Who counts as faculty?

4/7/2012: I’m no law professor, or $600 an hour union busting lawyer $600 an hour defender of faculty members’ right to negotiate individually with the administration, but it seems obvious that a key point in the formation of a UO faculty union is the definition of the term faculty. On 3/20 the UO union organizers petitioned the state ERB for a bargaining unit defined as:

“All full-time and part-time research and instructional faculty. Including tenure-track faculty, non-tenure track faculty, adjunct faculty, post-retired or emeritus faculty, library faculty and officers of research including research assistants, research associates, and postdoctoral scholars, employed by theemployer and excluding Principal Investigators with supervisory authority and faculty in the School of Law.”

And the commentator Terducken notes that:

According to Oregon Administrative Rules 115-025-0065, “Within 7 days after a public employer receives notice under OAR 115-025-0030(2) that a petition has been filed seeking certification without an election, it will submit to the Board an alphabetical list of employees in the proposed bargaining unit…” Therefore, this Excelsior list is a list provided to the ERB by the administration and is a standard step in this process.

But the Excelsior list that the UO administration provided in response to this petition includes many employees that are clearly not “faculty” in the ordinary sense of the word, but who are on the UO books as faculty. Der Alte has posted a helpful comment on this:

Current UO Constitution defines a STATUTORY FACULTY. “In this document, Statutory Faculty is defined as the body of professors consisting of the University President, tenure-related officers of instruction, career non-tenure-track officers of instruction, and officers of administration who are tenured in an academic department. Membership in the Statutory Faculty is retained during sabbatical leaves. Retired and emeriti faculty members are not members of the Statutory Faculty, whether or not they have teaching responsibilities. The University President is the President of the Statutory Faculty.”

With no disrespect, I do not think that people without an advanced degree, perhaps working in a lab or teaching PE courses in ultimate frisbee, aerobics, or yoga, count as faculty under any reasonable or customary definition of the word. Yet it seems that UO’s administration and their consulting lawyers have agreed with the union organizers that they do. They’ve also included emeriti, etc. in their list. The Rudnick letter to the ERB raises many objections, but none having to do with this basic question of what does it mean to be faculty – a question central to the union petition.

So, there is a game being played here between the administration and the union that most of us faculty do not understand and which I don’t think either side wants us to understand. But I bet some of our readers know what’s really going on. So why not tell us? It’s anonymous.

UO Police keep cell phone

4/5/2012: From a Josephine Woolington story in the ODE on last term’s basketball fight:

“It’s not wrong to videotape us (DPS). That’s OK,” said Carolyn McDermed, acting chief of DPS. “The cellphone was seized because it contained evidence of the crime. It was pertinent to the case.”

DPS still has Said’s cellphone, and is waiting to obtain a search warrant from Eugene Police Department to look through it.

Three weeks and they are still waiting for a warrant?

pay teachers for student success

4/3/2012: From Betsy Hammond in the Oregonian:

Teachers at Reynolds Arthur Academy in Troutdale spurred the biggest gains in individual students’ reading and math scores of any elementary charter school in the nation the past two years. For that, a national charter group soon will hand each of them and their principal bonuses of $4,000 or more.

Many teacher unions, including the one in Oregon City that turned away millions of dollars in federally funded bonuses last fall, oppose rewarding teachers for raising student test scores.

But not Reynolds Arthur Academy’s non-union teachers….

They must teach to the test like crazy. Strong incentives have problems too.

Lack of trust and transparency

At PSU. A reader sends this, by Jennifer Schuberth, an assistant professor of religion at Portland State University:


On the question of whether a faculty union will promote more transparency and a “better” allocation of resources by the administration:

“Like many students and faculty, I have been frustrated by the administration’s lack of transparency about financial matters. For more than a year, PSU faculty and students have asked the administration to explain how a $54 million surplus will be spent and why the university, while forcing draconian cuts in the teaching budget, is building up reserves in excess of the Oregon University System’s recommendations. The administration has never given a clear answer. “

On the issue of salaries and benefits for NTTF faculty:

“With a growing deficit looming in the background, the administration claimed that faculty will need to increase productivity and capacity — i.e., increase class sizes — and that PSU will be implementing retirement incentives so that higher-paid faculty can be replaced with lower-cost alternatives. In academics, “lower cost” means adjuncts who are paid by the course, often teach huge classes and have no benefits. Many adjuncts working at PSU teach at one or two other schools and make only enough to hover around the poverty line. Some are on food stamps. This is the current administration’s vision of PSU’s future: lower-quality education and a workforce living in poverty.”

Retention raise policies and practices

3/31/2012: A reader asks:

What should an appropriate system of retention at UO look like? What is the current policy? Should the UO adopt a preemptive retention offer policy for certain categories of faculty? Does it have one now?

Obviously more productive faculty with better outside options should get paid more. But at UO productivity doesn’t translate into pay unless you have an outside offer. In many departments you will need a written offer from a department with close to equal or better rank than UO to take to your chair and then the dean to get a raise. Typically this will get you some fraction of the outside offer – say 20% to 40%. But I’ve heard talk of cases where just going to give a talk at another school and making the right noises can pay off.  It’s looking more and more like we will have a faculty union and this is presumably the sort of thing that will be part of the CBA. Any comments on current practice and on what a sensible policy would look like?

NCAA brings opportunity to minorities – compared to what?

3/31/2012: Joe Nocera of the NYT has been posting a series of pieces on the NCAA cartel. The latest blows a hole in one of the favorite arguments of the AD and its Johnson Hall enablers – that college athletics should be praised for bringing African-Americans to colleges like UO:

But Richard Southall, who directs the College Sport Research Institute at the University of North Carolina — along with two colleagues, E. Woodrow Eckard of the University of Colorado-Denver and Mark Nagel at the University of South Carolina — have done rigorous studies that show the opposite. In comparing college basketball players with their true peer group — full-time college students — their data show that the athletes are 20 percent less likely to graduate than nonathletes. They also parsed the data by race: of the teams in this year’s March Madness, for instance, the black athletes are 33 percent less likely to graduate than nonathletes.

Big-time college sports a dying industry?

3/29/2012: I’m no economist, so I don’t like to make forecasts, but Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier are and they’ve got an interesting piece out: What Would the End of Football Look Like?

… This slow death march could easily take 10 to 15 years. Imagine the timeline. A couple more college players — or worse, high schoolers — commit suicide with autopsies showing CTE. A jury makes a huge award of $20 million to a family. A class-action suit shapes up with real legs, the NFL keeps changing its rules, but it turns out that less than concussion levels of constant head contact still produce CTE. Technological solutions (new helmets, pads) are tried and they fail to solve the problem. Soon high schools decide it isn’t worth it. The Ivy League quits football, then California shuts down its participation, busting up the Pac-12. Then the Big Ten calls it quits, followed by the East Coast schools. Now it’s mainly a regional sport in the southeast and Texas/Oklahoma. The socioeconomic picture of a football player becomes more homogeneous: poor, weak home life, poorly educated. Ford and Chevy pull their advertising, as does IBM and eventually the beer companies.

Not to mention the rapes. Cowen’s earlier post raises the question of why watching football games increases assaults and domestic violence, while watching violent movies reduces violence. Complements and substitutes is how those economists put it. Meanwhile the Chronicle has a story on declining interest in college basketball – apparently it’s not just at Oregon:

More than 70 Division I men’s basket­ball programs—about one out of every five—have seen their regular-season attendance fall by 20 percent or more over the past four seasons, a Chronicle analysis has found. And while many colleges have had significant gains, the declines have left big budget holes in some athletic departments and could lead to major changes in the game.

The falloff has been particularly sharp in the Pacific-12 Conference, where fan support has dropped 14 percent since 2009. Arizona State, Washington State, and UCLA have all seen their home attendance decline by more than a third in the past four years. Arizona State, with an arena that seats over 14,000 fans, attracted an average of just 5,411 per game this season.

The Atlantic Coast Conference, historically one of the strongest basketball leagues, has had a 7-percent slide since 2009, with average attendance falling below 10,000 fans a game for the first time in recent history. Georgia Tech and Wake Forest are both off by more than 2,500 spectators per game from 2009, and even Duke University has seen interest in its rabid student section wane. 

They attribute the disinterest to the increase in other entertainment options.

presidential searches and shared governance

3/25/2012: This Insidehighered.com piece starts with the recent firing of Pres Michael Hogan from UI and then moves to a good discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of closed presidential searches such as that underway at UO:

… “What all universities are trying to do is find a successor who has been someplace else as president.” Throughout the Illinois search, board members repeatedly said they were looking for someone who had held a similar role. …

The desire to secure experienced candidates drives an increased level of confidentiality in searches. Search consultants and many board members say keeping the names of candidates confidential — in many cases until a selection is made — attracts a better pool of candidates, many of whom would be reluctant to enter out of fear of backlash on their home campus.

“Sitting presidents require a degree of confidentiality that other candidates don’t,” said Susan Resneck Pierce, a former president of the University of Puget Sound who now consults with governing boards and presidents, and who has written for Inside Higher Ed. She said that seeking another presidency is viewed by boards and campuses as an effort to abandon the current institution. That can damage everything from fund raising to faculty relations, proponents of confidentiality argue. For provosts and other senior administrators, the presidency is a step up so it’s less of an issue if their names become public.

But many faculty members don’t buy that argument. By keeping searches secret, they say, boards are discounting the importance of the relationship between faculty members and presidents, which is essential to university governance.

The search underway at UO does include a fair number of faculty representatives, but the power lies with Pernsteiner.