by Nathan Whalen, Executive Vice President, UAUO
Many of the issues that United Academics and our members are facing in recent times are related to challenges to internal governance and an erosion of local control. There has been a robust debate concerning attempts to implement a campus-wide system of metrics to gauge “excellence” regarding research productivity. The admin has asked all units to provide them with a list of journals and publishing houses in their fields that are considered acceptable by the unit. The intention is that each faculty member’s CV can be compared to the unit’s publications list and the admin can begin compiling “research productivity” assessments for each unit and individual. We have been assured that the use of said metrics will not be used to determine resource allocation between departments, nor in individual decisions regarding promotion and tenure, but this is an issue that we will continue to engage and push back against in the coming years.
The recently created College of Design transformed the School of Architecture into a delightfully more bureaucratic college. The restructuring of the School into a College with new schools and departments has negatively impacted the communication and negotiation concerning departmental policies. Successful programs have been eliminated, faculty have been reassigned, and criteria surrounding post-tenure review and promotion have been implemented without the necessary faculty input. United Academics has led meetings and helped establish an ad-hoc committee to organize faculty around these issues, and a series of official grievances has begun. We will continue to work with College of Design faculty in the coming terms to protect the faculty’s role in the decision-making process.
The College of Education has been tasked with balancing its budget in a very short amount of time – they need to cut $1.4 million by June, and while faculty input has been sought, they have not been provided with necessary information in order to make informed decisions. Faculty are being put in a position where they are not only making decisions without all the necessary facts, but the budgetary decisions are having an impact on pedagogy and curriculum. Unfortunately, some College of Education administrators have seen a solution o the budgetary woes in increasing the teaching load of non-tenure track faculty. Our Education stewards have done a fantastic job of organizing their faculty to resist these efforts. After a meeting with the Provost, we believe the faculty will be able get the information that need to make informed choices that do not involve increasing workloads for faculty.
In more positive news, last term our Organizing Committee ended a two week long organizing blitz that was very successful. We had more than 25 member-activists take on more than 75 shifts, collecting 25 new membership cards. Through these efforts, we were able to hit our long-standing organizing goal of having 67% of the bargaining unit as full members of United Academics. I should also say that we would not have accomplished this goal without the work of Ashley, Matt, and – most importantly – Jim, who were all a tremendous help during the drive.
In the next few months we will be collecting information on the wide variety of activities that our members are engaged in regarding service to departments, colleges, the University and community. With the conversation from administration focusing on research productivity, we hope to highlight the many other ways that our members serve the educational needs of our students and the institution.