January 2002 aaUPBEAT
Resolve During Challenging Times
Several weeks ago I drove with my family to visit relatives in
New York for the first time since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Seeing the New York City skyline with my own eyes filled me with a deep
sense of sadness and loss. Fortunately, I did not lose family members
or friends directly in the attacks, but I know several people who did.
A friend from my high school days worked with more than twenty people
who were killed in the World Trade Center attacks. One of my colleagues
on national AAUP Council had a daughter who was a passenger on the
plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Several of my students had
relatives who were directly at risk in New York City and Washington,
DC. The personal consequences of these attacks will always be with us.
In addition to the personal consequences of the attacks, other
factors -- the war in Afghanistan, the mobilization against terrorism
within US borders, and the effects of the economic downturn -- have
greatly deepened the challenges we face as higher education faculty.
The University of Delaware's academic community is diverse and
international. Faculty and students who are Moslem, Indian, Middle
Eastern or who may appear foreign should have our friendship and
support in the current climate of suspicion and fear. The need to
question and debate government policies, to provide background and
analysis for current international and domestic issues, and to put
ongoing events into perspective is greatest during times of crisis.
Efforts to provide knowledge, analysis and thoughtful opinion are
expressions of our constitutional rights, our trust in democracy and
our traditional values of academic freedom. These qualities are most
imperiled during times of fear and international conflict, and we as
faculty have an an obligation to affirm them.
The focus on security combined with the decline in state and
federal revenues resulting from the ongoing recession are greatly
exacerbating the financing of higher education across the country.
According to Dr. Linda Bell, professor of economics at Haverford
College and author of the AAUP report The Annual Report on the
Economic Status of the Profession, 2000-2001, financial support
for higher education was declining well before the current mobilization
against terrorism and economic downturn. Bell found that faculty
salaries increased nationally by 3.5 percent over the period while the
inflation rate was 3.4 percent. This negligible real increase in
faculty salaries was largely the result of tightening state budgets
that fund higher education at public universities where more than
two-thirds of the nation's full-time faculty are employed.
With the loss of state revenues due to the current recession
and heightened demand on state budgets for security, higher education
is losing financial support in California, New York, and every state in
between. In some states, such as Alabama, the needs of K through 12
public education are being pitted against funding for higher education.
A cycle of tax cuts during times of prosperity and budget cuts during
recession is compounded by a pattern of federal tax cuts that threaten
to further reduce state revenues. These financial pressures are
heightening tendencies to squeeze faculty salaries, to use part-time
faculty and graduate students as replacements for full-time faculty,
and to use distance education and interactive communication
technologies to reduce costs rather than as educational resources that
enhance innovative instruction styles.
How we as faculty meet these challenges to our values, our
professional and scholarly integrity, and the economic status of our
profession will affect not only our own conditions of teaching,
research and shared governance, but also academic life for the
We confront these conditions of higher education at the
University of Delaware in the collective bargaining arena. As we enter
into collective bargaining at the University of Delaware, we must
resolve to build on our past achievements in improving the climate for
education and research by securing meaningful improvements in salaries
and benefits, workload and merit pay policies, and the full
implementation of our collective bargaining agreement.
My support for the Bargaining Team's contract proposals in the
December issue of the aaUPBEAT is based on the following
facts and principles:
- During the past ten years, the wealth and revenues accruing
to the University of Delaware have increased substantially. The salary
increases negotiated through collective bargaining succeeded in
bringing the faculty past the midpoint of our comparator institutions.
Yet the salary increases have not matched the growth in the
University's financial resources and certainly did not place a strain
on them. While the University's immediate financial position is not as
favorable as in the recent past, a meaningful increase in faculty
salaries is still affordable based on the University's accumulated
resources and its multifaceted income sources.
- Thanks to faculty and administration efforts, the
visibility and prestige of the University of Delaware have been
dramatically enhanced. The University is increasingly the first choice
of highly qualified students who apply from across the country. Last
year's reaccreditation review lauded UD's accomplishments and held many
of our policies and practices up as exemplary. Along with academic
related improvements, there also have been architectural and landscape
developments that not only enhance the campus's physical beauty but
simultaneously increase the University's presence as a seat of
learning. Given such recent UD achievements, it is simply not enough
for the University of Delaware to be at or slightly above comparator
institutions in salary rankings. With the enhanced prestige of the
University and its faculty, we should aim to be higher on the
comparator list; in fact, if we don't move higher, we run the risk of
losing stature within our comparator group. Given the comparators in
our region, I think it would be reasonable for UD faculty salary levels
to be located just below the top tier, which includes Princeton, The
University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon, and Johns Hopkins.
- The University of Delaware provided over $900,000 for
special salary adjustments for this academic year. These salary
adjustments were made within the provisions of Article 12.8 of the
Collective Bargaining Agreement that addresses issues of equity, market
and retention. Funds for special adjustment are an important resource
for faculty salaries. Yet the magnitude of special salary adjustments
made available this year outside of across the board and merit pay have
raised concerns about accountability among many faculty members. These
concerns have been heightened because they occurred during a time of
change at the highest levels of academic administration. Within the
boundaries of the University's rules of confidentiality, the AAUP has
investigated these salary adjustments and has provided a report in the aaUPBEAT;
also, we provided additional information at the Open Faculty Meeting
held on Dec. 4. Concerns about this year's salary adjustments have
negatively affected many faculty members' morale. This is part of the
background of current negotiations; it signals the need to make sure
that a higher percent of salary increases comes through across the
board increases and merit pay.
- The time for domestic partner benefits at UD is past due.
Approximately 156 colleges and universities provide such benefits to
faculty; Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pennsylvania, both
prominent within our comparator group, are two such schools. In the
past year, General Motors, Daimler Chrysler and Gannet have joined the
list of major corporations providing domestic partner benefits. In my
view such benefits should be part of any reasonable benefits package.
- In recent contracts, we have sought to enhance the
retirement options and benefits available to retiring faculty. We must
continue this effort. Yet we must also recognize the needs and concerns
of people who have recently joined the faculty and who represent our
Concerning the financial condition of recent hires, during the
spring semester of 2001, I conducted a brief survey of faculty who have
been at the University for six years or less. The survey was sent to
226 bargaining unit members who joined the faculty during the last six
years. 83 people, about 37%, responded to the survey. Of the
respondents, 82% were assistant professors, 78% were at UD for 5 years
or less, 70% were between 30 and 40 years old, 44% were women, 56% were
men, 24% were single, and 76% were either married or living with a
partner. About 38% reported having no children, and 62% said they had
one or more children. About 50 % were earning more than $50,000 and
about 50% less than $50,000.
While the number of respondents is too small for meaningful
statistical analysis and does not represent a scientific sample, the
survey does suggest financial distress among recent faculty hires. For
example, about 33% of the respondents said they were paying student
loans. Of those paying student loans, more than half said they owed
$20,000 and about a quarter said they owed more than $30,000. About 33%
said they are renters rather than homeowners. Of the renters, 84% said
they either lacked a downpayment for home ownership or that mortgage
payments were too high. About 67% said they had $5,000 or less saved
for emergencies, and about a third reported they had less than $1,000
in savings for emergencies. More than 40% reported that they spent more
than $1,000 out of their own pockets for expenses related to teaching
and their professional activities.
There was a very stark gender difference that suggests the
financial conditions of women who are new hires are more perilous than
their male colleagues. While 63% of women said they learned less
than $50,000, 64% of men said they earned more than $50,000.
In addition, while slightly more men had student loans than women, the
amount owed by women was considerably higher.
While the survey's results regarding recent hires are far from
definitive, about one-third of the respondents appear to face difficult
personal financial situations. We must more fully recognize and address
these issues in collective bargaining.
It has long been my view that the AAUP chapter at the
University of Delaware has an important role to play not only on our
own campus, but in providing an example to other institutions of how
collective bargaining can be combined with traditional commitments to
shared governance and to academic freedom. Campus AAUP members have
contacted their colleagues at other institutions, such as the
University of Vermont, in efforts to establish collective bargaining at
other research institutions.
We are engaged in contract negotiations during unsettled
times. In this context it is especially important that our current
efforts be guided by our past accomplishments. In collective bargaining
agreements over the past ten years, we have negotiated funds to enhance
equity for female faculty, established policies that provide employment
security and career advancement for nontenure track faculty, sought and
won the inclusion of phased retirement in our contract, created a
pattern of negotiation that uses a list of comparators as a basis for
our salary demands, formalized and strengthened departmental faculty's
role in selecting chairs, improved sabbatical leave options, and
recently we have been clarifying relationships among workload and merit
pay. Also, through our independent analyses of the University's
finances, we have provided solid grounds for making strong proposals at
the bargaining table. Additionally, in coalition with the campus AFSCME
leadership, we have established free tuition for people who work in
food services and the bookstore, a benefit they had until their work
was outsourced to a private vender. Now free tuition is once again
theirs. Accomplishments like this last one help to build bonds of
mutual interest and commitment on campus.
I have every confidence that with AAUP membership and support
for the AAUP, we will further enhance the conditions for quality
education, scholarship, and the depth of our academic community during