The new issue of Academe, which looks at the public policy landscape for higher ed, has just been posted online.
The issue is guest-edited by Brian Turner, a professor of political science at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia and chair of the AAUP’s Government Relations Committee. Turner tells a story in his introduction to the issue which is very telling: He writes that when he started organizing lobbying days for faculty to speak with members of the Virginia legislature and their staffs, the officeholders were confused: Didn’t they already know about higher ed issues? After all, they met with college presidents and administrators all the time! It had never occurred to them until those meetings that the faculty might have views and opinions different from the administration. Needless to say, those meetings have become a regular feature of the Virginia state conference.
In this issue, our authors describe the current state of politics and policy on higher ed. In Ohio, the state legislature is no longer responsive to the will of the people – so popular ballot initiatives have become the best way to make changes in policy. Across the country, states are racing to implement performance-based funding for higher ed. In California, state employee pensions are coming under attack. In Kentucky, the state’s higher education board now includes a faculty representative, who writes about her experiences. And in Washington, DC, the National Labor Relations Board is considering a case that could dramatically expand the opportunities to bargain collectively at private institutions.
All this in addition to our usual columns, book reviews and association news. Take a look at the November-December 2013 issue of Academe.
This is a guest post by Adrianna Kezar and Daniel Maxey. Kezar is professor at the University of Southern California and director of the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success; Maxey is dean’s fellow in urban education policy at USC’s Rossier School of Education and Pullias Center for Higher Education. Their article, “Change Requires Discipline,” appears in the newest issue of Academe.
Today, approximately seven out of every ten instructional faculty members at nonprofit institutions of higher learning are employed off the tenure track; nearly half of all faculty members providing instruction in nonprofit higher education hold part-time appointments. One of the reasons that contingent faculty issues have not been adequately addressed is that responding requires the attention, support, and action of many different groups across higher education. No single group or coalition representing only a few stakeholder groups has the ability to act unilaterally to make the changes needed. This is a systemic problem, but one that presents disciplinary societies with various opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways to the overall solution. Continue reading
This is a guest post by Rick Perloff, a professor in the communication department at Cleveland State University. His article, “Organizing Cleveland State,” appears in the newest issue of Academe and goes into greater detail about the unionization campaign at CSU.
It was the unlikeliest of stories at the most improbable of institutions. Cleveland State University, a bricks-and-mortar, urban state university bereft of much faculty culture (to say nothing of a faculty club, which, try as they might, faculty and administrators could never get off the ground), spawned an all-out grass roots effort to mobilize faculty in favor of AAUP unionization. It transfixed the university two decades ago. And the amazing thing is that the movement succeeded: Faculty voted to unionize, grievance procedures were implemented, gaping salary inequities were addressed, and the much-discussed dissolution of faculty-administration ties never materialized.
As a professor at Cleveland State in the early 1990s, when the union movement caught fire, I remember the battle for unionization well. Scrappy, at times scruffy, and emboldened by bright-eyed zeal, the union activists caught my eye and garnered respect. Few thought that a sometimes-ragtag band of bright, impassioned warriors could convince their Enlightenment-liberal colleagues to embrace unionization. But the campaign succeeded against striking odds for a host of reasons—self-interested, symbolic, and ideological. Continue reading
Silvio Lacetti is a recently retired professor from Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. While attending a retirement party for a colleague, he happened upon an intriguing idea: What if, rather than having a single retirement party, he organized dozens of small dinners, with one of his old students at each? And rather than simply filing it away as an interesting idea, Lacetti decided to embark on just such an odyssey.
In his article in the September-October issue of Academe, Lacetti describes the joys and excitement of meeting up with students from the full length of his academic career. Of his students, he says, “They had become compounded versions of their younger selves, with enlarged, powerful personas, but not different. …character-wise they are who they were—only more so.” The journey was thoroughly rewarding for Lacetti and his students. Read the full story in Academe.
The September-October issue of Academe has just been posted (and will be in your mailboxes soon). In the issue, Rick Perloff looks at the campaign to unionize Cleveland State University twenty years ago, and William Vesterman looks even further back—to turn-of-the-century economist Thorstein Veblen—to learn lessons about the university today. Leslie Bary uses the benefit of hindsight to see just how much power has been taken from the faculty, and Silvio Laccetti looks at his own past, by visiting many of his students from the breadth of his career.
Meanwhile, anyone interested in copyright and intellectual property should check out Joe Moxley’s article about open textbook publishing, and Helena Worthen looks at a survey of faculty teaching online courses. Rounding out the features, Adrianna Kezar and Daniel Maxey make the argument that disciplinary societies can be crucial players in the struggle for better conditions for contingent faculty.
The issue also features our regular columns, book reviews, and a profile of the Merrimack College AAUP chapter. So take a look, and be sure to leave a comment if an article catches your eye.
The new issue of Academe takes a look at all aspects of governing boards. There are individual perspectives and individual institutions that get examined, but also a broader, quantitative look at how faculty participate on boards.
In 2011-2012, researchers at the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute (CHERI) did a survey of faculty members who serve on boards of trustees. Including faculty on boards is often cited as a “best practice” for improved board-faculty relations, so this research is an important way to find out not only to find out how widespread this practice is, but also what effects it is having where faculty are included. Three of the people involved in that research – a professor, a grad student, and an undergrad – wrote about the study for Academe.
It’s a great source of information on a lot of different questions you could ask about boards: Which committees have the highest rates of faculty involvement? Which have the least? Which committees are faculty generally allowed to sit on, but not chair? In what areas do faculty think they have the most influence? Take a look at the full article for the answers to these and more questions.
Recently, the administration of the City University of New York proposed a series of academic changes to the school, grouping these changes together under the name “Pathways.” The system would make it easier for students to transfer between CUNY schools, and it would have looser graduation requirements. This proposal and the faculty opposition to it are the focus of an article in the May-June issue of Academe.
Sandi Cooper, a professor in the CUNY system who has been closely involved with the system’s faculty senate, writes about the Pathways proposal and how problems with the board of trustees led directly to this controversial plan. In some ways, the proposal (or something similar) is the result of years of slow acquisition of power by the trustees, and away from academic schools, departments, and professors. In one example of misplaced institutional priorities, the president of the student government is given a voting seat on the board of trustees, but the president of the faculty sits on the board without a vote.
Of course, the whole story is just one case study of one specific board; the new issue of Academe features several articles on the topic of faculty boards. Click here to read Sandi Cooper’s article, “The Road to Pathways,” and click here to see the whole issue.
At my monthly department meeting yesterday, the department’s representative to our University Senate gave his report on their last meeting. As part of his report, he told us some of the concerns our university president, Javier Cevallos, expressed about a recent drop in enrollment. Cevallos’s remarks before our University Senate echoed a statement he released in October 2012 in order to explain another $3 million shortfall:
This fall semester, Kutztown University is facing a problem of serious magnitude. For the second straight year, the university has experienced a drop in enrollment.
Almost 300 students have made the decision not to come back to KU to continue their education for this fall semester. While we realize many of our sister institutions and private universities within our region are facing the same situation, the drop we are experiencing this year is much larger than we have had in the past.
Upon learning of this, we immediately identified the students and called them to determine their status and/or reasons for not returning. Although we are still evaluating the information we have gathered, it is evident that we need to become more effective at retaining our students.
As I stated at our opening day gathering, each student we lose seriously impacts our budget. With only 20 percent of funding coming from the commonwealth, and with our operating budget based on our year-to-year enrollment, the student body is our lifeblood.
As a result of this enrollment loss, we face a shortfall of $3 million on top of the reductions we have already made. I have decided to cover this gap with carry over funds on a one time basis to meet the deficit in the current year. Although this is only a temporary solution, it will provide us with time to thoughtfully consider base budget reductions, beginning next year, in the context of our mission.
I want to stress the importance of our role in student retention. We all need to go above and beyond to assist our students in persisting and graduating from KU. It is crucial to the future of our university and the region.
I urge you all to put our students first, and do whatever you can to make KU a place they will take great pride in. It is really going to take each and every one of us to help KU overcome this challenge in the future.
Ever since the attacks on public sector unions, working families, and public education in Wisconsin that began just over two years ago, my own writing has changed. It’s become less…well, “academic.” I find myself more interested in plowing through company SEC filings on Lexis-Nexis than some of the newest scholarship in my field. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking scholarship…there are days I wish I could carve out several hours to peruse the latest journals in my field of rhetoric and composition. Right now it just feels like the relentless attacks against education and the public sphere more broadly, is an exigence I cannot ignore. That’s one of the good things about being a rhetorician, I guess. There are times when you actually have to practice being a rhetor.
I posted a version of this piece earlier today on Raging Chicken Press, but very much wanted to engage in this space as well. There is something that I want to say here that is not quite fleshed out. Something about the kind of research into our own institutions that seems absolutely critical now. I will have to return to that which I do not articulate.
Today feels like a milestone for faculty in Pennsylvania, especially faculty in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, or PASSHE. Here’s why.
It’s been a little over two weeks since Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett delivered his annual budget address. Corbett’s office signaled in advance that his proposed 2013-2014 budget would not be as draconian as the previous two. I think it would be fair to say that the governor would have to work extraordinarily hard to try to top the devastation he’s wrought since taking office in 2011.
Gov. Cut, Gut, and Punish Arrives in Harrisburg
Corbett’s first budget proposal in 2011 sought a 50% cut in public higher education funding and close to a $2 billion reduction for K-12 schools. In the end, Corbett didn’t get to cut as deep as he wanted, but he got his cuts thanks to Republican control of all three branches of state government. The PA
Chart from PSEA | psea.org
legislature may have balked at Corbett’s initial numbers, but they had little problem passing, in the words of Rick Smith, a “cut, gut, and punish” budget that targeted schools, general assistance programs, and health care support for low-income working families. But the biggest target was clearly education.