UFF-FAU

United Faculty of Florida-Florida Atlantic University Chapter

  • Mar
    3

    Big job ahead at FAU: New president faces several challengesFlorida Atlantic University’s new president, John Kelly, who has officially begun work, will be paid at least $440,000 his first year, in addition to benefits and retirement compensation, bringing the whole package to a minimum $500,000.

    The FAU Board of Trustees approved Kelly’s five-year contract February 18th, which includes $400,000 base salary and a $40,000 sign-on bonus.

    He is also eligible for a performance bonus of up to $40,000 a year. An additional $60,000 a year will be set aside for retirement compensation.

    Read article at Sun-Sentinel.com

    Download and view PDF of President John Kelly’s Contract

     

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  • Feb
    25

    UFF-FAU is pleased to present a new study commissioned from the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University. The report, “How FAU Prioritizes Its Money,” locates disturbing trends in Florida Atlantic University’s personnel and salary-related budgeting priorities. Taken as a whole, these suggest a developing inability for the institution to adequately service the academic needs of its growing student body.

    For example, between 2006 and 2012 Florida resident-students choosing to attend FAU are paying more than 60% more in tuition. At the same time the student-to-faculty ratio rose by an astounding 19% while administrative positions grew by 12%. In the same period faculty salaries have also decreased, making it more difficult to attract and retain capable instructional and research staff.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • Sep
    1

    September 1, 2012. Welcome back to the Idea Factory! What’s on the horizon for FAU faculty this coming fall.

    Welcome back to the Idea Factory. The distant metallic sound you might hear is the sharpening of knives by some of our state overlords in Tallahassee in the hopes of gutting public education and unions once and for all. Our governor established a Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform in May. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the panel’s main task is “to identify ways to make the state’s higher education systems more efficient.” This euphemism of “efficiency” hangs in the air like a toxic cloud barely covering the cost-cutting and privatizing of public education that lurks beneath it. We have seen efficiency at work in inflating class caps, gouging students for higher tuitions, increasing course loads, questioning the viability of tenure, and demonizing faculty and faculty unions.

    We expect to see anti-union legislation making the rounds in Tallahassee again this year. Two bills likely to appear this year will eliminate payroll deduction of union dues and also decertify unions with less than 50% membership. At FAU we are currently hovering at 40%. We need to make our numbers 50% by the end of the academic year so that faculty can be adequately represented on the campus and within the state. You can print a union membership form at the bottom of the webpage: http://www.uff-fau.org/?p=16. Send it to Chris Robé CU 214 on the Boca campus.

    On the state level, UFF’s lawsuit (through our affiliate, the Florida Education Association) regarding the 3% FRS deduction will be going before the state supreme court this fall. Although the defendants wanted to drag the case out, our attorneys fast-tracked it to the supreme court since we won an overwhelmingly positive verdict from a circuit court judge who decreed the deduction unconstitutional. If we win the following case, a challenge to the 2.5% ORP deduction is soon to follow. Remember, your union dues help pay for actions like this that protect your paycheck.

    On the campus level, we have been bargaining since spring. More details are available on the flip-side of this broadsheet regarding our process. Some issues we have stressed are raises/equity (as always), parental leave, partner benefits, and promotional raises for instructors and lecturers.

    Also, after receiving numerous complaints from faculty regarding internal SACS accreditation, UFF-FAU has compiled a report based on faculty comments and submitted it to the provost and others in charge of SACS accreditation on August 14. We are waiting to hear back from them to schedule a meeting regarding our concerns and recommendations. You can read the report on the UFF-FAU website (www.uff-fau.org).

    The instructor/lecturer promotional structure has now been put in place. Your departments/schools should have determined the criteria for promotion last spring. If they have not, please let us know. UFF-FAU has contacted the provost to determine submission deadlines for instructor/lecturer promotional materials. We are still awaiting an answer. We will let you know as soon as we hear back from them. Also, we would like to hold a workshop for all instructors/lecturers going up for promotion this year this fall, depending upon the due date of materials.

    The UFF-FAU new faculty luncheon will be held in the Board of Trustees’ Room (3rd floor Administration Building) on September 14, 11:30-1:30 PM. This is open to all faculty. We encourage you to bring new faculty and/or non-union members to the luncheon. UFF-FAU will update you on our actions as well as answer any questions you might have. Also, the statewide UFF Senate will be held in Tampa on September 22-23. This is open to all UFF senators, bargaining team members, and EC members. It serves as a valuable forum to network with other UFF chapters to compare issues and concerns.

    UFF-FAU wants to hold a speaker series each semester. We are looking for faculty input on who to invite. The talks can range from pragmatic matters (e.g. “What are my retirement benefits?”) to broader concerns (e.g. “How is public education being eviscerated?”). Please email your suggestions to president(at)uff-fau.org.

    We will also be releasing the administrative survey in the next few weeks. Be on the lookout.

    Finally, we are always looking for faculty to get involved. Half of the union’s task is advocating on behalf of the faculty’s collective interests. But this advocacy becomes hollow if we don’t have faculty actively supporting the union by getting involved. The first step is joining. But the next step is participating in the union with whatever unique skills you possess. We can always use more bargainers, grievance representatives, recruiters, writers, artists, mathematicians, and the like. You can dedicate as much or as little time as you have available. But dedicating some time is of the utmost importance.

    Since we would like to have our union density over 50% by the end of this academic year, we need faculty who are willing to recruit: going to other faculty offices and speaking to colleagues about their concerns and how they intersect with union goals. Please write to me at president(at)uff-fau.org if you are interested. If we have enough people interested, we will hold a recruiting workshop this fall. Look forward to seeing you soon!

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  • Aug
    14

    August 14, 2012. Union receives numerous complaints alleging FAU administrators’ arbitrary application of SACS accreditation procedures, Faculty cite potential attempts to undermine curricular decision-making

    After receiving several complaints from faculty regarding the SACS accreditation process, UFF-FAU sent out a general query to all faculty on July 18, 2012 to investigate additional faculty concerns regarding the process and compile a general report. As of August 8, 2012, we have received a total of 33 responses that stretch across all of the colleges of the university.

    We highlight here some of your major concerns as well as suggested remedies. We hope to meet the administration soon regarding this issue to make the accreditation process more equitable and fair. If anyone has any additional concerns not addressed here, feel free to contact UFF-FAU at: president (at) uff-fau.org.

    Two of the most prevalent concerns relate to the administration’s very limited understanding of some of the academic disciplines being accredited. The first relates to the fetishization of faculty holding 18 graduate credit hours in their teaching discipline. At its worst, this has been read extremely narrowly to mean that if faculty have not taken the actual courses they teach, they are not qualified to offer them now.

    This becomes a problem for older faculty whose fields have dramatically changed over the decades. For example, communication faculty who were granted Ph.D.s prior to 1990 probably have never had a course on the internet. Yet it would be laughable to suggest that older faculty in the field could not offer a course on internet technology since their graduate work did not include it.

    Even more seriously, such a literal and deterministic link between graduate coursework and the courses faculty teach fails to understand the fundamental ways in which faculty interests and research diverge and develop after graduate school. As one faculty member writes, “Our business is by its very nature much more fluid, and we are expected to expand our own horizons and go beyond our current limits through our own, self-directed research and teaching precisely because we are in higher education.”

    Another faculty member notes, “It is not unusual for any faculty over the long trajectory of their careers to pick up some new thread, new idea, and conduct research and teach. The society and students benefit by such advances and so does the university from all the new expertise that is added to the field(s).”

    Yet another senior colleague stresses: “If the idea is to make sure that we deliver ‘cutting edge’ programming to our students, then we have to consider the wisdom of linking credentials so heavily to one’s transcript. For those of us who graduated over 15 or 20 years ago, if we are still teaching what is on our transcript, then we have a problem; indeed—in some cases that should be grounds for not being allowed to teach a course!”

    A major portion of faculty time is spent producing new knowledge, yet some administrators seem to think that this new knowledge will have no effect on the courses we teach, even after decades of social and curricular change. To not respond to the changes in our fields through our scholarship and teaching would quickly relegate FAU to irrelevancy.

    This becomes a particular issue for interdisciplinary-based departments where faculty with degrees from different fields are often hired. Although such issues should be easily resolved by appealing to department chairs’ and faculty members’ expertise within the specific fields of study, this knowledge-base has been at times ignored by FAU accreditors. As one faculty member noted, “Part of the problem involved the reviewer creating her own definition of what our professional discipline is and is not.”

    Due to faulty assumptions based on administrators’ limited outside knowledge of the field, faculty members have wrongly been penalized by being de-accredited. Another faculty member well summarized, “I want to believe that when faculty are hired, they are hired based on their credentials. I also want to believe that those who hire faculty know what they are doing. To see the judgment and procedures of colleagues, the colleges, and the departments that hire us being questioned is upsetting and an insult to their judgment, their hiring practices, and their academic integrity.”

    The implications of such actions threaten the curricular autonomy of the departments themselves. As yet another faculty member questions, “If faculty who were assumed to be suited for a course by the program area faculty and/or chair are now deemed unsuited for such an assignment, what are the implications for the curriculum over which faculty have jurisdiction? Is this not an indirect infringement on faculty’s right to make curricular decisions?” The union would argue that it indeed is and that it weakens the stature of the entire university.

    To exemplify the problem we would like to offer a case study of Judith Burganger, a full professor who has been at FAU since 1980. Burganger had served as Eminent Chair at Texas Tech and as Artist Lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University. In April, her credentialing was challenged by FAU administrators for the very courses that she had developed for the university and that were essential for graduation through the degree program.

    To make matters worse, she had a series of graduate students attending FAU to study with her and who had rejected acceptances at other prestigious universities. It is difficult to understand how the credentialing process in this case has strengthened FAU at all. It has challenged decade’s worth of work Burganger has produced, the tenure-and-promotion process, promotion to full professor, the expertise of outside institutions, and the intelligence of students from other institutions who want to study with her. Although this is an extreme instance of the internal accreditation process demonstrating startling ignorance and a usurpation of legitimate authority, it reveals the absurdity to which it has been carried. (We have just learned this morning that Judith has finally been accredited after a four month process).

    We have also had repeated complaints about how faculty with degrees from universities outside the U.S. have been challenged to justify the credibility of such a degree. Although one want to believe that there must be some legitimate reason for questioning such degrees, faculty members have not been told what those reasons are. As a result, the process seems xenophobic to many by singling out faculty who have not received degrees within the United States and contradicting the very mission of diversity that FAU supposedly upholds.

    This relates to a larger issue of tone: tenured and non-tenured faculty have routinely felt their jobs threatened by the accreditation process. Rather than consisting of a dialogue between faculty and accreditors with the goal of explaining and understanding the specificity of disciplines and their requirements, the process has instead placed faculty on the receiving end of emails that demand transcripts, articles, CVs, and the like with little-to-no explanation and within unrealistically short deadlines.

    The union has repeatedly received accounts of faculty unable to concentrate on research or other demands due to the fear inspired by such unilateral demands. Rather than being a collegial process between the faculty and administration, accreditation has deteriorated into what some faculty perceive as nothing less than an inquisition where you are presumed guilty before proving yourself innocent, where you are first decredentialed and then asked questions later, if at all.

    Recommendations:

    UFF-FAU offers the following recommendations to improve the credentialing process making it a less stressful and more equitable for all faculty:

    1)      The Provost needs to issue clear and precise credentialing guidelines regarding how the administration is interpreting SACS accreditation. This should then be distributed to all faculty and administrators. This will provide an even playing field for all to understand how they are being judged and what requirements they need to meet.

    2)      Chairs’ justifications need to be heeded. The union has heard many accounts of chairs having to repeatedly justify certain faculty members’ credentialing. This is an immense waste of time and resources. Academic specialization and expertise should guide the process. If there is a disagreement, the burden of proof should lie on those outside of the field of study. The departments and schools hold a much fuller and more nuanced understanding of their fields of study than does any outside individual. Therefore, the accreditation process needs to harness such information in order to properly proceed and offer evaluations.

    3)      Tone/time: These issues seem to be related. Because of the short timelines being given to faculty members to produce materials, the tone of emails from administrators becomes curt and inhospitable. This becomes a traumatic experience for some faculty members, so they should not only be given adequate time to collect such materials, but should also be entitled to a full explanation of why such materials are needed in the first place.

    Although we understand that the administration is under immense pressure from the state to justify the very existence of public education and the role of universities, eviscerating departmental integrity and demoralizing faculty through the accreditation process is not the best way to proceed.

    The process should be a dialogue between faculty and administration about the particularities of academic disciplines and how faculty research, creative work, and teaching might or might not fit into the historical and theoretical components of said disciplines. But instead it has at times degenerated into a one-size-fits-all process where accreditation guidelines remain unclear and the challenges seem based on unexamined assumptions and inadequate knowledge of the discipline.

    At a time when the Governor and the Florida Legislature regularly demonstrate their ignorance of and hostility to the basic tenets of higher education, it is especially important that administrators do not abandon their defense of the university and the faculty who comprise its core.

    As a result, it is crucial that administrators do not pretend that they alone can evaluate faculty credentials without doing serious damage to the diversity and creativity of the faculty’s work. We look forward to working with the administration to resolve these issues. We will keep faculty updated regarding the administration’s response and seeking your further input and participation to assist in improving the accreditation process.

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  • May
    29

    May 29, 2012. After a hasty reorganization of the College of Engineering three years ago FAU administrators summarily fired five tenured faculty members

    UFF Will Fight Layoffs of Tenured Professors

    June 3, 2009. It is not the easiest thing to introduce oneself in the midst of a crisis, so I will hold off on such formalities for now. On Friday, May 29 three Associate Professors and two Full Professors in the College of Engineering received layoff notices effective August 8th. All five faculty members were tenured. This action by the FAU Administration is a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which stipulates a seniority process in the event of layoffs and requires that tenured and tenure-track faculty be given one year notification prior to termination. Moreover, with plenty of funds in reserve FAU administrators cannot claim financial urgency, which would in fact be a precondition of such drastic action.

    UFF-FAU intends to fight for these faculty members through the grievance process assured under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Without the CBA there would be little recourse for faculty aside from costly legal battles, and virtually nothing would stand in the way of the administration terminating even wider swaths of faculty.

    The would be necessity of FAU’s “reorganization” and resultant layoffs of faculty and staff rests on administrators’ argument that the institution is suffering from a shortage of recurring state funds. Shortly after postponing a 10% salary increase of his own after faculty criticism, President Frank Brogan seldom missed an opportunity to make proclamations of future job losses and overall financial austerity. Yet here’s the rub: FAU is sitting on over $70 million in reserves–enough for independent authorities and a Special Magistrate to conclude in March that the university was capable of a minimum salary increase for all faculty of 150% more than it grudgingly granted in April (1%). Further, UFF-FAU’s study, How is the Money Spent? FAU Expenditures on Faculty and Higher Level Administration in the Period from 2001-02 to 2008-09, provides solid evidence of the growth of administrative positions and salaries versus those who actually see the inside of a classroom.

    To be sure, the Florida legislature has cut its support to state universities, but there are no cutbacks in the 2009-10 budget, and past shortfalls will to a significant degree be made up for in tuition increases and federal stimulus money–the latter of which is specifically intended to prevent layoffs.

    When a family loses a small portion of its income it must turn to some of its reserves in order to sustain its normal functioning. No self-respecting family would think of putting its children up for adoption or placing them on the auction block as a result of such circumstances, particularly if it’s sitting on millions of dollars. In a similar vein, when a university invites a scholar to fill a tenure-track post and grants her tenure it makes that individual part of its family–bestowing the assurance of some job security as a reward for dedication and hard work. This is what five of our fellow faculty members believed before May 29. By terminating tenured faculty the FAU administration has sown the seeds of distrust and fear among those who carry on the institution’s most important work–teaching, research, and service. Unfortunately, under the present administration this is only a small foretaste of what is likely in store. If you are not already a member I encourage you to consider joining UFF-FAU today.

    In solidarity,

    James Tracy
    UFF-FAU President

    See related posts:

    No Comment: 2009

    CHE News Blog: Union Protests Layoff of Five Tenured Professors as Florida Atlantic U. Slashes Its Budget

    Shake Hands with the Devil

    Engineering Faculty Vents Frustration

    UFF-FAU President Tracy Asks FAU Administration to Address Engineering Faculty Discontent, Reorganization

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  • May
    16
    May 16, 2012. University Press publishes revealing exposé on Florida Atlantic University’s Board of Trustees, “[H]alf the board members have bankruptcy filings, foreclosures, or other financial problems in their past.”
    FAU Board of Trustees group photoThe Board of Trustees with President Mary Jane Saunders (center). Photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations.

    Experience. Leadership. Management. Philanthropy. Awards.

    These are the words FAU’s Board of Trustees members used to describe themselves when they applied to join the board.

    Bankruptcy filings. Foreclosures. Tax warrants. Court orders to pay debts.

    These are the words they neglected to mention.

    As FAU’s highest-ranking leaders, the trustees make FAU’s biggest financial and academic decisions. Their actions affect the entire university community — students, faculty, administrators, staff, alumni.

    But a University Press investigation also found federal lawsuits, job performance complaints, a federal tax lien, and an eviction order in their past.

    Read more at upressonline.com

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  • May
    14

    May 14, 2012. The faculty protest in late April was a last resort after the non-responsiveness of FAU administrators. What did we achieve?

    First of all, I would thank all faculty and staff who participated in the summer teaching protest held on April 18. As you all know, the protest just didn’t concern itself with summer teaching, but more importantly the way in which faculty have been systematically excluded from most decision-making processes recently implemented by the upper administration. Only after the fact is faculty input solicited. We are hoping as a result of such negative publicity that the administration will start implementing policies where faculty have been an integral part from the inception. I will be meeting with the provost later this month to discuss this problem and see how we can move forward regarding this.

    The union doesn’t take protesting lightly. We have attempted to use other more formal channels– consultation, meeting with the upper administration through more informal settings, asking questions during faculty assemblies and the senate, but felt that our concerns were not being taken seriously. As a result, we felt that we had no option other than focusing the public eye on the ways in which faculty, students, and staff feel how that the university has been mismanaged.  In this effort we were successful.  In addition to attracting at least seventy faculty, staff and students to our protest rally on the 18th, and helping students publicize their own earlier protest rally, we received good publicity in a variety of media.   See the links to local media in previous posts on the protests here at uff-fau.org.

    The results were  productive:

    1)      We finally received a belated memo from the administration on April  10 regarding the rationale for the implementation of summer policy.

    2)      Administrators started to reinstitute courses more promptly.

    3)      The administration publicly acknowledged that the implementation of the summer policy was misguided.

    4)      After repeated calls by the union since Fall 2011 for a Town Hall Budget meeting, the upper administration finally held one. The result  was far from satisfactory. Although we would much rather have had the President and the Provost directly fielding questions, the meeting at  least provided a public forum where faculty could directly address some of their concerns and judge for themselves the adequacy of the responses.

    But of course the proof is in the proverbial pudding. We’ll see how future administrative policies are made and implemented and if faculty governance and knowledge is respected. We understand that FAU has been placed in a difficult economic situation because of the hostility by many in the state legislature in regards toward public education.

    This damage has been compounded by misguided policies on the local level that seem distinctly out of touch with faculty concerns and expertise and thus destructive of some core goals of the university, its discipline-specific teaching and research programs. But for now we look to the future by attempting to establish a more  functional and balanced relationship with the upper administration. As you know, the union provides a forum for the only independent collective voice of the faculty. But only faculty can make this voice be adequately heard not only by joining the union, but also by becoming more involved in it.

    The union repeatedly and rigorously addresses issues that many faculty members articulate to one another but might be uncomfortable pronouncing on their own to the administration.  But the union gives you an independent, collective  voice across department, college and campus boundaries. Your involvement makes us a more effective, democratic, well-informed, and vigorous university. Please download a membership form by clicking here today. Send to Chris Robe’, FAU, CU 215, Boca Raton, FL 33431.

    Have a good summer!

    Chris

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  • Apr
    24

    April 24, 2012. “The president has a house and a car and makes so and so millions of dollars. Where’s her cut?” –FAU student Monique Paramore.

    (aired April 23, 2012)

    BOCA RATON, Fla. — Budget cuts at Florida Atlantic University. For weeks teachers and faculty have protested after they found out FAU needed to cut $24.7 million. Those cuts will include satellite campuses, and some summer classes. Monday FAU’s Senior VP of Finance laid out what would be chopped.

    The forum first kicking off with the Vice President of FAU’s Finance Department Dennis Crudele, revealing the budget numbers.

    “We’ve gone from $181 million to $92 million and you can’t take that kind of reduction without having to really look at and assess your core values,” said Crudele.

    After that, going over the budget plan that if approved, would eliminate campuses in Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

    Read more and view video at cbs12.com

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  • Apr
    24

    April 24, 2012. Targeted campuses “are not making any profit,” says FAU Vice President for Finance Dennis Crudele

    By Scott Travis

    (April 24, 2012)

    The faculty at Florida Atlantic University are usually united in opposing most budget cuts — unless it involves closing down small campuses.

    A proposal to close the downtown Fort Lauderdale tower and the Treasure Coast campus inPort St. Lucie is alarming to those at the campuses. But many faculty at other campuses see it as a good way to deal with a $10 million budget hole, according to a website FAU created to get ideas on ways to cut the budget. A final decision is expected in June, but most at FAU think the proposals are a done deal.

    “We’re a minority and a very small faculty, and we can’t make a lot of noise,” said Stephanie Cunningham, a graphic design professor at the Fort Lauderdale campus. “And we’re in the last week of classes. We don’t really have the time to organize a protest, and in the summer, there will be so few students on campus.”

    Read more at sunsentinel.com

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  • Apr
    18

    April 18, 2012. FAU community voices concerns over M J Saunders administration’s arbitrary decisions on summer classes, increased class sizes

    UFF-FAU Chapter President Chris Robe begins rally to “Save Summer” Outside Williams Admin Building

    Numerous students addressed rally participants on how the summer cuts have affected them

    FAU Faculty donned their regalia to express concerns over administrators’ heavy-handed approach to summer

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UFF President

Robert Zoeller;
Department of Exercise Science
561-297-2549
president@uff-fau.org

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