Faculty members at UA may often take for granted many qualities of academic life: academic freedom, shared governance related to evaluating and selecting chairs and Deans, intellectual property rights, objective criteria for raises, and faculty-driven RTP guidelines, among many others. In other states, and at other universities, these and other rights are often nonexistent or in peril. A daily reading of The Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Education is proof enough of that.
Over the last decade, a handful of your UA colleagues have guaranteed your contractual and legal rights on these subjects and your representation at the table when they are negotiated in the future. In this day and age, that is no small thing.
Professor Dave Witt is one of those colleagues. Dave was one of the leaders of the successful collective bargaining campaign at UA, which guaranteed faculty these rights. Dave helped make the case for collective bargaining, which almost 2/3rds of the faculty supported. Dave wrote fact-finding briefs in support of the Akron-AAUP’s first contract negotiation, which led to one of the best first contracts in the history of Ohio higher education. Dave has given workshops on faculty rights and how to achieve them to faculty from across the US. He has given of his time and expertise to go to other campuses and help them get through similar experiences. When Senate Bill 5 in Ohio was introduced to strip faculty of these rights, Dave helped to defeat it. Over the years, Dave has spent thousands of hours, at no compensation, doing this for you and others. In addition to his own work, he has inspired countless others to follow his example. And he often made us laugh through all of the struggle. If any individual can be said to exemplify the spirit of strength through collective action, it’s Dave Witt.
Many people have made personal and professional sacrifices in establishing the Akron-AAUP as a viable and effective representative of faculty concerns at The University of Akron. They have committed almost unthinkable amounts of time and energy to the improvement of faculty life here, from our initial Akron-AAUP union campaign, to negotiating the excruciating details of collective bargaining agreements and their subsequent successful implementation. None has done more than Professor Mike Cheung, of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Mike has served as Chief Negotiator since the beginning of our collective bargaining endeavor, shepherding three agreements through long, difficult, at times contentious, and ultimately successful negotiations. Recently Mike resigned this position in order to accept an appointment as Chair of his department.
Mike’s leadership in negotiations has been exemplary and inspirational. Every member of the faculty bargaining unit has benefitted directly and materially from his tireless work as Chief Negotiator, his commitment to improvement of the quality of professional life at UA and his unwavering commitment to fair play, equitable pay and the faculty’s just and necessary role in the continuing development and improvement of our university.
Since our first days as a collective bargaining chapter our relationship with the university administration has improved; we now have a chapter that is respected by our counterparts at the negotiating table. It’s clear to us that Mike’s professionalism and principled commitment to the well-being of the University of Akron and it’s faculty is largely responsible for our status as an effective and respected representative of faculty interests.
Dave is stepping back from his many roles to allow another generation of faculty activists to come forward and assume positions of leadership. Mike is moving on to another stage of his career, a career he has in many ways put on hold to serve the interests of his fellows. With great respect and deep affection we wish our colleagues and friends, Dave Witt and Mike Cheung, the very best in their future endeavors, and we thank them for their extraordinary commitment and service.
New Akron-AAUP Chief Negotiator
Looking forward, the Akron-AAUP is happy to announce that Dr. Kevin Kreider has agreed to serve as our new Chief Negotiator for the next round of negotiations. Kevin is Professor of Applied Mathematics and has been at the University of Akron for 25 years. He was recently named among the Top 25 College Professors in America by BusinessInsider and RateMyProfessor. Kevin has been a vital member of the Negotiation Team for the last two negotiations, and we are fortunate that he is willing to serve. When you see him on campus, please thank him for stepping up.