WMU-AAUP Letter to Deans and Chairs on Gender Equity

The following letter was sent to all WMU deans, chairs, and program directors earlier this week.

To: WMU Deans, Department Chairs, and Program Directors
From: Lisa Minnick, WMU-AAUP Vice President
Re: The WMU-AAUP’s Position on the Administration’s Equity Guidelines
Date: February 25, 2013

As you know, Dr. Sue Caulfield, WMU Director of Academic Collective Bargaining, circulated a set of guidelines to the deans of each college on February 4, 2013, outlining the process for identifying faculty who might be eligible for salary equity adjustments. Since then, several of our colleagues have reported that in explaining the process to their faculty, some of their deans and chairs have expressed surprise that the WMU-AAUP would have agreed to the procedures Dr. Caulfield outlined. Because there seems to be confusion about where the WMU-AAUP stands on this, we have decided to take the step of writing directly to you now.

We believe that it is important for the campus community, including the deans, chairs, and directors who have been charged with overseeing the process, to be informed that there is in fact no agreement between the administration and the WMU-AAUP regarding the procedures outlined in Dr. Caulfield’s directive.

In the February 4 email to the deans that accompanied the directive, Dr. Caulfield attributes a greater role to the WMU-AAUP in developing the guidelines than is justified. In accordance with a Letter of Agreement signed in April 2011, several faculty members represented the WMU-AAUP on a Joint Committee for Salary Equity, whose draft report Dr. Caulfield circulated along with the guidelines. However, Dr. Caulfield disbanded the joint committee in April 2012, and its faculty representatives were subsequently excluded from further participation in the development of the equity guidelines.

We feel that we need to make our position clear so that there is no misunderstanding: The WMU-AAUP wants to see every colleague whose salary is inequitable receive the adjustment she is entitled to. And we will not stand in the way of the process that Dr. Caulfield has directed the deans to follow, despite our serious reservations about it. Indeed, we hope that the process now underway will result in significant progress toward full salary equity at WMU.

Our reservations begin with the inexplicable lack of any direct communication with the faculty on the part of Dr. Caulfield or others in the Office of Academic Affairs, which Dr. Caulfield’s document identifies as the source of funding for equity adjustments. The WMU-AAUP leadership has relayed faculty concerns to Dr. Caulfield and Provost Greene and encouraged them to communicate directly with the faculty on this important issue. We anticipated the possibility that the plan might be presented as if it has the approval of the WMU-AAUP, and at a meeting with Dr. Caulfield and Provost Greene on January 17, we explicitly requested that it be made clear that it does not.

We have further explained that we cannot agree to the summary disqualification of any individual faculty member, nor to the exclusion of entire departments or units within departments, for what appear to be arbitrary and specious reasons. We have also questioned the conflation of equity with merit, which obliges faculty members to prove that they are sufficiently meritorious not to continue to be discriminated against and essentially requires – of female faculty only – something akin to post-tenure review as a condition for redress of ongoing inequity. The WMU-AAUP believes that such exclusions and conditions risk exacerbating discrimination on our campus rather than redressing it in any meaningful way.

In our view, the appropriate and full financial reparations are the immediate priority. But we believe there is also a compelling need for a university-wide commitment to address what College of Arts and Sciences Dean Alex Enyedi has aptly described as “the long-term issues that give rise to inequity in the first place.”

As you know, the WMU-AAUP comprises WMU’s board-appointed faculty in its entirety and is thus inseparable from it and from the institution. This is to say that the WMU-AAUP is the faculty, integral to the institution and deeply invested in its success and well-being. In that spirit, we encourage you to think of the WMU-AAUP as your ally in the equity endeavor and in all other university initiatives in the service of academic excellence. We also encourage you to direct faculty members in your respective programs, departments, and colleges to contact us if they have questions that you are not sure how to answer, or if they need any other kind of assistance that we can provide. We also welcome your questions and your feedback, and we invite you to contact us directly if there is any way we might be of help to you in the course of this process, on behalf of your faculty.

Many thanks for your attention and for the opportunity to articulate the WMU-AAUP position on this important issue. We also thank you for the hard work that so many of you are doing to try to do right by your faculty under challenging circumstances.

Sincerely,

Lisa Cohen Minnick
Vice President, WMU-AAUP
Associate Professor of English
Affiliated Faculty, Gender and Women’s Studies

One thought on “WMU-AAUP Letter to Deans and Chairs on Gender Equity

  1. Thank you,Lisa, for this most excellent medium to express our concerns and important issues related to our struggle in these dark days of up coming RTWL.

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