Category Archives: Newsletter

More-or-less monthly newsletters prepared by the Communications Committee of the Akron-AAUP

New Collective Bargaining Agreement Signed and Available Online

The much anticipated fourth Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Akron administration and the Akron-AAUP, approved by both parties in April, has now been completely collated and signed. You may find it here, on the Akron AAUP website, under “Current Contract.”

Or, you can download it here.

We again thank Kevin Kreider and the Negotiation Team for their outstanding work in procuring such a strong contract for all of us.

It’s been a busy and challenging semester – through collective action, we’ve achieved a lot. We thank you for your support, and wish you a happy and fruitful summer!

Results of the Spring 2016 “Faculty Opinion on the State of the University” Survey

To help address continuing concerns about the actions and future plans of the administration at The University of Akron, the Akron-AAUP has conducted a third campus-wide survey of the faculty, following up on surveys conducted in the spring of 2015 and the fall of 2015. The results of the survey, shared here and also with the community, offer a gauge of faculty sentiment on a wide range of important issues facing the University.

Along with the majority of the faculty, the leadership of the Akron-AAUP believes the situation at the university is worsening, and we encourage the Board of Trustees to take the steps necessary to rectify the situation. There is much work to be done to repair the damage done during the past year and a half—we must begin this work as soon as we possibly can. Only by including faculty in the process will we be successful.

Thank you to all who participated in the survey.

Brief summary of the survey results:

Continue reading

UA Board of Trustees – Akron-AAUP Finalize Collective Bargaining Agreement

The University of Akron Board of Trustees and The University of Akron Chapter of The American Association of University Professors have concluded the process of negotiating a new labor agreement by affirmative ratification votes of both parties.  The membership of the Akron-AAUP voted in favor of ratification in an electronic vote that ended Wednesday, March 23.  The University’s Board of Trustees approved the agreement at a special Board meeting held today.

Continue reading

Tentative Agreement Reached by The University of Akron and Akron-AAUP

The Administration of The University of Akron and the University of Akron Chapter of the American Association of University Professors have reached tentative agreement on all issues pertaining to contract negotiations. The tentative agreement now must be ratified by the University’s Board of Trustees and by the membership of the Akron-AAUP. The timetable for ratification is being established.

The Akron-AAUP chapter membership will begin voting after an informational meeting on Wednesday, March 16.

Both parties recommend ratification to their respective constituents.

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 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

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 )  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

To University of Akron students from the UA faculty association –The Akron-AAUP

You have undoubtedly heard or read about a lot of changes that are occurring at The University of Akron. We want to assure you that your paths to a good, marketable degree are secure. No academic programs have been eliminated, and indeed, departments are continuing to propose new courses and programs of study to best meet the changing needs of our students. Our ability to provide you with a high quality education leading to a degree and opportunities for employment has not been diminished.

It has long been the Akron-AAUP’s position that it is the faculty and our staff colleagues who make lifetime commitments to the University. That remains our position today.  But it is also true that there is one group whose loyalty to the University matters even more—that, of course, is you, the students of The University of Akron, without whom there would simply be no reason for the university to exist.

We want to assure you, with all earnestness, that you can remain confident in The University of Akron’s ability to provide you with a high quality education. Your degree programs are intact. You can still feel comfortable recommending The University of Akron to your friends who may be considering the pursuit of a degree. As summer draws to a close your faculty are preparing for the new school year.  We remain, as ever, committed without reservation or hesitation to providing you with the best opportunities for learning, preparation for careers, and the many possibilities for personal development that only a higher education can provide.

President Scarborough and the Board of Trustees have announced their intention to make The University of Akron “a great public institution.” It’s a noble goal, and one worth pursuing. Your faculty believe that it’s the relationship between teacher and student in the classroom that is the true and the key source of the greatness of any educational institution, and to that end we invite, and look forward to welcoming you back to The University of Akron for the coming year.