UFF-FAU President Tracy Requests Administration Address Engineering Faculty Discontent, College Reorganization

November 25, 2009

Dr. Diane Alperin
Office of the Provost
Florida Atlantic University
Williams Administration Building
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431

Dear Provost Alperin,

In October the UFF-FAU Chapter conducted an online survey of the bargaining unit faculty in Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. This was done at the behest of several Engineering faculty members who expressed to UFF-FAU officials their great dismay over the College’s reorganization and the abrupt termination of five tenured faculty in Spring 2009, yet they also feared to speak publicly on this situation. The survey was intended to gauge faculty members’ opinions toward the reorganization of the College and the layoffs of tenured faculty.

I have enclosed a copy of the survey results for your examination. Over half of the Engineering faculty provided responses to the survey, and the results suggest that an overwhelming majority of these individuals have very strong concerns about how the reorganization was implemented and the motives behind the reorganization. The survey results also suggest that, in the faculty’s view, they were not adequately consulted in the lead-up to the momentous decision to reorganize the College. There is also overwhelming uncertainty within the faculty regarding the College’s present leadership under Dean Karl Stevens.

FAU faculty members elsewhere in the University have expressed to me their reluctance to voice important concerns in faculty governance forums for fear of retaliation from FAU administrators. This fear has been reinforced by the aforementioned termination of tenured faculty in Engineering. I think you will agree that this is a highly unfortunate state of affairs, particularly for any institution of higher learning which, by its very nature, should seek to maintain an atmosphere where scrutiny and contention are welcomed and encouraged. After all, these are the indispensable building blocks of novel concepts and invention from which FAU seeks distinction in every scholarly field.

It is UFF-FAU’s position that as long as the reorganization exists in the College of Engineering through the sequestering of faculty into “functional units,” faculty members in the College remain vulnerable to layoff and are likely enduring considerable emotional distress that hinders their academic performance.

Faculty members across the University are given little comfort with the knowledge that other colleges face reorganization, quite possibly along the lines of the College of Engineering. A satisfactory resolution to this matter would involve the immediate elimination of these units and thus the restoration of tenure as a meaningful institution at FAU.

I greatly appreciate your attention to the above, and trust that you will bring this important matter to the attention of Dean Karl Stevens, President John Pritchett, and BOT Chairperson Nancy Blosser.

Sincerely,

(signed)

James F. Tracy
UFF-FAU President

See related posts:

PB Post: Engineering faculty vents frustration

View the College of Engineering faculty survey results here.