THE FACULTY ADVOCATE

NEWSLETTER OF THE UMKC CHAPTER OF THE
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS

September, 2000                                    Editor: Patricia Brodsky                                  Vol. 1, No. 1


CONTENTS

What is the American Association of University Professors and What are its Purposes?,
by Stuart McAninch

First Chapter Meeting of the School Year

What Do You Care About? This is What We've Discovered, by Pat Brodsky

Reconstitution of the UMKC Chapter: Identification of Issues and Priorities for the Chapter Begins, by Stuart McAninch

2000 Kent State Institute: Strategies and Memories, by Pat Brodsky

Report on Workshops, 2000 AAUP Summer Institute, by David Brodsky

Specific functions being planned by the AAUP chapter

Dues Information
 


What is the American Association of University Professors and What are its Purposes?

by Stuart McAninch

        The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is a professional organization of teachers in higher education which was founded in 1915. It represents both tenure-line and non-tenure-line faculty. The AAUP has since its founding particularly emphasized protection of the rights and freedoms of individual faculty members and protection of a significant role for faculty in institutional governance. It does this through the development of standards in areas such as academic freedom, tenure, and involvement of faculty in institutional governance. The AAUP works with other professional organizations and through negotiations with administrations and governing boards for institutions of higher education to translate these standards into institutional policy. On occasion, the standards have also been used in litigation to support faculty rights, as a basis for sanctions against institutions violating faculty rights, and as a basis for lobbying state legislatures on matters of interest to faculty. Moreover, the AAUP engages in research in areas of concern to faculty like faculty salaries, trends in the stratification of faculties into tenure-line and non-tenure-line positions, and the impact of technology on teaching, and it serves as a source of information for chapters and for individual faculty members. In some institutions, the AAUP serves as collective bargaining agent for faculty.

        At the national level, the AAUP consists of a paid national staff centered in Washington, D.C., national officers, a Council (consisting of the national officers and other elected representatives), an annual meeting of the Association, an Assembly of State Conferences, a Collective Bargaining Congress, and a number of national committees, probably the most prominent being Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure. At the state level, the AAUP is organized into state conferences which coordinate chapter activities and lobbying on matters of common concern. In Missouri, for instance, a primary concern of the state conference is to secure faculty representation on governing boards for public institutions of higher education.

        At the level of individual institutions of higher education, the AAUP is organized into chapters. At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the chapter reconstituted itself earlier this year after being inactive since the early 1990s. The chapter at UMKC, like other chapters, is concerned with protection of faculty rights and academic freedom and with ensuring an active role for faculty in decision-making in the university and its various academic units. The most important tasks facing the chapter during the 2000-2001 school year are the identification and implementation of concrete strategies and chapter programs for pursuing these goals.


FIRST CHAPTER MEETING OF THE SCHOOL YEAR

Thursday, October 5, 3-5 PM in 307 Education (The Faculty and Staff Library).

Informal get-together to talk with fellow members. Refreshments. Brief agenda includes planning strategies and functions to address faculty concerns. Prospective members welcome.


What Do You Care About? This is What We've Discovered

by Pat Brodsky

        The AAUP-UMKC represents all levels and categories of faculty, campus-wide. As a body specifically constituted to protect faculty interests, we need to know what our colleagues consider most in need of immediate investigation and action. Thus the first act of the new Chapter was to solicit ideas from the faculty. We held an open meeting on April 12, at which a number of issues were raised. In addition subsequent conversations, face to face, by phone and by e-mail, have helped to produce a lengthy list of problems and concerns. We are publishing a somewhat condensed version below, in the order they came up; details and variations have been left off for reasons of space, but we'd be glad to talk to you about specifics. All readers are invited to add to or comment on this list. We especially want to hear from anyone who has ideas about SOLUTIONS to these problems, and who would like to work with us to implement them.

UMKC Faculty Concerns

1. Erosion of trust between faculty and administration.

2. Arrogant and counter-productive "top-down" administrative process.

3. Seizure of faculty functions and prerogatives by administration.

4. Administrative failure to make creative use of vast body of collective expertise among faculty, and to outright ignore informed advice.

5. Shortcircuiting of information flow, circumventing faculty governing bodies and effectively preventing faculty participation in decision-making.

6. Opaque and secretive budget processes; lack of accountability to the faculty.

7. Flawed and inequitable space allocation and utilization decisions; lack of serious consultation with faculty who expect to use the facilities under discussion.

8. Interference in curriculum and teaching process, including imposition of specific teaching methodologies and inappropriate subject matter.

9. Corporatization of the University, including attempted debasement of the tradition of liberal education, via increasing emphasis on vocational and (pre)professional education.

10. Supremacy of the "bottom line" as administration micromanages departmental life, while large amounts of money are committed to projects of dubious value.

11. Faculty frequently denied meaningful participation in hiring process at all levels. Hiring decisions made on spurious criteria--financial, ideological, personal or other--instead of what is best for the process of education.

12. Far-reaching decisions concerning technology, whether centralized computing systems or the "virtual university," are made without significant faculty participation.

13. Conviction, despite administration assurances to the contrary, that post-tenure review will be used punitively.

14. Lack of confidence in established campus procedures, including evaluations of deans, promotion and salary decisions, and faculty grievance procedure.

15. Multiple dissatisfactions with salaries: UMKC's are generally below national average for peer institutions; insulting recent "raises;" salary compression; failure of the administration to take seriously problems of equity.

16. Cases of favoritism, whether toward individuals or units on campus.

17. Threats to academic freedom.

18. Arrogant and short-sighted University treatment of neighborhood/community.

19. Top-down decisions about physical plant and campus expansion.

20. Concern for students' welfare: rising tuition, parking problems, unfriendly bureaucracies.


Reconstitution of the UMKC Chapter: Identification of Issues and Priorities for the Chapter Begins

by Stuart McAninch

        At UMKC, the AAUP chapter reconstituted itself earlier this year after being inactive since the early 1990s. At an organizational meeting on February 4, members ratified bylaws and established a procedure for election of officers. In the subsequent elections, an executive committee consisting of the following officers was selected:

* President: Stuart McAninch (Education)
* Vice-President and Treasurer: Timothy Thomas (Chemistry)
* Secretary: Patricia Brodsky (Foreign Languages)
* Chair of the Membership Committee: Philip Olson (Sociology)
* Member At-Large: Susan Adler (Education)

        A second meeting was held on April 12 to identify issues to raise in a meeting between the executive committee and the chancellor and to guide chapter planning. The issues raised are identified in another article in this newletter ("What Do You Care About? This is What We've Discovered"). The meeting with the chancellor was held on May 2. Three general areas of concern were presented to her:

1) FACULTY INVOLVEMENT IN DECISION MAKING

Meaningful faculty involvement in decision-making at the unit and campus levels in such areas as hiring, space allocation, application of technology, budgets, and salaries. Timely access to information needed for meaningful faculty involvement in decision-making. Faculty control of curricula for academic programs. Determination of faculty representatives for important committees by faculty.

2) EVALUATION

Faculty input solicited and taken seriously in regular evaluations of deans. Evaluation of faculty within the current system of annual reviews of faculty activity rather than through imposition of a new system of "post-tenure review."

3) TRUST AND COMMUNICATION

(Being talked with; not talked at).

        In addition, members of the chapter attended the annual meeting of the Missouri state conference in St. Louis and the 2000 Kent State Institute (see below). Participation in these meetings provided an opportunity for networking and also an opportunity for us to gain a better understanding of the organization at the state and national levels.

        The 2000-2001 school year will prove to be an exceedingly important one for the chapter as it continues to work to identify issues and priorities and the strategies for addressing those issues of greatest concern. The chapter will need to address social relations between the various strata of faculty (tenure-line; full-time non-tenure-line; part-time; graduate assistant) and strengthen lines of communication and collaboration among those strata. It will need to establish committeess and procedures to support faculty rights and meaningful involvement in decision-making. Perhaps as important, it will need to provide the forums by which we can examine and--where necessary--positively change our own faculty culture.


2000 Kent State Institute: Strategies and Memories

by Pat Brodsky

        Each summer the American Association of University Professors sponsors a national institute, attended by representatives of local chapters and state conferences, as well as members of the AAUP national staff from Washington, D.C. The institute includes workshops on strategic skills, provides practical information as well as nuts-and-bolts advice about dealing with faculty issues, and creates a place where activists can talk about problems and share solutions. About 150 people from both non-union ("advocacy") chapters and collective bargaining units attended this year's institute, held for four days in late July on the campus of Kent State University in north-central Ohio.

        One- or two-day long workshops at Kent included The Effective Faculty Handbook, Higher Education Data and Research, Contract Negotiations, Contract and Grievance Administration, Chapter and Conference Management, Distance Education and Intellectual Property, Strategic Communications, and Part-Time and Non-Tenure Track Issues. In addition, there were seminars or "short courses" on such topics as the higher education NGO's, lobbying, recruitment, and the management of chapter business affairs and tax matters.

        I found the workshops on chapter management and strategic communications that I attended impressive: dynamic, well-thought-out, full of practical information and resources, and democratically structured to balance "expert" commentary with questions and suggestions from the participants. The former raised many useful ideas for galvanizing faculty efforts in their own defense; the discussion moved from researching issues to creative brainstorming about strategies. The latter workshop provided pragmatic information on a variety of forms of communication available to a chapter, from web-sites to newsletters to press releases. Finally, in a seminar on recruitment the convener employed role-playing to get us all into the mood for spreading the word. (Attention: we'll be coming to visit YOU soon!)

        Discussions naturally spilled out of the official sessions into coffee breaks and meals, as participants shared horror stories, strategies, and tales of victory. Several recurring motifs included concern about the loss of faculty control of curriculum and governance, academic freedom and job security, the encroachment of the business mentality and values into the academic setting, and the stress on numbers and the bottom line--all familiar and apparently universal problems.

        The strong sense of solidarity produced by the meetings was underscored in another key by the choice of venue for this year's meeting. Thirty years ago this year, in May 1970, at the height of the antiwar protests, national guardsmen at Kent State fired on a crowd of unarmed students, killing four and wounding nine others, in an act that escalated the official violence and shocked the nation. In 1990 the university erected a monument to the students. Atop a grassy hill stands a series of granite structures resembling giant coffins, surrounded by trees and ivy. In 1999 markers were installed in a nearby campus parking lot, locating the sites where the four students were killed. At the corners of each of four parking spots stand lanterns on cement columns, and set in the ground are bronze plaques with the name and dates of birth and death of each of the students.

        We were invited to think about these events when Kent State Professor Emeritus Jerry M. Lewis, a faculty marshal that day, spoke at lunch about his memories of May 4, 1970. From the discussions heard all weekend at Kent State, it is clear that the ethical responsibilities of the university community continue to be of major concern to AAUP members.


Report on Workshops, 2000 AAUP Summer Institute

by David Brodsky

        I participated in two well-attended workshops and a seminar, which provided a wealth of printed materials and website resources for further research. Running through all the sessions were the common thread and threat of the corporate seizure of higher education. Space restrictions preclude my treating complexities and nuances.

        The workshop, "Distance Education and Intellectual Property," dealt with related corporate strategies threatening educational quality and the very existence of the academic profession. Broadly defined, distance education is the geographical separation of teacher and student, the absence of face-to-face communication, or the physical absence of the teacher. It encompasses all technical media (computers, Internet, radio, TV, etc.) and applies to on- and off-campus instruction, credit and non-credit courses, live or pre-recorded instructional formats. While promising a worthwhile service to students who can't attend classes in person, in fact it is a Trojan Horse serving the interests of speculative investors rather than pedagogy, and is intended not to supplement but to replace traditional classroom instruction, and therefore the teacher as well.

        The windfall profits to be derived from distance education schemes depend on drastically reducing labor costs, by deprofessionalizing the workforce into contingent labor, by degrading teaching to the assembly line model, by abolishing traditional faculty control over and ownership of the curriculum, and by eliminating the institution of tenure, that is, job security and the academic freedom it protects. Debasing learning to information absorbed passively and in isolation robs students of their college experience. It stunts their critical thinking and other skills, their ability to evaluate information and its sources, and their moral, intellectual, and social development. In addition, it costs more than classroom instruction, requires more faculty time, and has a much higher student dropout rate than face-to-face classes.

        One of the takeover tools of corporatized distance education is intellectual property rights law (copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets). Intending to profit through exclusive licenses, universities in 1980 gained automatic ownership of patents on discoveries funded by federal grants, thus shutting out faculty and research staff. Now they are targeting faculty copyright ownership.

        The individual creator (or creators) of a course is regarded as the legal owner under federal copyright law, which likewise applies to the publication of research. But once faculty are "persuaded" or simply commanded to relinquish control over the curriculum and place their courses online, the electronic or virtual university claims ownership of courses for itself, typically on the grounds of supplying resources and institutional support. Copyright gives the owner exclusive rights to reproduce his works, to use them for derivative works, to disseminate them, and to perform and display them publicly. Once courses exist in recorded form (in hard memory for internet distribution, on audio- or videotape, etc.), the faculty creator becomes expendable and his job is terminated. The internet permits job outsourcing to any location, and some terminated faculty may be rehired as contingent labor "managing" online instruction, naturally minus the salary, benefits, status, job security, and academic freedom they once enjoyed.

        The workshop, "Part-Time and Non-Tenure Track Issues," revealed that contingent academic labor now approaches 60% or more of the total national teaching workforce (17% full-time non-tenure-track, 46% part-time, plus graduate teaching assistants). Its enormous growth over the past two decades is due primarily to the replacement of tenure-track positions with contingent ones. Many full-time non-tenured positions are temporary, while the average part-timer is a career academic with a terminal degree who can't find a full-time job and has worked over five years for the same employer.

        Full-time non-tenure-track faculty receive low but livable wages. But as insecure transient workers they lack the protections of academic freedom, and after holding several temporary positions and making long-distance moves, they often join the ranks of the part-timers.

        Part-timers are paid at exploitative levels, earning well less than half of full-time pay for comparable work. To survive they take two or more jobs, their time devoured by commuting. Part-time labor is not concentrated in marginal or ephemeral courses, it is responsible for teaching most of the core curriculum. For lack of time, opportunity, and incentive, part-timers rarely hold office hours, advise students, develop curriculum, serve on committees, have a voice in university governance, or enjoy the protections of academic freedom. Career advancement is unlikely, since part-timers almost never undergo rigorous peer evaluation and are discriminated against in hiring for full-time jobs.

        Overuse of contingent labor and under-staffing of regular positions degrades the professional life of all faculty as well as the education of students while increasing administrative costs and paperwork. Half of the students' instructors are rarely available for consultation outside of class, the shrinking regular faculty have to shoulder a heavier burden of non-instructional duties distributed over fewer individuals, and all faculty are cheated of precious research time. Downsizing the tenured faculty threatens everyone's academic freedom.

        The mass print and broadcast media, above all on the Web, are inundated with propaganda for corporatized distance education, while maintaining a low profile on exploited contingent labor. The seminar, "What They're Saying About Us: The 'Higher Ed Organizations' Take on the Faculty," exposed the right-wing and neo-liberal think tanks whose respectable facade and euphemistic language smooth the path for their agenda: corporatized distance education, the abolition of tenure, universal contingent labor, and command-style anti-collegial and anti-democratic university governance. Their opinion carries decisive weight in the mass media and with local, state, and federal government officials.

        The AAUP not only analyzes problems, it also proposes and works for solutions. Successful strategies discussed in the workshops and the seminar will appear in a later issue of The Faculty Advocate.


Specific functions being planned by the AAUP chapter include workshops and meetings on issues related to:

*Preparation for Tenure Review
*Gender and Higher Education
*The Grievance Procedure
*Concerns of Non-Tenure-Line Faculty


Dues Information

Local dues: $10 per academic year
        (all chapter dues paid during WS 2000 will be counted toward the 2000-2001 academic year).

Please send a check made out to UMKC/AAUP, and the the top tear-off sheet to:
        Tim Thomas, 525 Spencer Chemistry Building.

In order to be a member of the chapter, you also need to be a member of the national organization--see the membership form below.

National members: Be sure to join the UMKC chapter. We need your ideas, your involvement, and--yes--your dues, to support projects such as our chapter newsletter, "The Faculty Advocate."

Local members: if you haven't already done so, please send your chapter dues right away.

Name ______________________________________    Department or Unit ___________________________________

Date _______________________ Amount Enclosed __________________

For further information: Tim Thomas (235-2297, or thomastf@umkc.edu

===================================================================================

2000 Annual Membership Categories--National and Missouri Conference Dues

Full-Time $129 / Public Associate (primarily administrative) $98 / Entrant (Non-tenured faculty, new to the AAUP) $66
Part-Time; $34 / Graduate Student $10

This is _____ a new application or _____ an application for reinstatement.

Name __________________________________________________________________________________________
            Last                                                             First                                         Middle

Preferred Mailing Address _____ home _____ work

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________________________
City                                                     State             Zip

E-mail____________________ ________________ Daytime phone (______) _________________

Institution _______________________________________________________________________________________

Academic Field _________________________________________________________   Tenured _____ Yes _____ No

My check (payable to AAUP) is enclosed for $ _________

Please charge $ _________ to _____ VISA _____ Master Card

Card No. _______________________________ Exp. Date ____________

Signature ________________________________________________________________________________________

Return form and check to: AAUP, 1012 Fourteenth Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005-3465

aaup@aaup.org

http://www.aaup.org

Please feel free to photocopy this page



 

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 2 (December 2000)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 3 (February 2001)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 4 (April 2001)

AAUP chapter home page