Saturday, February 27, 2010

A ‘Nice Experience’ or a Job?

"Contract lecturers at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti are fighting a hostile administration over the right for part-time adjunct lecturers to join the lecturers' union....The demands of EMU part-timers for equality are being echoed at the national level: a coalition of academic associations, including the AFT, released a report February 10 calling on universities to treat all their teachers as “one faculty”—which means extending health and retirement benefits and making pay equitable for those not on the tenure track...'The part-time employment of adjuncts provides them with a little money and a nice experience,' said attorney Craig Schwartz of the Butzel Long firm, representing the administration on a recent conference call with representatives of the state’s labor commission and the union."
Link to the report:

You say you want a reSolution...

The University Senate can pass resolutions. "These resolutions express the sense of the Senate/Assembly and do not require formal action by the Administration or Board of Regents." (see The nonbinding character of resolutions exposes the fiction of "faculty governance." But resolutions also offer an opportunity. They are a means for faculty and students to express our dissatisfaction with the Administration. If the Administration ignores resolutions that are supported by faculty and students, then we score PR points and expose the Administration for governing without our consent. If you could propose a resolution, what would it be?

Bruininks appeals Legislature for lighter cuts

"If the governor’s recommended cuts go through, University funding from the state would revert back to its 2006 levels." I'm all for getting more money for the U, but I'm still a bit puzzled about why working with the same budget that we worked with four years ago is causing a total financial meltdown. We haven't had raises for a while. Hiring "pauses" are in effect in many colleges. Where is all the money going? "The University is required to submit a detailed budget report to the Legislature outlining its plans for applying possible cuts by March 15." Stay tuned for that report.

Bonding bill battle...

Legislature not so keen on the new physics and nano-technology but funds restoration of Folwell Hall...Pawlenty gangbusters on physics and nano-tech but no money for Folwell Hall. (the student reporters missed the Folwell Hall part of it though...)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bruininks speaks

"My goal is to minimize the number of layoffs at the University. We need the talented people that work here. That’s a big part of who we are, and that’s the way we deliver quality to our students and state...We obviously have taken some painful reductions in the number of people working here. We will obviously reduce compensation levels to adjust to these difficult financial realities. We will cancel and defer some very important investments. It’s reducing costs overall, and people are obviously a part of that."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pawlenty Cuts Deep to Balance Budget

The U has already cropped its budget and shed more than 500 full-time positions in the past year. Furloughs, or unpaid days off, are now "being strongly considered," said CFO Richard Pfutzenreuter.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Study finds Public Discontent with Colleges

"Most Americans believe that colleges today operate like businesses, concerned more with their bottom line than with the educational experience of students."

Maybe the U needs to be audited?

Interesting Star Trib article about the recent audit of central admin a MnSCU:
(see links at bottom of article if you want to read the state auditor's report.)

Is the legislature dis-ing the U?

Interesting MN Daily article on MnSCU being treated more favorably that the U in the bonding bill:

What are you doing...what can you no longer do?

Faculty workloads have increased over the last few years and promise to get even heavier. The CLA 2015 report tells us that we need "to be as productive as possible." Yet the report does not define "productivity" and uncritically accepts "productivity" and "efficiency" as guiding principles that will produce better results in higher ed. At some point, we can no longer continue to bear increased workloads without compromising the quality of the learning experience in our classrooms, research productivity, and the provision of valuable public goods to our departments, colleges, and the University. What do you do and what can you no longer do?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beneath the U

A great conference that will be held at the University of Minnesota in April. Could help in terms of sharpening our thinking about what we're facing. Read more:

UMore Park...WTF???

How many millions is the U spending on UMore Park? Anybody know? Why is the U spending money on this when the Administration is planning to fire and furlough staff and faculty, raise tuition, and make cutbacks in instructional support? How does UMore Park relate to our mission as a land grant institution?

Applications are up...

The article is boring. But the comments are interesting and worth spending a few minutes reading...there's a lot of anger out for thought for our next meeting.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Consequences of the 2% raise

The University CFO has admitted publicly that the 2% raise will be paid for with retrenchment and temporary layoffs!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The F word

There is a new F word on campus...furloughs! They may not happen, but we have an opportunity to shape the calculus of the administration in weighing furloughs vs. other options for cuts, as well as in enunciating some principles for structuring the furloughs, should they happen. Some ideas that came up at the meeting on Monday night:
1) make it clear to the administration that if furloughs are imposed, they cannot dictate to us when we take them--i.e. we will take some furlough on days that we are scheduled to teach (if you like this option, how do we explain this to students?)
2) work to rule - prepare a list of things that we can no longer do because we are not being paid to do them - this is not purely a furlough issue but also connected to increased class size and reduced TA support in a context in which expectations for performing service and research remain unchanged. Faculty on 9-month contracts are already working for free on research over the summer, so furloughs add insult to injury. (and again, since this will affect our students, how do we persuade them that this is a legitimate course of action that they should support?)
3) everybody's favorite--tell the administrators making over $200K that they should fire themselves. Fire 8 highly paid administrators and we've closed a large chunk of the budget gap that CLA faces. And these would be permanent cuts!
4) structuring of the furloughs - those earning more should take more furlough days than those making less; staff earning low salaries should be exempted from furloughs; length of contract should be taken into account when calculating the number of furlough days for faculty

The cuts affect students, too!

Tuition increases and budget cuts are being discussed. Increases in tuition have an immediate and obvious effect on our students. If we hope to enlist student support in faculty efforts to oppose proposed budget cuts, we need to convince students that the cuts affect the quality of the education that they receive at the University of Minnesota. We also need to convince them that tenure contributes to the quality of their education and that faculty research enriches student learning. How should we make these arguments to our students?

Uniting faculty

At the University of Minnesota faculty are spread across multiple units and a multitude of departments. So far the faculty organizing around the budget cuts are mostly CLA faculty. Any ideas for building a broader united front?

Getting out in front of the cuts

We know the budget cuts are coming. We know some of the options that are being considered. The temptation is to wait until the Administration announces what it will do and then to respond to that. But by then it may be too late to shape the process in fundamental ways, as most of the big decisions will have already been taken. So we need to get out in front of these cuts. What should we do?

Report on meeting of faculty on February 8, 2010

1. The meeting began at 5pm in 1314 Social Science and adjourned at 7pm. Fifteen faculty from about a dozen departments attended, including Marti Hope Gonzales, Chair of the FCC.

2. Since this was our first meeting, attendees concentrated on sharing thoughts about the current budget situation and brainstormed about ideas for moving forward. Given that the snowstorm kept many people from attending, we felt that we could not make any major decisions tonight, but we did agree on some very basic steps:

a) The need for more information about the University budget - Attendees expressed support for efforts by the FCC to obtain detailed and easily interpretable budget data from the University administration. We asked that Marti convey our deep concern about the lack of transparency in the budget process to the FCC.

b) Coordination with other groups on campus - Attendees agreed that faculty need to reach out to other groups on campus. AFSCME has invited us to send representatives to a meeting this Thursday. AFSCME, in conjunction with student groups on campus, has been organizing a campaign, Chop from the Top. We will send at least one representative to this meeting.

c) March 4 action - AFSCME and other groups involved in the Chop from the Top campaign are planning for a major rally on March 4. As those of you following the University of California fiasco know, March 4 has been declared a national day of action to defend public education. We agreed that we should try to mobilize a large faculty turnout for this event.

d) Furloughs - although it remains uncertain whether the administration will impose furloughs, we discussed various options for responding to the furloughs. This will be a top agenda item at the next meeting. We also ask you to share your thoughts by commenting on the blog that we set up for soliciting input and encouraging discussion on core issues that came up in our discussions today: (Please note: this is a public blog so if you don't want your name associated with a post, please take care in creating your id.)

3. Scheduling another meeting - if you are interested in attending the next meeting, please go to:
and select the times that work for you. There are nine time slots on MWF listed. Please respond no later than Thursday evening so we can announce the next meeting time no later than the end of this week. At this next meeting we will try to come up with concrete steps that we can take moving forward.