August 27, 2013. Defending academic freedom, New bargaining agreement, Addressing disparities in faculty salaries, and more!
Welcome back. Prepare to depressurize as you reenter the atmosphere of Planet FAU where alternative realities proliferate. Your friendly faculty union has been busy terraforming over the summer to make your world more habitable.
We have been diligently defending academic freedom throughout the summer due to an overblown incident involving one of our instructors, Dr. Deandre Poole, in a classroom exercise. (See http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/04/01/interview-professor-center-jesus-debate-florida-atlantic for more details). Not only was the faculty union the first to vigorously defend academic freedom on campus and draw it to the attention of the national press, but it was also instrumental in bringing this issue before the Faculty Senate by asking to reconvene the Committee on Academic Freedom and Due Process, which had been defunct for years.
The Committee then met for several months to compile a report criticizing the mismanagement of the incident by the university administration. (Read the report at http://www.fau.edu/ufsgov/Final%20AFDPC%20Report%206-24-2013.pdf). Because of the Committee’s conscientious work and the union’s determined defense of academic freedom, the instructor was finally rehired and the curriculum returned to faculty control. The incident reveals the strength of faculty when the union and faculty senate work together to clarify and strengthen the institutional values of the university.
After more than a year of intense bargaining, we have finally ratified the 2012-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Some of the highlights include the addition of paid parental leave, partner benefits, and a raise structure for instructors.
We will soon begin bargaining for this year. Our main priority will be faculty raises. The administration has repeatedly stated during the spring semester that money is available for raises. Since we haven’t had a raise since 2010, we have fallen far beneath the pay of our sister institutions across the United States. According to the American Association of University Professors, FAU full professor salaries on average lag behind their peers at other institutions by $18,000 and associate professors on average lag by $6,000. (See http://chronicle.com/article/faculty-salaries-data-2012/131431#id=133669). This reveals the inversion and compression of salary that accrues the longer faculty remain with our institution. Such an illogical salary structure discourages loyalty and long-term commitment from faculty who often feel increasingly exploited the longer they stay at FAU.
Even more troubling, according to Florida Trend, FAU administration has grown 1.5% from 2007 to 2011 while new full-time tenure-track lines were cut by 40% during the same time period. As a result, faculty workloads have increased in regards to teaching and service while our salaries have stagnated. We will soon be releasing an independent study of faculty salaries compared to administration salaries for the last five years at FAU in order to document the relative allocation of resources.
In regard to the promotional structure established for instructors, the union is requesting assistance from instructors who have recently been promoted to help lead a fall portfolio workshop for instructors applying for promotion in the upcoming academic year. We would like for you to model your portfolio as well as explain any issues that arose while going through the process and field any questions that faculty might have. If you are interested in participating, please contact Chris Robé at email@example.com. Portfolios are due in the Provost’s office by February 14, 2014. They will be due in your departments even earlier. Be sure to check with your department head about his/her specific deadline.
We will be holding a consultation this fall. Two main concerns are following up on academic freedom with the administration to ensure their commitment to this central principle and addressing the negative effects of larger class caps on teaching, learning, and student retention. If you have other concerns you would like the union to address during consultation, let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New faculty luncheon will be held on September 27 from 11:30 am-1:30 PM in Live Oak Room A. All faculty are welcome to attend. Members should feel free to bring non-members and introduce them to our fine union folk. We will also be holding monthly happy hours at The Irishmen Pub, 1745 NW 2nd Ave. Stay tuned for updates regarding its dates. We hope to see you at our upcoming functions. The union, after all, is not simply about representing the collective faculty voice, but also gathering faculty together to share ideas and concerns in order to better implement our vision of what FAU should be. If you haven’t joined yet, download an application at http://uff-fau.org/?cat=3 and send it in to Chris Robé, CU 214, School of Communication, Boca Raton Campus or take it to the next union function you attend and hand it to one of the union officers. Look forward to seeing you soon.