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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
By Israa Eddeb & Sofia Syed, Akron-AAUP Interns and Julie Cajigas
Dr. Andrew Rancer’s key to teaching is getting his students excited. Rancer is a professor in the School of Communication at the University of Akron who teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses, and directs master’s students in their projects and theses. He also serves as the chair of the scholarship committee for the School of Communication, and has served in many roles over the years. Contemporary Communication Theory, the second edition of a text he co-authored with School of Communication Director Theodore A. Avtgis, Dominic A. Infante, and Erina L. MacGeorge has just been released. Even with his many involvements, and rigorous research and writing calendar, motivating his students to develop a passion for their coursework is his primary objective.
Professor Andrew Rancer (right), with his co-author Theodore Avtgis, School of Communication Director
Fall 2016 Chapter Meeting
Monday, October 17 at 1 p.m. in Student Union Ballroom B
Our fall chapter meeting will be held Monday, October 17, 1 – 3:00 pm, in Student Union Ballroom B. A light lunch will be served. Please note, this is a members only event, but membership forms will be available at the door for those who wish to join the chapter. (Feel free to bring new hires who are not members so that they can join!).
The agenda is available HERE.
Minutes from the Spring 2016 Chapter Meeting are available for review HERE.
The Akron-AAUP extends a warm welcome to Interim President Matthew J. Wilson. Given recent challenges at The University of Akron, Dr. Wilson is a strong transitional figure. His background and experience as a faculty member and administrator positions him to work with the faculty to restore trust between the campus community and the university leadership, and to begin much needed improvement to shared governance at The University of Akron.
The faculty of The University of Akron are deeply committed to student success and a bright future for this institution. We see the appointment of a leader with academic experience as a sign that we have been heard. Now, we must continue to be a part of a conversation that will focus on the educational mission of the university and build on its considerable existing strengths to ensure an excellent learning environment for our students.
The Akron-AAUP looks forward to working closely with Dr. Wilson to unify The University of Akron leadership, campus and community, so we can move forward as one.