Dr. Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University and Chair of the National AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, addressed the faculty at Western Michigan University on February 16, 2017.
Dr. Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University and Chair of the National AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, addressed the faculty at Western Michigan University on February 16, 2017.
Howard’s presentation will be the first item on the agenda of a special chapter meeting to discuss 2017 contract negotiations.
Featuring a public* presentation by
Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University
Chair of the National AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress
Dr. Howard Bunsis, professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University and chair of the national AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, will present “A Question of Priorities: Understanding University Finances” on Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. in the Putney Auditorium at WMU’s Fetzer Center. Howard’s presentation will kick off a special chapter meeting to discuss negotiations.*
A dynamic speaker and nationally recognized expert on university finances and athletic spending, Howard’s presentations are as entertaining as they are informative. His analyses of WMU’s budget and finances have become indispensable resources for our negotiation teams over the past several contract cycles. (Click here for the slides from Howard’s 2014 presentation, “Western Michigan University: Strong Financially, Weak on Priorites.”)
On February 16, Howard returns to our campus to share his 2017 analysis of WMU finances and to help us make the case for renewed investment in the university’s core academic mission. “The resources are here,” he says. “The question is how the administration chooses to deploy them. Too often, they choose athletic subsidies and administrative salaries over instruction and research.”
This event is free and open to the public.*
*Please note that while Howard’s presentation will be open to the public, attendance at the remainder of the chapter meeting will be limited to members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit.
Thoughtful and important piece by Dr. Nadene A. L’Amoreaux, president of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania chapter of APSCUF, the statewide union of faculty members and coaches.
By Nadene A. L’Amoreaux
INDIANA – Next week, faculty members and coaches at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and our sister universities across the commonwealth will vote on whether to authorize a strike. We will vote in the face of a threat to college education in the state of Pennsylvania.
We grow increasingly discontented with a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education that has failed to implore the General Assembly to adequately fund higher education. That has allowed tuition increases across the State System to place greater financial burden on students and their families, thereby making the possibility of higher education to become further out of reach for our students.
Pennsylvania ranks third highest in the nation for student loan debt. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, funding…
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Michigan State Representative Jon Hoadley will discuss state budget appropriations for higher education and other legislative issues of interest to the faculty and the university community on Friday, April 22, 2-3:30 p.m. in 157-159 Bernhard Center on the Western Michigan University campus.
Rep. Hoadley represents the 60th district in the Michigan House of Representatives, where he serves on the House Appropriations Committee and Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The 60th district includes Kalamazoo and parts of Portage and Kalamazoo Township.
This event is free and open to the public.
Click on image to enlarge.
Remarks by WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick
On state divestment from higher education
March 23, 2016
One thing everyone in this room has in common is our shared investment in higher education as a public good. We can all agree, I hope, that students benefit when faculty and staff are equipped with the tools we need to provide the quality instruction, individual attention, and opportunities for learning and growth that our students need and deserve.
State divestment from public education impacts the lives of students as well as the health of our society. As we speak, one of the jewels in the crown of American public higher education – the University of Wisconsin System – is being deliberately and methodically dismantled before our eyes.
And in Illinois, universities have seen no state funding since July 2015 and are bracing for layoffs and, in the case of Chicago State University, even possible closure – at a cost of 900 jobs – while the governor and legislature posture and draw lines in the sand. Eastern Illinois University announced on March 11 that it will lay off 177 employees.
While the total harm that these actions will visit upon Illinois students is incalculable, some of its costs can be quantified. This year, 130,000 students in Illinois are losing need-based financial aid as the state’s Monetary Award Program, which provides grants for low-income students, remains frozen as the budget impasse continues.
These examples, extreme though they are, should not be considered unimaginable in Michigan. Sadly, they are all too imaginable in a state that has itself seen significant cuts in public funding for higher education and for other programs and resources that serve the public good. There was a time not long ago when we all would have found unimaginable the idea that the population of an American city could have been drinking poisoned water for over a year while officials in the governor’s office knew about it but did nothing.
But this is the kind of thing that happens when private profits are valued over the public good. The situation in Flint is a particularly horrific and tragic example of what can happen when state governments ill-serve the people whose well-being they exist – and are paid – to protect.
What’s happening in Wisconsin, the hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to their public university system and the attacks on tenure, is not an accident. The higher education crisis in Illinois is not an unintended consequence. Neither is this year’s billion-dollar budget shortfall in Louisiana, where universities and other state services have been decimated by years of funding cuts along with massive corporate tax cuts.
Some might suggest that these examples are simply the logical conclusion of a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment in recent years against the funding of resources that exist to serve the people. But that is disingenuous. What we are seeing is the result of an orchestrated nationwide campaign to shift public resources into private pockets. Well-funded “think tanks” and interest groups push for legislation across multiple states, with defunding public education, dismantling social safety nets for our most vulnerable citizens, and weakening unions among their top priorities. Our states are unwitting participants in a political experiment to reduce or even eliminate public resources as we know them.
In Michigan, the governor and the legislature threaten to withhold state funding and punish the institutions whose students are among the least privileged to begin with. Do they not realize that these measures affect students of color and lower-income students disproportionately? Or do they not care?
Governor Snyder recently announced a plan to “increase” university funding in Michigan, to “increase” it back to where it was five years ago when he took office, before he cut higher education funding by 15 percent in the first place in his first budget as governor.
The cuts we’ve endured at Western and other universities in the state have had real costs, including to students who have not been able to continue their studies but also to the ones who stay with us here at WMU but find fewer resources available to them.
The governor cut our budget. And the university has suffered as a result. What a surprise. When you starve the beast for five years, you don’t get to blame the beast for starving. Yet that is exactly the kind of thing we keep hearing from Lansing.
But worse, it’s also what we are hearing from our own senior leadership at WMU. President Dunn has rightly spoken out against the zero-sum measures favored by the governor and the majority party in the legislature. I appreciate that. But then his provost imposes the same kinds of measures on us. Retiring faculty are not replaced. Programs and even entire departments are targeted for closure, although we don’t really know because that whole process seems to be conducted in secret. We are called incessantly to account for ourselves, for our time, for our credit hour production, in new and creatively time-consuming ways. Worst of all, we are being pitted against one another – faculty, staff, departments, programs, and colleges – in a battle for resources in which none of us have been filled in on the rules of engagement.
Enrollment is down, enrollment is down, enrollment is down. That is what we keep hearing, and most of us are in fact seeing the effects of that first hand. When we will talk openly and honestly about why that is and what we can do about it? When will we talk about why enrollment continues to be robust at Central Michigan and Grand Valley but not here? At what point will the senior leadership of this university be called to account for what is happening to our enrollment numbers on this campus, not to mention what has happened to faculty and staff morale?
Last month marked three years since I first stood before you, ladies and gentlemen of the Board. Since that time, I have been moved around the agenda and finally moved off it entirely and into public comments, as of course you know. Although I have been given a variety of vague explanations for why that has happened, I think we all know that the real reason is that some of you would prefer not to hear some of the things I have to say. I have been silent for over a year about the disrespectful and unprofessional treatment I have received in this venue. But I have seen first hand the debilitating effects that a culture of secrecy and silencing can have, not only on members of the university community but on members of the human family. I cannot be complicit in that any longer.
I am asking you today, as I have asked you many times before, to take seriously the things that I and other faculty, staff, and students have to tell you, regardless of how you feel about the messenger. Step out of the carefully controlled environment you spend most of your time in when you are on campus and really listen to the people who work and go to school here. Stand with us to protect this university from external forces who want to see us fail. We are on the same side of this battle.
At least I hope we are.
Click on image to enlarge and visit the Young Invincibles Student Impact Project for more information about state investment in higher education.
I recently revisited press coverage of the 2010 union win for faculty in anthropology and other disciplines at Florida State University, where an arbitrator reversed the termination of 21 tenured faculty members earlier that year, ruling that the firings had violated the FSU faculty union contract. The university’s administration, which had cited deep cuts in state appropriations to justify the firings, had also announced plans to merge some departments as part of its cost-saving efforts and to eliminate others, including anthropology.
These events of course prefaced a series of provocative comments made by Florida Governor Rick Scott the following year in which he declared that anthropology has no place in the state university system:
“We don’t need a lot more anthropologists in the state,” Scott told a radio talk show host in October 2011. “It’s a great degree if people want to get it, but we don’t need them here. I want to spend our dollars giving people science, technology, engineering, and math degrees. That’s what our kids need to focus all their time and attention on, those types of degrees, so when they get out of school, they can get a job.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, in a speech to a business association, Scott asked them, “Do you want to use your tax money to educate more people who can’t get jobs in anthropology? I don’t.”
Much of the public discourse surrounding the Florida controversies, including articles defending the value of anthropology in response to the governor’s comments as well as the arbitrator’s report ordering the reinstatement of the fired faculty members, focused on the cost-efficiency of anthropology, including the grants brought in by the faculty alongside the high general education tuition dollars they generated and other budgetary advantages. As the arbitrator, Stanley H. Sargent, concluded: “It made no sense to eliminate anthropology from a budget standpoint.”
Responses to Scott’s comments also made strong cases for anthropology’s broad relevance while emphasizing its important role in STEM education and research. A statement by the American Anthropological Association pointed out to Scott that “anthropologists are leaders in our nation’s top science fields, making groundbreaking discoveries in areas as varied as public health, human genetics, legal history, bilingualism, the African American heritage, and infant learning.”
Brent Weisman, chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida, made a similar case on behalf of his department: “Anthropologists at USF work side by side with civil and industrial engineers, cancer researchers, specialists in public health and medicine, chemists, biologists, and others in the science, technology, and engineering fields that the Governor so eagerly applauds. Our colleagues in the natural, engineering, and medical sciences view the anthropological collaboration as absolutely essential to the success of their research and encourage their students to take courses in anthropology to help make them better scientists. Anthropology is a human science in its own right.”
All this is true. And yet, making the case for anthropology on the basis of its contributions to STEM fields risks repeating what many well-intentioned scholars did in overemphasizing monuments to defend Africa’s contributions to civilization: a strategy that uses the colonizers’ yardstick to measure its own worth.
Anthropology makes intellectual contributions to STEM but it shares its moral relevance with the humanities. That moral relevance is in teaching students how to critically evaluate their world from a system-wide perspective.
The national siphoning off of financial support from the liberal arts is an unprecedented assault on the spirit of democracy. It is an assault on moral freedom, an assault on personal liberty, an assault on what the architects of the Constitution (and the women in their lives) saw as the most important reasons for educating the masses:
“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large.” (Thomas Jefferson)
We do not have liberal arts for the sake of getting jobs. Universities were not founded solely or even primarily to offer vocational training. Were that true, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams would not have supported free public education. As Adams wrote in 1785:
“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.”
Universities are laboratories of the civic mind, of the public good. To assert this as no longer true is to cherry pick the principles our founders espoused in creating our democracy.
We have a right to bear arms for the same reason that we have a right to have our minds illuminated as far as practicable. Otherwise we truly are dumb brutes wielding weapons without purpose.
There is no time for the right to bear arms to be invoked without a reminder of its absolutely necessary twin – the type of education that leads to illumination. The person who bears arms without illumination is only half of a democratic human being. We do not bear arms just for the sake of personal safety. We bear arms collectively, for the sake of collective freedoms.
The contemporary problems of joblessness and job insecurity are not due to the ways in which universities educate. That claim is an elaborate, beautifully crafted trick on the part of political ideologues whose best chance for election and re-election (and for further widening inequality for their own self gain) is by spreading confusion to an increasingly uneducated but well-armed electorate.
Universities – in this long view – will eventually become high tech vocational training scrubbed clean of any democratic debate. The most dangerous adversary to political despotism will be as quietly eradicated as the Department of Anthropology at Western Michigan University is being eradicated today, as Africana Studies was yesterday, and as Sociology or Philosophy or maybe your own department or discipline may be tomorrow.
In that world, we may only need English for remedial purposes, for those who need additional support post-high school so they can write up their scientific findings, and History not at all. I remember once hearing that Philosophy explains what is possible and Science demonstrates it.
Perhaps we are on a path towards eliminating the need to explain anything – explanations can be reserved for the elite. For the rest of us: Conduct experimental trial according to instructions, replicate, eliminate what cannot be replicated, repeat. Replicate, eliminate, repeat. Aim gun, release trigger, repeat.
Editor’s note: The author is a Quaker pacifist and does not endorse violence. She does support the intent of the founding fathers (and women in their lives) to protect citizens from a despotic government that retains power through fear and the withholding of the right to enlightenment.
The University of Montana has announced that it will eliminate nearly 200 jobs this year, including 58 full-time faculty positions. According to The Missoulian, the jobs to be eliminated by June 30, 2016, will include “open positions that won’t be filled” as well as layoffs. (“UM will lay off 27 people, reduce 192 full-time positions by end of June,” The Missoulian, January 27, 2016.)
Faculty and students at the four-campus Connecticut State University system rallied last fall to protest contract proposals from the Board of Regents that called for eliminating faculty research support, allowing the transfer of tenured faculty between campuses without faculty consent, and weakening tenure. Negotiations have been stalled since December. (“Professors, students unite to protest Board of Regents contract,” New Britain Herald, October 29, 2015; “Connecticut, College Faculty Members Battle Over Tenure,” Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2015.)
Eastern Michigan University faculty have denounced a “closed search” process for the institution’s next president. With no public presentations or meetings with faculty, staff, or students, finalists will interview exclusively with the Board of Trustees. Similarly, the 2014 presidential search at the University of Michigan was conducted “completely in private,” according to the Detroit Free Press. (“EMU faculty not happy about closed presidential search,” Detroit Free Press, November 7, 2015; “Faculty Senate pulls all representation from Presidential Search Advisory Committee,” Eastern Echo, November 28, 2015.)
University of Missouri system president Tim Wolfe and Columbia campus chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned in November under pressure from student activists, including more than 30 members of the football team. Faculty cancelled classes and walked out in support of the students, who were protesting a series of racial incidents on campus. (“U. Missouri president, chancellor resign over handling of racial incidents,” Washington Post, November 9, 2015.)
Some 50 faculty and staff at the City University of New York were arrested and handcuffed at a demonstration in November to protest an administration proposal for salary increases totaling six percent over six years, which demonstrators said would not keep up with inflation. CUNY faculty and staff have been working without a contract or salary increase since 2010. (“Dozens arrested at CUNY faculty, staff protest,” CBS New York, November 4, 2015.)
Faculty, staff, and students at the University of Iowa are protesting the hiring of President J. Bruce Harreld, whom the Board of Regents selected over objections of the faculty. Iowa faculty criticized the search process as well as the selection of Mr. Harreld, who has no experience in university administration. Faculty at eight other Big 10 universities have joined the Iowa faculty in calling on the board to “adhere to the principles of shared university governance and to ethical behavior and transparency.” (“Hundreds protest regents, call for Harreld to resign,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 22, 2015; “A controversial search ends with a controversial chief for the U. of Iowa,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 4, 2015.)
Following the ouster last year of University System of North Carolina President Thomas W. Ross, UNC faculty and other observers have raised concerns that Ross may have been removed for political reasons. In October, former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings was named his successor, after a search that faculty members charge was conducted without transparency or shared governance. The UNC board chairman has since resigned. (“Questions linger over how UNC chose Spellings,” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 23, 2015.)
Calvin College in Grand Rapids announced in October that majors in art history, classical languages, theater, Greek, and Latin will be eliminated, along with six faculty positions, following that institution’s recent academic program review. (“Calvin College cuts programs, eliminates 6 faculty spots,” Fox 17 West Michigan, October 16, 2015.)
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a budget bill last July that cuts higher education funding by $250 million and significantly weakens tenure, due process, and shared governance rights for faculty at public universities in the state. (“Walker erodes college professor tenure,” Politico, July 12, 2015. For recent developments, see “Critics say UW tenure policy up for adoption won’t protect academic freedom,” Capital Times, January 30, 2016, and “Wisconsin Regents Committee Approves Tenure Changes Without Discussion,” by Hank Reichman, Academe Blog, February 6, 2016.)