THE FACULTY ADVOCATE

NEWSLETTER OF THE UMKC CHAPTER OF THE
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS

October 2006                                    Editor: Patricia Brodsky                                   Vol. 7, No. 1



Note from the Editor

Benefits, Pensions, and Retiree Health Plans under Attack, by David and Patricia Brodsky

Retirees Take Strong Stance against Threat to Benefits

Senate Election Results

News of the Chapter: Benefits and Budgets

Exercise your Rights to Governance

State Funding, Tenure, Contingent Faculty Examined at Two Missouri Meetings, by Stuart McAninch

"Culture War Issues," Organizational Problems Take Center Stage at National AAUP Meeting, by Stuart McAninch

Food for Thought: Another Look at UMKC's Shameful Record on Race and Gender, by Pat Brodsky

Tenure Workshop October 20

The AAUP Chapter at UMKC Serves YOU

Copyright Notice

Dues Information

Back Issues




Note from the Editor

        Due to time constraints, the Faculty Advocate was not published during WS 2006.  The current issue features another major assault on the University, one that occurred in January.  Three Curators appointed by right-wing Governor Blunt targeted the retirement plan and retiree health benefits for possible elimination.  Although two of the three assailants appeared to have backed off, we are publishing these reports as current news, since the issue is unresolved and renewed assaults remain a very real threat.  Blunt will appoint three more Curators, whose term of service will start in 2007.



Benefits, Pensions, and Retiree Health Plans Under Attack

by David and Patricia Brodsky

        Three corporatizing members of the Board of Curators attempted to pressure UM System President Floyd and the rest of the Board to cut benefits and pensions for faculty and staff and even to eliminate the retirement system.  All three curators were appointed by right-wing Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, whose first "accomplishment" in office was to slash Medicaid benefits and to promise to phase out the system by 2008.

        At the January 26-27 Board meeting Curators David Wasinger, Doug Russell, and John Carnahan strongly insisted on the need to reduce faculty and staff benefits, targeting retirement above all.  Wasinger called retiree health benefits "overly generous" and the retirement system itself a "fossil".  By "fossil" Wasinger may have been referring to the UM System's defined benefit pension plan.  Curators Carnahan and Russell declared their intention to lower University benefits to the level of the private sector.  Carnahan declared, "no one in my world gets post-retirement health benefits," and Russell approved of the fact that the (pre-retirement) health deductible was much higher in private business.

        In reality, the level of employee benefits and their cost to the university are well below average, regionally and nationally.  Ken Hutchinson, UM Vice President for Human Resources, told the Curators that UM system retirement costs are one-third lower than the average at comparable institutions.  A pre-Blunt Curator stated in defense of benefits that "while salaries at public universities are lower than in the private sector, the trade-off has been good benefits" (Kavita Kumar, "UM president wants 5-7 pct. tuition hike", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 28, 2006).

        University of Missouri salaries are also low in the higher education sector.  Except for Rolla, they are well below the national averages for public PhD granting institutions.  This is true at all ranks separately and combined, regionally as well as nationally, and by gender ("AAUP Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession 2005-06," Academe, Mar-Apr 2006).

        The salvos fired by the Blunt Curator bloc did not come out of the blue.  The ground was prepared ten days before the Curator's meeting in a news item about a report on higher education published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
(http://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/re/2006/a/pages/higher_education.html).  Its themes of "productivity" and "cost efficiency" provided an opportunity to attack employees and the legitimate missions of the university.  Among other things, the report recommended abolishing tenure, deprofessionalizing the faculty, and reducing instruction to vocational preparation.  It also favored replacing professional peer-reviewed evaluation with judgments made by outside forces (employers, parents, politicians, etc.), privatizing and outsourcing services, and decentralizing administration (cf. the Blue Ribbon Task Force campaign to abolish the UM system).  Along with the demise of tenure, professional standards and academic freedom would disappear.  The report's stated mission--to raise quality while cutting labor costs--is impossible in a labor-intensive endeavor like genuine education.  Reduced labor costs at the university automatically translate into reduced quality, increased exploitation, and degraded working conditions.

        The connection between the Fed report ("cost-efficiency") and the agenda of the Blunt Curator bloc at their meeting ten days later (cutting employee benefits) was clear.  Curator Russell was quoted in the news item cited above as agreeing with the report's message that higher education should be subjected to the private corporate model.  His statement was paraphrased as: "because there is no bottom line in higher education, there isn't a lot of pressure to adopt cost-saving policies" (Terry Ganey, "Fed Critiques Productivity of Higher Ed.  Tenure is an Impediment," Columbia Daily Tribune, January 15, 2006; http://www.showmenews.com/2006/Jan/20060115News008.asp).

        The Fed report and the Curator bloc are operating in a larger context.  Nationally, in the private and public sectors, benefits and pensions are being reduced, privatized and weakened (Social Security), eliminated (Delphi, United Airlines), or stolen outright (Enron et al).  Retiree health insurance is being scrapped and out-of-pocket costs in Medicare appear to be on the increase.  Defined benefit pension plans, like the one offered by the UM System, are being terminated by employers and replaced with defined contribution plans.  In the private sector the latter are designated by the tax code as 401(k), while in the non-profit sector, including higher education, they are called 403(b). 

        Several factors motivate the campaign to replace defined benefit with defined contribution plans.  The latter costs the employer less, or nothing at all, thus raising corporate profits.  Of equal, if not greater importance, defined contribution plans are products of the ideological war on social insurance, which shifts risks from large pools of employees to individuals.  Defined benefit plans agree to pay a stated amount, based on salary and years of service.  Benefit levels are not tied directly to the plan's investment gains or losses.  And they are insured by a federal government agency, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation.  Defined contribution plans, by contrast, require employees to make investments in their own individual accounts, whose market performance determines the level of benefits they will receive.  Neither the amounts accumulated or paid out in benefits are guaranteed, since their value fluctuates with market changes.  And there is no insurance to protect against losses.

        Defined contribution plans combine higher risks and investment fees with lower benefits.  As Notre Dame University economist, Teresa Ghilarducci, writes: "Twenty years of experience with 401(k) plans reveal that workers will never be able to accumulate enough assets in individual accounts and choose payout options that will provide a steady stream of income for life after retirement" ("The End of Retirement," Monthly Review, 58.1 (May 2006): 13).  If the current UM defined benefit plan (Wasinger's "fossil") were to be replaced by a defined contribution plan, UM employees would face an impoverished future, and some might not be able to afford to retire at all. 
In addition, weakening or elimination of health care insurance typically forces people with high medical bills into bankruptcy, or into choosing between food and rent on the one hand and health care and medications on the other, even for those with professional or middle management level incomes.  Consumer Reports profiles the medical bankruptcy of a financial officer retired from Time-Warner and explains: "Bankruptcies among people 65 and older, still relatively rare, are the fastest growing of any age group.  In 2001, 100,000 such Americans filed for bankruptcy, more than double the rate in 1991.  Debt in households headed by someone 65 or older increased 150 percent in the 10 years ending in 2002 to an average of about $20,000. [...] people ages 55 to 64 now heading toward retirement are likely to suffer greater difficulties."  One study forecasts that for the generation of those about to retire there will be a "$45 billion retirement-income shortfall by 2030" ("Retire in the black," Consumer Reports, January 2005, p. 32).

        To make up for this shortfall, as Ghilarducci writes, "Americans will turn to ... contingent, low-paying jobs" (p. 13) that require "more intense concentration and keen eyesight and involve more stress" (p. 15).  But seniors find "jobs harder to get, more difficult to perform, and unemployment duration much longer" (p. 25).  The elimination of retirement as an expectation and an entitlement belongs to the same ideological war, which is grounded in the principle of coerced labor.  Employees who can't afford to retire are forced to work until they drop.

        A similar impoverishment, of course, could be achieved by slashing the current level of benefits in the UM defined benefit plan, for ideological or financial reasons.  For example, if the UM retirement system, in its current or future form, were to be underfunded, undersubscribed, or sufficiently fragmented to minimize economies of scale, it could collapse, or be terminated in the future as unviable.  The elimination of defined benefit plans nationwide is having the same weakening effect on the retirement system as a whole.  A weakened retirement system would damage the pensions of current retirees as well as of those still employed. 

        The replacement of the current system with defined contributions plans might be imposed with or without a transition plan or a grandfathering provision for those already vested.  A "two-tiered model" is also a strong possibility, dividing employees into privileged and unprivileged categories (e.g. current vs. future employees, vested vs. unvested, senior vs. junior).  The two-tiered model undermines potential employee solidarity by stirring the resentment of the unprivileged groups and the complacency of the privileged.

        The divide-the-generations strategy helped pave the way for the corporate takeover of health care a decade ago, which made its appeal to the young.  Younger and healthier people were told it was unfair that their medical premiums paid for older and sicker people, whose care requires a greater share of funding.  Provoking the resentment of young workers is likewise a tactic to discredit the Social Security retirement system.  By contrast, the divide-the-generations strategy of the two-tiered retirement model is pitched to those with seniority, bribing older and longer-term employees to abandon their newer and younger colleagues.  Because it is a corporate favorite, with multiple disadvantages for employees, the divide-and-rule two-tiered model should be rejected unconditionally by all UM faculty and staff.

        The report published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis was entitled "Stop Paying More for Less: Ways to Boost Productivity in Higher Education."  The "cost" of retirement plans to a great extent is a red herring, since the campaign to eliminate defined benefit plans is mainly driven by corporatizing ideology, with the anticipation of profiting through high investment fees charged to individualized retirement accounts.  High fees are the main reason that pension accumulations and payouts in defined contribution plans are inadequate.  In addition, individual accounts are charged retail fees, while wholesale fees are offered to group plans.  The same motivations and payoffs can be seen in the ideological drive to privatize Social Security.

        Attacks on benefits belong to the much wider ideological war corporatizing public institutions and diminishing or terminating social services.  Instead of socially organized services with their economies of scale and broad outreach, isolated individuals are forced to pay for services out of pocket, and those who can't afford them must do without.  While the war is intensifying in Missouri, it should be noted that other states are strengthening social services.  Some, for example, have extended health and even retirement benefits to part-time instructors, who previously were declared ineligible to qualify for them.

        The immediate context of the assault on benefits is the long history of inadequate state funding of higher education in Missouri.  While Blunt proposed a 2% increase in higher education appropriations, it still fell well short of meeting the university's current financial obligations, much less supporting future improvements.  Floyd's promise to cut administration by 10% could not by itself compensate for the shortfall.  Years of miserly appropriations forced him to propose raising tuition again as the only other effective method of closing the gap between expenses and income. 

        Because Floyd indexed proposed tuition increases to the size of state appropriations, the higher the state support, the lower the tuition increase would be.  But the Curator bloc wanted faculty and staff benefits to be cut in addition to, or instead of, increases in tuition.  Its strategy was to pit students (tuition) against faculty (benefits).  At the January Curators meeting, Wasinger declared that "students are being asked to bear all the misery ...  I think the misery ought to be shared."

        But neither employees nor students should be punished for historically stingy state appropriations and biased funding structures that consistently shortchange higher education.  This sorry history has earned Missouri a consistent ranking in the bottom five states in the nation in per capita funding of public higher education.  By contrast, Kansas is ranked 11th from the top.  Instead of students and employees "sharing the misery" (as Wasinger suggested)-- that is, being maneuvered into fighting one another over their inadequate portions--Missouri public universities should receive their adequate share of state appropriations, as the Missouri Constitution requires.

        Consistent with their track record, there was no substantive reporting about the assault on benefits in the Kansas City media.  Crucial material and links to other sources could be found only in stories published by the Columbia Daily Tribune and St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

        In mid-March, the AAUP chapter sent out an e-mail appeal to faculty, staff, and retirees, and asked recipients to forward the appeal to employees on other UM campuses.  The appeal requested they send messages to President Floyd, the Curators, and members of the Missouri Assembly before the March 23 Curators meeting.  One paragraph of the sample message read:

        "Neither retirees nor current employees nor new hires should have to face insecure or inadequate pension benefits.  It is just as essential to maintain an adequate level of health benefits, for employees and retirees alike, and especially for those in ill health.  And an attractive benefit package, along with decent salaries, is crucial to recruiting and retaining quality faculty and staff at the University of Missouri.  The strength, health, and quality of the University depend on its competitiveness in these areas."

        Although students did not receive the AAUP e-mail appeal, the assault on benefits has major consequences for them as well.  The quality of their education depends on the quality of the faculty, and on the working and learning environments supported by quality staff.  Recruiting quality faculty and staff requires the incentive of good benefits, since salaries are substandard.  Students thus have a short-term stake in opposing assaults on benefits.  But they also have a long-term stake, since they will eventually enter the workforce themselves.  Whether they work in the private or public sectors, attacks on benefits at a major employer like the University of Missouri will drive down the level of benefits throughout the state.  By defending the benefits of university employees now, they will be defending their own later on.

        Later reports indicated that Floyd, UM System administrators, and the six pre-Blunt Curators were solid in their defense of the current retirement system and employee and retirement health benefits.  In addition, two of the three members of the Blunt bloc appear to have modified their positions.  Nevertheless, it would not be surprising if the assaults were renewed next year, after three more Blunt appointees join the bloc.  If the bloc remains ideologically stable, it will enjoy a two-thirds majority on the Board. 

        Additional recommendations in the Federal Reserve report should also be noted.  They call for "strong leadership" typical of "the business world" to defeat anticipated "resistance or even legal challenges from the various professional organizations and associations that support faculty and administrators."  UM employees should be cognizant of the fact that business world "leadership" has included mass layoffs, lockouts, and arbitrary firings, theft of pensions, breaking of contracts, destruction of employee organizations such as labor unions, and worse.  Thus UM employees and retirees should monitor the situation and be prepared to express their opinions on short notice.

        In conclusion, we should remember that faculty activism successfully ended the Gilliland era and, in coalition with UMKC students, staff, administration, alumni, parents, the local community, and the other UM campuses, also defeated the Blue Ribbon Task Force and saved the UM system.  Early warnings to aggressors that they will face stiff opposition can convince them to rethink their policies.




Retirees Take Strong Stance Against Threat to Benefits

        In response to the AAUP's appeal to faculty and staff to protest attacks on the University's retirement and health benefits, Dr. Ed Bailey, president of the UMKC Retirees Association, sent the following letter to System Vice President for Human Resources Ken Hutchinson, with copies to President Floyd, Chancellor Guy Bailey, and the Board of Directors of the UMKC Retirees Association.  Ed's emphasis on the potential damage to the entire system is very pertinent.  The letter was dated March 31, 2006.

        "Recent discussions by the Board of Curators have focused on matters of expenditures for employees' benefits and retirement plans.  This is of considerable concern to current and retired employees of the University of Missouri.  Consideration of the possibility of reducing the existing level of personnel benefits by the University or a revision downward of the present retirement program has serious implications for the future of the four-campus University of Missouri system.

        A notable misconception underlying perspectives on financial support provided by the State of Missouri for its four-campus University system is that the State's fiscal support has been excessive.  In fact, such is not the case as evidenced by Missouri's low ranking in the nation in per capita funding of public higher education.

        Related to this misconception is the idea that the primary cause of increased tuition fees charged to students is that the University's expenditures on faculty and staff benefits and retirement plans have been excessive.  Again, the truth is that University of Missouri officials strive diligently to keep these costs below that of comparable public universities in other states.

        Endeavors to contrast cost-saving actions in the private and business sectors with those of public universities are misleading because for-profit and not-for-profit organizations generate markedly different approaches to personnel matters.  Competition for high-quality personnel in public higher education is typically more dependent on the quality of benefits and retirement options than on the salaries offered.  Opportunities to conduct research in superior facilities with strong supportive staffs and excellent libraries as well as in tenured positions are often the deciding factors in hiring outstanding personnel.  The reasons cited above are the major contributing conditions which make a university a desirable place to establish and sustain a career.

        Constant turnover of personnel has a deleterious impact on the national and international status of a university.  In the long run, the threatening effect of unpredictable benefits and retirement programs could prove to be more costly than the current system created by a secure and reasonable benefits and retirement program.

        In effect, a movement to alter the present system of supportive benefits and reliable retirement plans is likely to diminish the status of the University of Missouri system.  One related outcome might be the inability to compete for superior students or to provide attractive curricular choices for Missouri's students.  Thus the diminution of top professionals and future leaders.  This outcome conceivably could result from the dismantling of a well-established and effectively managed benefits and retirement system.

        As retirees who devoted large portions of our professional careers to enhance the University of Missouri, it is with considerable apprehension that we envision the negative portent of any action which might place undue stress on the capacity of the University of Missouri to fulfill its constitutional role in Missouri's public higher education system.

        As President of the UMKC Retirees Association, I urge the Board of Curators to retain the philosophy of the present system of benefits and retirement plans for the University of Missouri."



Senate Election Results

        In the elections held in WS 2006 for Senate offices, two hundred thirty-five faculty returned ballots.  Six of the seven candidates recommended by the AAUP won their seats.  The results were as follows: Chair Gary Ebersole; Vice Chair Steve Driever; Secretary Laura Gayle Green; IFC represenatative Nancy Stancel; Campus Budget Advisory Committee Tony Luppino and Karyl Leggio; Parking and Traffic Committee Scott Baker; IT Privacy Oversight Committee Carolyn Thompson; University System Committee on Tenure Marilyn Taylor and John Wang.

        Our congratulations to those who were elected, and our thanks to all who agreed to run.  Effective faculty governance depends on our willingness to serve.

        As this issue was in preparation, a special election was under way to determine who would fill the empty seat on the IFC.



News of the Chapter: Benefits and Budgets

        Discussion at the February 17 chapter meeting, held at Saul Honigberg's house, focused on the Provost candidates, preparation of an AAUP-supported slate for the Senate elections, and the importance of member recruitment.  Materials were distributed about Tom Guild and Cary Nelson, candidates for President in the National AAUP elections.  At this meeting Ed Hood reported on the move among certain Curators to eliminate existing health and retirement benefits for University faculty and staff.  Based on this heads-up, the chapter immediately alerted the membership to the threat and mounted a letter-writing campaign to express our opposition to this plan and our support of President Floyd, Dr. Hutchinson, and the rest of the administration and those Curators who likewise opposed it.  Thanks to all who responded.  We reprint a letter from the UMKC Retirees Association in this issue.

        At the second in a series of meetings aimed at bringing faculty issues to the notice of the upper administration, the Chapter Executive Committee met March 21 with Chancellor Bailey.  Among the items discussed were the attacks on benefits and pensions, potential changes in the University budgeting model, and the growing threat from diploma mills, particularly those offering degrees in education.  Chancellor Bailey expressed the opinion that there was no immediate danger to the benefits and pension plans, but that this could change in January 2007, when Governor Blunt will be able to appoint three new members to the Board of Curators.  Bailey asked Stu McAninch and Susan Adler to provide him with written details about the diploma mill problem.  He expressed optimism concerning the budgeting model, sometimes known as RCM (Responsibility Centered Model), which is being considered by the University.  Subsequently a number of chapter members attended a meeting of the Senate Budget Advisory Committee, which is currently involved in a study of RCM at a number of universities.  They plan to present the results of their research to the Chancellor.  A future issue of the Faculty Advocate will include excerpts from their report and Chancellor Bailey's response.

        Chapter members were active in the interviewing process for Provost, both serving on the search committee and asking hard questions at every faculty forum with the five finalists.  It was announced April 14 that the Chancellor had offered the post to internal candidate Bruce Bubacz.

        The first event of the fall semester will be a workshop on the tenure process, to which all tenure-track faculty are invited.  A panel consisting of deans, a chair, members of the Campus Promotion and Tenure Committee, and recently tenured faculty will make brief presentations and field questions.  The goal is to make the process more transparent and provide colleagues with crucial information as they move toward tenure.  The tenure workshop is scheduled for Friday, October 20, 2-4 PM in Education 307.

        Since our last issue Stu McAninch was elected the UMKC chapter's representative to the State Conference.  In that capacity he attended the annual State Conference meeting in Columbia in February, as well as the St. Louis Conference for Contingent Faculty in early April (see his report in this issue).  Stu also represented the chapter at the annual meeting of the National AAUP in Washington, DC this summer.  His travel to Washington was supported in part by the chapter and by the Missouri State AAUP conference.

        Several members were on leave during the winter semester.  Ed Gogol, SBS, has been pursuing his research in California, while Drew Bergerson, History, spent the semester in Hildesheim, Germany, working on the sequel to his 2004 study of Nazi Germany.  Both Drew and John Laity, SBS, received UMRB research grants.

        During the past year several members--Saul Honigberg, SBS, and Hali Fieldman, Conservatory of Music--received tenure.  In addition, Saul became a father in late 2005; his daughter has already attended her first AAUP meeting.  Kelly Pinkham became a grandfather again in February, and Linda Voigts a grandmother in April.  Congratulations to all involved!

        Our sympathies to Stu McAninch on the sudden death of his father early this semester.




Exercise your Rights to Governance

        In the past year or two we have won some fierce battles for shared governance, one of the basic principles of the AAUP.  But "eternal vigilance" isn't just a slogan.  We can't afford to get lazy; instead we need to exercise the rights we've fought for.  Faculty numbers are down, we are all overcommitted and overworked--but if we don't do it, who will? 

        The following opportunities shouldn't be ignored.  In an August 23 memo Senate Chair Gary Ebersole urged faculty to volunteer for standing committees of the Senate or to run for election to other campus posts.  It's here that faculty governance happens at a practical level. 

        To Gary's suggestions I would add two other things you could do to protect AAUP principles at UMKC:

        1. Mentor younger faculty and new hires.  We are the institutional memory, we can and must help newcomers understand the campus culture and the important role of faculty governance within it.

        2. Recruit new members for the chapter.  Take a few minutes to talk to your colleagues about AAUP.  Remind them what we've achieved together over the past couple of years.



State Funding, Tenure, Contingent Faculty Examined at Two Missouri Meetings

by Stuart McAninch

        Presentations and discussions at the annual Missouri Conference meeting in Columbia on February 4 centered on issues pertaining to academic freedom and tenure and to financing of public higher education.  Earl Henry from Webster University in St. Louis also reported on progress in planning for the St. Louis Conference for Contingent Faculty.

        Missouri Conference President John Harms opened the meeting with a presentation on the decline of public higher education.  Drawing particularly on the work of John Kenneth Galbraith, he placed that decline within the broader historical context of the decline of the public sector and of public values during the last half century.  He also introduced for consideration a number of issues and questions regarding what happens as institutions and programs which provide important social services and protections and at least a degree of social equity are steadily cut back by state governments and the federal government.  John emphasized that with decreasing state appropriations for higher education and rising tuition during recent years, it has become increasingly more difficult for state universities to be accessible to non-affluent students.

        John's talk served as context for a presentation later in the day by Tom Kruckemeyer, Chief Economist for the Missouri Budget Project (http://www.mobudget.org).  Tom provided data on recent trends in state revenue and appropriations and a warning concerning support in the state legislature for a measure comparable to the Colorado "Taxpayers Bill of Rights" (TABOR).  [TABOR is a constitutional amendment limiting the growth of state spending; see Faculty Advocate No. 19, November 2005, for a brief analysis of its baneful consequences.--Ed].  Among the highlights in his report on revenue and appropriations was the fact that while state revenue increased during Fiscal Years 2004 and 2005 after two years of decline, revenue as a percentage of Missouri income was lower in FY 2005 than it had been in any fiscal year between 1987 and 2002.  While projections for FY 2006 and 2007 show an increase in revenue, they also show a continued slide in revenue as a percentage of income.  This trend has meant declining appropriations for higher education, an underfunding of schooling (with a lawsuit filed by 237 school districts in response to this), the elimination of Medicaid coverage this year for approximately 90,000 people (with working women constituting the majority of this group), and the lowest paid state employees in the nation.

        Tom maintained that financial problems experienced by the state would be substantially worsened if those attempting to institute a measure comparable to Colorado's TABOR were successful.  The Missouri Budget Project has been watching particularly closely House Joint Resolution 48, which, according to the Project's Web site, "would create a new Constitutional lid on state spending growth."  In particular, it would begin "with a 'ratchet' effect as Missouri's future spending would be tied to today's historic budget crisis levels."

        Tom noted that "[i]f the HJR limit were in effect for FY 2007, a reduction of $200 to $250 million in state revenue would be required."  He also noted the irony of Missouri legislators working to pass HJR 48 at a time when Colorado voters had rejected TABOR and "voted to give up about $500 million in annual tax refunds."

        Keith Hardeman, Missouri Conference Vice President, gave a presentation entitled "The War on Academic Freedom and Tenure: Will They Survive?"  His talk focused primarily on tenure as a necessary defense of academic freedom.  He exhorted us to be knowledgeable about tenure and to counter common myths which undermine public and legislative support of tenure.  In particular, he stressed the common misconceptions that "[t]enure insures lifetime employment" and that "[m]ost college faculty have or are in line to receive tenure."  Keith also provided data which refute the myths that '[t]enure causes professors to become complacent and less productive" and that "[r]educing or eliminating tenure saves money (and lowers tuition) without reducing instructional quality."  His presentation made clear that lacking the protection of tenure, contingent faculty also lack any guarantee of academic freedom and the means to sustain faculty governance.  It also stressed that tenure-line faculty play an essential role in providing research, service to students and institutions, quality instruction, and educational continuity--and that these contributions cannot be replicated by replacing tenure-line faculty with contingent faculty.

        The St. Louis Conference for Contingent Faculty was held on Saturday, April 8 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Clayton.  Speakers included contingent faculty members from the St. Louis area as well as Joe Berry, Chair of the Chicago Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor and author of Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Reclaim Higher Education (2005), and Edward Macias, Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Washington University.  A variety of workshops were also offered.  Sponsors and contributors included the AAUP Assembly of State Conferences, the AAUP Missouri Conference, the Washington University Chapter of the AAUP, the Missouri Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the Saint Louis University Faculty Compensation Committee, and the Missouri Association of Faculty Senates.  The website for the conference is http://www.stladjuncts.org .




Culture War Issues, Organizational Problems Take Center Stage at National AAUP Meeting

by Stuart McAninch

        The national AAUP held its 92nd annual meeting June 9-11 in Washington, DC.  What was most striking to me at the various Assembly of State Conferences (ASC), plenary, breakfast, and comittee breakout sessions I attended was discussion of what President-elect Cary Nelson referred to as "culture war issues":  in particular, the ideological and political struggle between David Horowitz and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) on the one hand, and the AAUP and allied academic and civic organizations on the other (see Faculty Advocate No. 19, November 2005, for several articles on Horowitz and his "Academic Bill of Rights").  Other issues pertaining to the organization and financial state of the AAUP were also frequently addressed in sessions.

        "Culture war issues" as a central theme was illustrated by the choice of speakers.  Michael Bérubé, the Paterno Family Professor of Literature at the Pennsylvania State University, spoke on what he described as the current attack by the radical right on "procedural liberalism".  "Procedural liberalism", as he defined it, is characterized by classical liberal commitments such as those to rational inquiry, a marketplace of ideas, and balanced and limited government.  This brand of liberalism, he pointed out, is necessary for an open society and academic freedom.  Differentiating between conservatism and the radical right, Bérubé argued that the agenda of the radical right is the negation of "procedural liberalism" in universities and in government. 

        The address by Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, at Saturday's Recognition Banquet illustrated the alliance between the AAUP and ACLU on issues of academic freedom.  Both organizations serve as coalition members of Free Exchange on Campus, which has formed to oppose adoption by states of the "Academic Bill of Rights" and distorted characterizations by Horowitz and others of faculty members as dangerous radicals intent on indoctrination.  

        Romero replaced Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan on the schedule since for the second year in a row Ramadan was unable to attend the annual meeting after having his work visa rescinded by the United States government.  In an immediate sense, the invitation to Ramadan (who did address the 2005 meeting via audio and video link) illustrated the AAUP's opposition to the government's denial of visas to academics on political grounds.  In a letter to the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security in February, Roger Bowen, AAUP General Secretary, had expressed "deep concern" about the revocation of the visa of Waskar Ari, a Bolivian scholar appointed to a faculty position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the prevention of 65 Cuban scholars from participating in an international academic conference in Las Vegas.  The denial in 2004 of the visa needed for Ramadan to assume his faculty position at Notre Dame University was also cited.  Bowen  concluded that there is "a troubling pattern emerging in which foreign scholars offered appointments at American universities or invited to attend academic conferences are prevented from entering the United States because of their perceived political beliefs or associations."  This pattern, in turn, points "to a disturbing disregard on the part of the Bush administration for our society's commitment to academic freedom."

        As the last quotation suggests, "deep concern" about U.S. government actions extended beyond denial or revocations of visas for foreign scholars.  AAUP members, for instance, expressed opposition to reclassification of previously declassified government documents.  They likewise opposed the implementation by government departments and agencies during recent years of policies for review of documents which impede declassification and thereby severely restrict scholars' access to the information necessary for accurate analysis of the history or current state of American foreign policy and intelligence activities.  A resolution presented by the Resolutions Committee affirmed that "in these critical times the need is for more, not less, freedom of inquiry and expression."

        The centrality of "culture war issues" to the current work of the Association was further illustrated by the multiple screenings on Friday of the documentary "Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train."  The film traced Zinn's political and academic coming of age, his work in the civil rights and anti-war movements, and his critique of traditional top-down historical narratives and the subsequent focus on the contributions of grass-roots movements in his writing and teaching.  His work as a mentor to young black civil rights activists while serving on the faculty at Spelman College, his vision of a just and democratic society which can only be realized through informed grass-roots activism, and his own integration as an academic of political activism, teaching, and writing over the course of half a century were particularly noteworthy.  As the film title indicates, Zinn's approach to scholarship has been characterized by a fusion of analysis and action informed by a distinctly political set of values and commitments.

        Given the organization's concern about serious threats to academic freedom, at a meeting of state conference representatives Cary Nelson explained the significance of the Campaign for the Common Good, whose goal is creation of a $10 million endowment for the AAUP.  While Roger Bowen in a later meeting would matter-of-factly describe the endowment campaign as an effort to make the organization better able to manage its finances in the face of annual fluctuations in dues revenue and grant money, Nelson stressed that a successful campaign was necessary to strengthen "ASC structures" in defense of academic freedom, should American public tolerance for academic dissent weaken in the event of further terrorist attacks.  Nelson also made it clear at the meeting that he would vigorously exhort AAUP members to each donate $1000 to the endowment fund (typically by credit card over the course of a number of months).

        If issues regarding academic freedom were frequent topics of discussion, so were issues regarding the organizational and financial state of the AAUP.  In his remarks at the ASC session, Nelson cited record-keeping for membership as an area of failure in the national office.  He stressed the need for conferences and chapters not to let the national office go to sleep on this issue.  Questions and comments directed to Bowen at the breakfast on Saturday with the General Secretary highlighted problems experienced by the national office in processing new memberships and renewals and in sharing information with chapters.  A questioner observed that "[w]e send names in, and they just go into a void."  Another observation that bills were not going out properly was made.  Yet another complaint was that inefficiency in sending information to chapters and errors in that information are making it impossible to maintain accurate chapter records.  The gist of the question-and-answer session was succinctly captured by one questioner:  "What in the heck is going on?"

        In his description of what in the heck is going on, Bowen promised a "tighter organization."  He made reference to the particularly complex financial structure of the organization with different dues rates for different membership classes and the different state conferences.  He cited extensive turnover of staff, low salaries, and the necessity of staff members to perform a range of functions without adequate support.  He acknowledged a need for improvement in recordkeeping and accounting.  In his remarks in the plenary session which immediately followed the Saturday breakfast, he spoke further of improvements underway.  A new data-base system is currently being instituted; this will enable an integrated data base for finance and membership records.  The organization of the national office has been streamlined, with seven departments consolidated into five.  The message from membership has been heard, he contended; further improvements will be made.  Increase in membership will alleviate the strain on the staff.  He challenged each AAUP member to ask another colleague in the same department to join in order to increase dues revenue and finance improvements. 

        The oral report of Jeffrey Butts, the Secretary-Treasurer, was not accompanied by a written report: "I cannot present to you figures that I do not have confidence in."  He indicated that an external audit was underway and that a summary of the auditor's report would be placed on the Web site.  He cited (without explaining) that there is a "problem of staff inadequate to the task."  In response to a question concerning whether there is adequate cash flow at this time, he replied affirmatively.  When asked when the "personnel situation" and problems with membership records and dues notices and collections would be resolved, he replied that this would happen as soon as possible.  He ended his remarks with the statement that "[r]egrettably, that is my report."    

        On a more positive note, the Missouri Conference was reauthorized during the plenary session on Saturday afternoon for the "comprehensive dues system" for three more years--which means, as I understand the matter, that the national office will continue to bill and collect annual dues for the Missouri Conference. 

        There was some attention in various sessions to contingent faculty and graduate student issues.  Michael Livingston, Chair of the Committee on Graduate and Professional Students, requested that AAUP members recruit graduate students as a means to counteract the lack of familiarity with the AAUP and consequent difficulty in recruiting new faculty members.  Reference was made to the transformation of the academic labor force in recent decades--one characteristic of that transformation being an increase in the percentage of courses taught by graduate students.  Reference was also made to the extension by the AAUP of voting membership to graduate students. 

        Outgoing President Jane Buck spoke in a plenary session of her own and Cary Nelson's arrests at a demonstration earlier this year in support of the New York University graduate students' union.  A National Labor Relations Board ruling in 2004 that graduate student employees are primarily students (as opposed to workers) reversed a NLRB ruling in 2001 which granted legal recognition to the union.  This reversal enabled the administration and governing board to withdraw union recognition.  Graduate employees subsequently initiated a strike in November.  Buck noted that exploitation of graduate employees undermines the profession and faculty governance.  An article in the June 9 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education ("A Tenured Radical Takes Office") suggested that the NYU action represents a high priority for Cary Nelson as incoming president: "In a couple of ways, the NYU rally exemplifies Mr. Nelson's vision for the AAUP.  First, he hopes the group will start paying more attention to graduate students.  Under his watch, he hopes, it will craft `a more elaborate statement on graduate-student rights, procedures, and responsibilities.'"

        In his remarks at the plenary session, Nelson cited the need to reach out to contingent faculty.  He linked this need with his exhortation to members to contribute $1000 each for the endowment campaign.  Only when the endowment is established will it be feasible to cut dues, a step which will facilitate recruitment of poorly compensated contingent faculty.  In the same session, David Hollinger, Chair of Committee A, reported continuing work with the Committee on Contingent Faculty and the Profession on a document laying out policy recommendations and principles for extension of protection for contingent faculty in the areas of dismissal or nonreappointment.  According to the Committee's report, "[t]he proposed recommendations will be published for comment in a future issue of Academe."

        Apropos of graduate students' and contingent faculty's issues, some attendees raised questions regarding the expense of the AAUP Annual Meeting.  Nelson was asked why, considering "the practical and symbolic consequences", the meeting is held in such an expensive city and hotel--especially given the emphasis on recruiting graduate students, who often make "little more than bus boys."  A similar question arose at one of the ASC sessions.  A member of the Virginia Conference noted that it might be less expensive to move the Annual Meeting to northern Virginia.  A partial answer provided by the Association leadership was that the Omni Shoreham Hotel is unionized--a response which led a number of us to wonder if there were in the area less expensive unionized hotels which could accommodate the meetings.  One might also raise a question concerning the expense of meals, with dinners on Thursday and Saturday costing $65 each and luncheons on Friday and Saturday costing $40 each.  Since speeches are delivered and business and networking are conducted at meals, it is exceedingly difficult (as I discovered) to fully participate in the Annual Meeting while foregoing the meals.

        Flo Hatcher, Chair of the ASC, announced leadership training workshops scheduled for October 6-7 in Washingon, DC, which would constitute "a pilot program" for developing a generation of leaders in the Collective Bargaining Congress and ASC (although the emphasis seems to be initially on providing intensive training for state conference and advocacy chapter leaders).  According to Hatcher's report, "[t]his innovative training experience will offer an expanded version of AAUP 101 from the summer institute; a course on designing and implementing a membership drive with a special focus on issue-base organizing, as that seems the most fruitful in the advocacy context.  Additional offerings include the basics of chapter and conference management, and a workshop on a current issue of importance that for fall 2006 may be on how to fight ABOR [Academic Bill of Rights] legislation at the state level."  Attendance will be limited to 25 participants.  Money to subsidize travel and participation is available through the ASC.




Food for Thought: Another Look at UMKC's Shameful Record on Race and Gender

by Pat Brodsky

        According to a recent article in the Pitch (Bryan Noonan, "The Invisible Men," June 20-26, 2006), UMKC as of that date had only nine people of color in tenured positions.  Following on the heels of a damning report released by an outside auditor in April that found UMKC to be permeated with institutional racism, Noonan's piece, which included interviews with several minority faculty who have left UMKC for successful careers elsewhere, cast light on a crucial problem. 

        To those of us who have been on campus for a long time, all this comes as no surprise.  Since I joined UMKC in 1974, I have seen numerous enthusiastic, well-trained African-American faculty (and staff) grow wary, then angry, and finally leave the university and the city for more supportive surroundings.  I learned very quickly (as did they) that Kansas City is still a southern town (the history of public school integration here should make that clear), and that its "Premier University" wasn't doing much to counteract the situation.  It seems that not much has changed in all those years.

        One of the most damaging aspects of institutional racism is the clear negative message it sends to minority students.  Not only do they lack sufficient minority academic mentors but many perceive that there is no future for them in the academy, particular in the sciences.  In addition, Don Matthews, head of Black Studies, has left UMKC, raising questions about the future of that program.

        Figures distributed at the beginning of fall semester indicate that gender balance has made little or no progress in the College of Arts and Sciences.  (I don't have the numbers for other units on campus; if readers could provide them, I will be happy to publish them in a future issue.)  The seventeen A&S departments have a total of 172 tenured or tenure-track faculty, of whom sixty-one, or 35%, are women.  Of these, one has left her department to become Dean of the College, another has left the university, and at least three more (two of them African-American) will be leaving at the end of this academic year.  Some departments are much more balanced than others.  English, Art and Art History, History, and Sociology have close to a 50/50 distribution, while Foreign Languages, Psychology and Social Work have a majority of female faculty.  Political Science and Architecure have only one woman each, and Philosophy has none.  All other departments have far fewer than 50% women, and in the natural sciences, there are only six women out of 42 faculty, or 14% of the total.  These numbers are not only depressing, but astounding, given the decades-long national emphasis on the importance of gender balance.  Nor is it the case that "there aren't any qualified women."  The same situation prevails for women students as for minority students: insufficient mentors, particularly in the sciences, and a discouraging message about career chances.

        The welcome announcement early in the semester of a reception to meet and celebrate our minority students shows that the problem is being addressed on one level, at least.  And in a recent report to the Arts and Sciences faculty, Dr. Kimberly Baker-Flowers, Program Director for Multicultural Student Success in the office of Academic Affairs, outlined a whole series of projects aimed both at improving relations with the minority community and addressing women's issues.  These range from Ivanhoe House, where UMKC students will live and serve as mentors to neighborhood children, to increased efforts at recruitment and retention of minority students, to a proposal for a women's mentoring structure for faculty and staff.  Particularly promising are two conferences, the African-American/Latino Male Empowerment Summit, planned for 2007 and aimed at addressing issues of male minority students, and Black Women Leaders, a meeting hosted by UMKC to highlight black women.  These projects are commendable and surely represent a move in the right direction.

        But the scandalously low proportion of female and especially minority faculty, and the conditions that drive so many of them away from UMKC, must not be allowed to continue.  A very encouraging sign is the fact that many of the exciting new hires in the College are minorities and/or women.  This trend must continue if UMKC is to maintain (gain?) credibility and attract the best young applicants of all genders and races.

        Part of the responsibility for ensuring a supportive campus lies with the administration.  A second element in determining a faculty member's experience at UMKC is the State, since funding looms large in defining our academic life.  But the faculty also have a major role to play in improving the situation.  We conduct the job searches, interview the candidates, and make the hiring decisions that are sent on to the Deans.  We also work on a daily basis with the people who are ultimately hired, and the faculty to a great extent are responsible for the atmosphere they encounter on campus.  We have a responsibility to mentor all new colleagues.  And we need to take special care to make welcome those who are in a minority on campus.



TENURE WORKSHOP

Friday, October 20, 2-4 PM
Education 307

Sponsored by AAUP chapter at UMKC
Panel includes deans, a chair,
members of the Campus Promotion and Tenure Committee, and recently tenured faculty
The panel will make brief presentations and field questions

All tenure-track faculty are invited



The AAUP chapter at UMKC Serves YOU

        Since the chapter was revived in 1999, our track record speaks for itself.  We have provided crucial information to the faculty and fought for faculty rights and the integrity of the University.  In addition to our day-to-day involvement in campus life, such as advising on academic freedom and faculty governance issues and aiding faculty with grievances, we have also undertaken numerous initiatives to publicize AAUP principles.

HIGHLIGHTS

        1. March 3, 2001: The chapter organized and sponsored a one-day conference, "Education for Democracy: Fighting the Corporate Takeover."   Two dozen speakers from Missouri and Kansas gave presentations, including faculty, students, legislators, unionists, and community activists.  The conference generated the Education for Democracy Network, an ongoing listserv concerned with related issues.  A dozen presentations from the conference, plus three articles from other geographical regions, were published in Workplace: A Journal of Academic Labor 4.2 (February 2002) (http://www.louisville.edu/journal/workplace/wp42.html)

        2. September 21, 2001-May 3, 2002 :  Responding to xenophobic attacks on Muslims and Arabs following 9/11, the chapter co-sponsored with student organizations a well-attended series of seven public forums under the title, "Teaching Tolerance."  Topics included Islam, Afghan culture, war propaganda and stereotyping, US foreign policy, war reporting, and Civil Liberties after 9/11.  In fall 2002 students continued the teach-ins on their own initiative.

        3. October 25, 2002: The chapter organized and sponsored a symposium, "Putting the Faculty Back into Shared Governance," with the keynote speaker from the national AAUP.  Many in attendance learned for the first time that the faculty has concrete responsibilities for university governance.

        4. February 26-28, 2004:  Working with the Missouri Philological Association, the chapter co-organized and co-sponsored a three day conference with the theme of "Academic Labor."   The conference was the first cooperative venture between the AAUP and an academic disciplinary organization in AAUP history.  Keynote speakers included poet Martin Espada and Professor Cary Nelson, now president of the national AAUP.

        5. 2000-2004: Through years of unrelenting reporting and critique (see Faculty Advocate , issues No. 2-17), particularly of administrative assaults on faculty governance and on the School of Biological Sciences, School of Education, Law School, and College of Arts and Sciences, the chapter laid the groundwork for multiple votes of no confidence in the administration of Chancellor Martha Gilliland, and for the Chancellor's resignation in December 2004.

        6. Spring-Fall 2005: The chapter organized public opposition to the "Blue Ribbon Task Force," a panel of right-wing "experts" funded by local business interests whose agenda included dismantling the UM system and privatizing UMKC.  Chapter members' testimony before the Task Force and at two state government hearings, op eds in local and statewide newspapers, radio and TV interviews, and an appeal to the Kansas City community succeeded in derailing this combined local corporate and state government campaign against public higher education.

        7. April and October 2005: The chapter co-sponsored "Tent State University" and AAUP members led teach-ins.  Tent State is a national student-organized week-long series of events defending public higher education.

        8. October 20, 2006: The chapter sponsored a workshop on the tenure process for tenure-track faculty.


OTHER ACTIVITIES

        9. The chapter fought for vastly improved compensation and working conditions for part-time contingent faculty .  It co-sponsored and participated in two campus rallies organized by part-timers to publicize their plight, and it helped contingent faculty and graduate students form campus organizations.

        10. The chapter sent members, including a part-timer, to two national AAUP conventions in Washington DC and to two AAUP summer institutes.

        11. The chapter worked toward establishing a significant AAUP presence on the Faculty Senate, to ensure that AAUP principles remain central to the discussion.

        12. The chapter spoke out in defense of faculty whose academic freedom and tenure were under attack, including Harris Mirkin at UMKC, Sami al-Arian at University of South Florida, and Ward Churchill at University of Colorado.

        13. The chapter sent out e-mail alerts on emerging education issues on campus, statewide, and nationally.

        14. The chapter published twenty numbers of The Faculty Advocate, UMKC's AAUP newsletter and the voice of the faculty.  Besides UMKC problems, the newsletter has reported on state, national, and international education issues and has featured a broad range of invited articles from off-campus contributors.  All issues can be found online at http://cas.umkc.edu/aaup/facadv1.htm [/facadv2.htm, etc. up to /facadv20.htm]

        15. The chapter holds parties for faculty, friendly get-togethers, and membership meetings.  Above all we are a pro-active faculty organization that reports threats to academic freedom, encourages faculty activism, and works to involve faculty in reasserting their governance responsibilities.


JOIN US!

Local dues are $10/year, payable to UMKC-AAUP
Send your check to: Pat Brodsky
Foreign Languages and Literatures, 218 Scofield Hall

For national dues rates, go to this link



The entire contents of each issue of The Faculty Advocate (except for public domain material) is copyrighted.  The Faculty Advocate , October 2006, Copyright 2006 by the UMKC Chapter of the American Association of University Professors.  All rights returned to authors upon publication.  AAUP chapters, state conferences, and the national organization have permission to reproduce and distribute.  Permission for other non-profit publishers is a formality, but UMKC AAUP asks them for the courtesy of requesting it.  Contact the Editor, Patricia Brodsky: 816-235-2826, e-mail: brodskyp@umkc.edu




AAUP Dues Information

Membership
Open to all faculty
Full-time tenured and tenure-track
Full-time non-tenure track
Part-time
Graduate teaching assistants

Membership requires payment of both local and national dues
 

Local UMKC chapter dues

$10 per academic year.

Send payment to Pat Brodsky, Scofield 218, 816-235-2826, or brodskyp@umkc.edu
Please make checks payable to "UMKC-AAUP Chapter." 

National dues

Varies by job classification and state--click this link for up-to-date information

Discounts on national dues for following categories

50% off

a) Entrant: Nontenured full-time faculty, new to the AAUP, for first four years of membership
b) Joint: Full-time faculty member whose spouse or partner is a full-time member
c) Retired

75% off
Part Time: Faculty paid on a per course or percentage basis


$10/yr

Graduate: Person enrolled as graduate student at an accredited institution; five-year limit
Please note that national dues also cover Missouri State Conference dues (but not local UMKC dues)




Back Issues

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 1 (September 2000)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 2 (December 2000)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 3 (February 2001)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 4 (April 2001)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 1 (October 2001)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 2 (December 2001)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 3 (February 2002)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 4 (April 2002)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 5 (June 2002)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 3, No. 1 (September 2002)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 3, No. 2 (December 2002)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 3, Nos. 3-4 (April 2003)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 4, Nos. 1-2 (December 2003)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 4, Nos. 3-4 (April 2004)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 5, No.1 (August 2004)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 5, No. 2 (October 2004)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 5, No. 3 (February 2005)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 5, No. 4 (May 2005)

The Faculty Advocate, Vol. 6, Nos. 1-2 (November 2005)




AAUP Chapter Home Page