Report on Fall Action Meeting, Sept 20

Thanks all for a great first meeting of the semester. Barely enough chairs! we will get a bigger room next time. In case you missed it, we covered:

– The budget crisis the library is facing because of significant cutbacks and fast-rising costs
– More generally, RCM budgeting’s harsh treatment of units that don’t generate income, including the graduate school, which has cut back graduate student health insurance, among other things)
– Report from the AAUP Summer Institute, which treasurer Amber Franklin and member Theresa Kulbaga attended. Amber spoke about how faculty working conditions are student learning conditions, campaign strategies and power mapping, and making sure diversity is a real value and isn’t just given lip service. Theresa (in absentia) sent in a report on the overuse of ad-hoc appointed committees and how they undermine good shared governance practices.
– Potential shared-governance problem related to newly issued departmental governance guidelines
– STRS & ARP benefits and an upcoming class-action lawsuit (a lively and divided discussion ensued)
– Our upcoming meeting with new university president Greg Crawford
– Preparations for our annual fall budget presentation, coming up October 19, when we’ll focus on health benefits and administrative salaries. We also hope to discuss non-tenure-line faculty salaries.
– Other member concerns included a discussion of the problems with the new faculty dining facility. It’s good news that efforts are being made to provide faculty with a space, but the current Bell Tower location is not going to work because students have not stopped using it. A real dedicated space is still needed.
– Planning a public protest action (join our Facebook discussion group to hear more)

Next public meeting is October 19. See you there.

What we’re all about and how to tell your friends

Do you want to know more about the work our chapter does, or would you like to share information about the chapter with colleagues? We’ve now got a sweet little handout summarizing why we are here and what we do. Speak with any member or write us at miamiaaup@gmail.com to get copies of the below handout to distribute to colleagues.

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Fall Action Meeting & New Faculty Welcome

Come on out to our first meeting of the year, Wednesday, September 21 at 5:30pm in 46 Irvin. Meet the new chapter leadership, find out what’s simmering and help decide our priorities for the year.
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Latest news from Senate

Here are our latest reports from University Senate.

August 29, 2016 report
Highlights:
– President’s and Provost’s priorities for the year
– new faculty dining area in Belltower (there have been some issues with the space, but we hear that Belltower is working on making sure the area is available only to faculty and we look forward to using the space)
– Benefits Committee minutes regarding the Out-of-Network Out-of-Pocket no-maximum issue
– Provost’s report on salaries and the incoming class

September 12, 2016 report
– upcoming faculty survey, the plans for which are not progressing as our chapter had hoped
report from the new director of the Howe Center for Writing Excellence on goals and new initiatives — do check the Howe website as many opportunities for students and faculty are available there.
– a new Global Miami Plan Writing Committee will focus on the Advanced Writing Requirement (a welcome innovation, though a member noted that the new committee may not have been formed according to best shared governance practices)
– Senate voted on which Senate Committees they most wanted to hear reports from this year
– Faculty Assembly Committee has been disbanded because there is no formal role for the committee specified in university governance (hopefully not also because the last Faculty Assembly meeting was contentious). Faculty Assembly is an important venue for shared governance. We aren’t convinced Faculty Assembly Committee needed to decommissioned right now, as there are other committees in existence that are not standing committees. But there’s a shiny silver lining here: given the opportunity, Governance Committee can clarify Faculty Assembly’s role and determine the best way for its agenda to be set.

Budget debacle hurting students up the road

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Ahead of the terrible Wright State budget cuts, their AAUP Chapter gave some wise advice to the board that every board in the country (not to mention the US presidential candidates soon to debate one another at WSU) should hear:

“We are concerned about the opaque way in which the budgetary issues have been presented, starting with the fact that no one has been at all clear on exactly how large the needed budget cuts actually are. Likewise, we are concerned about the decision to address these issues at the very end of the academic year…

“We…recommended a fairly large number of alternatives to making substantial reductions to the instructional budgets of the colleges…The faculty senate’s budget priority committee’s…recommendations largely reinforce the AAUP’s recommendations…

“We believe that it is a self-defeating strategy to make reductions to the instructional budgets…

“If the increased allocations to public services, student services, and institutional support, all cost centers within the university, had been equivalent to the increases in instructional spending, the savings over the last 14 years would have amounted to $9.2 million. Moreover, beyond the $86.4 million in budget subsidy that has gone to intercollegiate athletics, over the same time period, intercollegiate athletics has had expenses in excess of revenues totaling $6.3 million with $4.3 million occurring since 2009…[T]he idea that making cuts to the instructional budgets of the colleges will somehow be less painful than reducing the allocations to the other cost centers seems a very skewed perspective…”

A full list of the chapter’s (excellent, and ignored) recommendations is here. The chapter has also submitted an open records request on WSU spending.

What’s happening at WSU is also happening in Illinois and elsewhere, the result of years of skewed priorities at both institutional and state levels. Let’s turn this ship around.

Miamians, you’re paying more than Ohio peers for health coverage

 

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Here’s our latest working paper—Part II in a series on Miami’s health plans. (The earlier paper focused on gaps in coverage, such as the fact that there’s no limit on out-of-network costs for Miami employees.) In this paper, you’ll find out that

  • Miami employees generally spend more on health insurance coverage than employees at other Ohio public universities and public employees in Ohio overall.
  • Miami employees pay a considerably larger share of the cost of health plan premiums than Ohio public employees overall and Ohio college/university employees.
  • For Miami employees earning $75,000/$125,000, the premiums under both of Miami’s health plans are uniformly the highest. Employees at these salary levels pay hundreds of dollars more per year for individual coverage under both plans and thousands more for family coverage than employees at peer institutions.

Miami employees, generally changes in our benefits (usually reductions, these days) are announced over the summer. Watch your email.

“A very good business opportunity”: the Ohio higher-ed giveaway

An ITT Technical Institute for-profit college location in Chantilly, Virginia on July 6, 2014. Photo Credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar/ Sipa USA
An ITT Technical Institute for-profit college location in Virginia. Photo Credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar/ Sipa USA

This is a complicated story but it’s important if you care about higher education in Ohio and higher-ed trends across the US. University of Akron’s President Scarborough had/has a bold plan to expand the university into satellite campusus—some outside the state—by taking over ITT Tech (the for-profit failure). How would he run them? By outsourcing the work and slapping the U of Akron name on the label.

Now it looks like the outsourcing plan involves a contract with Pearson (just as Ohio public schools abandon Pearson’s crazy-expensive and unpopular PARCC tests after only one year) and that state players at the highest levels—Kasich’s office, Ohio Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger, President of the State Senate Keith Faber, Attorney General Michael DeWine, John Minor who heads up Jobs Ohio, Senators Portman and Brown and Akron’s Congressman Ryan—consulted in the “transaction.” Vinny Gupta, head of the Ohio Board of Regents, “referred to the deal as ‘a very good business opportunity for all the partners at the table.'”

Kasich and these other politicians supported a deal in which Akron, a school in scary decline after huge cuts by its new president, would invest in a sketchy business proposition to take over failing for-profit campuses. And Kasich appoints the members of all Ohio universities’ boards of trustees.

 

It’s the end of our first year!

We got a ton done this year. Thank you all for your support. It’s made our work possible. Check out the list of achievements in the Miami Student article “A Year in Review: AAUP Celebrates Accomplishments, Sets Goals.”* Among other things, we’ve successfully pushed for more budget transparency, strongly influenced the position profile used to hire our new president, drawn local and national attention to the problematically secretive nature of Miami’s presidential search, and raised awareness about problems with our health benefits (such as the fact that there’s no cap on out-of-network expenses), and much more.

We have a lot more to do.

In addition to “continuing to pressure administration to emphasize the core mission of the university — education and research,” we aim “to hold regular conferences with the president and provost, collect information on upper administration salary trends, investigate service norms on campus and develop a plan for responding to increased teaching loads on individual faculty members.”

There are some important goals not covered in the article:

  • We will continue working to support contingent faculty and lecturers. The AAUP member of Senate Executive Committee (Cathy Wagner) worked with the Faculty Welfare Committee chair and supported efforts to create a third promotion tier for LCPL faculty; also, we believe pressure from us has played a role in raises recently given to per-credit-hour and VAP faculty.
  • We will keep working to support diversity and the needs of underrepresented faculty. Yvette Harris (chair of Senate Executive Committee) and Cathy Wagner, Executive Committee Member-at-Large, proposed an investigation of bias in student evaluations (well-documented elsewhere but not at Miami). That initiative didn’t make it through Senate Exec, sadly, but AAUP membership on Senate will continue to push for it. Also, through the Faculty Morale Survey, which AAUP proposed and which will happen next year, we are seeking attention to unfair service loads for minority faculty.

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT! Please re-up your memberships and keep the faculty conversation going. We are making a difference but we need your continued support to keep it up. Join or rejoin now.

 

*We would like to correct something in the excellent Student article about our work this year. AAUP members in Senate did push for discussion of budgeting decisions and priorities, but it was Provost Callahan and Dr Creamer—not AAUP members—who gave presentations on the budget in response. Those presentations were a positive sign and we are grateful for the administration’s efforts. We have more questions on budgeting priorities and will continue to press for explanations and responses.

 

Now available: Provost’s presentation on AAUP budget questions

So that our chapter membership and others will have easy access to it, we’re posting Provost Callahan’s April 11 Senate presentation on the AAUP budget questions here. We look forward to your comments and questions about the information on the slides and what still needs to be answered. Our first quick take on the questions is here.

Update: here is the May 5, 2016 final version of the slides Provost Callahan presented, accompanied by her narrative report. Note that some of the information and slides that appeared in the earlier version are not included here (the slides on credit hours taught per rank, for example).

Response to AAUP Budget Questions

At yesterday’s Senate meeting, Provost Callahan responded to AAUP’s budget questions (which were originally asked at the October budget meeting of University Senate). We will be able to share her presentation when the Senate minutes are published [it is now available and archived on this site here]. Her presentation was chock-full of information and we are very grateful for the amount of work she and the Office of Institutional Research put into gathering and presenting the data. The numbers on the decline in tenure-line faculty and the compensating hiring of contingent faculty align with our numbers. Some data that has been hard to get hold of was revealed; for instance, there were slides on the number of credit hours taught by faculty at each rank, important information that helps us see to what degree the university relies on contingent labor. Questions remain. Some—big questions about spending priorities and how they are affecting Miami’s educational mission—have been forwarded to Cody Powell/Campus Planning, Fiscal Priorities Committee, the Athletics Director and the Board of Trustees, and we hope to hear more soon.

A few specific points:
(1) I am not sure our question about benefits cost-shifting was answered; instead, Miami’s benefit rate was reported as being the highest among Ohio public doctoral institutions. I don’t know how to evaluate this point and its relationship to the issues in the previous post on this website. I will look forward to discussing it at the AAUP Lunchtime Chat on Health Plans on April 22. [Read a helpful comment on the benefit rate issue below.]
(2) Business faculty raises are far higher than in other units, not only by amount but by percentage, and I was curious about whether FSB raises come from the same pool as raises at the rest of the university—anyone know?
(3) Our chapter’s assertion that the university spends only 1/4 of the overall budget on instruction was questioned, and the provost showed us a pie-chart allotting 37% to instruction. I clarified that instructional salaries and benefits account for 26.3% of MU expenses and asked what else she was including in the instructional expense category. She said she did not know but would find out.

Gratitude to the University Senate for voting to get these questions answered and again to the Provost for her efforts. Our chapter will continue to work to make university finances more transparent.