Survey says…

So far, 75 members have participated in the WMU-AAUP’s informal online survey of the faculty about their priorities for discussion at this week’s Chapter meeting (and over the longer term) and about their communication preferences. Thank you to all who managed to carve out some time to participate in the survey in the midst of your many responsibilities and obligations, especially at this hectic time of year.

Our goal is to continue to work as hard as we can on your behalf, to respond to your concerns, and to find new ways to make your membership in the WMU-AAUP more meaningful, useful, and relevant to you. Your participation in the survey, and the ideas, suggestions, and feedback you share with us in other ways, are extremely helpful and valuable to us. And your willingness to collaborate with us in this way is very much appreciated. We are all stronger when we work together.

We hope to see you at the last Chapter meeting of the academic year, which is tomorrow, Friday, April 19, at 1:30 p.m., in rooms 157-159 of the Bernhard Center. Now, without further ado, please read on for the survey results!

April 2013 WMU-AAUP Faculty Survey

1. Please select from the list below the topics that you feel are most important to address at the Chapter meeting on April 19. (Check all that apply.)

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2. Are there any topics not listed above that you would like to see added to the Chapter meeting agenda?

Summary of most frequent responses:

  • Equity, including gender equity, but also disciplinary and time-in-service equity (i.e., salary compression and inversion).
  • How to keep current faculty engaged in the WMU-AAUP and develop outreach program for new hires.
  • Increasing reliance on contingent faculty and overall loss of tenure lines campus-wide.
  • Disparity in health insurance costs compared to other employee groups on campus?

Q3. Thinking longer term, what do you feel are the most pressing issues in your professional life? In other words, what are the issues that you believe the WMU-AAUP ought to address on your behalf as we go forward ?

Summary of most frequent responses:

  • Planning and preparing for right-to-work to take effect on our campus. (Members cite need to focus on Chapter finances and resources, faculty outreach efforts to educate colleagues on the benefits of staying in the union, building community and solidarity on campus, and standing up to legislative threats.)
  • Planning for 2014 negotiations.
  • Gender equity.
  • Other salary-equity issues, including compression and inversion.
  • Below-market salaries of WMU faculty, stagnating wages, and increasing faculty costs.
  • Loss of faculty lines campus-wide, inadequate staffing of academic programs.
  • Workload, including unequal distributions of work within and across departments and colleges and significant increases in demands on faculty time.
  • Lack of opportunities for merit increases.
  • Unreasonable limitations on faculty use of sick leave to care for children; issues with annual leave for faculty on 12-month contracts.
  • Corporate versus intellectual values driving the institutional agenda; “creeping expansionism” at the expense of core values.
  • WMU fundraising efforts and resources diverted to medical school.
  • Administrative overreach that compromises academic freedom and shared governance.
  • Problems with evenhandedness and adherence to the contract in tenure and promotion review processes.
  • Faculty relationship with legislature, organizing ourselves and defending WMU against inappropriate legislative interference, apparent administrative willingness to accept legislative micromanagement (in contravention of state constitution).
  • Questions about use of assessment data in tenure and promotion decisions.
  • Administrative priorities and inequitable distribution of resources across colleges and departments.
  • Widespread lack of knowledge about and adherence to the contract on the parts of administrators as well as faculty.
  • Ongoing denial of salary minima to language specialists.
  • Permanent rather than year-by-year funding of the WMU Center for the Humanities.
  • Evaluation of administrators in addition to the provost.

4. What are your preferred ways of getting information from the WMU-AAUP? (Check all that apply.)

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5. Are there other ways you would like to be kept informed by the WMU-AAUP, in addition to (or as alternatives to) the communication options listed in question #4?

7 responses received. Summary of responses:

  • Don’t like getting both email and paper versions of communications; paper version should be discontinued.
  • Concerned that Association Council representatives may not be attending meetings regularly or sharing information with department colleagues.
  • Would like more frequent meetings.
  • Would like copies of approved minutes sent to all Chapter members. 

6. If you would like to be contacted via text message, what kinds of information would you like to receive in this way? (Check all that apply.)

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7. If you would like to be contacted via text message, please type the phone number to which you would like for us to direct our messages to you.

(Don’t worry. We would never share your information.)

8. What are your ideas or suggestions for how the WMU-AAUP can be more effective on your behalf and/or how we can help make your membership more useful, meaningful, and relevant to you?

Summary of responses:

  • Keep focusing on gender equity.
  • Attention to the variety of workload issues on our campus.
  • Work toward all manner of equity: gender, ethnic/racial, disciplinary, teaching loads, service loads, distribution of resources, awarding of sabbaticals, etc.
  • Keep surveying members regularly.
  • Stand up to Lansing. Work for change of personnel in the legislature and against governor’s re-election.
  • Work with other institutions across Michigan to protect higher education as a public good and fend off political encroachment.
  • Fight hard on compensation in 2014.
  • Need a campus-wide conversation on salary compression and inversion.
  • More meetings with different groups of faculty, including Chapter meetings and Association Council meetings, but also meetings with faculty in various colleges and departments and/or in issue-driven groups, to talk about union issues.
  • Communicate actively and frequently with faculty. Provide lots of updates.
  • Make sure officers keep consistent office hours.
  • As we get ready for RTW at WMU once our current contract expires in September 2014, focus on faculty outreach, including regular surveys, marketing/PR campaigns, social events, community-building opportunities, and highlighting of member services and their value.
  • “Maybe a concerted press relations campaign about what faculty do — work load — pressure to raise money for university — etc. If the press understood, and communicated this to general public, there would be more understanding of AAUP and other unions.”
  • “We need to have a larger conversation about the place of the union in Michigan, now a right-to-work state. How can we continue to be relevant to all our faculty? How can we remain relevant to those who probably won’t pay their dues anymore? How can we address and respond to the animosity and resentment that many people in Michigan feel toward unions?”

9. Are you interested in serving in a leadership position in the WMU-AAUP?

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2 thoughts on “Survey says…

  1. Wow, Kevin. Is that really how you think of the faculty at WMU, including your professors in the College of Aviation? As “chimps” and “bullies”? That is really surprising to hear from one of our own students. I am proud to be a professor at WMU, and one of the reasons I feel that way is because it is a privilege to work alongside gifted and dedicated faculty colleagues who do amazing work every day on behalf of their students. And from what I hear, most of our students tend to agree with that assessment and report having excellent rapport with their professors.

    I am sorry your experience at WMU is apparently less satisfying for you than that and has led you to such animosity toward your professors as you’ve expressed in your comment here. I would suggest going to talk with them about what your concerns are. You might be surprised to find out what caring, generous, intelligent people they are and how hard they work to make sure that your degree from WMU has the value our students deserve for their degrees to have. That they continue to do this — and to do it so well — under the pressures of exponentially increasing workloads, stagnating wages, increasing healthcare costs, massive state-level divestment in public education that results in serious staffing and resource shortages, and a recent (and sharp) increase in the kind of disparagement for them that you exhibit in your comment is to me even more impressive. I hope you can give this some thought and come to understand why they deserve to be treated with respect.

    You may not realize yet at this point that your generation of students is also very likely, unfortunately, to face significant challenges, including precisely the kinds of reductions in workplace rights and declining standards of living that not only the faculty at WMU but workers in most industries and sectors are facing now. But you will. Our fights today are yours tomorrow. Disparaging us is not going to protect you from the workplace struggles you will inevitably face. It is not going to matter whom you side with politically, unless you were born rich and don’t have to work for a living.

    And even if you don’t come around, maybe you can at least try to reconsider how you engage in dialogue about these issues. Name-calling is not civil discourse, and at least for now, we still live in a civil society.

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