Union responds to Provost’s letter to Architecture faculty

I don’t know who wrote the Provost’s letter below, but it doesn’t strike me as Banavar’s style. In any case the faculty union has now sent the architecture faculty a thoughtful response:

Dear Department of Architecture and Interior Architecture Faculty,

On Friday, Provost Banavar sent the faculty of the Department of Architecture a letter concerning the recent unrest in the unit. In that letter he emphasizes that the University is a workplace that does not permit bullying or retaliation. We agree with that position. The Provost’s letter, however, goes well beyond reminding faculty of their duties not to intimidate or bully and cites the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as the basis for his reasoning. Consequently, we felt compelled to respond to the letter and clarify the meaning of the CBA.

First, we share the Provost’s concern that faculty in the Department of Architecture fear retaliation and work in a hostile atmosphere where they experience bullying. Our CBA contains strong language protecting faculty from working in an environment that is hostile, abusive, or intimidating. Heather Quarles, the chair of our Grievance Committee, has worked with many faculty across the university to address hostile workplaces. Any faculty member who would like to discuss a hostile workplace should feel free to reach out to Heather at [email protected].

If department or committee meetings are taking place in the Department of Architecture that exclude faculty members for discriminatory reasons, this must be addressed immediately. It is never acceptable to exclude faculty from departmental activities on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, religion, national origin, ancestry, marital status, domestic partnership status, familial status, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or membership or non-membership in or activity on behalf of or in opposition to the union. Discriminatory actions are forbidden in state law, university policy, and the CBA.

Unfortunately, the Provost goes well beyond discussing discriminatory practices in his letter, telling faculty that “conversations” about the future of the department that do not include all faculty must end. The CBA, despite the Provost’s citations, does not prevent faculty from meeting to discuss the future of the department – whether or not all faculty are invited to participate in those discussions. 

Under the CBA and state law, faculty have the right to organize to discuss their wages and working conditions, including departmental and college governance, free of interference from the employer. The Provost has no right, under either the CBA or state law, to forbid faculty to have conversations about the future of the department. In fact, it is a fundamental right of the faculty to gather together with their like-minded colleagues to discuss how they might resist, protest, undo, and improve the actions of the administration.

Additionally, the Provost has no right, through the CBA or otherwise, to forbid faculty to meet with external advisory groups. As he said, such arrangements may in some cases be counterproductive and harmful, but there can be no blanket prohibition on the right of faculty to work with external advisory groups. The American Associate of University Professors (AAUP) has worked with many faculty at many colleges and universities to organize protests against violations of academic freedom rights. In many of these cases, the administration believed the actions of their faculty in working with the AAUP might be detrimental to the institution, but they had no right to end these conversations or force the faculty to include college administrators in those discussions.

Finally, we are saddened that the Provost did not use the occasion of writing to the Architecture faculty to acknowledge that there are many difficult issues that the department is trying to grapple with. Many faculty clearly feel that the shared governance principles and practices in the department and college do not work. If the frustrations of these faculty have created an atmosphere of hostility and intimidation, this must be rectified, but they cannot be resolved through vague and potentially intimidating demands from the Provost. We believe the solutions to these problems must include more conversations, not fewer.

Any faculty member who wants to discuss the rights of faculty under the CBA, the future of the Department of Architecture, and/or a hostile workplace is free to contact the leaders or staff of United Academics. You can reach us by responding to this email, calling the union office, or contacting any of the officers of the union. 541-636-4714 or http://uauoregon.org/executive-council


The Executive Council of United Academics of the University of Oregon

3/12/2018: Provost: Architecture faculty cannot secede from College of Design

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20 Responses to Union responds to Provost’s letter to Architecture faculty

  1. cdsinclair says:

    Apparently they can’t talk amongst themselves about it either. The first amendment of the constitution may have something to say about this.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Sure sounds like a good case for F.I.R.E. More of the kind of publicity that money just can’t buy.

  2. Dog says:

    Well shit, there goes my plans for making a department or college just for myself and the few other dogs on campus.

    Damn …

  3. Anarchivist says:

    “First, I wish to be clear from the start: a new school or college for the Architecture program will not be established”

    I plugged this sentence into my handy Administration-to-English Translator and it spit this out:

    “General Counsel has instructed me to inform all faculty that apostasy against the Ministry of Administration will not be tolerated. When you picture the future, imagine an arbitrary fiat stamping on reasoned discourse and shared governance – forever.”

  4. Isaiah says:

    Hard to understand the current controversy, seeing as how every dean, head and director in the College of Design was allowed to express the uniqueness and value of their own particular program by selecting a different typographic representation of the term “and” : School of Architecture & Environment; School of Art + Design; School of Planning, Public Policy and Management; etc.

    Shocking indeed that Dean Lindner fumbled the opportunity to make his own program stand out by adopting the “-n-” standard:
    Department of the History of Art-n-Architecture.

    As the text of this letter indicates, it seems even Provost Banavar is too confused to correctly apply the proper names of these units. These names and their respective ways of saying “and” have been adopted by Very Wise Administrators and need to be used consistently. Everybody please bookmark this page for future reference: https://design.uoregon.edu/

    • Anonymous says:

      PPPM has forsaken the Oxford comma?!?

      At least they didn’t use a semicolon…

  5. Not a CoDfish says:

    Can someone catch the rest of us up?

    • MmmmK says:

      No kidding. Given that it’s current year, one would assume that one side are minions of the orange-haired freak, while the other has woke-colored hair and are warriors for justice in all that is social. BUT WHICH SIDE IS WHICH??? Tell us who to root for!

  6. An upside down COD says:

    Where in the letter does the Provost demonstrate good listening? Why are so many faculty in Architecture disturbed by recent changes? Do you think it would be good to listen before trying to stamp out faculty from trying to preserve what they value in their department? Even if ‘secession’ is not an option, don’t you think there are legitimate concerns behind it all? I hope the Dean, Provost and President will learn to put their ears to the ground and listen before fiats are rolled out like this again.

  7. U n Ograd says:

    Wasn’t the union supposed to fix this?

  8. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    After an admittedly quick read, the Provost letter sure struck me as bullying, even threatening. As I mentioned above, good material for F.I.R.E. and other groups concerned about freed discourse on campus. There is plenty of concern about administrative suppression of free speech, not just student mobs or faculty. UO got in the news about the law school professor and the Halloween party. This could be another fine occasion. I doubt that our former University of Chicago law dean turned UO pres wants that, but perhaps I misread him. Chicago (the city) is also known for its brutal ways in public affairs.

  9. Unhappy in COD says:

    Did you read the union response? Quite the contrast to the Provost letter. It looks like the grown-ups showed up to set the matter straight. Thank you United Academics!

  10. Admirable Leadership says:

    So who actually wrote “the Provost’s letter”?

    The Provost, while addressing the Senate, has recently attempted to distance himself from his own letter (yes, really), which he has suggested was actually written by someone else.

    The Provost, like any other adult, needs to take responsibility for the document he signed, factual inaccuracies and inappropriate threats and all, whether or not he wrote it. If he didn’t write it, then the person who did is either incompetent or mendacious, or both, and deserves to be fired.

    If the Provost signed a letter of that nature without actually reading it, however, then that conclusion must surely apply to him as well.

    • Dog says:

      this was written as a combination of dogstorming and UOmatters
      intelligent algorithm.

    • cheyney ryan says:

      A new philosophical paradox: “I take no responsibility for this statement”. If the statement is true, then the speaker takes no responsibility for claiming he/she takes no responsibility. Does this mean he/she does take responsibility for it? In which case, the statement is false. But if it is false, then the speaker does take responsibility for the statement that he/she takes no responsibility. (Should we call this the Provost’s Paradox?)

  11. somecontext says:

    Several people have asked for some explanation of how we got to this sorry state.

    More than a year ago, senior faculty from the department of architecture wrote to the Provost expressing their concerns about the detrimental effects of the reorganization of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, and asked to meet with him to discuss potential solutions. He declined to discuss these issues they raised.

    The situation worsened over the following year, with the Dean’s Office being equally unresponsive to faculty concerns.

    Finally, out of frustration at having their concerns repeatedly ignored at every level of the administration, more than 70% of the architecture faculty agreed by private ballot that their discipline would better served in a separate school of architecture.

    The Head of School and the Provost have now finally responded, by declaring the private faculty vote “invalid,” and accusing faculty of “bullying” colleagues and engaging in “gender discrimination.”

    A shining example of leadership and problem solving: create division and accuse those who disagree with you.

    Does any of this sound familiar?

    • Dog says:

      Yes this all sounds very familiar. Since Measure 5, I don’t think the admin every has strongly cared about the educational mission of the UO and its possible evolution.

      One important correction – if this issue was raised with the Provost more than a year ago, then that was Provost Coltrane, who, in my experience, had an excellent track record of non-responsiveness to most any issue

  12. nothingnew says:

    The fact that the Provost has changed but the ignoring of faculty continues speaks volumes about the supposedly “new approach” in the Provost’s Office.