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Archive for August, 2010

All I can say to begin is that I hope I will be able to post a link to the video that President Cevallos began today’s meeting with. To say nothing about the quality of the video (it was good for what it was), it was, in effect, a PR film for the University. As a colleague of mine put it on the walk to our next meeting: “Can I say…wrong audience?” True enough. A bizarre way to begin an academic year after a year of retrenchment, “crisis” discourse on campus and in all the local media, and a new year that promises more of the same. So…perhaps a version of “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” was what Cevallos was after. (as I sit here writing this, I over hear another faculty say “that video certainly got more time on screen than the budget graphs.” You can hear the bite in her voice as she says it).

After the 10 minute or so video, Cevallos did provide some more traditional remarks. I won’t be able to do much commentary at this point, but here are a few issues of note raised in the meeting:

  • Cevallos acknowledged that 39 positions (including those who were unfillled and/or temporary) were eliminated
  • Cevallos prepped us all for the next round of cuts (again, in the concerned voice of one trying to position himself as in the same boat as his audience):
    • we will see no significant enrollment change over the next several years
    • we will be facing decreased State appropriations
    • federal stimulus dollars will run out
    • contract negotiations will take place
    • “uncertainty” of costs including health care, retirement contributions, and utilities
  • Cevallos indicated that his administration is planning for upcoming budget shortfalls.  These range from about $5.6 million up to a “worst case scenario” of $11.39 million.
  • Cevallos encourage faculty and staff to “dine” in the new food court operated by Aramark (the new food service vendor on campus).  In particular, Cevallos highlighted the new “Burger Studio” as one of his top picks.  A note of caution: dining at the on campus burger joint will not count as part of your Healthy U points.  In fact, Blue Shield may actually frown on the practice.
  • Cevallos announced that the administration had expanded in the area of Student Services from 16-19 areas.  He did not, however, note that he eliminated the faculty directors of several of those programs–shifting the load to administration or “faculty volunteers.”

That’s about all I have time for before the next meeting.  Next up: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences!!

More soon.

N

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I’m writing from the road so I’ll keep my commentary short on this one.  I’d like to similar public statements from APSCUF

http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/newsroom/2010Highlights/goldwaterreport.htm

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Today, after attending my first APSCUF-KU  Meet & Discuss under Kevin Mahoney’s leadership, I asked Kevin if I might take him up the offer to write for the XChange. The meeting got me excited about the work we have ahead of us on KU’s campus this semester, and I felt ready to share my perspective as junior faculty dedicated to union work.  He was kind enough to say yes, and asked me to begin by introducing myself to the XChange readers.

So, here goes.  I am an assistant professor beginning my fifth year at KU—that’s right, I’m up for tenure. (Insert deep breath here.) I teach in the Composition, Rhetoric & Literacy program in the English department, which I’ve served as a member of APSCUF-KU Representative Council for three years. I also served for a year on the Grievance Committee. You might know me as director of the KU Writing Center or chair of the KU Composition Conference.

Union work is a tradition in my family. My dad, Jim Lynch, co-founded the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers, one of the first unions for secondary parochial school teachers in PA. Dad taught me that union work and academic work are indelibly linked: students’ educations depend in great part upon the working conditions of their teachers. To be a successful teacher, I feel I need to be a pro-union teacher, one who actively works to improve the circumstances of our employment. When teachers have the resources, time and support to do their best work, students benefit, as does the institution as a whole.

I look forward to contributing to the XChange, and I welcome your feedback and comments.

Cheers,

Amy Lynch-Biniek

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I am pleased to welcome Amy Lynch-Biniek aboard as a writer for the XChange and I hope that all of you will welcome her aboard as well.  I’ll let Amy introduce herself to all of you in the manner that she sees fit and not try to rain too many preemptive praises down upon her.

When I founded the XChange exactly one year ago (how about that…exactly one year ago today), I had envisioned the blog as a starting point…always hoping that it would move beyond my singular voice.  I had hoped that the XChange could become more of a “chorus” than a solo perfomance…that it might, in time, evolve into a critical arena for discussion of higher education labor with a particular focus on APSCUF and the PASSHE system.  I am glad to take a step in that direction.

So, you will be hearing from Amy shortly…stay tuned!

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Back to the office after meet and discuss and lunch with members of our APSCUF-KU meet and discuss team.  Today’s meeting was relatively short in comparison to many previous M&D meetings.  Nonetheless, the agenda was fairly robust and I wanted to report back on a few key issues.

  1. Retrenchment Letters: once again we asked if the administration would issue retrenchment letters before the beginning of the semester.  As you may recall, we asked the administration to issue the letters way back at the end of the spring 2010 semester so that faculty could claim their rights under Article 29 of our contract.  The Provost indicated that he had received the letter from APSCUF-KU Exec urging him to issue the letters, but that he “does not have the authority” to issue the letters.  It became clear that PASSHE is now coordinating retrenchment state-wide and any further decisions regarding the letters will come from PASSHE through the university President’s office (i.e. President Cevallos @ KU).  The Provost did echo some of the language of the Executive Committee’s letter suggesting he is trying to be “as humane as possible.”
  2. New Job for Vargas?: Contrary to several rumors floating around campus, the Provost stated emphatically that he has not accepted a position at another university. APSCUF-KU asked Vargas this question at the table in order to determine the merit of rumors circulating in some parts of the university.  According to Vargas, these rumor are just that: rumors.
  3. Advising of Undeclared Students: with the administration’s decision to eliminate the Advising Center, APSCUF-KU had serious concerns about what would happen to students formally served by the Center.  These students included undeclared students and “jeopardy” students.  The administration indicated that the Advising DEPARTMENT would continue to serve these students even though the administration shut down the advising CENTER.  The administration also indicated that it was in talks with librarians about taking on advising loads.’
  4. We also informed the administration with our intent to move forward with an unfair labor practice against a Dean who, from our position, violated Article 11.G of the contract and who, potentially, put pressure on a department to cut a particular faculty member.

I’ll stop there and wait for the minutes before I get into any of the other issues raised at the meeting.  Given the short time we had for the meeting, I moved several MAJOR items to the next meet and discuss on September 14th.  These include:

  • The future of the Early Learning Center now that the planned partnership with the YMCA fell through
  • The administration’s plan for the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching after the Director position was practically eliminated once the Provost cut the AWA for that position.  Additional concerns about how the administration went about cutting this position will be on the agenda (i.e. potential violation of Article 31. F on Past Practice).
  • Budget for AACSB accreditation for 2010-2011.

I’ll post more in the next week or so.

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I was hoping to have a little time to flesh out today’s Meet and Discuss agenda on the blog this morning, but time has run short.  In any event, here’s today’s agenda.  More later this afternoon.

APSCUF-KU MD 24 Aug 2010 Agenda

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