Category Archives: University of Akron

Event Announcement: Emergency All-Chapter Meetings

Tuesday, March 1, noon – 2 p.m. in SU 312
Wednesday, March 2, noon – 2 p.m. in SU 312

Join us for an emergency all-member chapter meeting to discuss the status of negotiations and the potential for a strike.  These meetings will be held in the Student Union, in room 312. Please choose whichever date works best for your schedule.

We will be discussing the upcoming strike authorization vote, the current status of negotiations, and will answer questions about the need for a strike. These are members-only events, but membership forms will be available at the door. There has never been a better time to become a member of Akron-AAUP than now. The more members who are standing behind us, the better chance we have to secure a fair contract and avoid a strike.

There are a number of extremely important dates you need to be aware of. Here is a tentative timeline that shows the negotiating and fact-finding events occurring over the next few weeks:

March 1 & 2: These two emergency all-member meetings are an opportunity for chapter members to meet with chapter leadership and our negotiating team to discuss the status of negotiations, our imminent strike authorization vote and to discuss next steps. It is critical that members attend in order to be fully informed of the issues.

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The Akron-AAUP Response to Jon Pavloff’s Vote of No Confidence Comments

The following is the official statement released to the media on Friday by the Akron-AAUP in response to comments made by Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Jon Pavloff, after Thursday’s Vote of No Confidence by the Faculty Senate.

Akron-AAUP Disputes Statement that Overlap Between Union and Faculty Senate Influenced Thursday’s Vote of No Confidence

Of the 63 members in The University of Akron’s Faculty Senate, only three senators are also part of the Akron-AAUP leadership, two of whom were present for the Vote of No Confidence.

AKRON, Ohio – (February 5, 2016) – After the 50-2 Vote of No Confidence in President Scarborough by the University of Akron Faculty Senate yesterday, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Jon Pavloff referenced “overlapping membership” between the Faculty Senate and the Akron-AAUP, suggesting the vote was merely part of the ongoing union negotiations.

“The Chairman is mistaken. The two bodies are quite distinct in purpose and membership,” says John Zipp, Professor and Akron-AAUP Chapter President. Of the 63 members of Faculty Senate, only three members of the AAUP leadership are members of Faculty Senate, and of those, only two were present for the Vote of No Confidence on Thursday.

“It is neither helpful to negotiations, nor responsive to the concerns of Faculty Senate, to dismiss so lightly the issues leading to the Senate’s vote today,” says Zipp.

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The HLC Report on Shared Governance at UA

From The Akron-AAUP Newsletter, November 18, 2015

On November 5, 2015, the administration emailed the campus community an update on the report from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC, the accreditors) on shared governance at UA.

The administration’s email began on an upbeat note: “I am pleased to report that on October 29th, the Higher Learning Commission notified the University that it ‘…concurred with the evaluation findings and affirmed that the institution is addressing the concerns related to (a) relationship and roles of faculty in shared institutional governance and (b) assessment of student learning in general education and in undergraduate and graduate majors.’”

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From “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear” by Wendell Berry

Thoughts like these ought to be at the center of any thinking about “strategic initiatives.”

The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It’s proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or “accessing” what we now call “information” – which is to say facts without context and therefore without priority. A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first.”

https://orionmagazine.org/article/thoughts-in-the-presence-of-fear/

Akron General Medical Center and health care for faculty at The University of Akron

UA faculty and other employees have received a number of emails recently concerning The University of Akron, Apex, and the loss of Akron General as an in-network provider in 2016.

For your reference, here are links to copies of those messages:

October 2, 2015: From Nathan J. Mortimer on negotiations between Apex and Akron General

October 16, 2015: From Nathan J. Mortimer–AG informs UA that it will not continue in 2016 as in-network provider under Apex

October 21, 2015: From Tim Stover, President and CEO of Akron General on options available to UA to gain AG as in-network provider for 2016

October 26, 2015: From Nathan J. Mortimer—UA’s response to letter from Akron General

Akron-AAUP Chief Negotiator Kevin Kreider’s and President John Zipp’s Update
Regarding Akron General Medical Center
November 2, 2015

On Thursday, October 29th, representatives from the Akron-AAUP and the University administration met to discuss the Akron General situation.  We sought this meeting for several reasons.

First, as you may know, the President and CEO of Akron General, Dr. Tim Stover, sent an open letter to many University employees on October 21st.  Dr. Stover stated he had conversations with University leadership regarding the issue of Akron General not being an in-network provider through Apex (the University’s current third party administrator (“TPA”)) effective January 1, 2016.  Dr. Stover claimed that the University was aware for over a year that Akron General was not willing to be an in-service provider under Apex and that the University administration had represented to Akron General that the University would seek another or second TPA so that Akron General could remain in-network. We wanted to hear the University’s response to the letter, and to hear why it did not seek bids from other TPA’s to see if the in-network hospital systems currently available could be provided for 2016 at a reasonable cost.

Second, we reviewed the contract and addendum between the University and Apex and determined, in consultation with the Chapter’s outside healthcare experts, that the contract could be terminated by written notice on or before November 1st and, given the terms of the “runout” provisions, a substitute TPA could be found to offer the same in-network offerings for 2016.  It was our position that such should occur. Continue reading

“Public Research Universities Are Being Undermined by Bogus Financial Crises”

Some excerpts from an online article on the Huff Post College site. The authors are

David A. Sanders, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Purdue University and
Edward A. Wasserman, Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Iowa.

“American public research universities currently face a serious, but largely manufactured financial crisis.”

“Less widely appreciated is that many critics are now using financial exigency as a bogus justification for questioning the value of a college education and, by implication, undermining the worth of public research universities. Those who exploit this unease — including current candidates for the United States Presidency — consider a college education to be little more than a credentialing exercise to produce new cogs for the corporate machine. These critics also argue that the status quo is unsustainable and that today’s public research university must be destroyed and reinvented as an efficiency-oriented, bottom-line ‘business corporation.’ “

“One element of the current strategy being deployed for reinventing the public research university is for boards of regents and trustees — who usually lack any experience in higher education, but who are products of the corporate regime — to impose their narrow worldview on public universities. Their ill-informed or misguided decisions can wreak havoc for decades thereafter.”

We should insist that public university boards include faculty members or others familiar with higher education in order to promote and protect shared governance, and that university Presidents and administrators be hired to fight for and not against the intellectual ideals of higher education. These positions should not be favors to those who have lavished large sums of money on the universities or the state governors in question.”

“Failure to appoint duly qualified and involved citizens on governing boards will effectively end America’s proud legacy of public higher education, leaving only private universities as venues for academic freedom, intellectual growth, creativity, and discovery. That would be a national disgrace and ultimately an economic disaster.”

Read the entire article HERE.

Former UA Board Member: UA board suffers from ‘group think’

Excerpts from an editorial piece in the Akron Beacon Journal by former UA Board member, and retired Summit County Judge, Jane Bond

“The faculty were presented as a problem to be managed never an asset to be cultivated”

“I served as a member of the board of trustees from 2008 to 2012. During those years I observed the complexity and the breadth of the university as an institution serving 26,000 students and employing thousands of people striving to bring the university to a position of strength and educational excellence. So why is there so much turmoil, anxiety and conflict today?

The fiduciary duty of the trustees is to set the overall direction of the institution and to guide the administration and faculty in reaching those goals. Fiscal responsibility comes first and the integrity and mission of the university follow. To do its job the board must have trustees who are independent, willing to challenge the recommendations that come to them and are open to all of the constituent stakeholders. They must not become a captive board that falls victim to “group think.”

This is what I fear has happened at the university and contributed to the situation we now face.”

Read the entire piece HERE on Ohio.com.

Akron-AAUP Survey Reveals Faculty Sentiment at The University of Akron

CLARIFICATION:  The Akron-AAUP survey was sent to all members of the faculty bargaining unit which includes both union members and non-members. 

More than 70% of reporting faculty are not confident in University of Akron leadership.

There are  growing concerns about the recent actions and future plans of the administration at The University of Akron. The Akron-AAUP has conducted a survey of the faculty, the results of which reflect faculty sentiment across academic areas.  Click HERE for detailed survey results.


Brief summary of the survey results:

SURVEY QUESTION

Would you say that the university is better off than it was a year ago, or is it worse off?

72.2%   WORSE OFF

Would you say that your department or school is better or worse off than it was a year ago?    

73.1%   WORSE OFF

How about your students? Would you say that they are better or worse off than they were a year ago?  

47.2%   WORSE  OFF

39.2%   ABOUT SAME

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “Shared governance is working well at The University of Akron.”  

81.3%   DISAGREE

Do you have confidence in the university’s strategic planning and budgeting process?  

79.7%    NO

Are you confident that President Scarborough is leading the university in a positive direction?  

72.2%    NO

Are you confident that the Board of Trustees has been upholding its responsibilities?

78.1%    NO

More than 70% of bargaining unit faculty completed the survey, and it is broadly representative of full-time faculty across campus.

College

% of College Faculty Responding

Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences

82%

College of Applied Science and Technology

74%

College of Business Administration

64%

College of Engineering

72%

College of Health Professions

71%

College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering

26%

Lebron James Family Foundation College of Education

93%

University Libraries

83%

Wayne College

59%

CAMPUS-WIDE RESPONSE RATE

73%

FOLLOW THIS LINK FOR DETAILS OF THE SURVEY RESULTS  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_cp3uCUiKqic0JQS3FnMWtvVU0/view?usp=sharing

Analysis of The University of Akron Financial Status

In preparation for contract negotiations The Akron-AAUP commissioned Rudy Fichtenbaum, Professor of Economics at Wright State and President of the national AAUP, to update his previous analysis of The University’s financial status. His report suggests an interpretation of the financial status of the University that seems to be at odds with the administration’s characterizations.

In 2014, the University had record investment income, a decrease in operating revenue and a huge decrease in operating expenses and as a result made $4 million…”

On the positive side the University has diversified sources of revenue and has had a positive cash flow every year since 2002. Moody’s noted that cash flow was adequate in 2013 and that management had reported that cash flow had improved in 2014…”

“…Clearly the University has improved its financial position since my last report in 2009. Although the composite scores did decline between 2011 and 2013, the scores are much better than they were in 2009. Therefore, I conclude that the University of Akron is in good financial condition.”

The report also identifies expenditures which drained money away from the university’s primary educational mission:

Table 10 shows revenues and expenses for intercollegiate athletics…The overwhelming majority of revenue comes from student fees and institutional support …. This is money that could have been used to fundacademic programs. On the expense side, only 25% of expenses are for student aid (athletic scholarships). The bottom line is that most athletic spending does not go for scholarships and the overwhelming majority revenue to support these activities comes directly from educational and general funds that could support academic programs.”

We provide a link to the report HERE.  Professor Fichtenbaum’s report is based on publicly available documents; you may distribute copies of his report as you wish.

What could you do with $10.4 million?

The University of Akron Board of Trustees has approved a budget that includes no faculty layoffs and $10.4 million in funds for strategic re-investment, along with repeated references to preserving the “academic core” of UA.  But to be clear: while faculty have not been officially laid-off, we have endured a slow and steady decline of more than 20% (in terms of student-faculty ratio) by attrition in the last five years. For an institution that aspires to be a “great university,” this is unacceptable and entirely counter-productive.

In 1999, there was 1 faculty member for every 19 students. Last year, even before the departures of at least fifty full-time faculty members who have retired or resigned since spring of 2015, this ratio was 1 for more than every 23 students. If we had the same student-faculty ratio last year as we had in 1999, UA would have had 190 more FT faculty.  These additional faculty would  have taught more and smaller classes, mentored more students, provided the service and committee work that keeps the university functioning, produced more research and creative endeavors, and attracted more external funding – in other words, improved student success and UA’s academic standing and reputation well beyond NE Ohio.

The $10.4 million strategic re-investment fund is an opportunity to rebuild our academic core–the one element of a great university that is essential. The Akron-AAUP proposes the following for the $10.4 million that the Board has clearly demonstrated exists for investment. Continue reading