March 2003 aaUPBEAT
First, What to do... Then, Some Background
As we wrote in the February newsletter, mechanisms for
handling individual workload situations are already in place and
therefore no new policies are necessary. However, in view of recent
Administration threats to increase faculty workloads, we recommend that
departments include in their workload policy a statement that reflects
existing policy as well as a clarification of what Article 12.4 of the
Collective Bargaining Agreement does not say. We suggest the
The metric in the unit's merit criteria (as described in
Section 12.4 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement) forms the basis on
which a faculty member is evaluated for merit pay increase. However,
this evaluation process should not be used as a justification in and of
itself for increasing the teaching or service components of a faculty
member's workload. Such increases should only be considered after a
scheduled peer review process (see Section III.1.1 of the Faculty
Handbook) has concluded that the research effort of the faculty member
in question is unsatisfactory for the period being reviewed.
Faculty should also review Section III.F. on faculty workload
in the Faculty Handbook. Special attention should be given to the
Workload Policy Statement and the Composition of Workload section as
departments develop their workload policies.
We encourage individual departmental workload committees to
invite a member of the AAUP Executive Council to one of your meetings
to clarify any aspect of UD workload policy that you may wish to
The current controversy over faculty workloads hasn't arisen
out of the blue. It is one of many symptoms of a nation-wide
reconceptualization of higher education's purpose that places increased
emphasis on the concepts of profitability and productivity.
More than ever before, college and university administrations
across the country view higher education less as an environment for
training minds to analyze the objective world independently and more as
an institution in which higher education's many ingredients - e.g.,
freedom of thought, departmental expenditures, financial investments,
etc. - must be evaluated not just in terms of what they do to promote
education as such, but also in terms of their relative value in a world
in which all "true" value is supposedly determined by market forces.
By setting educational value along lines determined by the
so-called free market, not only can pay disparities between "valued"
and "nonvalued" faculty increase, but the very nature of educational
funding runs the risk of being reinvented so that "education" per se
isn't funded, but rather what's funded are certain areas (i.e.,
departments or projects within departments) of education that are
deemed more worthy than others of investment.
According to such a model, education won't be viewed as a
broad-ranging activity consisting of a variety of specific - and
essential - disciplines, but rather like a corporation with certain
subdivisions, some of which will be heavily invested in, others of
which will be downsized, and still others of which will be spun off as
the market dictates their irrelevance to current corporate policy.
Nationally, the intensification of higher education's
subordination to the corporate model has occurred in the context of
shrinking state investment in public colleges and universities. Since
1980, according the Chronicle of Higher Education, the percentage of
state funds targeted for higher education has dropped from 44 percent
to 32 percent or lower. This withering of government support is
traceable not only to the recent recession, but, more disturbingly, to
a transformation in educational vision. The corporate world is no
longer seen by higher education administrations as just a potential
source of funding, but rather as its natural ally and a model for how
to be productive in the modern world.
According to analysts like Prof. Patricia P. Brodsky of the
University of Missouri-Kansas, evidence of what will happen to higher
education as Administrators deepen their commitment to the corporate
model already exists. She says one can see it merely by looking at the
"What academia is now facing the health care industry has
already undergone," Brodsky insisted at a forum. "Physicians are under
pressure to make diagnoses and recommend treatments on the basis of
profitability, not medical need. Doctors are forced into an
assembly-line mode and a speed-up. Decisions are made by managers under
orders from the insurance companies that, increasingly, own the
hospitals and facilities. Quality and choice have declined as prices
have risen. Now there is talk of following the HMO's with the
EMO-Education Maintenance Organizations."
This might seem like a bleak assessment, but the
corporatization of education has already caused problems that raise
questions about who or what the university serves, the public,
companies or higher education's commercial interests.
Linda Bensel-Meyers, the tenured Director of Composition at
the University of Tennessee (UT), has firsthand experience with how
explosive this issue of education's purpose can be.
In 1999, after tutors whom she supervised alleged that some
athletic department officials and athletes tried to force the tutors to
write papers for the athletes, Bensel-Meyers investigated the
situation, concluded that the tutors were correct and so stepped
forward to defend them. She said her reason for speaking out on their
behalf was that she had tenure and was therefore more protected than
they were and consequently she believed it was her duty to help them.
For her effort, she was criticized by the UT administration, which in a
fit of defensiveness and angry name-calling accused Bensel-Myers, who
had no previous history of interest in the issue of the
commercialization of college sports, of having "a larger agenda - to
eliminate scholarship athletics in colleges and universities as we know
it." The English professor also received abusive email, death threats
over the phone, and her office was broken into. All of this followed
comments she made during an interview with an ESPN journalist who was
investigating the scandal.
Bensel-Meyers says that while the scandal raged, she at first
often wondered why "the Administration and the Athletic Department
refuse to look at the evidence of academic dishonesty" and instead
chose to blindly "preserve a system that so clearly violates everything
the university should stand for?"
She eventually concluded, and this became a turning point in
her life, that the answer was systemic and had to do with the UT
administration's covert acceptance of the idea that preservation of the
athletic department's viability as a revenue generator had greater educational
value than did the maintenance of the school's academic values.
Bensel-Meyers detected in this trend a "penchant for universities to
adopt the corporate model of governance, a model that can be used
productively to ensure fiscal responsibility at the institution. What
this model has done for UT, though, is ensured that profit not
education is the bottom-line, particularly because the success of the
Athletic Department is deeply embedded in the political and economic
structure of the state... The state depends on the success of the
football team for much of its economic revenue for adjunct services
such as merchandising and tourism trade."
The City University of New York (CUNY) is another site of
corporatization conflict. On the one hand the university's recently
adopted Master Plan is touted by supporters like CUNY trustee John J.
Calandra as a "blueprint for change. It is our roadmap for restoring
CUNY to its proper role as an esteemed institution of higher learning."
Meanwhile, detractors point out that the plan stresses that it wants to
restructure CUNY along hierarchical lines "derived from a corporate
model where the Chancellor is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the
Vice Chancellors are corporate officers"and one of the institution's
central primary goals is to "achieve productivity and program savings."
As Associate Prof. Barbara Bowen , president of CUNY's
Professional Service Congress, told an interviewer: the CUNY Master
Plan's productivity and savings language signals an intent to "raise
faculty workloads... and to cut academic programs and jobs from our
already bare-bones curriculum."
Everywhere, faculty are faced with problems similar to the
ones described above.
Unfortunately, public higher education administrations
frequently do little to protect faculty and students from such trends.
On the contrary they often actively support the forces that create
these trends. They offer this support by acquiescing to the notion that
in the final analysis students are consumers who are responsible for
purchasing the commodity that has caught their eye - i.e., higher
education. Consequently, administrators typically respond to budget
cuts by passing on the costs to students and parents in the form of
increased tuition. They do this instead of seeking out other options -
for instance, allying themselves with state agencies and unions in
demanding a more equitable way to fight a state's budget problems.
Although the states, and not higher education administrations, initiate
funding cuts, many administrations' resigned response to these cuts and
their acceptance of the corporate approach to higher education
undermine their credibility as defenders of students or faculty.
Unfortunately, higher educational costs are pricing education
beyond the reach of growing numbers of potential students. Already
prior to the recent UD tuition increase, Delaware students who attend
state institutions paid on average 29 percent of their family's income
for fulltime student status. According to the National Center for
Public Policy and Higher Education, the high percentage of family
income spent for a college or university education in Delaware places
the state among the worst eleven states in the country in terms of the
ratio between family income and higher educational costs.
Of course, higher education's mounting cost isn't just a
Delaware problem, it's a national problem. As the Associated Press's
Steve Giegerich has written, "Cash-strapped states from coast to coast
are weighing hefty tuition increases for public colleges and
universities, prompting experts to wonder aloud if state schools are
pricing themselves out of the market for most students."
In terms of the state cutbacks that are frequently associated
with raised tuitions around the country, Gordon K. Davies, a consultant
to the Education Commission of the States, warns that the current
reduction of state funds available for higher education is not just a
response to a weak economy but is part of a permanent (if it isn't
stopped) transformation in higher educational policy.
"College leaders are fooling themselves if they think the end
of this recession will be like all the others," Davies recently told
the Chronicle of Higher Education. "What we're seeing," he continued,
"is a systemic careless withdrawal of concern and support for advanced
education in this country at exactly the wrong time."
Davies is right: we are fooling ourselves if, as faculty, we
refuse to come to grips with the facts before us. Funding cuts,
mounting tuitions, increased workloads, the growing percentage of
part-time faculty, widening pay gaps between different departments, and
the rise of the "student as consumer" vision are all part of the
corporatization of higher education. The end result of this process, if
it is allowed to proceed unchallenged, will be a public higher
education environment that serves a shrinking percentage of the
community, has fewer tenured faculty, and is increasingly taken over by
"for profit" methodologies.
This is not what we want.
In the December and February editions of the newsletter, as
well as in this one, we have analyzed UD workload policies. Since this
is an subject of special interest to faculty members, the AAUP will
hold an open faculty meeting on March 20 where faculty can ask
questions about workload and other issues of importance.