Category Archives: Chapter Announcements

News items and chapter events UA faculty may find to be of interest between issues of the newsletter.

The FACTS about the Administration’s Spending Priorities

Akron-AAUP had Dr Rudy Fichtenbaum, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Wright State University, conduct an analysis of The University of Akron’s finances. Here are some facts from that analysis we thought you ought to know.

Despite tuition increases, instructional spending per student is flat.

From 2002 to 2015, although tuition per student more than doubled, the university has not spent that money on student instruction. Over the same period, the total spent on instructional salaries remained nearly flat (not adjusted for inflation).

The administration’s priorities are not in line with the educational mission of the institution.  

Instructional Salaries V Tuition at UA Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Frequently Asked Questions: Contract Negotiations and a Faculty Strike

February 15, 2016

Why are we considering a strike? What are the issues at stake?

The larger issues at stake are the quality of education at The University of Akron and the University’s misplaced priorities. We believe that the University administration must prioritize the educational mission of the institution in a way that places academic instruction and student learning first. Faculty who are fairly and competitively compensated is essential to this goal.

Where do we stand today?

We have submitted all of our proposals to the University and now have all of theirs. The following Articles are still being negotiated; Article 20 (Distance and Distributed Learning); Article 16 (Compensation) and Article 17 (Benefits).  Recently, we have reached agreement on Article 18 (Professional Development Leave), and Article 19 (Intellectual Property).

While there has been progress on non-economic issues, we now face very difficult negotiations on compensation and health care benefits. The Akron-AAUP regards the University’s salary proposal as entirely insufficient, and the increased costs of health care plans, and aggressive phase-out of retiree spouse and dependent coverage, all as punitive, unnecessary, and indefensible. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.’”

Continue reading

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

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

Education, Not Gimmicks

As The University of Akron makes widespread budget cuts, it is important to ask where the money saved will be spent.  Given the university’s tight finances, it is of course necessary to make the best use of our money.  But developments this summer suggest that the administration is pursuing expensive gimmicks at the cost of policies that will advance our educational mission.

In an effort to reduce expenditures, on July 27 the administration, after weeks of rumors and extreme anxiety, eliminated over 200 staff positions, including laying off current employees.

In addition, the administration effectively shuttered EJ Thomas Hall for the performing arts, although after ten days of strenuous community objection it announced that it would honor its commitment to this year’s already-booked events after all. It let go all the staff of the University of Akron Press with its esteemed poetry series and books on Ohio’s history and culture. Despite assertions that the Press isn’t closing but will simply move to the library, it is very hard to see how it can function without staff, especially as the library too lost staff positions on July 27 )https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/07/31/university-akron-says-it-hasnt-eliminated-its-university-press-has-eliminated-all).  And the administration attempted to impose a $50-per-credit fee on all upper-level courses–rescinded only after serious push-back from students, state legislators, and the Ohio Board of Higher Education (Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 28).

One could imagine from all this that the university is down to its last dime.  And yet the budget has in it $10.4 million a year of new money for the president’s “priorities.”  Curiously, this amount is roughly equal to the annual salary and benefits of the staff members let go on July 27.  So what are these priorities? Continue reading