AAUP Truman State University Chapter
Minutes for Friday, December 3, 2010 at 4pm, University Club
Attendance: Bonnie Mitchell, James Harmon, David Robinson, Wolfgang Hoeschele, Betty McLane-Iles, Elaine McDuff, Monica Barron, Taner Edis, Dianne Johnson, Janice Grow, Martha Bartter, Andy Hilgartner, Sylvia Macauley, Troy Paino.
- Next AAUP meeting Fri Feb 4 at 4:30
- Next faculty brownbag lunch scheduled for Feb 16 at 12:30 in SUB Spanish Room on faculty relationship with the press. Heidi Templeton will discuss faculty relations with the press.
- Last month’s brownbag lunch discussion (Bill from Sodexo to Treasurer). We had an interesting discussion, about seven people present (slightly more than the first time!).
- Meeting with Provost Coughlin: emailing issues should be resolved soon via Gwen, so that we can email announcements directly to all the faculty rather than via department secretaries.
Old Business (completed before 4:30 pm):
- AAUP Resolution on benefits for domestic partners
- Additional suggestions? It was suggested, and approved, that there should be an additional “whereas” phrase pointing out the measures the university has already taken to be more inclusive of domestic partners (additional ID card goes to a “designated guest” who does not have to be a spouse, for library and rec center use).
- Going to Dept of Society & Environment on Mon Dec 6; then to Faculty Senate
- AAUP Banner Design
- Choose from mock-ups, a design was selected with some modifications; it features the AAUP logo on the left, a curve in the background with purple below the curve and white above, and text “Academic Freedom for a Free Society” at the top right and “Truman State University” at the center-right.
New Business (4:30-5:30):
- Dr. Paino responded to our request from last May to take action to allow domestic partners to buy in to current Truman insurance, and attended this meeting to discuss the matter.
Paino: While I am supportive of domestic benefits, I have to be sensitive to the larger political environment in which we work. If Truman went it alone on this issue, there might be retribution down in Jefferson City. At a time when our funding formula is being re-examined and our mission is under intense scrutiny, I feel I cannot risk that. While I cannot speak for our BOG, I imagine they too would have difficulty with this.
In terms of strategy, I think it best if we were a part of a larger initiative that included all of the other public universities. While Gary Forsee publicly stated his support for domestic benefits, he said he would not want to deal with it now because of the additional costs. My concern is
more political than financial. Leading the charge on a controversial issue like this would make us very vulnerable in Jefferson City.
Mitchell: Does the Board need to be involved in this decision? Can you do it as just an administrative thing?
Robinson: It may not cost anything.
Paino: Even if I could make a change in our benefits package without BOG approval, I would not want to do that. I would want to be forthright and principled. Besides, the Board and legislators would undoubtedly find out about it and be very upset. Regardless of how I feel personally about this issue, I need to do what is in the best interest of the entire University. We need to think about possible consequences and be cautious, especially after the November 3rd election.
Mitchell: (Cites an executive order of the Governor regarding equal treatment of state employees.) Is there a relationship between the Governor’s executive order and our policy – are we state employees?
Paino: Yes, all but a few people working at the university are state employees.
Mitchell: Can you make a decision by administrative fiat?
Paino: I’m not sure and I’ll find out. However, as I said earlier, the Board would find out and doing so would probably cost me my job. Feelings on this issue are very intense.
Mitchell: What about the fact that the majority of COPLAC institutions have domestic partner benefits? Is it a persuasive argument that we should be in sync?
Paino: The Board would not care whether or not other COPLAC institutions have domestic partner benefits. Although the Board is not monolithic and opinions on this issue will vary, I am quite confident that the majority would not be supportive. Will this always be the case? The Board is constantly in a state of flux and there will be changes to its composition in the near future. For example, two board members’ terms expire at the end of this year. I have no idea if the Governor will nominate new members in the near future or not.
Robinson: I understand that you don’t want to ruffle feathers unnecessarily, but also, you won’t ever be able to please them all. It’s never too soon to do the right thing. It’s getting a bit embarrassing by now, how little is being done here. Diversity at this campus is suffering, and the non-discrimination policy is a horror. Foreign students have complained of being under attack by evangelical Christians. This kind of thing makes it impossible for me to say nice things about this university.
Grow: Somebody needs to take leadership of working with other universities. What would students and parents think about a president who takes the lead? (Tells a story about young missionary Mormons who turned out to be accepting of gay marriage.) The young people of today (and that includes students’ parents) are much more accepting of this, and I think it could be an advantage for recruiting if you take the lead.
Robinson: Are you saying that we should not make a fuss about this and keep quiet?
Paino: No. You can be pro-active, and I won’t stop you. I’m a social historian and would never ask you not to bring this up, or to mobilize forces, appeal to the Board, and so forth – I’d never discourage you from that.
One thing that’s not done as effectively in Missouri as in Minnesota , where they worked in unison for change, got to work from all angles. Ignoring the political reality is going to work against the cause. I do take what you said to heart, and want to do what’s right by the university. There’s no roadmap as to what’s right, and I try to be a good leader, be persuasive, and not do any damage. I’ll make calls to presidents of other universities and see where they are. Working together with them would serve two purposes – one is to convey a strong, clear message, and the other is to protect all the universities from retribution. They are all concerned about their budgets, and the inability to offer raises; for open-access schools the situation now is especially difficult, so it’s a challenging time to be aggressive, especially considering the recent elections.
Edis: If we’re expecting to have support from the younger generation – might we approach this as an educational thing, invite speakers, have a debate?
Mitchell: If we want to build community around this, can we draw the Board into this, and talk to them?
Some discussion followed about whether it’s useful to take advantage of the tradition that members of the university community can request 5 minutes to speak to the Board at their meeting. This discussion ended inconclusively.
There was also some discussion about the recently elected politicians from our district, Wyatt and Munzlinger.
Robinson: How are we doing in terms of collaboration with other institutions, which is something that the Governor has called for?
Paino: We need to do something collaborative – in a recent report about such projects, Truman was never mentioned. Our distinctiveness, that results from our unique mission in the state, is both a strength and a weakness. It means that there is less redundancy between our programs and those of other universities (which have added new programs that are very similar to each other), and that is rewarded. But then it is also more difficult to find opportunities for collaboration, as are called for now.
Robinson: Often, it can take more effort to find ways to collaborate.
Mitchell: Can you tell us what you think the AAUP should be aware of.
Paino: The academy is under siege in many respects – many things may be gone in 5 or 10 years, and our ability to attract the best and the brightest may be compromised. I recently learned that Apple is getting into the higher ed game, creating courses and offering them like i-tunes. This is a cause for concern. We need to re-invigorate ourselves, so that people are ready to pay for our services. The legislatures of various states may see Apple as the market solution, as a cheap version of higher education, of college, allowing them to defund higher education. I’m worried about this for the next decade.
Robinson: (Discussed need for a new provost who can be a strong leader).
Paino: We are moving forward about the provost search. In many ways we need to be more pro-active; I’m concerned that some students graduate from this institution without being able to say what the liberal arts and science are.