An Open Letter to the Wright State University Board of Trustees:

I am writing this letter as President of the University of Akron Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, which represents 586 full-time faculty. I have been following the contract negotiations and current impasse that has resulted in a faculty strike. To my dismay, I have observed that the WSU administration has resorted to using its students as pawns: putting their education at risk, and frightening them with threats of withdrawal of financial aid, all in order to avoid bargaining with faculty in good faith.

Let me be clear: the faculty at any university is not a problem to be managed. The current strike at your institution is not merely the undesired outcome of a typical labor-management dispute. The faculty are quite simply the backbone of any university, and they are the key to student success. When faculty fight for better working conditions, they are fighting for better learning conditions for their students. Your openly hostile attitude toward the WSU faculty reveals your dismissive view of students, evinced when subs, adjuncts, and administrators are hastily thrown into classrooms, or classes are cancelled altogether, all destroying the good faith needed as a basis for shared governance.

Shared governance–an anathema to many a dysfunctional university administration– is necessary for any university to function effectively. The pattern of wasteful spending on the part of the administration presents an all too common case of chronic mismanagement without real consequence for managers. Instead, the Board of Trustees seeks to punish the faculty for the administration’s misdeeds. In the end, it will be the students and the community at large who will suffer because of the Board’s dereliction of of its fiduciary responsibility to the institution.

It’s not too late to return to the bargaining table. The students, faculty, and the community at large are waiting.

Yours sincerely,

Pamela A. Schulze
President, Akron-AAUP

Dear Akron-AAUP members,

I would like to personally appeal for your support of our colleagues at Wright State’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors. You may have heard or read about their on-going contract negotiations and strike notification, but for those of you who would like an update, you can follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and you can find more information on the AAUP-WSU webpage.

Below, I’m sharing a message from AAUP-WSU President Marty Kich. Please take a moment to read it. I’d like you to commit to supporting our colleagues at Wright State by signing the online petition, amplifying their social media campaign (liking, reposting/retweeting their posts and commenting on news articles), and writing letters of support addressed to the WSU administration. Even if you can’t join them on the picket line in person, consider posting a photo online showing your support. Encourage your colleagues to do the same.

We are one faculty, united.

In solidarity,

Pam Schulze

President, Akron-AAUP

A Message from the AAUP-WSU President

Dear AAUP members,

On January 4, the Wright State administration and Board unilaterally imposed a contract on the full-time teaching faculty represented by AAUP-WSU.

On November 7, our members voted to reject a fact-finder’s report: 87% of the full-time teaching faculty are AAUP members; of the 493 eligible to vote, 97.2% voted, and 97.5% of those who voted rejected the Fact Finder’s report.

Continue reading

What is Needed in the Next UA President

Results of the Survey Conducted in December

At the tail-end of the fall semester, the Akron-AAUP surveyed bargaining unit faculty about the qualities we are looking for in a new President. Although the survey took place when faculty were busy finalizing grades and was open for less than one week, we are pleased that almost 200 members responded.

Below is a summary of your responses to our primary questions.  For ease of reporting, we have included the share of respondents who thought that each of the criteria was either “Essential” or “Very Important” for the next President to possess. As can be seen below, the results are quite telling.

At the top of the list is that our next President must “demonstrate respect for the faculty.”  In addition to this, more than 90% of the faculty think that it is essential or very important that our next leader provide evidence of high integrity, that s/he accept responsibility/accountability, has experience in higher education, makes the academic mission of the university her/his top priority, and has the ability to bring the University community together.

At least 80% of the faculty respondents also think that our next President has to make decisions based on evidence, has earned a Ph.D. or an equivalent terminal degree, can think strategically, is committed to the importance of research, is able to make hard decisions, is student-centered and engages in a consultative leadership style.

At the other end of the spectrum, less than a quarter of faculty respondents contend that our next President has to have already served as a university President, has experience with technology transfer and intellectual property, can bring a business model to education and comes from outside academia.

The survey also included an open-ended question soliciting other qualities desired in a new President, and almost 80 faculty provided answers. A considerable number of these emphasized, often in stronger and passionate language, the points mentioned above: the need for an inclusive management style, integrity and ethical leadership and for basing decisions on data. Several other key themes emerged: experience in working with regional campuses, the need for someone who can work with and value the broader Akron community, and the need to hire a permanent Provost and revamp UA’s senior leadership.

Combining the quantitative and qualitative responses suggests that the faculty want a markedly different leadership style at UA — one that respects them and makes central the academic mission of UA; a leader who acts with integrity and accountability, who can think strategically and make hard decisions based on evidence, and who can bring the campus and broader Akron community together. We urge members of the search committee to commit to this clarion call for a new model, so that we can work collectively towards a new way of “charting the course” for UA.

Note From Acting Akron-AAUP President Regarding Today’s Reorganization Announcement

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to meet with Provost Rex Ramsier and Interim President John Green to discuss many of the issues you have raised at the listening sessions and at one-on-one meetings over the past few weeks.

Although there are still many challenges that we are facing, I am encouraged by Interim President Green’s response to our immediate concerns. As you may have already read, the Interim President has committed to extend the timeline for consideration of the reorganization proposals. He also agreed in our meeting to listen and consider additions to the process to allow for additional data collection and analysis.

I also had the opportunity to raise your concerns about Akron-AAUP representation and the overall faculty representation on the Steering Committee for the development of the Three-Year Action Plan. I have assurances that the Akron-AAUP will have representation on the committee beginning next week. We will share information on that with you as soon as it is publicly announced.

My pledge is to continue listening to your ideas and concerns as we move forward and to continue to serve as your representative to the administration.

Thank you for taking the time to complete our survey, attend listening sessions and reach out individually. A lot of work lies ahead, and I feel privileged to serve you as we navigate it together.

With solidarity,

Julie A Cajigas
Acting President, Akron-AAUP

Notification and Request for Information: Umbrella Grievance Filed Regarding Program Terminations 

Dear faculty colleagues,

The Akron-AAUP has been inundated with concerned emails, calls and visits in the weeks since cuts to 80 of our academic programs were announced. We have also met with units and colleges, and held listening sessions with the faculty.

Because it was simply unfeasible to obtain information about all situations and all adverse effects of the cuts in such a short period of time, the Akron-AAUP has filed an “umbrella” grievance regarding the University of Akron’s termination of academic programs. We have also filed one additional program-specific grievance based on faculty requests, and have submitted a request to the University to engage in effects based bargaining. You can view all three at the links below.

Grievance 2018-5: Program Termination Grievance (Umbrella)

Grievance 2018-6: Electrical and Computer Engineering

Demand to Bargain over Effects of Academic Program Changes

What does an umbrella grievance do?

The umbrella grievance extends our window of time to learn about factual and/or procedural errors that were used to justify program cuts. The timely file of an informal resolution on this grievance, on September 24, 2018, ensures that we continue to be able to address the adverse effects of program cuts on bargaining unit faculty members past the original grievance file deadline. We can now navigate the recent decisions and consider your individually-based program needs.

What does this filing mean for you?

The filing of this informal resolution gives your Akron-AAUP chapter limited additional time to hear from you, our constituents, and learn about the intricacies of program-specific grievances that may arise after the 20-day filing period. So far, we have heard from concerned faculty members across campus, both as individuals and as groups.

Who can we include in the umbrella grievance?

Under this umbrella grievance, we are only able to file program-specific grievances based on procedural errors and factual mistakes that resulted in program cuts. If you have evidence of these types of errors that were used as UA’s justification for cutting your program, please contact us immediately so we can determine if your case can be addressed by this grievance.

NOTE: this process is time sensitive. To report factual or procedural errors used in UA’s justification for a program cut, please immediately contact the grievance committee, Russ Davis (, Executive Director and Grievance Administrator, and Mark Rittenour (, Grievance Officer and Contract Administrator.

Thank you,

The Akron-AAUP Grievance Committee

Faculty Were Not at the Decision Making Table

The Akron-AAUP would like to respond to recent statements made in the press by a University of Akron spokesperson.

The following was published in the Akron Beacon Journal at

UA spokesman Wayne Hill said in a prepared statement Thursday that UA “has engaged the faculty in a meaningful and substantive manner at every step of the way” throughout the review. He noted that leaders of both the union and the Faculty Senate were on the executive committee that guided the review process.

We want to make the nature of our involvement unequivocally clear to our membership.

Our Chief Negotiator and Past President John Zipp was involved in the Academic Program Review (APR) process. He was not part of the final decision-making process that led to the decision to cut 80 academic programs, nor was any other member of the Akron-AAUP executive committee. The final decisions were made primarily by Interim President John Green and Executive Vice President/Chief Administrative Officer Rex Ramsier with input from Chand Midha, Vice Provost/Executive Dean-Liaison to Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences and Executive Dean of the Graduate School, Wayne Hill, Vice President/Chief Communication and Marketing Officer, and Nathan Mortimer, Vice President for Finance and Administration/CFO.

In an act of complete disregard for the Senate vote on APR in May, and in spite of repeated calls from Akron-AAUP to engage in strategic planning before making strategic decisions about areas of investment and disinvestment, the Administration chose to deliberate in conditions of total secrecy, with some input from deans, who were under strict orders not to discuss anything before the Board acted on the Administration’s decisions. As a result of the way this process was conducted, all faculty, including the executive committees of Akron-AAUP and Faculty Senate, learned about these program cuts the same way and at the same time that the general public did: through the UA Digest announcement and subsequent press releases issued two days ago.

While faculty leaders engaged in the process in an attempt to make it as fair and useful as possible, their criticisms of the process are strong and on the record.

The UA spokesperson’s quoted statements from the story may have technical accuracy in that faculty leaders were part of the flawed Academic Program Review process. Faculty leaders did NOT play a part in deciding how the resulting data from that process would ultimately be used.

The Akron-AAUP plans to continue to push for true shared governance and active faculty involvement in the decisions that shape the academic mission of our university. We hope you will all work with us as we demand the best for our students and community.

In Solidarity,

The Executive Committee of the Akron-AAUP

Akron-AAUP and Faculty Senate Joint Response to Program Cuts Without Adequate Faculty Input

On August 15th, The University of Akron Board of Trustees announced that intends to cut 80 academic programs or program tracks. At the recommendation of Interim President Green and Vice President of Administrative Affairs Rex Ramsier, the Board voted unanimously to suspend and eventually close 10 PhD programs, 33 master’s programs, 20 bachelor’s programs and 17 associate’s programs. In his remarks to the Board of Trustees, President Green stated that these cuts were in keeping with Northeastern Ohio Regional Compact agreement, which aims to increase cooperation and efficiency among the region’s colleges and universities.

In order for the faculty to understand these recommendations in light of the Academic Program Review (APR) process, The University of Akron chapter of the American Association of University Professors (Akron-AAUP) and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee believe it’s important for the entire faculty to realize what transpired last academic year, what the Academic Policies Committee (APC) recommended, and what the Faculty Senate ultimately approved at its May meeting.

The APR process included deans, department chairs/school directors, and bargaining unit faculty, including one Akron-AAUP representative. The full list of committee members can be found here. The majority of the faculty who served on this committee were appointed by their respective deans. You can find the full timeline here.

The Academic Policies Committee (APC) reviewed the APR documents and issued a report at the May 2018 Faculty Senate meeting. The APC did not recommend any program suspensions or any other program changes at the May meeting. The Senate did not vote to approve changes to any program as a result of APR.  

The Committee described several limitations of the APR process, including the ambitious timeline in which APR committee members were required to evaluate, discuss, and rate every active degree-granting program. What resulted was ranking of programs that APC described as a “point-in-time snapshot” that reflects years of under-investment in the academic mission, which in itself no doubt affected programmatic outcomes on metrics which primarily had to do with current and potential financial performance.

The Committee questioned whether this effort represents adequate shared governance, as it was a “considerable departure from the standard program-review process that is expected by the Higher Learning Commission.”

“Quality program reviews are not intended to be competitions for scarce resources that pit programs within a college against one another; rather, they are designed to be routine, robust examinations of the curriculum by faculty and administrators to ensure that the university’s academic mission is met.”

The APC report called for investments in tenure-track faculty.

“…Even though this report should not be used as the basis for making strategic decisions about the University’s curriculum, there are several themes that can and should be acted upon immediately. In a great majority of programs, the loss of full-time tenure-track faculty has become a serious problem… Focusing on programs singularly without investment in the larger academic enterprise will leave even our best-known degrees vulnerable.”

The Committee’s report also called for a renewed investment in graduate assistantships.

“Graduate assistants are valuable to both the undergraduate and graduate missions of the University…A long-term reduction in assistantships will only harm the University.”

The Committee concluded, “APC recognizes the economic challenges that the University is facing. Yet, cutting programs or allowing them to wither without careful consideration of the resulting academic impact will create far more significant challenges in the future.”

The APC recommended that APR be viewed as the beginning of a process, not the end and that curricular decisions should result from an open strategic planning process that actively involves faculty.

“When given the time to gather accurate data, assess student learning, and reflect upon the findings, program reviews can provide meaningful information for strategic planning and potential investment opportunities. APC recommends that this report be used as a starting point for a far more regularized, faculty-driven, thorough, and less hasty program review process.”

The Akron-AAUP  joins Faculty Senate in calling for a “standard,” faculty-driven review process that meets the Higher Learning Commission’s requirements for shared governance. A more thoughtful and detailed review process should inform institutional strategic planning, which in turn will help us to make critical curricular decisions in a way that will lead the University in a positive direction. Faculty Senate must play a significant role in this process. Strategic planning is long overdue, and the process should begin immediately. In fact, the Faculty Senate Ad-hoc Strategic Planning Committee has already begun its work, and we encourage the Administration to work cooperatively with this committee and other constituencies on this process in the spirit of transparency and real shared governance.

The Akron-AAUP and Faculty Senate share the Administration’s concern about the University’s financial well-being, and we believe that the path to academic excellence and financial sustainability can best be achieved cooperatively, with active faculty input and involvement.

For those of our colleagues who lost their programs, please know that we stand with you today, as always. This is a challenging time for our campus, and we know morale is low. Please know that your representatives on Faculty Senate and Akron-AAUP will continue to work on your behalf.


Pamela A. Schulze

President, Akron-AAUP

Linda Marie Saliga

Acting Chair, Faculty Senate

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading