Chief Negotiator Cynthia Klekar’s opening statement

WMU-AAUP Opening Statement
Dr. Cynthia Klekar, Chief Negotiator
May 6, 2014

The WMU-AAUP looks forward to principled and transparent contract negotiations. Our priority for these negotiations is to ratify a contract that revitalizes Western Michigan University’s core academic mission. WMU has earned a reputation for quality instruction based on learning, inquiry, and discovery. In order to maintain this reputation we must remain steadfast in realizing our ultimate purpose: to provide an educational experience that prioritizes student success, offers creative learning opportunities, and preserves the value of a Western Michigan University degree.

In recent years, we have lost sight of this ultimate purpose. The corporate model now dominates our short-term and long-term planning and has permeated our campus culture to the extent that an instructor’s “credit-hour production” is now the measure of professional competence. We must reverse this trend and return to the university model that values students, not for their tuition dollars or as credit hour producers, but as creative and independent thinkers, capable of discovery, innovation, empathy, and critical inquiry.

Reversing this trend will not be difficult if we all resolve to improve the quality of education at WMU. It will require renewed investments in instructional support, classroom engagement, and student-centered planning. If we dedicate ourselves to fulfilling the university’s mission to pursue inquiry, disseminate knowledge, and encourage life-long learning, then we dedicate ourselves to our students and to their futures as engaged, democratic citizens.

The faculty and the administration bear the responsibility to ensure that every semester, every day, every class period, and every meeting broadens our students’ intellectual curiosity. We must not just tell them that we value individual responsibility and collaboration; we must model these values. Negotiating a contract that privileges education over the bottom line is the first step in fulfilling the contract that we have with our students. The WMU-AAUP is committed to ratifying a contract that reflects the university’s core academic mission, and we hope that the administration will recognize this opportunity to reshape our institution into one that through our contract acknowledges, accepts, and honors student-centered values and student-centered priorities.