WMU-AAUP resolution honors Dr. Howard Bunsis

At the WMU-AAUP chapter meeting on November 10, 2017, the faculty voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to honor Dr. Howard Bunsis, professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University, for his eight years of service as chair of the national AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress.

During his tenure as AAUP-CBC chair (2009-17), Howard was an active and supportive friend to the WMU-AAUP Chapter and a tireless advocate for collective bargaining rights, higher education as a public good, and the empowerment of faculty nationwide.

Full text of the resolution appears below the image.

Image of resolution document.

Resolution of Appreciation Honoring Dr. Howard Bunsis

WHEREAS Dr. Howard Bunsis has dedicated himself to serving college and university faculty, students, and the cause of higher education as a public good;

WHEREAS he has demonstrated his passion for and commitment to empowerment through education, both as a professor and in his work to educate faculty nationwide about AAUP ideals as well as training us in the practical skills of understanding university finances;

WHEREAS he has fought tirelessly and fearlessly to preserve and strengthen collective bargaining rights, academic freedom, and the faculty’s right to participate in shared governance;

WHEREAS he has stood up consistently and relentlessly to advocate for faculty, individually and collectively, inspiring many in the process to take more active roles ourselves;

WHEREAS he has been instrumental to organizing and building new chapters, strengthening existing chapters, and identifying, supporting, and mentoring emerging leaders;

WHEREAS during his eight years of service as chair of the AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, he has been an extraordinary and actively supportive friend to the WMU-AAUP Chapter, instrumental to our growth in recent years and to our strength today;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Western Michigan University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, authorized by a unanimous vote of its members:

Recognizes and honors Howard’s wisdom, generosity, and fierceness in advocating on behalf of the WMU-AAUP Chapter as well as on behalf of the profession more widely; and

Expresses its deepest appreciation, respect, and gratitude for Howard’s contributions, his tenacity, and his friendship to faculty everywhere and to our chapter in particular; and

With our congratulations on the completion of his eight years of service as chair of the AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, we offer this resolution to acknowledge at least in this small way the great debt of gratitude we owe him. And we wish for him going forward the lighter workload that he has clearly earned and deserves, the satisfaction of his positive impact on the future of the profession and on thousands of lives, and finally, more time to spend on other things that matter to him and especially with the people who matter most to him: his family.

Passed unanimously by the members of the WMU-AAUP Chapter
on November 10, 2017.

 

Get involved: Contract campaign training with Kira Schuman Feb. 22-23

“Campus Organizing and Building Your Contract Action Team”
Kira Schuman, National AAUP Senior Program Officer


Two sessions (attend either one):

Wednesday, February 22, at 4 p.m.
Thursday, February 23, at 12:30 p.m.

Both sessions are in 207 Bernhard.


Kira Schuman, national AAUP senior program officer, will lead two training workshops on campus next week to help WMU-AAUP faculty develop new strategies for engaging and mobilizing colleagues during our 2017 contract campaign and beyond. Both sessions will focus on:

  • educating colleagues about union issues
  • activating and mobilizing the faculty to get the best contract possible
  • effective messaging for faculty engagement and community awareness
  • building and sustaining campus and community coalitions.

All dues-paying members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit are invited to participate.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about union organizing from one of the best!

Click on flier to enlarge.

kira_flier

 

Labor law and Title IX expert Risa Lieberwitz to speak at WMU Sept. 16

Risa L. Lieberwitz, Professor of Labor and Employment Law at Cornell University and General Counsel of the American Association of University Professors, will visit WMU on Friday, September 16. She will be the featured speaker at the WMU-AAUP New Faculty and Association Council Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. and later on the 16th will present “The History, Uses, and Abuses of Title IX” in a public presentation at 4 p.m. Both events will be in 157 Bernhard.

Click to enlarge flier.

Flier for speaker event featuring Dr. Risa Lieberwitz, including photo of Dr. Liebervitz and information about the date, time, and location of her presentation.Professor Lieberwitz chaired the committee that produced the new AAUP report on the history and current uses of Title IX, a joint project of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and the Committee on Women in the Academic Profession.

As the executive summary notes,

The report identifies tensions between current interpretations of Title IX and the academic freedom essential for campus life to thrive. It finds that questions of free speech and academic freedom have been ignored in recent positions taken by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education, which is charged with implementing Title IX, and by university administrators who are expected to oversee compliance measures.

While successful resolutions of Title IX suits are often represented as unqualified victories in the name of gender equality, this report finds that the current interpretation, implementation, and enforcement of Title IX has compromised the realization of meaningful educational goals that lead to sexually safe campuses. Since 2011, deployment of Title IX has also imperiled due-process rights and shared governance. This report thus emphasizes that compliance with the letter of the law is no guarantee of justice, gendered or otherwise.

2017 Starts Now: Contract Review Workshop on May 16 with Dr. Jamie Daniel

Monday, May 16, 2016
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (lunch provided)

at Montague House
814 Oakland Drive

Photo of Dr. Jamie DanielDr. Jamie Daniel

On Monday, May 16, 2016, Dr. Jamie Daniel, national AAUP Field Service Representative, will lead a review of our 2014-17 Agreement as we kick off preparations for contract negotiations next year.

All dues-paying members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit are invited to participate or just to listen and learn. Colleagues who are considering applying for the 2017 bargaining team or serving in other WMU-AAUP leadership positions are especially encouraged to attend, as are all faculty who want to know more about the contract.

The national AAUP’s workshop description:

What’s meaningful in a particular collective bargaining agreement is greatly shaped by local conditions: the nature of the institution and its resources, and the needs of the faculty in the bargaining unit as it is constituted. But what has transpired at other bargaining tables can spark new directions on your campus. And sometimes a fresh, “outsiders’ view” of a contract can be a useful source of ideas on how to shape your bargaining agenda.

As you begin the process of preparing to go to the table, the national office staff can review your current contract, and present thoughts on changes that you might wish to bargain for. Alternatively, we can prepare an analysis of specific provisions of your contract that you may be interested in modifying in bargaining. In either case, we can offer examples of language in other current agreements, to help flesh out what the possibilities are, and to serve as ammunition at your table.

Join us!

University of Wisconsin System Regents Approve New Policies Weakening Tenure

In the Spring 2016 issue of the WMU-AAUP Advocate newsletter, we reported on developments in Wisconsin regarding actions taken by the state legislature and Gov. Scott Walker to cut public higher education funding in that state by $250 million and significantly weaken tenure, due process, and shared governance rights for faculty at public universities in the state. (“Walker erodes college professor tenure,” Politico, July 12, 2015.)

We also reported that a task force had been appointed to write new policy language for tenure in the University of Wisconsin System and that the draft policy produced by the task force in December 2015 had raised serious questions and concerns for professors in Wisconsin.

(Click here to read the Advocate article.)

In early February, the language went before a committee of the UWS Board of Regents, whose members endorsed it without discussion and sent it on to the full board for review. On March 10, 2016, the board voted to approve statewide rules that will significantly weaken tenure and due process protections for faculty at all UW campuses.

As the Wisconsin State Journal reported on March 11:

Under the new rules, UW officials will have the authority to discontinue academic programs and lay off tenured faculty for educational or financial reasons — such as if administrators decide other “higher priority” programs need funding. Professors could also face discipline, including firing, if they are found to be falling short of expectations under a new policy for post-tenure review.

(“Regents approve new policies for UW tenure over professors’ objections,” Wisconsin State Journal, March 11, 2016.)

According to an article in Inside Higher Ed, “regents cited the need, in an era of tight budgets, for ‘flexibility’ to close programs — and eliminate faculty jobs in the process.” Several amendments to the new policy language were proposed by faculty and by dissenting members of the board that would have strengthened tenure and due-process protections. Two of the amendments were voted down by the board 11-5. Another failed in an 8-8 deadlock. (“‘Fake’ Tenure?” Inside Higher Ed, March 11, 2016.)

As the Wisconsin State Journal reports,

Under the new rules, UW officials will have the authority to discontinue academic programs and lay off tenured faculty for educational or financial reasons — such as if administrators decide other “higher priority” programs need funding.

Professors could also face discipline, including firing, if they are found to be falling short of expectations under a new policy for post-tenure review.

One member of the UWS Board of Regents, José Vásquez, spoke out against the new policies at the meeting last Thursday where the new language was ultimately approved. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Mr. Vásquez “drew applause from the audience at the board meeting by protesting that the financial pressures on the system were not its own doing but the result of a lack of adequate financial support from the state”:

“It was not tenure that caused the fiscal crisis. It was not faculty who were entrenched and did not want to terminate programs,” Mr. Vásquez said. “The fiscal crisis that we have has been imposed on us.”

(“Wisconsin Regents Approve New Layoff and Tenure Policies Over Faculty Objections,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 10, 2016.)

Julie Schmid, executive director of the national AAUP, told the Wisconsin State Journal that the new rules “could set a precedent for weakening tenure protections across the country.” According to Dr. Schmid,

“The Board of Regents today voted to diminish tenure and academic freedom in the UW System, and with it to diminish the reputation of the system, and to undermine the Wisconsin Idea.”

The national AAUP issued a statement on March 10 in response to these developments:

Tenure in Wisconsin

It is now clear that the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has adopted a policy that provides weaker protections of tenure, and thus of academic freedom, than what has long been the norm in Wisconsin and than what is called for under the standards approved by the American Association of University Professors. What is not clear is why the regents have adopted such a policy. The policy appears to be only the latest step in an ongoing attack on the University of Wisconsin as a public good that exists for the benefit of all citizens of the state. It jeopardizes the working conditions of faculty and academic staff as well as the learning conditions of students in the university. Weakening tenure at the University of Wisconsin weakens the University of Wisconsin.

The regents had an opportunity to affirm the University of Wisconsin System’s commitment to academic freedom and to the university’s continued contribution to the common good, as enshrined in the Wisconsin Idea. They failed to do so. The reason for the adoption of the present policy will likely become apparent when it is put into practice. The American Association of University Professors and its chapters in the state will pay close attention to how these policies are going to be deployed.

Why this matters in Michigan:

WMU faculty, along with professors at all public universities in the state, should note that in Michigan, the authority to govern public universities rests with each institution’s Board of Trustees rather than in Lansing. This means that no act of the state legislature, like the bill passed in Wisconsin and signed by the governor last July, would be required to shift this authority to institutional governance boards because they already have it.

But we are fortunate that WMU is a union campus. This means that despite the constitutional autonomy that vests our Board of Trustees with considerable power, our WMU-AAUP contract is a legally binding barrier to instituting similarly draconian policies on our own campus.

But make no mistake: We are going to have to be vigilant.

As we wrote in the spring Advocate, we all need to pay close attention to the developments in Wisconsin. The political realities that have led to this point — where tenure protections, academic freedom, and faculty rights to due process in one of the most highly regarded state university systems in the United States are being systematically dismantled before our eyes — are not contained by state borders.

There are powerful people and organizations in this state and beyond who are watching what is unfolding in Wisconsin right now with gleeful anticipation. There is no question but that they would like to try to impose similar policies on state universities here in Michigan. And we are already seeing resource-shifting on our own campus that is cause for concern.

At WMU, the only thing standing in the way of the kind of abridgment of faculty rights that we are seeing in Wisconsin is our union contract. We are fortunate to have a strong union and powerful contract language. But the state legislature has shown no sign that they plan to back off on trying to pass more anti-union legislation, which is part of what made what is now happening in Wisconsin possible. Additionally, the misplaced priorities of the Republican-controlled legislature in Michigan and their ongoing disinvestment in public higher education indicate that tough times on our own campus are very likely here to stay for the foreseeable future.

That means if we intend to preserve our rights as faculty, we are going to have to fight for them. Complacency is not an option.

Please plan to attend the WMU-AAUP chapter meeting scheduled for Friday, April 8, at 1:30pm, in 105 Bernhard Center. We will discuss the situation in Wisconsin, how we can stand with our colleagues there, and how we can stand up against encroachments on tenure, academic freedom, and due-process rights here on our own campus. All members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit are encouraged to attend this important meeting.


Read more about developments in Wisconsin:

“Attack on college tenure threatens our humanities,” Hartford Courant, March 13, 2016.

“Attack on tenure harms academic freedom,” LaCrosse Tribune, Mar 7, 2016.

“‘Fake’ Tenure?” Inside Higher Ed, March 11, 2016.

“Regents approve new policies for UW tenure over professors’ objections,” Wisconsin State Journal, March 11, 2016.

“Wisconsin: Now the real battle begins,” Academe Blog, March 11, 2016.

“Wisconsin regents approve new layoff and tenure policies over faculty objections,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 10, 2016.


 

National AAUP Issues Statement on Developments in Wisconsin
(As reported in the Spring 2016 issue of the WMU-AAUP Advocate newsletter)

At a time when faculty rights to tenure and due process are being challenged by administrators and lawmakers nationwide, as well as misrepresented to the public, the national AAUP’s Statement on Developments in the University of Wisconsin System, issued on November 5, 2015, is an important reminder of some of the foundational principles of our profession.

After the Wisconsin legislature removed tenure and shared governance protections for UWS faculty, the AAUP and AFT-Wisconsin called on the UWS Board of Regents to enact policies consistent with AAUP principles through a process involving faculty and staff governance bodies. The Regents temporarily enshrined prior statutory language regarding tenure and shared governance and created a system-wide task force to craft new policy. In an initial conversation with the AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance, the UWS administration pledged that the new policies would follow AAUP standards.

However, early draft recommendations from the task force were fraught with conflicts with AAUP policies and standards. But in December 2015, the task force finalized an improved set of draft policies, although some faculty members who served on the task force questioned draft language related to post-tenure review and language regarding layoffs added by the UW System general counsel. Faculty members worried that “allowing for layoffs to accommodate program changes short of discontinuation raises the risk that faculty will be targeted for engaging in unpopular speech or controversial lines of research.” (“UW tenure task force wraps up on a note of uncertainty,” Capital Times, December 24, 2015.)

Vice President of the UWS Board of Regents John Behling, who chairs the task force, wrote in an op-ed that UWS “must be able to operate more like modern private and nonprofit sector organizations that, in challenging and often unpredictable times, respond to changing market forces, demographics, trends and demands.” On layoffs, Behling wrote: “Our new policy proposal empowers chancellors to discontinue programs as necessary for educational or financial reasons, and, if absolutely necessary, it allows for faculty in those programs to be laid off.” (“Opinion: UW tenure reforms provide flexibility, accountability,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 22, 2015.)

While Behling maintains that “Tenure is a critical bedrock of higher education,” critics point out that the Regents “can’t have it both ways.” In a letter to the editor responding to Behling’s op-ed, Chad Alan Goldberg, Professor of Sociology at UW-Madison, wrote that the Regents “can either uphold a strong tenure policy or it can give administrators more flexibility to fire faculty.” He added that “The purpose of a strong tenure policy is precisely to limit administrators’ flexibility to reallocate resources and staff so that such decisions do not infringe on academic freedom and are based on educational considerations as determined primarily by the people most qualified to do so, namely, the faculty.” Finally, he reminded the Regents and the public that tenure is “not a ‘job for life’; it’s a right to due process.” (“Letter to the Editor: Regents can’t have it both ways,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 29, 2015.)

The draft policy will go to the UWS Board of Regents in February. Behling said that their staff “will refine the drafts” of the policies on tenure and on post-tenure review and that “the language could change further at the hand of regents.” (“UW tenure task force wraps up on a note of uncertainty,” Capital Times, December 24, 2015.)

The AAUP national staff and leadership, along with AAUP faculty and their chapters in Wisconsin, remain vigilant in working to ensure that UWS policies comport with AAUP standards, but current developments are not promising.

In Michigan, the authority to govern public universities already rests with each institution’s Board of Trustees. We need to watch the developments in Wisconsin because the political realities behind them are not bound by state borders. At WMU, the only protection for faculty rights is our union contract. Fortunately, we have a strong union and powerful contract language. But it will take our ongoing vigilance to preserve our rights as faculty.

Follow this link to read the full AAUP statement.

AAUP Response to Oral Arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

The following is reposted from AAUP.com

AAUP Responds to Friedrichs Oral Arguments

Washington, DC — Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case which threatens to reverse decades-old decisions allowing for the collection of fair share fees from public employees. The case has far-reaching consequences for American workers, students and the public. Fair share fees fund a range of activities that improve the quality of education and the wellbeing of students as well as educators.

Howard Bunsis, chair of the AAUP-Collective Bargaining Congress, said, “The Friedrichs case is an attack on workers’ rights to bargain collectively, an attack on workplace democracy, and an attack on the middle class. It is also a call to organize; attempts to divide us will not work.”

Rudy Fichtenbaum, AAUP president, said, “In higher education, strong unions not only promote quality education for students and economic security for educators, they protect academic freedom and shared governance. It is only fair for workers to pay their fair share.”

Risa Lieberwitz, AAUP general counsel, said, “As the AAUP/AFT joint amicus brief explains, collective bargaining, supported by the fair share agency fee system, significantly benefits the educational system.  Agency fee arrangements fairly balance the interests of nonmembers with the state’s and union’s interests in requiring them to pay their fair share of the costs of negotiating a collective bargaining agreement that benefits members and nonmembers alike.”

More information on the case and the amicus brief filed by the AAUP is available here.

The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain the quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities.

Media Contact:
Risa Lieberwitz, AAUP General Counsel, (607) 592-5662, rlieberwitz@aaup.org
Howard Bunsis, AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress Chair, (734) 487-1070, hbunsis@gmail.com
Publication Date:
Monday, January 11, 2016

Click here to read an analysis of today’s oral arguments on SCOTUSblog.

Click here to read the transcript of today’s arguments.

Click here for our previous post on the WMU-AAUP blog re. Friedrichs v. CTA.

A decision on the case is expected in June.

National AAUP President to Speak at WMU on December 7

“How to Invest in Higher Education”
Dr. Rudy Fichtenbaum
President of the American Association of University Professors
and Professor of Economics at Wright State University

Monday, December 7, 2015, at 4 p.m.
157-159 Bernhard Center

As part of our year-long celebration of the AAUP Centennial, the WMU-AAUP will host national AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum on Monday, December 7. Dr. Fichtenbaum will speak on “How to Invest in Higher Education.”

Click on the flier to enlarge.Flier for Rudy Fichtenbaum lecture on December 7, 2015

As states have divested from higher education, costs have increasingly shifted to students and their families. With students now facing unprecedented college debt, Dr. Fichtenbaum challenges the conventional wisdom that there is no public money for higher education and proposes new sources of revenue.

This event is free and open to the public. Faculty, students, staff, administration, alumni, parents, and members of the community are invited to attend the lecture and participate in this important discussion.

The WMU-AAUP is a collective-bargaining chapter of the American Association of University Professors, comprising the 870 board-appointed faculty members of Western Michigan University. We are an active community of teachers, scholars, researchers, and artists committed to student success, academic excellence, public service, shared governance, and the preservation of higher education as a public good.