President’s Note: Akron-AAUP 2017-2018 School Year in Review

More hands make lighter work:

We’ve been busy the past year. I wanted to send an update to you all about some of our activities, and, if you took part in any of them–thanks! A faculty union relies almost entirely on volunteer labor. Thanks to all of you who pitched in.

This past year, we’ve created a lovely new brochure, thanks in large part to the work of McKenna Vietmeier, Assistant Professor of Instruction in the School of Communication. We’ve been hard work at building a new website under the direction of our Vice President and communications specialist, Julie Cajigas. Thanks, McKenna and Julie!

John Zipp, our Chief Negotiator, has been representing us well this year! We negotiated with the administration over the VRIP program, the RTP and Merit for NTT faculty, prescription benefits, and policy issues such as faculty load for administrative work. The work goes on, and we will keep you updated. Please be sure to thank John when you see him–the Chief Negotiator job is critical, and it is 100% volunteer.

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Taking Collective Action to Defend our Schools

By Ben Ratliffe, Our AAUP Organizer

Sometime between today and June, the US Supreme Court decide, in the Janus v. AFSCME case, whether or not public sector unions will have the financial support they need to continue supporting public sector employees. This decision would negatively impact everyone from secondary and higher education teachers to the workers who maintain your city’s sewers, take out the trash, drive the kids to school, and work with the homeless and mentally ill.

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We’re Listening: Listening Session Report

Our Listening Sessions, Janus Coffees, and office visits as part of the 2017-2018 school year have been a really beneficial way of connecting with faculty across campus.

We’ve learned a lot about the issues that faculty care about and the challenges that units across campus face.

Several topics came up in our conversations, but the bottom line is that faculty are under stress due to lack of needed faculty lines, lack of resources, lack of stable leadership, and general uncertainty about the future. This stress is not simply a response to the troubling economic times that the University now faces, it’s not just a result of the rushed Academic Program Review Process, and it’s not just because we had to scurry to fit almost all our classes into a four-day schedule without any study of how that would affect students, faculty, or staff.

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Your Grievance Team Working Hard For You (2017-2018 Grievance Report)

The Akron-AAUP Grievance Committee Drs. Russ Davis (Executive Director and Grievance Administrator) and Val Pipps (Contract Administrator and Grievance Officer) are ending the 2017-2018 year having responded to more than 40 individual faculty and/or groups for consultation or direct intervention/support.

The Grievance Committee has worked daily throughout the semester to support, advocate for, and help improve the working environment and rights of bargaining unit faculty (BUF).

The committee has worked on formal grievance-related labor/management issues such as:

  • One formal individual-level grievance related to tenure/promotion
  • One formal individual-level grievance related to disciplinary actions taken by the administration
  • One college-grievance related to the appointment of dean
  • One department-level related grievance related to the appointment of chair

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Budget Cuts and Athletics Funding

As we all know, when it’s time to cut, the first and apparently the easiest place to cut is the academic side. However, faculty across campus have felt frustrated that the sacrifices are not shared by non-academic units. The University spends about $24 million from the general fund to support athletics each year. Because of this, and because of concerns about more cuts to come, the University Council Budget & Finance Committee recommended $8 million in cuts to Athletics over two years (this would be proportionate to the recent cut in Graduate School funding).

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2018 Spring Chapter Meeting: Thursday, April 26

Our spring chapter meeting is being held Thursday, April 26, from 3:00-5:00 pm, in Student Union 312. Snacks will be served at 3, the meeting proper will begin at 3:15 pm.

Please note that this is a members only event, but membership forms will be available at the door for those who wish to join the chapter (or non-members can click the button below this message to join).

The results of the chapter officer and for chapter delegates to the National AAUP Annual Meeting and Collective Bargaining Congress meetings will be announced.

Additionally, we will have two special guests, Sara Kilpatrick, Executive Director of the Ohio Conference – AAUP, will speak on “Political Engagement to Protect and Advance Faculty Unions & Public Higher Education,” and Ben Ratliffe, National AAUP Department of Organizing & Services – Ohio Organizer, will give a talk, “Issue Campaigns and Building Power.

The agenda for the Spring 2018 Chapter Meeting is available HERE.
The minutes from the Fall 2017 Chapter Meeting are available for review HERE.

Akron-AAUP Meeting With The Board Of Trustees

Dear Colleagues in the Bargaining Unit Faculty (BUF),

The Akron-AAUP was notified on August 25th that the Board of Trustees (BOT) would meet with constituency groups, including representatives of Akron-AAUP, to discuss whether to begin a search for President. The Board committed to meet with us to discuss a search for President last year, when President Wilson’s title was changed from Interim President to President.

Three representatives of Akron-AAUP, Pam Schulze, president, Julie Cajigas, vice president, and Amy Dreussi, liaison-at-large, met with the BOT on September 11, 2017. Representatives of the University Council and Faculty Senate were also invited to meet with the BOT. We encourage you to reach out to leadership of those bodies so that they can inform you about those conversations. In the interest of transparency, we would like to share what our representatives said to the Board.

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Welcome to Fall 2017

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of your Akron-AAUP, I would like to welcome everyone to the 2017-2018 academic year. I hope you all had a relaxing and restorative summer, and that you’re rejuvenated and ready for a new academic year.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) recently released a statement in response to the events that took place on the University of Virginia campus August 19-20. The Akron-AAUP agrees wholeheartedly with this statement, and we encourage you to read it if you have not already done so.

As a collective bargaining chapter of AAUP, Akron-AAUP is committed to fighting for the rights of all faculty and students to exchange ideas freely—this is the heart of the academic mission of this and every university. Academic freedom can only be exercised in an environment free of hate speech and intimidation. In order to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for our campus community, we must confront and reject racism, hate and bigotry; we must never remain silent or complicit in the face of its corrosive influence.

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John Zipp to be Honored With Sternberg Award

Award to be presented in Washington DC at National AAUP-CBC Conference in June

It is our great pleasure to share with you the excellent news that John Zipp, Past President, Akron-AAUP, has been recognized by the AAUP-CBC with the Marilyn Sternberg award.

At the 1981 annual meeting of the American Association of University Professors, the AAUP’s Collective Bargaining Congress passed a resolution establishing the Marilyn Sternberg Award. The award, the resolution stated, is to be given annually to the “AAUP member who best demonstrates concern for human rights, courage, persistence, political foresight, imagination, and collective bargaining skills.” Continue reading

The Importance of Research

The University of Akron community is being asked to make painful decisions regarding how we allocate our resources. The decisions we make now will shape this institution for years to come. Examining our institutional priorities, then, is essential to this endeavor.  One priority that can easily be lost in discussions about our fiscal challenges is our responsibility to support and encourage research and other scholarly and creative endeavors among our faculty as well as our students. That part of our mission is at the heart of everything else we do; it is the lifeblood of any research university. It is also the engine that drives economic advancement.

The role of research universities.

Robert Berdahl, former President of the Association of American Universities, highlighted the key role that research universities play, not only for higher education itself but also for our society as a whole, in his 2009 essay, “Research Universities: Their Value to Society Extends Well Beyond Research.”  The public seems to understand how research in the natural sciences helps us to cure diseases, address our energy needs, and create the new technologies that promote economic growth.  But, equally importantly, few of these solutions can be effective without other areas of research such as the social sciences.

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