Category Archives: Ohio

News from the Ohio Conference and AAUP chapters around the state.

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

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.

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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

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/

“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.

A Very Sad Day at The University of Akron

July 27 was a sad day at the University of Akron. We learned that 213 staff positions were cut. One hundred sixty-one of these were existing positions. By that, of course, we mean that these were our friends and colleagues alongside whom we’ve worked for years–for decades, in some cases. These are people who did nothing wrong, and certainly did nothing to cause our current financial situation. What they did was serve this institution and its students to the best of their abilities. For that, they deserve our gratitude. The Akron-AAUP would like to express its deepest and heartfelt solidarity with our colleagues, their families, and to the community that will no doubt feel the ripple effects of this action.

More cuts at UA

From The Akron Beacon Journal at Ohio.com, July 27:

Is it curtains for the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall arts programming?

Excerpts from the story by Beacon Journal staff writer Rick Armon

“The curtain may be coming down on the University of Akron’s Broadway in Akron series and other popular shows at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall.

The school, which announced $40 million in cuts earlier this month, says it’s getting out of the business of being a concert and events promoter.

That decision puts this year’s Broadway in Akron series — which has brought shows such as Hello Dolly!, the Blue Man Group and Mamma Mia! to the community — and other events in jeopardy….”

“…“Without arts and culture, a community just doesn’t have its soul,” said Barbara Feld, former director of the Tuesday Musical Association. “And we are trying to have this be a beacon in this community. … It would be dreadful if that went away.”

Louise Harvey, retired UA director of development for college-centered programs and E.J. Thomas, agreed.

“E.J. Thomas is a cultural treasure in Akron,” she said. “It was built with the help of the community who have contributed to it through the years. To lose Broadway and those types of programs in Akron is going to diminish the cultural scene, particularly for people who can’t go to Cleveland. It’s a shame.”

Patty Uldal, a retired social studies teacher who lives in Jackson Township and has season tickets to events at E.J. Thomas, called the decision short-sighted and blamed the UA board of trustees for putting the school in its current situation.

“We might be somewhat of a blue collar town … but we still pride ourselves on being able to enjoy the arts,” she said. “It’s the arts that make us civilized. The beauty of the arts lifts us higher.”

If those performances disappear, it will have a negative impact on the downtown economy, Feld said.

Thousands of people who venture into the city center for shows and events at E.J. Thomas go to dinner and spend money in Akron, she said.

“It would be devastating to the health of this community,” she said.”

Read the entire story HERE.

Nice work if you can get it…

Excerpts from a story by Karen Farkas on Cleveland .com

Former University of Akron President Luis Proenza will not return to the classroom this fall, opting instead to remain on sabbatical for another year.

Proenza, who stepped down on June 30, 2014 after 15 years as president, was to take a year off at his salary of $500,000 then return to teach at a salary of $325,000 a year.

He exercised an option to spread his sabbatical and the $500,000 salary over two years, said spokesman Wayne Hill on Friday. Proenza will return on July 1, 2016, Hill said.

Read the whole story HERE.

 

What UA spends on athletics and how the university pays for it….

Excerpts from an article by Rich Exner at cleveland.com:

University of Akron tops Ohio MAC schools in sports spending and athletic debt, but cuts on the way

“The University of Akron….spends more on intercollegiate athletics than any other Ohio school in the Mid-American Conference.”

“How does Akron pay for sports?

NEOMG found the school covered 71 percent of the bill in 2013-14 with direct institutional support, money that could come from sources such as tuition, taxes and other public sources, according to the NCAA report. This amounted to $22.7 million, or $1,096 per student.

Far less was money from athletics.”

Akron’s athletic debt, according to the 2013-14 report filed earlier this year, stands at $68.1 million, third highest in Ohio behind Cincinnati ($139 million) and Ohio State ($191.2 million).”

The biggest chunk of coaching portion (sic) was for football, with $554,523 for head coach Terry Bowden and $1.2 million for his nine assistants. Head men’s basketball coach Keith Dambrot received $660,208 in pay and benefits; his three assistants: $407,574.

Read the entire story HERE.