then. Whatever problems left behind will be owned by Brogan and the BOT. Old Dean Stevens could probably charge a huge fee to help straighten out the problems he first created. Remember huge retention bonuses paid to AIG executives to unload those assets? It is surely a win-win for him.

— Another Dean    Jun 11, 10:04 PM    #

78. A dose of reality: The solution might be administering a secret vote online of faculty and administration of College of Engineering and Computer Science on whether they approve the restructuring and you will get a true dose of reality!

— Dean    Jun 11, 10:19 PM    #

79. I’ve really got to give it up to Dean Stevens. He seems to be the bag man for FAU trying to accomplish shady layoffs, as he was responsible for a recent suit against FAU, which they lost… and now he’s at it again. I wish I had such nerve and confidence that I could do whatever I wanted and get away with it. People are talking about these professors getting pension? They should be pointing their fingers at him!

I think we should all remember that this issue covers a lot of ground, from labor agreements to human dignity. To get rid of loyal, established professors in two months? Without even bothering to explain why and try to find a better solution? Why doesn’t Brogan justl spit in their faces while he’s at it? These are people with families, who have dedicated their lives to education. During the time when they would have chosen to pursue academia, there were plenty of opportunities in industry, according to how the market was until a few years ago for computer science and engineering. They chose this path, and this is how they are rewarded. Shame on FAU! And shame on the people on the high horse of how “tenure should be re-evaluated” – this is not how you go about doing things, this is not how you effect positive change. These actions by FAU are a disgrace!

— FAU Prof    Jun 11, 10:21 PM    #


$360,102: Frank Brogan, university president

$357,532: Howard Schnellenberger, head athletic coach

— Another Dean    Jun 11, 10:25 PM    #

81. Karl Stevens is a liability and needs to go. He needs to quit stirring up sh*t just to continue collecting his fat paycheck and getting a big raise. This is what happens when the uneducated rule. What skills exactly does he have that makes the university run more efficiently??

— A.D.    Jun 11, 10:36 PM    #

82. Is this the revenge of the F students or what?! Nancy Blosser is a NURSE. Frank Brogan barely scrapped together his masters degree in EDUCATION. I’ll grant that Karl Stevens has a PhD, but let’s face it..he’s an old deadwood who is going to retire soon.

— BT    Jun 11, 10:54 PM    #

83. Can someone update what the FAU faculty union is going to do in addition to the initial statement?

— kinglear    Jun 11, 11:22 PM    #

84. FAU profs should send this out so that it gets national attention…then the rest of the world can really scrutinize how Frank Brogan runs things.

— PTS    Jun 11, 11:29 PM    #

85. #59 -still another professor Jun 11, 11:44 AM :
“Another thing. Someone should look at recent hires in Engineering and pending retirements. It wouldn’t surprise me if layoffs could have been avoided by not making recent hires, or by waiting a year or so for retirements or normal departures.”

—-If they fired the 5 tenured first, they couldn’t immediately hire new ones without offering the positions to the fired first. This is in the AAUP’s “Red Book”.

— kinglear    Jun 11, 11:41 PM    #

86. #85. If I understand it correctly, if the professors take another job then they lose their right to get rehired?

I think the rule about hiring new ones applies to the particular unit. Do you think they will every hire anyone again in the layoff unit?

It looks like the layoff unit was created just to get rid of the 5 faculty, and then the layoff unit was abolished. So given that the unit was abolished, there 5 professors have no right to get rehired before others are hired. The Dean will simply hire new faculty in the remaining 3 units.

Pretty nasty, eh?


The bottom line in that the collective bargaining agreement is worthless if this stands.

Can the faculty union sponsor a no-confidence, secret-ballot vote for Brogan? I think that would be a shocker. I doubt Brogan would get any votes at all. Can you imagine the embarrassment of such a thing. He’s a politician; I’m sure he understands votes. My guess is that the 5 professors would be rehired before the vote ever took place.

— -KenR    Jun 12, 12:40 AM    #

87. #86 -KenR:

“It looks like the layoff unit was created just to get rid of the 5 faculty, and then the layoff unit was abolished. So given that the unit was abolished, there 5 professors have no right to get rehired before others are hired. The Dean will simply hire new faculty in the remaining 3 units.

Pretty nasty, eh?”
—-Well, that IS nastier than I could imagine.

“The bottom line in that the collective bargaining agreement is worthless if this stands.”
—-I am afraid this will come to many universities in this Great Recession.

“Can the faculty union sponsor a no-confidence, secret-ballot vote for Brogan? I think that would be a shocker. I doubt Brogan would get any votes at all. Can you imagine the embarrassment of such a thing. He’s a politician; I’m sure he understands votes. My guess is that the 5 professors would be rehired before the vote ever took place.”
—-The FAU faculty should try it, even if it may not work.

— kinglear    Jun 12, 01:20 AM    #

88. Karl Stevens should be fired for misconduct. That should save FAU $205,240/yr, cut the deadwood, and improve efficiency.

— Alex    Jun 12, 01:37 AM    #

89. #88 – What a terrific idea! Firing people with misconduct will truly save tax payers lots of money and improve efficiency. These people are also sitting on a fat pension. We should include department chairs, unit heads, and provost who are involved in this mess. This would save far more than firing tenured professors.

— An Engineering Student    Jun 12, 07:32 AM    #

90. Whoa whoa whoa, mental decline after 35?! Hey, just because you feel like you lost it after 35 doesn’t mean everybody else did! What happened, did you mistake Logan’s Run for a documentary?

— James Bean    Jun 12, 07:48 AM    #


The CBA. I looked at the CBA. The wording could be improved. it doesn’t require a financial exigency or any other conditions for layoffs, and it doesn’t place any restrictions on how a layoff unit is defined.

The “when practical’ notification loophole in the one-year notification requirement leaves too broad of a loophole.

There should be some provision that requires admin to reassign tenured profs to new classes instead of laying them off because of the classes they are assigned.

There should be a provision that a unit must be in existence for some minimum time (e.g., 3 years) before it can be used as a layoff unit.

Another provision should restrict layoffs for those that are recently assigned to a unit (say 3 years).


What was done in the College of Engineering case was to create a unit whose main purpose or effect was to become a container for layoffs. This practice should be explicitly forbidden by the CBA language.

Just because these provisions weren’t included in the CBA doesn’t mean the layoffs weren’t acts of bad faith.

An ordinary-English reading of the CBA suggests that the “unit” means existing unit, not a unit created for the primary purpose of laying off tenured faculty.

It wasn’t wrong that tenured professors were laid off. That is permissible under the right circumstances. So tenure isn’t the main issue from a technical standpoint, but rather the main issue is the creation of a unit whose main purpose and/or effect was to serve as a vehicle for layoffs of tenured faculty.

Creating a unit in such a way is bad faith because its always possible to create new units in such a way so as to layoff any arbitrary combination of faculty.

For example, say the admin wants to get rid of 2 professors. All is necessary is to search for characteristics that differentiate those 2 professors from others. That’s not hard to do. You then “reorganize” and assign these 2 professors to a new unit, and, finally, you terminate the unit.

Units can be defined using the most nebulous of criteria. For example, units could be created based on what floor professors’ offices are. There could be a second floor unit, a third floor unit, and so on. There could even be an east-wing second floor unit.


So what minimum standards should apply in defining a unit?

First, units shouldn’t be created as layoff containers. A units should exist for at least 3 years before being considered as a layoff unit. Further, a tenured professor must be assigned to a unit for at least 3 years before he or she can be laid off as a result of being a member of that unit.

Second, to the extent that a unit is to be used as a layoff unit, there should be an affirmative obligation to move tenured faculty to non-layoff units within the same college before conducting layoffs. Specifically, tenured faculty capable of performing alternative assignments in non-layoff units (that contain non-tenured members) within the same college must be transferred to those non-layoff units instead of being laid off. There should be a strong presumption that a tenured professor is capable of performing alternate duties within the same general department or discipline. Such alternate duties would include teaching new courses, serving on new committees, and so on. Criteria that determine faculty capabilities to perform alternative assignments must be created and applied by faculty not administrators.

Finally, layoff proposed layoff units should not be defined in such a way so has to have a disparate impact on tenured faculty within a give department or college.

— Observer    Jun 12, 10:10 AM    #

92. Observer makes some good suggestions in #91 but it ain’t going to happen at FAU. After two years of contract bargaining during which agreement could not be reached, the university declared impasse and then unilaterally approved a revised contract that matched exactly their position on all disputed items. It’s completely legal under Florida public employees labor law. That was in a mid-contract year with limited reopeners. This year the whole contract is on the table and confidence in fair bargaining is very low.

A vote of no confidence is certainly a possibility, either from the Faculty Senate or sponsored by the union. If the Board of Trustees moves ahead and completely rejects the concerns of the Faculty Senate, as seems likely, such an action of last resort may be the only remaining recourse for the faculty. I would hate to see it come to that but if the administration remains intransigent in its unwillingness to talk with the faculty, what other options are there?

— FAU Prof (not #79)    Jun 12, 03:11 PM    #

93. What’s UFF and FAU faculty going to do….In Fall Demonstrate at the mansion, Vote of No Confidence, Pledge not to Pledge to FAU Foundation,etc…..Mr. Brogran, wife and son needs to go….

— FAU PROF    Jun 12, 04:06 PM    #

94. FAU faculty should all join UFF for self protection. Then raise fund to hire the best lawyer to make sure the contract reflects fair labor practice.

— another professor    Jun 12, 04:59 PM    #

95. #93. Demonstration at the mansion, vote of No Confidence, etc . . .are all great strategies. Someone needs to help carry the strategies through. All faculty members at FAU should be worrying about their contract status right now.

— Observer 2    Jun 12, 05:06 PM    #


#92. From what I’ve read the layoffs were completely an act of bad faith. I don’t know much about the 5 profs, but it appears that they were placed in the “death unit” based on their assigned duties (which include the courses they teach). Think of it. Administrators give you assignments, then they lay you off because of what they have just assigned you!!!

This procedure not only gives them the power to terminate tenured faculty at any time; it, it gives them the power to single out and fire ANYONE at any time. Normally they would need at least some kind of cause to single out a employee or group of employees (tenured or not) for termination, but with this concocted power no cause or reason is needed. Remember, they have unrestricted power to define a layoff unit any way they see fit; they also have unrestricted power to assign anyone to the unit (since they define the membership rules). This means they have unrestricted power to single out anyone at any time for termination. Further, they also have the power to preclude the laid off professor from being rehired simply by abolishing the layoff unit.

Put this together with their “when practical” rule for giving professors reasonable notice, they have the power not only to fire anyone, they have the POWER TO FIRE ANYONE WITH ONLY 60 DAYS NOTICE.

Expect them to do it again next year. Blood thirsty from having tasted blood, they are likely to layoff hundreds of tenured faculty towards the end of the upcoming academic year.

I hope the faculty don’t take this lying down. There should be severe no-confidence votes if needed, with excoriating wording.

The administration’s layoff procedure creates a power that it isn’t supposed to have: the power to not just layoff but to FIRE. This is because the administration doesn’t recognize an obligation to possibly rehire a laid off professor back into the same department, only back into the same layoff unit. You can be sure that if they lay you off they will then either abolish the layoff unit or not find a need to rehire back into it.

The idea of creating new units at will completely bypasses FAU’s charter and organization principles. Faculty are supposed to be treated as members of departments, not extra-department “units” that can change from one minute to the next. The concocted powers associated with administrators’ actions in effect create a shadow, off-the-books organization within the organization, with little or none of the usual accountability.

This isn’t about layoffs. It’s about creating a system of completely unbridled power and about almost completely stripping away due faculty processes. Yes, you can grieve it when you’ve been laid off, but there is no due process to ensure that you won’t unfairly be targeted for layoffs because to begin with. If an administrator doesn’t like your looks, he or she only needs to create a layoff unit, put you in it, and poof you are gone. This can’t even be done legally in private companies.

Remember, poof and you are gone.

— -One more voice    Jun 12, 05:09 PM    #

97. There is no contract and there is no union.

The contract as Observer indicates has holes large enough to drive a semi though on issues he/she raised and many others pertaining to layoffs. How could these stupid clauses be put in a contract by a union? Some of this has been raised to union operatives and nothing has changed. The union is powerless because they do not hire professionals to bargain and make the case.

Union officials should immediately dissolve the current union and try to join a union with some real muscle, like the local teacher’s union, which I think is a national organization or the teamsters who are looking for more members. They have power.

A vote of no confidence would be good, but changes in the contract would be better.

— Lil Frank    Jun 12, 05:18 PM    #

98. Faculty are good at blogging but we need to be good at strategy.

A vote of no confidence is a good idea in my opinion — but do we really know how effective this would be? Does it matter that we have Republicans in power in Florida?
Be careful. And Tim, do not go into another BoT meeting as underprepared as you were at the last one.

But the basic message is this. If you love FAU, lose brogan.

— FAU Prof3    Jun 12, 10:06 PM    #


How to Fire Your President: Voting ‘No Confidence’ With Confidence


College faculties often use votes of “no confidence” to try to push out the leader of their institutions. Many do so, however, without giving much thought to what such a vote actually means, whether they are using it appropriately, or how it will affect their institution—and their own future.

Mae Kuykendall, a professor of law at Michigan State University and an expert on corporate law, has spent much of the past two years studying the no-confidence vote’s origins, philosophical underpinnings, and uses in higher-education institutions and other organizations. She is scheduled to discuss her findings in Washington on Saturday at an international conference on college governance, academic freedom, and globalization sponsored by the American Association of University Professors. /The Chronicle/ asked her to share her insights in an interview conducted via e-mail:

Q. Where did the no-confidence vote, as a way to change an organization’s leadership, originate? Where is it used?

A. The phrase arose in the British Parliament [in 1782, in response to the British surrender to the Americans at Yorktown]. The vote has come to express the loss of support by a group whose cooperation is necessary for a leader’s exercise of her duties. Libraries, police departments, public schools, fire departments, universities and their subunits, and various nonprofit groups use the vote of no confidence.

Q. How does the vote fit in, or contrast, with other means of trying to remove a leader?

A. A vote of no confidence undermines a leader’s claim to legitimacy, a feature made evident by contrast with common, but illegitimate, means of trying to remove a leader, such as mutiny, rebellion, work stoppage, mob action, and assassination. … The essence of the vote of no confidence is that the group need not give reasons or a set of charges. It is simultaneously unauthorized and legitimate.

Q. You talk about colleges as “fuzzily governed” institutions. How do they differ from other places that you examined, and how does the no-confidence vote fit into a “fuzzy” governance structure?

A. In authoritarian groups, regular members cannot demand a change. At the other end of the spectrum, democratic structures have clear, weighty procedures—impeachment and recall—for ousting their leaders. Universities and other nonprofit institutions sit in the middle of this spectrum. There is consultation to select leaders and to make decisions.

Q. Is there a typical response to these votes from college presidents and boards of trustees?

A. My research does not support a definite statement about a “typical” response. I can, however, describe one recurring pattern that almost could be said to follow a script. By a circular logic, the leader often claims that the outbreak of opposition is proof of his success: He or she is challenging an entrenched organizational culture that requires bold intervention. The president and his or her allies cite the call for ouster as evidence of stellar performance. The claim verges on a generic defense—one made even when the basis of a no-confidence petition arises from idiosyncratically personal flaws of the leader with no discernible connection to larger political concerns for the advancement of an institutional agenda. This response also serves to stigmatize those voting for removal, suggesting that they have betrayed their institutional trust and resist useful change. …

When leaders eventually exit after a period of resistance and denial, the leader and/or the board typically issue bland claims that the exit and the no-confidence vote are unrelated. Indeed, in the archives of official statement, there is virtually no such event as “pressured leader exit.” There is merely the change of mood by a leader, who, after a claimed success in one domain, decides to move on to private concerns or new challenges.

*Q. How effective is the vote? Is it more likely to bring about change in some situations than others? *

A. A review of public announcements concerning leaders’ exits plainly reveals that no-confidence votes often work. … One hypothesis that I have developed is that votes of no confidence are more likely to be effective in smaller institutional settings than in larger, more-complex universities in which the president is more remote from the faculty and the mission-related concerns of the schools differ. The credibility that accrues to a group that works directly with a leader is not present in larger, more-complex settings. The concern of an institution about its reputation in its relevant audience matters. If a school is willing to forgo the esteem of professional organizations and to risk prospective students’ concerns about a leadership under a cloud, the vote of no confidence will fail to drive out a leader backed by a determined board.

Q. Can such votes make matters worse for faculty members?

A. One can readily find articles urging faculty members to avoid votes of no confidence, on the grounds that less disruptive, mediated solutions are better. … The claim that the vote of no confidence always yields an outcome that is worse than some other imagined state of affairs is not persuasive. Faculty members, who are generally averse to risk, see a vote of no confidence as a last resort in a bad situation. …

The risks are real. Opposing the leader and losing can bring about what management theorist [Jean] Lipman-Blumen has called exile or “social death.” In addition, a successful effort can have unpredictable effects on group dynamics. … These risks help discipline groups to avoid casual resorts to such votes.

Q. Do faculties ever use these votes inappropriately?

A. Votes of no confidence are about the values and goals of mission-driven institutions, such as universities. … For this reason, faculties should strive to distinguish between union actions not related to core academic functions and actions animated by a faculty responsibility for the mission of the university.

*Q. What practical advice would you give faculty members who are contemplating using a no-confidence vote to try to rid their institution of its current president? *

A. First, talk with anyone you know in a similar institution that has experienced a vote of no confidence. Second, take with a grain of salt much of what you hear. Look for practical information, not fortune telling. … Colleagues at other institutions can tell you how a no-confidence vote developed, what role accrediting agencies may have played, what techniques seemed helpful, and where the greatest hazards, to collegiality and to the task of making ethical choices, lie.

Since there is typically no formally authorized procedure for votes of no confidence, there is no rule book. Every decision is open to critique or high cost. Whether to call a formal meeting and whether to involve the untenured are good targets for second guessing. A vote of no confidence is a statement of fact, not a charge, so don’t give a bill of particulars. The constant question for faculty in the midst of making these critical decisions is the one posed by the old Johnny Carson quiz show, with its deficient grammar—/Who Do You Trust?/ One good answer that is hard to beat: Trust yourself.

— Lawyer    Jun 13, 12:38 AM    #

100. It is too stressful to work at FAU under this administration. Unless FAU quickly reverse the course, everyone should call in sick during the first week of the Fall semester to show solidarity with the five laid off tenured professors.

— MD    Jun 13, 12:53 AM    #

101. FAU doesn’t need a new union, but rather more faculty members to become involved in the one that presently exists. Many faculty who assert that the CBA is weak and that the union does nothing are the same ones who are too busy with their careers or other matters to have been bothered contributing their time when it was brought into being and when it is renegotiated. Many more aren’t even dues-paying members. Further, affiliating with a new national will mean little in a state where one does not have the right not to work.

Brogan’s Junta will have no choice but to respond to public and political pressure. It is terrified of the press, and has sought to squelch criticism of its own largess by playing up minor fiscal shortfalls. The union and Faculty Senate should encourage letters to the editor of local papers, and to Congressional Representatives Wexler and Klein, particularly since FAU has accepted over $12 million in federal stimulus money this year, yet has turned around and illegally fired tenured faculty to save a purported $500,000. This is extreme mismanagement. Legal fees and settlements with these faculty will likely run into the millions. All to serve Brogan’s quixotic “vision” and his contempt for tenure.

— another observer    Jun 13, 03:47 PM    #

102. FSU also cuts tenured professors but seems no need to create those “functional units” first…

Florida State to recommend program changes, layoffs to Board of Trustees

Florida State University’s budget has been cut $82 million since 2007. Of that total, $56.6 million in cuts have yet to be made.

At its June 17 meeting, the Florida State Board of Trustees will be asked to consider a three-year plan to cut that $56.6 million, beginning in fiscal year 2009-10.

Administrators first began preparing for the budget crisis almost three years ago. On June 11, the university’s Budget Crisis Committee, which has been meeting since December and includes faculty and student representatives, reviewed the plan to be submitted to the Board of Trustees. The proposal calls for as many as 200 faculty and staff layoffs, including about 25 tenured professors; the merging, restructuring or suspension of academic programs; a requirement that branch campuses support themselves within three years; and a 15-percent tuition increase each year of the three-year plan. It does not call for across-the-board salary cuts or furloughs for employees.

The university will do everything possible to assist affected individuals in finding other positions either on or off campus. Human Resources has established the Office of Budget Crisis Support Services to meet with them individually. Those who need assistance should call or e-mail Francesca Ciaccio-Freeman at (850) 644-7701,

“For more than two years, we have worked diligently to manage these cuts, but we are now at the point where we will have to restructure or suspend some programs to preserve the core educational mission of the university,” said President T.K. Wetherell.

“We wish we were not forced to take these actions, but the campus will be better served by targeted solutions rather than by diluting the educational experience for all,” said Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Lawrence G. Abele. “We want to put Florida State in the strongest position we can until the economy begins to recover.”

“These cuts have been a painful but necessary exercise,” said English professor and Faculty Senate President Eric Walker. “Faced with $56 million in cuts, faculty support the goal of a sustainable budget over three years. Although the university has not been able to avoid some faculty layoffs, the faculty have been a regular part of a process that has attempted to minimize such actions through every other cost-savings measure possible.”

Student Senate President Pro Tempore Reggie Cuyler said students understand what the administration is up against. “The vice presidents and the president have been very considerate of student interests and needs,” said Cuyler, a member of the Budget Crisis Committee, which met more than a dozen times. He lobbied for, and won, assurances that Strozier Library would be held harmless when it had been slated for cuts. “That was one of the top issues for the student body, and the administration listened.”

Wetherell said the university will receive approximately $22.9 million annually for the next two years in federal stimulus money that is non-recurring, which will aid in retaining affected faculty for the maximum length of time possible.

In addition, pending Board of Trustees approval, tuition will be raised 15 percent for in-state undergraduate and graduate students, which will bring in $9.3 million in 2009-10. The increase will not apply to out-of-state students or law or medical students.

“Although these revenues will help us offset the current budget reduction, we will still face a significant gap that will become more urgent when the stimulus money goes away in two years,” Wetherell said. “That’s why we’ve planned for three years out.”

Over the past 18 months, administrators at Florida State have cut enrollment, frozen positions and hiring, reduced travel, cut utility usage, reduced supplies and severely reduced the president’s and six vice presidents’ budgets. In addition to millions of dollars in cuts in administrative functions, the new plan recommends various changes in academic programs.

For example, these recommendations include:

* In the College of Arts & Sciences, the geology department would be suspended as a separate department but could be merged with meteorology and oceanography into a new Earth & Atmospheric Sciences unit. * In the College of Business, The Dedman School of Hospitality and the Golf Management Program would come under separate accreditation from the college so they could be open to more students and become self-supporting. * The colleges of Communication and Information have merged into one, the College of Communication and Information. * The College of Social Work is exploring the possibility of merging with another college. * The College of Visual Arts, Theatre & Dance would restructure into three schools: Theatre, Dance and Art Design. The college would suspend its lighting program, scenic design, and Art Education B.S. degree. * FSU-Panama City will become self-supporting in three years. Its budget would be cut by 25 percent (although it would receive federal stimulus funds). It would suspend its Information Studies and resident MBA program except online and is developing a plan with Gulf Coast Community College to accept freshman and sophomore students, pending Board of Governors approval. Florida State will encourage students who are not admitted to the main campus to begin their studies at the Panama City campus, Florida State’s “Campus on the Coast.” Military personnel with honorable discharges or currently serving will be admitted to select undergraduate and graduate programs at Panama City. * The Ringling Cultural Center would be self-supporting in three years. * The Asolo MFA acting program also would become self-supporting. * The colleges of Education, Human Sciences, Music, Nursing and Social Sciences also would suspend or restructure some programs.

Members of the Florida State community can visit: for a complete list of the proposed program eliminations.

The same information will be posted for the general public at: and at

If the trustees give the administration approval to proceed with the proposed plan, the university will work closely with undergraduate students in the affected programs to work out plans for completing their degrees. Faculty will be retained on stimulus funds to also ensure master’s and doctoral degree students who are affected can graduate.

“The administration has planned effectively to deal with the budget cuts so that the impact on the quality of the university is minimized,” said Music Therapy professor and past Faculty Senate President Jayne Standley. “This has been accomplished over the past year in an open format with input from all areas, especially faculty and students. I feel confident that the overall plan is the best that could be devised under extraordinarily dire circumstances, and that the university community will continue to work together to ensure a quality education for the students of Florida State.”

— kinglear    Jun 13, 11:55 PM    #

103. The worst year is usually the year after the recession ends. So the worst is yet to come.

— Prof    Jun 14, 01:10 AM