MJ Saunders Administration Targets Summer Classes, Faculty Salaries

March 22, 2012. RADICAL NEW POLICY SLASHES SUMMER COURSE OFFERINGS

An unprecedented new plan has been announced in a March 21 memo from the MJ Saunders administration to FAU college deans that will radically scale back summer course offerings. It could also set the stage for the dismantling and elimination of departments and a makeover of entire colleges and the University.

The bold move constitutes a furtive usurpation of faculty autonomy over curricular issues because it requires that all undergraduate courses offered for Summer 2012 to have a minimum of 24 students enrolled in Summer 2011. (The policy emphasizes 11 students for graduate courses.) Further, a minimum 24 students must enroll for the course in Summer 2012 for the class to carry. Under the policy, even if department chairs increase enrollment to 24 for a course that was offered in 2011 with a class cap of, say 22, the course cannot be offered because it does not fit the administrators’ stringent criteria. Thus many upper division production and performance-oriented classes students need to graduate will be stricken from summer listings.

With this policy FAU administrators and their attorneys are turning a win-win-win into a lose-lose-lose situation for the University, students, and faculty. This is because FAU actually generates revenue by offering summer courses, AND students can progress in a timely fashion toward graduation, AND over half of FAU faculty depend on funds earned from teaching summer classes to augment their already depressed salaries. Thus, through such a policy FAU will be deprived of revenue, students will not be able to take the classes they need to graduate, and many faculty members will experience what is essentially a 12.5% salary reduction.

What’s next? If this policy is any sign of future things to be imposed on faculty and students it means that, at best, faculty will continue to be disempowered while FAU students pay increasingly more for much less. At worst, if this or similar policies are extended to the academic year it could translate to the inevitable cancellation of classes, closure of departments, reorganization of the entire University, and the mass termination of faculty.

James Tracy
UFF-FAU First Vice President