Akron AAUP Protecting Academic Freedom For a Free Society
The University of Akron Chapter |
American Association of University Professors

Welcome Back! A Message From Akron-AAUP Interim President Kate Budd:
Dear Colleagues,
Welcome to the new school year – I hope your summer was productive, and that you are re-energized and looking forward to the new semester as much as I am.
Firstly, I would like to thank Walter Hixson, former President of the Akron-AAUP, for his service and leadership. We will miss his energy and humor at Executive Committee meetings; he is a committed and effective leader.I learned a lot from him, and feel a certain…trepidation at following in his footsteps! Walter wrote this short note to the faculty before stepping down: “I am stepping down after three years as president of Akron-AAUP in order to try to bring a research project to conclusion. These past three years have been highly rewarding. I am really proud of all that the faculty has accomplished. Kate Budd will do a tremendous job as interim president for the final year of my second term. I urge all faculty members to be attentive to Akron-AAUP and to get involved.”
Akron-AAUP is looking forward to a productive year. As well as the day-to-day business of helping faculty, trouble-shooting problems and working with the administration, we are preparing for our next cycle of negotiations. The Executive Committee is a dedicated and effective team. I wouldn’t have agreed to take on the Interim President position without knowing they are always there, offering insight and support. Chief Negotiator Mike Cheung is in the process of forming the next Negotiating Team. Mike is seasoned, experienced and respected by both sides of the negotiating table.
As the academic year begins again, please know that our Grievance Committee is here to help. If you have questions or problems, check the Collective Bargaining Agreement which you can access through our brand new website. If you are still unsure, contact Russ Davis. Elizabeth Kennedy and Russ Davis have developed a relationship of mutual respect with the upper administration, and resolve most problems at the informal level. When needed, they will file grievances and, if all else fails, go to arbitration on your behalf.
Our dedicated Web Team has overhauled our website. I believe it reflects the values and principles that guide us. Please take a look, get comfortable finding CBA articles on it, and if you use Facebook and Twitter –please “like” and “follow” us. We want to share our sense of community and purpose with the bargaining unit faculty, and we are hoping social networking will help us do this.
We are here for you. This is your union. This year, please consider serving as a Departmental Liaison, or on the Executive Committee. We never ask for more than you can give, and I believe that this is the most interesting and rewarding service you can perform at The University of Akron.
Kate Budd (Art), Interim President, Akron-AAUP
Fall 2012 Liaison’s Election and Meeting
As required by our constitution,  the full dues-paying faculty in each department must elect liaisons for the 2012-2013 academic year. Liaisons from 2011-2012 should hold secret ballot elections by the end of September 2012 and report the results back to Dave Witt (dave.witt@akronaaup.org). Note also that some departments have been left with no liaison in the face of faculty taking administrative appointments. In order to serve as liaison and to have a vote in the process you must be paying full membership dues. Paying the “Fair Share” fee as a member of the bargaining unit does not confer rights of union membership.
The next step in our internal governance is to schedule a Liaisons Council meeting for the purpose of adding two from that group to the chapter’s executive committee. Messages with more information regarding meeting time and place will be forthcoming.
Akron-AAUP: Working To Ensure A Strong and Well-Respected Faculty
A strong and well-respected faculty results in a competitive and well-regarded university.We believe the ideal circumstance for the faculty is to have a strong voice in bargaining for legally binding provisions for competitive pay, attractive benefits, traditional and necessary rights and responsibilities of tenure, academic freedom, and participatory governance. Our negotiators have secured and protected these essentials. Faculty life at UA will be best served however, by collective bargaining coupled with a vigorous and energized faculty senate. Many of our colleagues continue to try to serve the faculty, our students and the university itself by participating in that traditional, and institutionally empowered assembly. It is also true that some faculty avoid and regard such service as effectively meaningless as the faculty senate is currently structured.
Our administration presents grand, and at times inspiring, visions of what the future could be like for The University of Akron. We contend that the best way, in fact the only way, to accomplish any part of these grand designs is with the cooperation and enthusiastic support and service of a faculty empowered with real decision-making authority and a vested interest in sharing the governance of the university. To that end, faculty senate should be re-invested with its oversight of budgetary matters, academic and athletic affairs, etc. It should be given a real voice and authority in shaping university policy. To achieve its lofty goals the University of Akron needs, and cannot succeed without, a well-regarded, fairly compensated, and deeply respected faculty.
A respected and empowered faculty is the essential ingredient for rendering the University of Akron a first class institution of research, discovery and teaching. Without such, it cannot become more than an administratively top-heavy, corporate diploma mill. And all of us, our students, and even the administration, deserve far better than that.
The faculty of the University of Akron deserve nothing less from the administration than the collegial and professional respect granted to equals.The faculty of the University of Akron should settle for nothing less. We encourage all of our colleagues, dues-paying union members or not, to take an active role in demanding and securing the voice, the administrative authority, and the leadership roles which are the traditional, legitimate and unquestionable rights of faculty in higher education.
Dean’s Office Intrusions into Departmental/Discipline Specific Operations:
Akron-AAUP executive committee members have been receiving informal complaints since last Spring 2012 regarding apparent overreach and micromanagement by deans office support staff in departmental/discipline specific operations. These instances are centered primarily, but not exclusively, around searches for new faculty positions and would include such things as changing the requirements of individual employment contracts AFTER a search has been completed, forcing new hires to be willing to teach online classes, and overturning search committee candidate selections in favor of that committee’s last pick. While we suspect that the letter of the contract has not been violated, the recipients of this administrative micromanagement feel the “spirit” of the contract is not honored. The unfortunate result is that faculty participation in governance is not honored and members of the administration continue as objects of mistrust and suspicion.
Akron-AAUP will fully investigate the extent of these intrusions and report findings to the bargaining unit. To accomplish this we will be asking you to complete an anonymous questionnaire in the next month. In the meantime, if you have examples to share, please send details to communications@akronaaup.org via email.
Akron-AAUP Is Not A Service Organization
There is no outside enterprise hired to represent your interests. Our relationship to the national AAUP organization is one of affiliation only. Everything accomplished by the faculty union has been and is being done solely by University of Akron faculty volunteers. If you wonder what the union is doing for you today, look in the mirror. You are the faculty union.
Your chapter can always use your skills and experience. We need your skills and experience if we hope to represent the interests and well-being of a very diverse and complex population of scholars, teachers and researchers. If your full membership dues are paid you are eligible to stand for election to department liaison or the executive committee.
Contribute a piece to the chapter newsletter and join the membership committee. Which of you will step forward to form and prosecute the functions of Committee A on academic freedom? Who will help to document and analyze disparities in pay and propose redress for gender inequities in hiring, promotion and compensation?
The legislative attacks on public sector employees—that’s you, white collar and all-–are not over: Unions are under attack, funding for education is cut again and again at every governmental level. Our students graduate burdened with terrible debt. Buildings are erected at tremendous cost, while classroom space is eliminated and once productive, sometimes still productive departments face increasingly severe budget cuts and dissolution.
Of course, more, and ever more Vice-Presidents are hired, despite administration complaints of budgetary restrictions.
The value of higher education is eroded by the disrespect and ignorance of public officials and often as well by the decisions of the university administration. Faculty numbers diminish while the administration continues to grow, to no clear advantage and at enormous and entirely indefensible cost to taxpayers, our students and their parents. And the burden of budgetary shortfalls is placed on colleges and departments– on you.
Take a chance. Say something. Step up and do something about it. If you don’t, no one will. There’s no place for fear on a university campus, especially if you possess the extraordinary privilege of tenure. You and your students are the lifeblood of this university. It is the faculty, after all, who have made a lifetime commitment to the University of Akron and our community. You should do whatever it takes to make the administration acknowledge that.
Join Akron-AAUP today. It’s hard work and it’s work worth doing.
Contact us anytime at communications@akronaaup.org

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