Contingent faculty groups forming at MU

Full-time employees on annual contracts, 2005–2014
Full-time employees on annual contracts, 2005–2014 (more data here)

Precarious careers are more and more common in academe. At Miami, rising enrollments and austere hiring policies have led to an extraordinary ballooning in the number of non-tenure-line faculty, especially VAPs, over the last ten years—a rise of 108%, according to data Miami reported to the federal government (180% if you count only faculty on one-year contracts). Given its solid financial condition, Miami could and should become a leader in reversing the trend toward unethical exploitation of academic workers.

To encourage better conditions, Miami’s precarious faculty need to have a voice. But because they are at higher risk than other faculty, they may feel uncomfortable raising their voices. Miami’s AAUP chapter would like to support contingent faculty, to learn about what issues are most important to them, and, on occasions when it would be useful and welcome to them, to advise and to share their concerns with the community and the administration.

The AAUP chapter has started an email discussion list in which contingent faculty can discuss issues relevant to them and share information. Miami VAPs, VIs, per-credit-hour faculty, and lecturers are all welcome to join.

VAPs on campus are also starting an AAUP Contingent Faculty Caucus, a discussion and advocacy group open to all ranks of contingent faculty.

These groups are autonomous, organized by and for their members. AAUP chapter leadership will not moderate, direct, or oversee them. Assistance and advice will be available if requested.

If you’re interested in participating in the email discussion list or the Contingent Caucus, visit the email discussion list page or write miamiaaup@gmail.com.

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What’s Miami spending the most on?

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Our chapter has begun commissioning a series of working papers on the state of Miami. The first, on Miami University Economic and Financial Trends, is by economics professor James Brock. The trends are worth noting.

As a comparison, bear in mind that the Consumer Price Index rose by 48% in the last ten years. Meanwhile, at Miami:

  • Total costs in the President’s, CAS Dean’s, and FSB Dean’s offices were rising much faster: 100%, 367%, and 300% respectively.
  • Total faculty numbers increased by 10% over 10 years, but administrative employees grew by 68%.
  • Over the same period, tenure-track faculty as a percentage of total faculty declined by 10%.
  • Intercollegiate Athletics spending went up by 73%.
  • Miami is paying 600% more interest on its debts than it was ten years ago.

How can Miami stay stable and sustainable if these trends continue? There’s much more at the link.

Many thanks to Professor Brock for gathering the data.

*Note: The original version of this post said that “salary costs” in several upper administrative offices were rising much faster than the Consumer Price Index. We have corrected the error at the request of Professor Brock.

Miami’s Presidential Finalist: Statement

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Yesterday, Miami’s AAUP Advocacy chapter released this statement on Miami’s presidential search and the just-announced finalist, Gregory Crawford:

The Executive Committee of the Miami University AAUP Advocacy Chapter has worked to promote the hiring of a new president who would commit to a set of objectives. As enunciated last August and approved by the membership, here are those objectives. The new president of Miami should:

  1. Provide intellectual and ethical leadership;
  2. Reaffirm the university’s primary financial and ethical commitment to its core mission: providing the highest quality education for our students;
  3. Increase transparency and improve institutions of shared governance;
  4. Help Miami compete economically to hire and retain top faculty, increase diversity of faculty, and develop better support structures for underrepresented faculty and students;
  5. Pledge to minimize the use of non-tenured and part-time faculty and improve conditions and pay for all contingent faculty, whether full-time or adjunct;
  6. Increase the award of merit scholarships; and
  7. Reaffirm the university’s commitment to excellent faculty research and superior graduate programs in order to support the production of knowledge, permit Miami to attract and retain top faculty, and give our students access to the latest developments in the field.

Our chapter also asked the Board of Trustees to live up to the principle of shared governance and transparency by bringing to campus at least the final two candidates. They have neither provided for a transparent process nor decided to bring the top two finalists to campus. Despite the lack of transparency and consultation surrounding his appointment, we nonetheless look forward to working with the new president to promote the educational ideals we share.

At the same time, we are very grateful to the two faculty members endorsed by the AAUP, Dr. Linda Marchant and Dr. Ann Rypstra, for agreeing to serve on the presidential search committee and for upholding the principles laid out above; and we are very pleased to see that the finalist is a distinguished academic with deep research and administrative credentials.

The person identified by the Board of Trustees as the finalist, Dr. Gregory Crawford, Associate Provost at Notre Dame, will be on campus next week to meet with many individuals and groups. Click here to view Dr. Crawford’s CV. Faculty and Open Forums are scheduled as follows:

  • Faculty forum: Monday, Feb.15th, 3:30 p.m., Oxford campus, Armstrong Student Center’s Wilks Theater
  • Open forum: Tuesday, Feb. 16th 9:45 a.m. Hamilton campus, Wilks Conference Center, rooms A & B
  • Open forum: Tuesday, Feb. 16, 1:00 p.m. Middletown campus, Johnston Hall, Knoll Community Center, room 142
  • Open forum: Wednesday, Feb. 17th, 9:45 a.m., Oxford campus, Armstrong Student Center’s Wilks Theater

We encourage faculty to attend these fora with Dr. Crawford and to provide feedback. We would request that you provide email feedback jointly to Dr. Ted Pickerill at pickerto@miamioh.edu and to AAUP at miamiaaup@gmail.com. We will not publish or use any of the individual comments, but will publish a collective sense of the responses.

Karen Dawisha, Co-President
Keith Tuma, Co-President
Cathy Wagner, Vice-President
Deborah Lyons, Secretary and Membership
Matthew Gordon, Treasurer
Ann Elizabeth Armstrong, Chair, Advisory Council

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