AAUP Truman Chapter Meeting Minutes, November 13, 2012
Attendance: James Harmon, Wolfgang Hoeschele, Betty McLane-Iles, Marc Rice, David Robinson.
1. Minutes of October meeting were approved.
2. Discussion about October AAUP meeting with Provost Joan Poor
Several people expressed satisfaction with how the AAUP meeting with Provost Poor had gone, and how she listened to our concerns. Betty McLane-Iles noted her offer of a solution that would help French classes to be offered in the summer, and David Robinson noted that the presence of a new administrator might allow a new look, to make things possible that hadn’t seemed possible before. He suggested follow-up to her visit, as in attending at the coffee events which have been announced (though apparently not many people came), or at the President’s Christmas invitation at his house at the end of the semester, or having a follow-up visit of a few of us. It was suggested that chapter president Marc Becker (along with a few others, such as Marc Rice) schedule a follow-up meeting with her. One of the points to follow up on is her thoughts regarding contingent faculty, where she had listened to our concerns about faculty who are contingent even though their work is clearly needed on a long-term basis, but had not offered her own assessment of this situation.
James Harmon suggested that, in order to allow change without exploiting temporary faculty, we might have something similar to visiting artists in fine arts – these are positions which are considered very good for the artists, while also providing exposure of students to new people on a regular basis.
David Robinson suggested that we assure Provost Poor that we want to help her with her plans. A problem is that too much is currently in limbo regarding staffing and the like, and we can help in addressing such issues.
3. Regional ASC-AAUP workshops in Kansas City (October 20) and St. Louis (November 10)
David Robinson was in Kansas City, where state AAUP leaders met together with those from Kansas. MO-AAUP will try to get Kansas people to the next MO-AAUP annual meeting, also scheduled for Kansas City, on February 16. Truman chapter should plan to send a couple delegates.
David Robinson, Kathryn Brammall, and Betty McLane-Iles all attended the full-day workshop at Washington University St. Louis. Around 50 people there from all over the state heard presentations from officers of the Assembly of State Conferences (ASC) and by the newly elected AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum and the chair of the Collective Bargaining Congress (CBC-AAUP), Howard Bunsis. These were well-rehearsed presentations that they have done elsewhere as well, though they used specific data for Missouri.
They presented some astonishing figures and graphs. Money available at universities is remarkably stable, considering what we have been told; none of the Missouri schools have faced any real financial crisis; and Truman’s reserves are huge compared to other schools its size. Administrative costs have increased very rapidly while instructional budgets have remained flat. The increases in administrative costs at Truman exceeded all other state schools during the 2005-10 period (even if it started from a relatively low base); this may be because of substantial increases in salaries for Provost and President and the “double paying” of both positions during erratic transitions (Dixon-Krueger-Paino), as well as the sudden “equity raises” for certain administrators during the Krueger-Paino transition, when faculty salaries and hiring were frozen. These data are based on state and national data that non-profits (including universities) are required to make public. See http://www.dhe.mo.gov/data/statsum/ and http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
Admitting more students has generally led to increases in revenue (from tuition payments and from federal loans), but these increased revenues have mainly gone into administration rather than instruction. Endowments of universities are doing very well, in spite of recent financial crises. Reserves at the Missouri universities have always been way above the minimum required for cash-flow and the preservation of good bond status.
All this means we shouldn’t just believe the figures (especially the interpretations of them) that the administration presents us, and we should certainly not accept the idea that the faculty should sacrifice further to save money by, for example, not using travel budgets – what we use in travel budgets is peanuts compared to what the administration has been receiving and spending, and they seem to recognize no limits for their own projects.
Besides the data-mining of Fichtenbaum and Bunsis, there were other presentations—for example, about financial exigency (fiction!) and program closings (which FACULTY should initiate and control), and about how faculty can interact more effectively with their governing boards. One good idea is to invite Board of Governors members to AAUP-sponsored events (especially informal receptions) or help arrange other events where faculty can talk with them. Those contacts could be followed up with invitations to departments, so that Board members could develop better understanding of the actual work and achievements of the university. It is tragic that, in many systems, the boards and faculty have been made into enemy camps (who is responsible for that?), when in fact they all really want what is best for the university and its students.
4. Collective Bargaining and other negotiations
The question was raised whether we can do collective bargaining at Truman. David Robinson explained that, since a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling, collective bargaining is theoretically legal at our state universities, but enabling legislation to require the necessary elections, etc., hasn’t been passed and is not likely to come out of our state legislature, which currently is unfriendly to public-employee unions (an understatement).
Marc Rice expressed frustration that there is never any faculty input on salaries, that there is no chance of any influence on Board decisions. Can we do something that is more informal than collective bargaining? David Robinson suggested that we publicize budget figures to show what is possible. These can also show the problem of salary compression – where recent hires, at least in some competitive disciplines (e.g., sciences), receive initial salaries that are almost as high as colleagues who have been at the institution for a long time. The retiring president of Lincoln University gained a great deal of support from her faculty when she arrived several years ago, by using AAUP advice for her salary study and consequent adjustments. Some salaries were especially out of line, and as a result some people got substantial raises, and nearly everyone seemed pleased that past inequities had been alleviated. We can also talk to the Missouri National Education Association (MNEA) about the general issues surrounding negotiations in educational systems.
4. MAFS meeting in Jefferson City (October 8-9)
Kathryn Brammall, David Robinson, James Guffey, and Candy Young all attended this meeting from Truman. The MAFS is trying to influence legislators to increase higher education funding, but now some influential moderate legislators have joined the Governor’s effort to use “performance-based funding” of some sort. A joint legislative committee has been holding hearings on education around the state (President Paino testified at one already). David Robinson is not expecting the outgoing or next legislature to do much that is different, even though state revenues are up recently and unemployment is down (substantially below the US average).
MAFS also addressed concerns that some wealthy universities such as Harvard are developing and offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Our universities are likely to be pressured to use these free (?) resources, as our own teaching assets continue to decline. In the future, state university faculty may be reduced to examining/credential boards, evaluating what our students are doing with these fabulous online materials. That is assuming that university faculty are still needed even for that function.