WMU-AAUP Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students

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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

Lisa C. Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP

2016 WMU-AAUP officer elections

Status

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 staff@wmuaaup.net 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)

 

 

 

 

The 2016-17 WMU-AAUP Contract Campaign is On!

Our next contract negotiations won’t start until the spring or summer of 2017,
but our 2016-17 contract campaign starts now!


Since our last negotiations, in 2014, we’ve seen an uptick in infringements on faculty rights to academic freedom, due process, and participation in shared governance on campuses nationwide. In this context, and in a political and economic climate of reduced legislative support for public education, WMU faculty once again face serious challenges as we approach our 2017 contract negotiations. That is why we have been working to organize a year-long campaign of events and actions to build solidarity on campus and support for 2017 negotiations.

What is a contract campaign?

A contract campaign supports the bargaining team by engaging the faculty to build solidarity. A visible, vocal, and united faculty sends a powerful message that we are determined to stand up for academic excellence, fair compensation, and appropriate working conditions. This approach worked well for us in 2014, and with lessons learned from that campaign, we are prepared to come out even stronger this time around.

Why do we need a contract campaign?

It would be great if once we won a benefit, we could consider it permanent. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. The administration comes into every negotiation demanding concessions, and we owe our success over the years in holding them off and winning enhanced benefits to the collective action of the faculty and their visible and vocal support for our bargaining teams.


What you can do:

  • Apply to serve on the bargaining team. The call for applications is coming soon, and interviews with the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee will be held in November 2016.

Serving on the bargaining team not your style? That’s OK! We have lots of opportunities to get involved, build solidarity, and cultivate leadership skills.

Click here to learn more about how you can sign up to support the bargaining team in one or more of the following ways:

  • Join the contract campaign team and develop and implement our 2017 campaign strategy. (Sign up online now.)
  • Join the communication and media team and get information out to the faculty and community. (Sign up online now.)
  • Join the “S” committee and organize actions in support of the bargaining team. (Sign up online now.)
  • Join the FOIA team and help draft information requests, follow-ups, and appeals. (Sign up online now.)

Want to help support the WMU-AAUP bargaining team but not sure you have time to join a support team or committee? Here are some other ways to help (and you can — you guessed it — sign up online):

  • Make signs and create other materials for rallies.
  • Help organize campaign events.
  • Talk to colleagues about the benefits of union membership and to friends and neighbors about our academic mission and the benefits our work provides to students and to the community.
  • Share your professional expertise with the bargaining team.
  • Write articles, blog posts, and letters to the editor in support of public higher education and the role of the faculty in the academic mission.
  • Come to WMU-AAUP events and encourage your colleagues to attend.
  • Watch for emails from the WMU-AAUP, subscribe to the blog (from the home page, look for the ‘subscribe’ and ‘follow’ buttons on the right-hand side of the page), join us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for information about upcoming events and to make sure you never miss a call to action.

Look for sign-up sheets at WMU-AAUP meetings and events or click here to learn more and sign up online.


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IUP faculty union president: Why I will strike

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.

The HawkEye

Opinion

Nadene A. L'Amoreaux, Ph.D., president of the IUP chapter of APSCUF, the statewide union of faculty members and coaches. Nadene A. L’Amoreaux, Ph.D., president of the IUP 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…

View original post 870 more words

WMU-AAUP Remarks to the Board of Trustees (June 29, 2016)

Remarks by WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick
June 29, 2016


First, congratulations to our PIO and MSEA colleagues on the ratification of their new contracts. We are proud to work alongside these dedicated women and men and appreciate their important contributions to the smooth operation and academic mission of Western Michigan University.

This is a day of celebration, as we honor and recognize the 45 faculty members whose tenure and promotions are finally official. The Board’s approval today caps a grueling review process that spans nearly an entire academic year. Tenure and promotion in higher education take years to achieve, and it is wonderful to see these outstanding colleagues recognized for the many accomplishments that have led them to this moment.

In his remarks at last year’s tenure and promotion luncheon, Provost Greene praised the review procedures here at Western as more straightforward and clearly articulated than at other institutions where he has worked. I have waited a year to second his observation and to add an explanation, because that kind of thing doesn’t just happen. It is the result of deliberate effort. For 40 years, WMU faculty and administration have collaborated on establishing, refining, and most important, codifying these procedures in the Agreement between the WMU-AAUP and the WMU Board of Trustees, our union contract.

We and the colleagues who came before us haven’t achieved perfection, of course, but the collective wisdom of our faculty and administrators alike over four decades has given rise to agreed-upon guidelines for tenure and promotion with clear and specific timelines, criteria, and procedures.

Each academic unit also has its own Department Policy Statement (DPS), many of which set out tenure and promotion guidelines specific to each department, according to the standards in their respective disciplines and in adherence to the contract. A DPS is a governance document, as established in Article 23 of the Agreement, developed by the faculty with the input and feedback of their chair or director. Once approved by the faculty, DPS drafts are submitted to the administration’s Director of Academic Labor Relations and to the contract administrator for the WMU-AAUP, who evaluate them for compliance with the Agreement.

The DPS, which covers many facets of department-level governance, is analogous to the Agreement in the sense that both are examples of good-faith shared governance at its best. By that I mean they represent the kind of collaboration between faculty and administration in which faculty participation in decision-making has a real impact on the way we do things here, a genuine collaboration to create policies and procedures and ensure transparency, accountability, fairness, and equity.

To function effectively, the work of a university is necessarily collaborative. Many outside the academy do not understand the role of the faculty in this enterprise and imagine faculty simply as employees who are expected to follow the directives of administrators. But as we all know, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the faculty. Since the intellectual character and identity of any university is determined above all by its faculty, participation in shared governance, from the department level to the university level, is central to our work as faculty members.

Boards and administrators might sometimes forget or want to disregard that, especially when political or financial pressures tempt them to act unilaterally or with only the thinnest veneer of shared governance. But a university leadership distracted from the mission by crisis management and attempting to limit the role of the faculty in institutional governance risks doing the dirty work of those who want to weaken or even dismantle public higher education. If you are employed by a public college or university as an administrator or in any capacity, or if you serve on a board of trustees, it is your responsibility along with the faculty to stand up against those who would devalue or disparage the work we do, which disadvantages our students and the communities we serve.

Tenure is often misunderstood or misrepresented by people who favor disinvestment in public higher education and are eager to try to turn the public against its best defenders: professors. Despite the mythology, tenure is not a guarantee of lifetime employment. It is simply the right to due process in the workplace. This is something that everyone who has to work for a living should have. That tenure even has to exist to assure the right to due process absolutely should raise questions for the public. Unfortunately, the meaning of tenure is often manipulated in cynical attempts to raise the wrong questions. For example, I would like for a public discussion of tenure to consider the question of why people can be fired from their jobs for being gay, lesbian, or transgender. We are fortunate that WMU has taken a stand against that kind of discrimination, but many workplaces and even many states have not.

More specific to higher education is the question of what happens to local economies when institutions who are large employers reduce hiring and shift to an increasingly contingent workforce. This creates economic insecurity for the workers themselves, but it also adversely affects the local economy, including small businesses and the real estate market. It also threatens academic freedom on campus. Students are not well served when their instructors are reluctant to take intellectual risks out of fear for their jobs or when programs or course offerings are reduced or eliminated because of cutbacks. It’s all connected. We are all connected.

As with tenure and promotion, our union contract sets out clear and reasonable processes to follow if there is cause to consider the removal of a tenured faculty member. That termination cannot be threatened or carried out capriciously, in retaliation for speaking out, for political reasons, or as a way to try to silence controversial ideas in the classroom or in faculty research, is what tenure is for and why every worker in the academy should have the right to similar protections.

As I congratulate my PIO colleagues on their new contract, I also wish for them the academic freedom that ought to be their right. These are credentialed experts in their respective fields who deserve respect, fair compensation, and the same protections that tenure provides to members of my bargaining unit, including academic freedom and the rights to due process and participation in shared governance. They are members of our community and indispensible to our mission.

Finally, even on this day of celebration, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on two tremendous losses that our Western Michigan University family has recently endured. On behalf of the WMU-AAUP, I extend our deepest condolences to the families of Trustee Ron Hall and emeritus faculty colleague Dr. Charles Warfield, two highly accomplished men, respected colleagues, and inspiring leaders. Both will be missed terribly.

 

The Fate of Anthropology at WMU: What We Know and What We Don’t Know

With no tenure-track hires since 2008, the WMU Department of Anthropology has been struggling under a lack of institutional support. Recently, some ANTH faculty and students have reported that they are receiving mixed messages from the administration about whether the department is slated for elimination.

Here is what we know:

  • The Department of Anthropology comprises four programs (archaeology, biological, cultural, and linguistic anthropology) at the undergraduate and master’s level, in addition to a variety of general education offerings.
  • In fall 2014, some ANTH faculty expressed concerns that ANTH was experiencing a secret but deliberate “teach out.” The dean denied this.
  • In late spring 2015, ANTH faculty were collectively informed that they had been slated for closure or merger but that plans were now equivocal. A merger or closure was still possible, the faculty were told, but the department might still remain open.
  • In January 2016, faculty were told that closure was still possible and encouraged to “plan.” They were also encouraged to consider eliminating their graduate program. Since then, several ANTH faculty members have reported that they continue to hear conflicting information about the future of the department from their interim chair and the interim CAS dean.
  • The conflicting information includes a scenario in which the department would be moved into another existing department (as yet unidentified). Another scenario floated to ANTH faculty is that their department would be broken up and the faculty obliged to find other departments to transfer their tenure lines.
  • ANTH graduate students have expressed concerns about the availability of graduate courses for Fall 2016 and about whether they will continue to be funded. They also report receiving conflicting information from the interim chair and interim dean.
  • When Fall 2016 classes were posted on GoWMU in February, no graduate courses appeared among the listings for Fall 2016, despite there being a cohort of returning graduate students who have not yet completed their coursework.
  • Some graduate students report having been directed to enroll in undergraduate ANTH courses in the fall.
  • When a faculty member from another department asked at the March 3, 2016, meeting of the Faculty Senate why there were no graduate course offerings in ANTH for fall, the CAS interim dean disagreed that there were no courses being offered.
  • In response to student and faculty concerns about the lack of graduate course offerings, two graduate courses have since been added to the fall schedule.
  • The March 23 meeting of the WMU Board of Trustees was attended by approximately 20 anthropology graduate and undergraduate students, seven of whom addressed the board during the public comment period. All expressed serious concerns about what might happen to ANTH and the value of their degrees.
  • The ANTH students’ public comments at the March 23 meeting of the Board of Trustees can be viewed in the video of the meeting, linked here. (Their comments begin at 1:29:35.)
  • One student, an Iraq war veteran, published his comments as a letter to the editor of the Western Herald on March 18. His letter is linked here.
  • In response to the students’ comments at the Board of Trustees meeting, CAS interim dean Keith Hearit said, “If it was our intention to close anthropology, we would have done it last year in the Academic Program Review.” He is quoted in this MLive article, and his response can also be viewed on the video.
  • Interim Dean Hearit’s comments at the board meeting on March 23 seem to contradict a statement he made earlier in the week. “At this point, neither the department faculty nor the college has made any definitive decisions about the future of the Anthropology Department, but we are exploring the best ways to maintain its programs,” he wrote in an email to ANTH faculty and students on March 21. “Short-term, there are no plans to close the department as an administrative unit or cut any programs; longer-term, it is clear that the current staffing won’t justify a distinct administrative unit, and that there will be some changes in academic programs.”
  • WMUK reports that in response to the students’ comments, “WMU President John Dunn said it was important that fears about a closure don’t become self-fulfilling. Dunn suggested that could happen if prospective students get the wrong idea about the program.” President Dunn’s comments can also be viewed in the video.
  • The university has accepted graduate applications to anthropology for Fall 2016 admission, including a nonrefundable $50 fee from each prospective student. However, new graduate students are not being admitted for Fall 2016.
  • Anthropology students are not responsible for what is happening in the WMU Department of Anthropology.
  • No program in ANTH was recommended by the provost for “Restructuring” or “Elimination,” according to the Academic Program Review and Planning Final Report 2014-15.
  • Programs designated for CQI “should prepare plans for advancement and enhancement that address ways to enhance current quality or demonstrate increasing program distinctiveness through annual strategic planning and assessment reports” (p. 9), according to the APR&P Final Report 2014-15.
  • If the administration plans to delete a program or make organizational changes to an academic unit, they must follow a formal process that involves the department faculty, the College Curriculum Committee, and the Faculty Senate, as set out in Senate curriculum change policies and procedures.
  • ANTH students have started a petition in support of the WMU Department of Anthropology.

Here’s what we don’t know:

  • Why this is happening. In addition to receiving conflicting information about what will happen to their department and the programs in it, faculty members have also received conflicting explanations for what the administration hopes to achieve by merging,  restructuring,  or eliminating it.
  • Whether there is an actual plan being implemented by the provost and the interim dean that they are choosing not to share with faculty or whether they are simply taking advantage of the depletion of a department that has been starved for a number of years.
  • Why the provost, interim dean, and interim chair would disseminate conflicting information to students and faculty.
  • Whether other departments or programs might be experiencing similar destabilization. (As of Wednesday afternoon, March 30, it appears that at least two other departments at WMU may be in similar situations.)
  • How WMU can maintain its standing as a national research university without a Department of Anthropology, and how the discipline can survive the disinvestment of the university’s senior leadership, in contravention of the provost’s own recommendations in the Academic Program Review and Planning Final Report 2014-15.
  • Why the senior administrative leadership is not held accountable for its repeated failures to lead in an honest, transparent way. Whether they are unwilling or simply unable to foster a culture of open communication that honors the foundational values of shared governance and academic freedom, the lack of a clearly articulated administrative vision for units like ANTH undermines the quality of our programs and our strength as a cohesive institution.
  • How faculty can be expected to maintain or improve programs without resources and demonstrable institutional commitment. The destabilization of ANTH detracts from robust educational opportunities for our students and, instead, has generated distrust and confusion.

As one ANTH faculty member writes:

“There is no neat narrative here other than the fact that this crisis is completely due to administrators telling us for an entire year that we had been slated for closure or merger and that it may happen, probably will happen, could happen, may not happen, will happen. I don’t know how to capture the reality of administrative double-speak that has broken the spirits of an entire unit. “