May 2001 aaUPBEAT
Minority Hiring & Other Issues
Faculty Senate/Minority Hiring
The UD Faculty Senate's approval of a minority hiring plan in an effort to diversify the faculty is a welcome decision. The plan, which is similar to the AAUP's recent proposals, recommends that if the candidate selected to fill an open faculty position is not a minority but a minority is one of the top choices, then a new position should be created in order to hire the minority also.
The new position's creation would not be mandatory. The dean who oversees the concerned department would, in consultation with the department, make the final decision. The decision would include a variety of factors such as budget constraints and the department's previous diversity standing.
The minority hiring issue at the University has been a long-standing one. In 1981, the U.S. Department of Labor warned that the state's higher educational system was marred by a lack of racial balance. Since then the situation has improved only marginally. Although the state's African-Americans represent 20% of Delaware's population and the minority population in general is 25% of the population, UD faculty numbers lag noticeably behind these numbers. Only 3.8% of the faculty is African-American, and only 13% represents racial minorities in general.
Because of this reality, Ted Davis, chairperson of the faculty Senate's Committee on Diversity and Affirmative Action, told the News Journal, "There's no way we're going to have a racially diverse campus, if we don't take race into consideration."
The Faculty Senate approved the hiring plan by a landslide vote.
The Senate's decision, following on the heels of previous AAUP calls for a similar approach, had an almost immediate effect. For the first time, the Administration publicly agreed to such a plan.
The coming months will be crucial in determining the extent of the Administration's commitment.
Who Controls Grading?: An Academic Freedom Issue
A recent Third U.S. Court of Appeals decision declared that a faculty member's refusal to change a grade at the request of the administration was just grounds for termination.
The situation which gave rise to this ruling entailed a philosophical collision between Robert A. Brown, a professor who teaches counseling classes at Pennsylvania's California University, and the university's president, Angelo Armenti, Jr. Prof. Brown, a tenured professor with 28 years seniority at the school, was fired for refusing to cancel a failing grade he'd given a student who had only attended three out of the fifteen classes required for the course.
According to Brown's supporters, the termination raises substantive First Amendment issues related to freedom of expression. The appeals court, however, disagreed with this.
In its opinion, the court stated that since, "in the classroom, the university was the speaker and the professor was the agent of the university for First Amendment purposes," Brown was simply acting as the "university's proxy" in his capacity as professor and therefore was subject to the administration's wishes regarding the grading of students. "We therefore conclude," the ruling proclaimed, "that a public university professor does not have a First Amendment right to expression via the school's grade-assignment procedures."
The case ended up before the appeals court when the university appealed after a labor arbitrator ruled that the California University lacked "just cause"in firing Brown and ordered his reinstatement.
Brown told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "To me it's outrageous that I could be fired for giving a grade that somebody who knows nothing about the field disagrees with... They talk to us about standards and say we should do a good job in training our people. What hypocrisy."
Armenti's initial attempt to fire Brown was based on the charge that Brown had sexually harassed the student by failing her. It was when this charge was found to be without merit that the arbitrator reinstated Brown who, although currently on sick leave, will teach next fall. The dispute over the student's grade still, however, rages.
Donna Euben, a national AAUP counsel who recently spoke at UD, described the appeals court's decision as one that "runs contrary to accepted academic practice and AAUP policy." She maintained that the clear implication of both First Amendment and academic freedom principles was that it was faculty members' province to "evaluate student course work and assign grades."
Brown's Lawyer, John M. Golden, told the Chronicle of Higher Education that the appeals court's decision made him feel as if "he was mourning the loss of academic freedom."
The collision between Armenti and Brown isn't the first time California University's president has attempted to expand administrative control over faculty freedom to evaluate students. Earlier this year, the university paid Bill Parnell, one of its retired professors, $235,000 in order to get him to drop a lawsuit against the institution. Parnell was fired in 1996 for failing a student. In this instance also, an arbitrator overturned Armenti's termination of the professor and reinstated him.
Non-Tenure Track Status
On April 9 there was a well-attended meeting of 40 or 50 non-tenure track instructors. A number of issues were raised. In order to further clarify some of these issues, we will briefly summarize here the history of the AAUP's involvement in questions related to the status of non-tenure track faculty.
In our first monthly newsletter in 1993, we wrote, in reference to our general goals, "We will also examine how to deal effectively with nagging problems like the situation of University instructors and lecturers." After the AAUP spent two years laying the groundwork for improving University policy in this area, in Spring 1995 a joint AAUP-Administration committee was formed to review the terms and conditions under which non-tenure track faculty are appointed or renewed.
That recommendation was eventually approved by the Provost. The new policy applied, as it still does, only to individuals who hold primary appointments as full-time, continuing, non-tenure track faculty. Individuals who hold temporary, part-time, secondary, contingency or adjunct appointments as non-tenure track faculty are not covered by this policy.
The following questions deal with a few of the policy's more important specifics.
1. Do faculty members who have full-time, continuing, non-tenure track positions receive promotional increments if their academic rank changes? Non-tenure track faculty do not receive promotional increments if their academic rank changes; such increments are reserved for tenure-track faculty only. Salary increases for non-tenure track faculty, rather than taking the form of promotional increments, instead take the form of salary adjustments. These adjustments occur according to the following schedule.
At the end of the initial successful six-year probationary period for non-tenure track faculty, a salary adjustment is made. That salary adjustment begins with the individual's new three-year contract. The adjustment equals the pay raise that a tenure-track faculty member would receive when promoted to associate professor. Another salary adjustment is made at the start of the first five-year "rolling" contract. This adjustment will equal the pay raise that a tenure-track faculty member receives when promoted to full professor.
In conclusion, tenure-track faculty receive promotional increments. Non-tenure track faculty receive salary adjustments.
2. Under what conditions can non-tenure track faculty be dismissed? If, during a multi-year contract, a non-tenure track faculty member receives an unsatisfactory annual evaluation, a full peer review may then be conducted. If the peer review supports the negative findings of the annual review, the faculty member will receive, in writing, one full year's notice of the termination of her/his contract. Such a dismissal procedure must follow the guidelines set forth in the Faculty Handbook (III-36-N, Non-Renewals) and is subject to the grievance process. Non-tenure track faculty cannot be terminated as the result of arbitrary decisions made by departmental chairs.
Another way in which a non-tenure track faculty member can lose her/his job is if the non-tenure track position is either eliminated or transformed into a tenure-track position. If this happens, the affected faculty member keeps her/his position through the remainder of her/his contract. Only after the contract expires can the non-tenure track position be eliminated or changed to a tenure track position.
3. How is merit pay determined for non-tenure track faculty? For all faculty, merit pay determinations are based on workload agreements, which define how a faculty member's time is divided between research, teaching and service. However, since the majority of non-tenure track faculty do not do research, their workload agreements will usually be based only on teaching and service. Merit pay will be based solely on the areas specified in an individual faculty member's workload agreement. The criteria for evaluating how to judge these areas are found in the department's promotion and tenure document.
AAUP Summer Institute at UD
The national AAUP will hold its 2001 Summer Institute at UD from July 19 through July 22.
Workshops to be sponsored by the Institute include:
"The Effective Faculty Handbook." Case studies on academic freedom, governance and tenure.
"Higher Education Data And Research." This workshop will include a discussion of practical methods for finding higher education-related data and how best to use such data. The workshop will combine presentations and discussions with hands-on experience related to Internet searches, spreadsheets, and so on.
"Intellectual Property." This workshop will explore issues related to changing notions of intellectual property in the age of computers, remote (internet-based) education, and electronic publishing. The workshop will also discuss the policies of specific universities and colleges to see if those policies offer faculty adequate protection.
Other workshops and seminars will also be offered.
Those interested in attending should register by June 1. A late fee will be charged subsequent to that date.
Additional information can be secured by contacting the AAUP office at 831-2292.
Collective Bargaining/Faculty Input
The union's contract negotiations with the Administration begin next academic year. Faculty involvement in the build-up to these negotiations is imperative. If you have issues you believe should be placed on the bargaining table, or if you have additional commentary regarding AAUP bargaining strategies, contact chief negotiator David Colton at 831-1863.
In the fall, faculty will receive a questionnaire regarding faculty and campus issues. The questionnaire's purpose is to identify faculty concerns. Additional information regarding the questionnaire will be given to you following the summer break.
University of Vermont Facutly Vote for Union
On April 18, ninety-three percent of the University of Vermont (UVM) faculty turned out for a vote on whether or not to form a union. The union was established by a 53%-47% margin.
Mark A. Stoler, one of the campaign's lead organizers and a UVM history professor, said UVM faculty concerns were typical of faculty concerns across the country in that UVM union supporters wanted to be able to "negotiate as equals with the administration." He added, "We plan to work to maintain faculty prerogatives and to prevent further erosion of professional values."
Steve Finner, a national AAUP organizer, concurred with Stoler. "Many faculty in Vermont believe that the quality of education is declining... They point to improper allocation of resources, poorly managed retirement program incentives, and lack of stability within upper administration, as some of the causes for the erosion."
Many AAUP members in the region lent time to the campaign. Linda Bucher and Steve Dentel from UD were two of these people, visiting the University of Vermont campus in support of the unionization drive. Other UD faculty members phoned UVM colleagues in their fields as part of the effort.
The AAUP and AFSCME
Gerry Turkel and David Colton recently met with representatives of one of the AFSCME locals on campus. AFSCME, which stands for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, represents the campus's non-faculty employees. This meeting was part of our ongoing effort to develop multi-union strength at UD. One issue raised at the meeting was the possibility of lending AAUP support to a plan for providing all people who work at the UD with tuition remission. Prior to the outsourcing of the majority of dining hall and bookstore jobs to outside vendors, all cafeteria and bookstore employees received tuition remission. Now only a small percentage of them do - only those who held their positions prior to the work's outsourcing. Eventually all these "more privileged" spots will disappear.
The AAUP views tuition remission for all campus employees as an important way to unify the campus's many different kinds of workers. Before the University's increased corporatization, one of the ways UD generated good will, and promoted racial and economic diversity in the process, was through its tuition remission benefits.