Next WMU president to be announced April 12 (two events)

Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick

April 10, 2017

Dear colleagues,

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the Board of Trustees will finalize and announce their selection of the next president of Western Michigan University at a formal session on Wednesday, April 12, at 11 a.m. in Heritage Hall. The president-select is expected to be present at the session, which is open to the public. All members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit are encouraged to attend as schedules permit.

Later in the day on Wednesday, the president-select will be introduced to the campus community at a special event to be held from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in 157-159 Bernhard. Bargaining-unit faculty are encouraged to attend this event as well.

As most of you know, I serve on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, along with 21 other colleagues from a diverse variety of campus constituencies, under the capable (and also generous and respectful) leadership of Trustees Bill Johnston and Jim Bolger. While I have had – and have expressed – discomfort with the confidential nature of the search, I am extremely pleased with the three finalists. The search committee recommended these three candidates to the Board of Trustees on March 29, following interviews on March 22-23 and extensive deliberation. All three are outstanding, and I would be overjoyed to welcome any one of them as the next president of Western Michigan University.

The search committee has not yet been informed of the Board’s choice, which we are told by Trustee Johnston was unanimous following their interviews of the three finalists on April 3-4. We are scheduled to meet with the Board on Wednesday morning before their public session. For now, I can say that each of the finalists would bring enormously valuable and unique talents, qualities, vision, and experience to the role of president, and that all three have demonstrated – across their careers and in their interviews and application materials – the kinds of smarts, skills, and values that many if not most us very much want to see in our next president. These values include a deep understanding of and respect for faculty and the work we do, commitment to maintaining and enhancing WMU’s profile as a research university, and genuine interest in helping our students achieve to their fullest potential.

This is an important and exciting moment in the history of our institution. Profound changes are coming our way beginning July 1, and I believe that these will be very positive changes. Along with our campus community, I appreciate President Dunn’s leadership these past 10 years, particularly his unwavering commitment to students and unrelenting passion for Western Michigan University. At the same time, I am also feeling newly energized by the prospect of new leadership, along with the leading-edge vision and direction our next president will help us find for this university in which we have all invested so much.

After Wednesday’s announcement, I am confident that many of you will be feeling the same way.

In solidarity,

Lisa C. Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP
Associate Professor of English
and Gender & Women’s Studies
Western Michigan University

Update on March 13 bargaining session

Ground rules signed, first articles exchanged at opening bargaining session 

Negotiations got underway on Monday, March 13, with a productive conversation at the table. The teams signed ground rules for bargaining, and our WMU-AAUP team presented four proposals, while the administration’s team presented one.

WMU-AAUP proposals:

  • Articles 17/18: The WMU-AAUP proposes language to confer promotion for faculty specialists concurrently and automatically with the granting of tenure. The current contract language confers promotion automatically to traditionally ranked faculty along with tenure, while faculty specialists must undergo a separate review for promotion.

  • Articles 30 and 43: For Articles 30 (eLearning) and 43 (Discoveries, Patents, and Copyrights), the WMU-AAUP proposes language to strengthen faculty intellectual property rights.

  • Article 48: The WMU-AAUP proposes adding the option of interdepartmental transfers that result in joint appointments.

Administration proposal:

  • Article 16: The administration proposes revisions to the policies and procedures for evaluation of faculty professional competence.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Monday, March 20. In the meantime, our WMU-AAUP team is working in consultation with the chapter officers and Executive Committee to analyze the administration’s proposal on Article 16 and formulate their response. They are also drafting additional proposals, working through data gathered from the recent faculty survey, and continuing to meet with faculty.

Bargaining sessions are scheduled for Monday afternoons through final exam week in April. During the spring semester, our team is constrained to this limited schedule by their teaching, research, and service responsibilities. Beginning in Summer 1, more frequent and longer sessions will be scheduled.

Message to the faculty from our WMU-AAUP bargaining team:

We would like to extend our thanks to the colleagues who joined us at Montague House on March 13 for the kickoff rally as well as those who joined us in spirit by sending messages of support and solidarity. We were energized by the thoughtful dialogue you engaged in with us – it was a great way to warm up for our first bargaining session! – and we appreciate your commitment to providing ongoing feedback and support for us as negotiations move forward.

We understand how hard it is for faculty to take time out of a busy day in the middle of the semester, especially on the first day back after spring break. If you were able to join us, thank you for coming out to show your support. To those who could not attend on March 13: We appreciate the confidence that so many of you have expressed in us and look forward to seeing you at future events. To all our colleagues: It means a lot to us to know you have our backs. Thank you. We will not let you down.

In solidarity,

Cynthia, Whitney, Bruce, Jeremy, and Mike


Faculty votes to approve WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with WMU Students

Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick

November 18, 2016

Dear colleagues,

Many thanks to all who participated in the vote this week on whether to approve the proposed WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students.

I am please to report that the faculty has voted overwhelmingly to join the WMU-AAUP Association Council, Executive Committee, and officers in approving the resolution.

Here are the results:

  • Yes: 173 (92 percent)
  • No: 11 (5.85 percent)
  • Abstain: 4 (2.1 percent)

Total number of votes cast: 188

This resolution is only the beginning of the actions we can and must take to make visible our shared commitment to stand with our students, as well as with our faculty and staff colleagues, during these challenging times. From here, we must turn our words into action. As many of you know, a variety of efforts by faculty, staff, students, and community members are already underway, and I encourage you to learn more about their plans and consider joining the organizers in collaboration.

For the WMU-AAUP chapter, approving and sending forth this resolution is a meaningful first step as we embark on the new project that is now before us. I look forward to working together with all of you to maintain and enhance our thriving intellectual community here at Western. This community is of course based on our core values of academic excellence, shared governance, academic freedom, and higher education as a public good, and we are going to need to work actively to protect these values and insist on their primacy in the coming months and years. At the same time, we are also going to need to work a lot harder to emphasize and prioritize the values of diversity, inclusion, respect, and empowerment so that our campus is a place that is safe for all of us — faculty, staff, students, and everyone else — to be who we are.

Many thanks to all of you for your wisdom, courage, and willingness to take a stand for justice.

Please click here to read the full text of the now-approved WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with WMU Students.

In solidarity,

Lisa C. Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP

WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students

Click here for printable version.
Click here to see our ad in the January 9 issue of the Western Herald (scroll to p. 9).

WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students

Approved by the faculty on November 18, 2016

Whereas the Board-appointed faculty of Western Michigan University, represented by our collective-bargaining chapter of the American Association of University Professors, stands for academic excellence, shared governance, higher education as a public good, and academic freedom;

Whereas our core academic mission includes the work of instruction, research, scholarship, creative activity, and professional service;

Whereas this work is foundational to the development of our students as knowledgeable and engaged citizens, informed participants in the democratic process, and possessors of a spirit of tolerance and acceptance;

Whereas the intellectual character of a university is determined by its faculty;

Whereas the faculty therefore also appropriately models character for our students and for the community in other ways, including with respect to our ethical principles and moral convictions;

Whereas these values inform our understanding and acceptance of the immense and humbling responsibility that we carry in the form of our students’ trust in us: that we will treat them with respect, with fairness, with compassion, and with generosity of spirit;

Whereas the faculty takes seriously its role in modeling, teaching, and facilitating critical thinking and respectful discourse;

Whereas we recognize the challenges inherent in the exploration of controversial issues and ideas as well as the intellectual growth that can result from engaging these ideas respectfully and thinking critically about them;

Whereas many Western Michigan University students are now feeling vulnerable, unwelcome, or even fearful for their safety and wellbeing or for the safety and wellbeing of their classmates;

Whereas every student is welcome at Western Michigan University and deserves to feel accepted, included, empowered, and safe here;

Be it resolved that the Board-appointed faculty of Western Michigan University, individually and collectively, stands in solidarity with the students of this university and extends to them our attention, our understanding, our support, our advocacy, and – when and if they need it – our protection, at this singular moment in our nation’s history and always.

Presidential search discussion sessions next week

Dear colleagues:

On behalf of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, I invite all members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit to participate in sessions set for next week to discuss the presidential search now underway at WMU.

A number of opportunities have been scheduled for faculty and other members of the campus community to participate in these conversations. Members of the search committee and representatives of Parker Executive Search, the firm engaged by the PSAC, will be in attendance at all sessions to answer your questions and listen to your suggestions. The PSAC will use your input to craft the position description and recruit promising candidates.

A session exclusively for members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit is scheduled for next Wednesday, November 16, at 2pm, in room 210 of the Bernhard Center.

If you are not able to attend the WMU-AAUP session, I encourage you to try to make it to one (or more) of the other sessions.

These include three sessions for which attendance is open to all members of the university community (all three in the North Ballroom of the Bernhard Center): 

  • Tuesday, November 15, 5:30-6:30pm
  • Wednesday, November 16, 9:30-10:30am
  • Thursday, November 17, 2:30-3:30pm

In addition to these open meetings, sessions are also scheduled for various constituency groups on campus, including students, staff employee groups, and other constituencies. Several of these sessions may be of interest to WMU-AAUP faculty, including the following:

Tuesday, November 15, 6:30-7:30 p.m.: Diversity Affinity Groups (242 Bernhard)

Wednesday, November 16 (all meetings in 210 Bernhard)

  • 8:30-9:30am: International Education Council/HIGE
  • 1-2 pm: Extended University Programs
  • 2-3 pm: WMU-AAUP faculty
  • 4-5 pm:  Faculty Senate

Thursday, November 17 (all meetings in 204 Bernhard)

  • 12:30-1:30pm: OVPR/research focus and Centers/Institutes
  • 1:30-2:30pm: Emeriti and Western Association of Retired Faculty

The input of the Board-appointed faculty is going to be critical throughout the search process. Please plan to attend one or more of these discussions sessions next week, and please encourage colleagues to attend as well.

More information about the search is available here and will be updated regularly.

In solidarity,

Lisa C. Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP

2016 WMU-AAUP officer elections


Information about ballots, candidates, and voting procedures

WMU-AAUP logo with "vote" button

Ballots for the 2016 WMU-AAUP presidential, vice presidential, and Executive Committee election will be arriving in the HOME mailboxes of dues-paying bargaining-unit members via U.S. mail beginning Saturday, October 22, 2016, and continuing through the week.

Your individual ballot will include the candidates for chapter president and vice president, along with your college’s candidate(s) for the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee, as well as a proposed change to the chapter’s constitution and bylaws regarding an adjustment to the dates during which officer elections are held.

(Click here for list of candidates.)

If you don’t receive your ballot at your home address by Wednesday, October 26, please contact the WMU-AAUP office at 345-0151 or email to make sure your contact information is up to date.

Completed ballots must be received by the auditor’s office in the self-addressed, stamped envelope enclosed with your ballot no later than 12 noon on Monday, November 14.

Thank you for participating in this important process.

2016 Candidates for WMU-AAUP President and Vice President:

President: Dr. Lisa Minnick (English and Gender & Women’s Studies)
Vice President: Dr. Carol Weideman (Human Performance and Health Education)

2016 Executive Committee candidates:

Note: Executive Committee terms are staggered, with the terms of half the seats expiring in even-numbered years and the other half in odd-numbered years.

College of Arts & Sciences — Humanities (2-year term through 12/31/18)

Candidate: Dr. Ashley Atkins (Philosophy)

College of Arts & Sciences — Social Sciences (to complete term ending 12/31/17)

Candidate: Dr. Whitney DeCamp (Sociology)

Haworth College of Business (2-year term through 12/31/18)

Candidate: Dr. Bruce Ferrin (Marketing)

College of Education and Human Development (2-year term through 12/31/18)

Candidate: Dr. Tim Michael, Human Performance and Health Education

College of Health and Human Services (2-year term through 12/31/18)

Candidate: Professor Susan Kay Nelson, APRN-BC (Bronson School of Nursing)

Executive Committee members whose terms continue through 12/31/17:

College of Arts and Sciences – Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Dr. Todd Barkman (Biological Sciences)

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Dr. Betsy Aller (Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering)

College of Fine Arts

Dr. Andrew Hennlich (Frostic School of Art)

University Libraries

Dr. Sharon Carlson (University Archives)

Center for English Language and Culture for International Students (05/31/17)

Professor Tudy Boldin (CELCIS)

Executive Committee members rotating off 12/31/16:

Serving on the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee involves a significant time commitment and a tremendous amount of responsibility. Our four outgoing members are people of courage, vision, wisdom, passion, and — thankfully and necessarily — humor. We are going to miss working with these amazing colleagues. Please join us in thanking them for their outstanding service. They brought a lot to the table, and their extraordinary efforts will be paying dividends to the chapter and to the faculty for years to come.

College of Arts & Sciences — Humanities: Dr. Kent Baldner (Philosophy)

College of Arts & Sciences — Social Sciences: Dr. Bilinda Straight (Anthropology)

Haworth College of Business: Dr. Dan Farrell (Management)

College of Health and Human Services: Dr. Mary Peterson (Audiology)





On the agenda for Sept. 16 Association Council meeting: Does the Faculty Want a Second Health Insurance Option?

In July, President Dunn announced a second health insurance option that may be offered to WMU employees during open enrollment this fall, BCBSM’s Healthy Blue Living HMO.

We provide below an analysis of the Healthy Blue Living HMO to help faculty members make an informed decision about whether to allow the plan to be offered to the faculty along with our existing health insurance plan. (See also our summary comparison table of overall benefits here and our pharmacy benefit comparison table, linked here.)

On September 16, the WMU-AAUP Association Council will discuss whether the new plan should be offered to our members. We encourage all WMU-AAUP bargaining-unit faculty to attend this meeting.

WMU-AAUP Association Council meeting Friday, September 16, 2016
1:30 p.m. in 157 Bernhard

Special guests to help answer your questions about healthcare:

  • Lisa Marshall, Director of Sindecuse Health Center, Western Michigan University
  • ŸWil Arbogast, Director of the WMU Sports Medicine Clinic
  • ŸJim Middleton, Director of Pharmacy, Sindecuse Health Center

This meeting is open to all members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit.

 Quick overview: The Healthy Blue Living HMO might work for you if:

  • Getting your premium amount down is your highest priority.
  • You are confident that you and your family will not need services that are subject to the HMO’s out-of-pocket deductible payments, which could offset premium savings.
  • You like working toward wellness goals and don’t mind the HMO’s wellness plan requirements.
  • You and your family are healthy and you’re confident that you’re likely to remain so.
  • You have no dependents on your insurance and who live out of state or overseas.
  • You rarely or never travel out of state or internationally.
  • You don’t mind getting a referral from a primary care provider if you need to see a specialist.
  • No one on your insurance needs to take any nongeneric prescription drugs.
  • You don’t mind giving up access to no-copay, no-deductible providers and clinicians at the Sindecuse Health Center on campus.

Quick overview: The Healthy Blue Living HMO might NOT work for you if:

  • You and/or members of your family need nongeneric prescription medications. The copays under the HMO and loss of access to Sindecuse pharmacy discount could offset your premium savings.
  • You expect that you and/or members of your family will need to visit providers. The HMO deductible requirements could offset your premium savings.
  • You have a spouse or child on your insurance who lives out of state or overseas.
  • You travel out of state and need non-emergency care or prescription drugs while you are away.
  • You travel internationally and need non-emergency care or prescription drugs while you are away.
  • You don’t want to have to get a referral from a primary-care physician to go to a specialist.
  • You use services at Sindecuse, such as physical therapy, lab and x-ray, and other medical and clinical services and providers and want to continue to do so.

More details: Some important facts about The Healthy Blue Living HMO

  • The main advantage of the HMO: Lower premium equivalents. (See Table 1.)
  • Lower copays for office visits but only after deductible is met. The HMO offers $20 copays for Enhanced Plan, $30 for the Standard Plan, compared to $35 for our current plan. However, your deductible must be met before you’ll be eligible for these copays. (See Table 1.)
  • That means you’ll pay 100% of the bill for non-preventive medical services until your deductible is met, potentially negating any savings from lower premiums. Our current plan includes many services to which the deductible does not apply and does not require that the deductible be met before covering most office visits.
  • If you are on the employee-only plan, you’ll pay out-of-pocket for office visits and/or other care up to $400 (Enhanced Plan) or $1000 (Standard Plan) before you will be eligible for copay-only office visits. (See Table 1.)
  • If you are on the two-person or family plan, you’ll pay out-of-pocket for office visits and/or other care up to $800 (Enhanced Plan) or $2000 (Standard Plan) before you will be eligible for copay-only for office visits. (See Table 1.)
  • If you or members of your family need any nonpreventive healthcare services at all, there is a good chance that these deductible requirements will offset savings of the reduced premium.
  • The HMO provides no coverage for medical or clinical services at Sindecuse Health Center. On our current plan, we enjoy at Sindecuse with zero out-of-pocket costs. Enrollees in the HMO will be responsible for all charges for services at Sindecuse. (See Table 1.)
  • The HMO does not include a prescription drug discount at Sindecuse. HMO enrollees may use the pharmacy at Sindecuse, but prescription drug prices under that plan will not be discounted. (See Table 2.)
  • With the HMO, 90-day prescriptions will be available by mail-order only. (See Table 2.)
  • The HMO has a 5-tier prescription drug plan with high copays for for tiers 4 and 5. On our current plan, copays for tier 4 and tier 5 drugs are equivalent to those for tiers 2 and 3, respectively. On the HMO, tiers 4 and 5 are very expensive. (See Table 2.)
  • It’s an HMO. That means there is no out-of-network option and that your providers must all be part of the Michigan BCBSM network.
  • Kids live out of state? With the HMO, if you have kids up to age 26 who don’t live in Michigan but are on your insurance, they would not be covered except for emergency treatment.
  • If you travel outside Michigan: With the HMO, according to information on BCBSM’s website, “there are limits to the type of care you get that’s covered when you travel outside your plan’s network and around the U.S.” You’ll need a referral from your primary care provider and approval from BCBSM to get care except in case of emergency. Approval is required but not guaranteed, and there may still be out-of-pocket costs to you even if approved. The HMO plan “covers only a limited amount of health care services when you’re outside of your plan’s network area or outside of Michigan.”
  • If you travel internationally: BCBSM’s “How to get care while you’re traveling” page notes that with the HMO, “You’re only covered for emergency care and accidental injuries when traveling abroad.”
  • Some might find the wellness program requirements invasive or burdensome. Enrollees are “graded” on six measures: weight, blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, tobacco use, and depression.

According to the BCBSM website, a grade of A means you meet the health target; B means you have a health condition that may not be controlled but you are actively participating in treatment to improve the condition; and C means you’re not meeting the wellness target and haven’t committed to treatment to improve your condition.

If you get any grades of C, you’ll be required to commit to a plan of action and follow through in order to remain eligible for the Enhanced Plan. You don’t actually have to lose the weight, reduce cholesterol, quit smoking, kick that depression once and for all, etc., but you do have to participate in the action plan until you achieve the desired goal.

In cases where the goal might not actually be achievable for some enrollees, you will apparently be required to follow the action plan in perpetuity to remain eligible for the lower-cost Enhanced Plan.

  • If you don’t follow your wellness plan or you don’t complete other requirements within 90 days of enrollment or re-enrollment (meaning annually), you will be switched from the Enhanced Plan to the Standard Plan, which has substantially higher out-of-pocket costs. (See Table 1.)

For more information:

What else you can do:

  • Come to the Association Council meeting on Friday, September 16, at 1:30 pm in 157 Bernhard, to participate in the conversation about whether this plan should be offered to WMU-AAUP faculty in addition to our existing plan.
  • Talk to colleagues and help keep other faculty members informed.
  • Got expertise? Share it with the faculty by speaking at the Association Council meeting or write an article for the blog.