Letter to USM President from Women Faculty at Merrimack College

The letter below was sent this morning to University of Southern Maine President Theodora Kalikow, protesting the recent action she has taken against faculty. A total of 39 women faculty at Merrimack College–tenured, tenure-track, and contingent–signed their names to this excellent statement. It clearly points out the institutional sexism (and racism) inherent to a “last hired, first fired” policy.

Dear President Theodora Kalikow:

We write to request that you rescind the cuts you have made to the fulltime faculty in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Southern Maine, cuts which have occurred without a bona fide declaration of financial exigency, without agreed-upon criteria, and which have disproportionately affected women, some of whom are women of color.

It is the faculty’s responsibility in a shared governance system to be a participant in determining whether a financial crisis is, in fact, of such severity as to require faculty reductions and, if so, the faculty has primary responsibility for determining where those reductions should occur (see the AAUP’s Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure, specifically Section 4). You and your administrative team have abrogated that right, despite the commitment to shared governance, and specifically the Joint Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities (1966), which accords to faculty primary responsibility for faculty status and which is referenced in USM’s governance document. It is a right of faculty in such a system to have the protections of due process when those reductions are being considered. That right was denied when your administration determined by some measure of your own devising which 12 faculty would be cut and making little effort to find placements within the system elsewhere for them, while simultaneously authorizing the addition of 7 new faculty elsewhere in the university. Continue reading

Ohio Higher Education Coalition Holds Press Conference on Student Debt

The Ohio Conference of AAUP (OCAAUP) has joined such groups as the Ohio Education Association (OEA), Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), New Faculty Majority (NFM), Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association (OPTFA), and Ohio Student Association (OSA) in forming a statewide advocacy group on issues related to higher education. After taking some time to create an operating structure and to define its goals, the group held its first press conference this past week. What follows is the news items that the OCAAUP is distributing to its members.

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On Tuesday, March 4, the Ohio Higher Education Coalition (OHEC) held its first press conference announcing the formation of the coalition, highlighting student debt stories, and calling for restoration of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), which gives need-based aid to lower income students.

OHEC Continue reading

“Cultural Taxation”—A Stealth Killer of Professional Careers

This is a guest post by Cecil Canton, a professor of criminal justice at CSU Sacramento. He is also associate vice-president for affirmative action at the California Faculty Association and is on the executive committee of the AAUP-CBC.

Every tenure-track faculty member in the Academy, neophyte or seasoned veteran, is responsible for teaching courses, building a record of scholarship, and providing service to the institution to meet the standards of the retention, promotion, and tenure process.

These processes take on increased and amplified weight for underrepresented faculty and faculty of color in predominantly white institutions. Continue reading

Building a Movement of Faculty and Students

By Maxwell John Love

This is the fourth in a series of Academe Blog guest posts arranged by the AAUP Committee on Contingency and the Profession in celebration of Campus Equity Week. For information on and resources for CEW, see the national website at http://www.campusequityweek.org/2013/

loveGrowing up in a rural town in Wisconsin, I spent my weekends and summers with a pitchfork and straw bedding down calves on a local farm. I went on to study political science and Afro-American studies at the UW-Madison only a few miles from the hospital where I was born.

Now, as the Vice President of the United States Student Association—the nation’s oldest, largest, and incredibly diverse national student association—I find myself wondering what I am doing in DC attending meetings at the Department of Education or on the Hill. What I don’t find here in DC is a real regard for the struggle of working class students, students of color, or hard-working contingent faculty and staff on our campuses—the people on campus who are simply trying to make this country a more educated and better place for our families. The 66-year legacy of our organization may have gotten us to the table, but, oftentimes, we are the only group who represents students consulted on important policy decisions. Continue reading

On the Issues: American Higher Education–Separate and Unequal?

An “On the Issues” Post from the Campaign for the future of Higher Education [http://futureofhighered.org]

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A recent report, “Separate & Unequal,” released by the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute, is introduced with a provocative statement: “The higher education system is more and more complicit as a passive agent in the systematic reproduction of white racial privilege across generations.”  The study goes on to detail ways in which the United States is moving toward an entrenched two-tiered higher education system based on race/ethnicity. Continue reading

Gauging the Probable Impact of President Obama’s New “Plan” for Higher Education

President Obama’s new “plan” for higher education is, of course, largely a sparely detailed sketch of a proposal, especially when one considers what any legislation that might actually result from it will end up looking like.

In fact, many commentators on both the Left and the Right have expressed serious doubts about whether the “plan’ has any chance whatsoever pf being realized in actual legislation. Predictably, they have then gone to discuss, often at considerable length, the relative merits of what the President has proposed, while also pointing out those issues that the “plan” fails to address.

In some ways, the commentaries on the “plan” that I have posted over this past weekend—my own response, the response of AAUP President, Rudy Fichtenbaum, and the collective response of the Steering Committee of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education—have followed the general pattern in the media commentaries, though I don’t think that anything that I have heard in the media has been as substantive and as tellingly detailed as the analyses provided by Rudy and the CFHE.

Several writers have moved beyond broad commentary in an attempt to determine which colleges and universities might be the big winners and losers if the core elements of President Obama’s “plan” were to be realized in legislation.

Writing for Business Insider, Walter Hickey has attempted to identify those institutions that might “hit the jackpot” under the Obama “plan.” Continue reading

CFHE Response to President Obama’s August 22, 2013 Plan for Higher Education

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education [http://futureofhighered.org/ ] is a loose association of the major faculty unions and faculty associations in the United States. These groups have come together several times each year to share information on issues affecting high education and to shape responses to those issues that emphasize the paramount importance of instruction. I encourage you to become more involved in this national advocacy group.

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A White House fact sheet released in support of President Obama’s plan notes that “declining state funding has been the biggest reason for rising tuition at public institutions.” Any plan to rescue college affordability simply must begin by addressing such harsh facts as these:

Between 2008 and 2013, state funding for higher education as a percentage of state personal income declined by 22.6%;

States have cut their annual investment in higher education by nearly half since 1980 (February 2013 report from Postsecondary Education Opportunity);

As a result, institutions have both increased tuition and diverted funding from instruction, so that 75% of the faculty now work on temporary, low-wage, contracts without benefits, which undermine their ability to properly serve students, especially the most underprepared and underprivileged.

Unless current trends change, many states are in a “Race to Zero” in funding higher education. Continue reading

Join the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education – CFHE for short – is a  GRASSROOTS NATIONAL CAMPAIGN to support quality higher education. It was initiated in Los Angeles, California, on May 17, 2011, by leaders of faculty organizations from 21 states. CFHE’s fifth meeting was held in Columbus, Ohio, on May 17 and 18, 2013.

The mission of this campaign is to ENSURE THAT AFFORDABLE QUALITY HIGHER EDUCATION is accessible to all sectors of our society in the coming decades. This is a time of great change in higher education.

To make sure that these changes are good for students and our country, we need to REFRAME THE CURRENT DEBATE to focus on quality higher education as an essential right for our democracy. Faculty, students and our communities, not just administrators, politicians, foundations and think tanks, need to have a voice to ensure that changes – in emphasis, curriculum, pricing, and structure – are good for our students and the quality of education they receive.

What is at stake is NOTHING LESS THAN OUR DEMOCRACY and our economic standing in the global economy.

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education is organized around SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES that must define quality higher education for the 21st century. We believe these principles provide a helpful framework for developing and assessing proposals for innovation or restructuring in the future. Continue reading

Supreme Court hears arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas

This is a guest post by Yen Tran, a legal fellow in the AAUP’s Washington office. 

On Wednesday, I attended part of the US Supreme Court’s oral arguments in the case Fisher v. University of Texas.  As a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, a minority student, a Texas resident, and someone interested in higher education law and civil rights, I was especially interested in hearing the oral arguments in this case.  I arrived at the Supreme Court around six in the morning, and I instantly wished I got there earlier; the impossibly long line wrapped from the steps of the Court to around the side of the Library of Congress across the street.  Although I did not get a seat to see the entire argument (apparently the last person to get a seat arrived at four in the morning, according to an informal survey), I did see two three-minutes segments, and because I was part of the last group admitted from the rotating line, I got to observe almost a half hour of oral arguments.  As a result, I was fortunate enough see the bulk of the Gregory Garre’s argument and all of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s argument as they defended the University of Texas admission policy, as well as Bert W. Rein’s rebuttal, who represented Abigail Fisher. Continue reading