Dear Colleagues in the Bargaining Unit Faculty (BUF),
The Akron-AAUP was notified on August 25th that the Board of Trustees (BOT) would meet with constituency groups, including representatives of Akron-AAUP, to discuss whether to begin a search for President. The Board committed to meet with us to discuss a search for President last year, when President Wilson’s title was changed from Interim President to President.
Three representatives of Akron-AAUP, Pam Schulze, president, Julie Cajigas, vice president, and Amy Dreussi, liaison-at-large, met with the BOT on September 11, 2017. Representatives of the University Council and Faculty Senate were also invited to meet with the BOT. We encourage you to reach out to leadership of those bodies so that they can inform you about those conversations. In the interest of transparency, we would like to share what our representatives said to the Board.
On the issue of whether Matthew Wilson should be named permanent President without a search, Akron-AAUP’s position is that we are, on the whole, satisfied with his performance to date. Moreover, we can understand how an open search for president at this time might be disruptive and potentially detrimental to the progress we have made so far under President Wilson’s leadership.
However, we stated unequivocally that we regard the appointment of a President without a search to be a threat to shared governance, and thus consider this situation to be a one-time only exception to the process for selecting presidents outlined in the CBA. We regard a search with genuine involvement of faculty to be vital to shared governance. When there is a vacancy in the Office of the President in the future, we will insist on the regular search process as required by the CBA.
Your Akron-AAUP representatives also took the opportunity to remind the Board of Trustees of their commitment to begin a search for Provost once a decision has been reached on President Wilson. We noted that the survey we conducted last year showed a strong majority of faculty believe that an external search for Provost is essential to shared governance. When representatives from Akron-AAUP met with the Board last year to discuss their intention to remove “interim” from the titles of the President and Provost, we stressed the necessity of a national search for Provost. Our position has not changed.
The Board asked our representatives questions about beginning the process of creating a new strategic plan for the University. We informed them that we believed that such a process was important, that it should begin as soon as possible, and that full-time faculty needed to be have an active and meaningful voice in it. We said that we believe that program evaluation should logically follow strategic planning so that the outcome is consistent with the values of the strategic planning process. We urged the Board to consider beginning strategic planning first, and to develop a plan for program review (as well as criteria by which programs will be reviewed) that reflects the priorities articulated in a new strategic plan.
Finally, at this writing we do not know what action that the Board will take on President Wilson, on beginning a national search for a Provost, or on involving faculty in a strategic planning process that helps to shape program review. We continue to advocate strongly on your behalf for meaningful shared governance and welcome the opportunity to partner with administrators and Board members in it.
The Akron-AAUP Executive Committee