In one of my recent reviews of recent news items on higher education [https://academeblog.org/2015/10/23/u-s-higher-education-news-from-september-29-2015/], I opened with an item on the elimination of continuing contracts for faculty at Florida State College.
Now the member of the college’s board of trustees who initiated that change of policy has been emboldened to advance a proposal that faculty bid on their annual contracts so that the college can keep instructional costs as low as possible. The proposed policy might have applied only to applicants for open positions, but the elimination of any job security means that all faculty might easily be asked to submit such a salary bid as a precondition of their being considered for a renewal of their contracts.
Writing for Inside Higher Ed, Colleen Flaherty has reported on this newest proposal at the college. Her article opens with these paragraphs:
“Putting a project out to bid is typically part of the public works process, since competitive bids tend to drive down the price and ensure fair opportunity for contracts. But should that process be applied to faculty hiring in public higher education? A member of the Board of Trustees for the State College of Florida at Manatee-Sarasota thinks so, and he’s set to brief the board on his proposal at an upcoming meeting. Even without details, the idea is causing already beleaguered faculty and staff members to shake their heads.
“Most ‘everybody sees that as a very bizarre way to take applications for staff and faculty positions in education–imagine the single mother with three kids trying to underbid the married lady with no kids and a husband who has a good job,’ said Robyn Bell, an assistant professor of music and president of State College’s Faculty Senate. ‘The single mother never has a chance.’”
The trustee advancing these proposals is Carlos Beruff, a trustee since 2008 who owns a local home construction business.
According to Flaherty, “Beruff argued that any competitive disadvantage could be countered by offering merit pay or bonuses to high performers, and said that the U.S. was ‘based on the freedom of work.’”
At the end of the article, Flaherty quotes Greg Scholtz, director of tenure, academic freedom and governance forAAUP:
“’This is definitely novel,’ he said. ‘It’s also repugnant, and not just because it is degrading to faculty members. Even worse is its effect on students. A board should want to hire the best teachers it can afford. . . . This proposal is not about the best it can afford, but the cheapest it can buy. Unfortunately, in education as in everything else, you tend to get what you pay for.’”
And that last phrase, “you get what you pay for” provided the title of Flaherty’s article.
The complete article is available at: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/10/30/florida-community-college-consider-salary-bids-potential-faculty-members?utm