NEWSLETTER OF THE UMKC CHAPTER OF THE
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS
Vol. 2, No. 5
The Purge Begins: SBS under the Axe, by Patricia Brodsky
Replies to Provost Ballard by the School of Biological Sciences
1. From the Faculty of SBS
2. UMKC Support for Life Sciences a Sham, by Ed Gogol
University of Missouri Curators De Facto Abolish Tenure, by Patricia and David Brodsky
AAUP Dues Information: NOW MORE THAN EVER! JOIN THE AAUP
The publication of this extra issue of The Faculty Advocate is a response to emergencies precipitated by the escalating war against the faculty of the University of Missouri. While various decision-makers under certain circumstances have been supportive of faculty concerns, in the past several months faculty bashing in Missouri has become a pastime pursued cooperatively by the Governor, the Legislature, the Board of Curators, the President, and (at UMKC) the upper campus administration.
Our newsletter documents offensives occurring after the close of the academic year: plans to eliminate the School of Biological Sciences at UMKC, and the de facto elimination of tenure throughout the UM system by the Board of Curators.
Summer vacation is a traditional time for such assaults in academia, since the faculty is dispersed, usually travelling away from campus and unaware of the war back home. Much as AAUP members would prefer to live in peace and enjoy a productive summer with a little time for vacation, war reporting has become a necessity for our common survival. Besides reports and analysis, the articles in this issue ask you to take action in defense of menaced faculty rights, such as tenure, academic freedom, and shared governance. The latter includes the right of all faculty--tenured as well as non-tenure-track--to decide the future of the university, particularly in times of crisis.--The Editor.
The Purge Begins: SBS under the Axe
by Patricia Brodsky
On May 24, 2002 all members of the faculty of the School of Biological Sciences received copies of a letter sent by Provost Steven Ballard to SBS Interim Dean William T. Morgan. Ballard enumerated alleged shortcomings on the part of the School and its faculty, repeatedly punctuated by the litany "this performance is unacceptable." The school was presented with an administrative death sentence: "given the University's announcement of the UMKC Life Sciences Task Force and ... multiple performance problems in the School of Biological Sciences, it is appropriate for me to identify future options for the school."
The Provost asserts that only the interim Dean and "a few faculty" have attempted to improve the unit's performance and image. By implication all others have been uncooperative and unproductive. The letter is also full of innuendo: "efforts" to "establish stability ... have failed;" "the percentage of cost recovery in SBS is the lowest of all academic units at UMKC and third lowest in the System;" "SBS is unwilling to be a positive member of the university community and Kansas City life sciences initiatives."
Above all, teaching in SBS comes in for a harsh and repetitive critique. According to Ballard, "all four deans of [the Health Sciences] schools have provided me with documentation of problems associated with courses offered by faculty of SBS; serious issues of accreditation have resulted." Ballard castigates the "unacceptable" "productivity of the school related to the teaching mission of the university," and asserts that "the past and current performance of SBS with respect to teaching productivity and collaboration to support health sciences continues to have a negative impact on UMKC's ability to achieve academic excellence."
Based on a long list of alleged shortcomings, Ballard states that he is "taking the following actions, effective immediately. These actions will be in force until a suitable structural solution is found for the School." The "actions" which are supposed to make SBS shape up and become a team player include calling off the search for a Dean, freezing UMKC funding of the School, and placing it in the equivalent of "receivership," resembling a siege or an embargo. "No expenditures are authorized without my written approval," writes the Provost. Faculty and staff have been deprived of funding, including funding which does not originate with UMKC. Frozen resources comprise not just K2 funds (general operating budget) but also K3 (revenue generating accounts) and K4 (endowments and gifts). Faculty are not allowed to order supplies for their research. Even outside grant monies were initially frozen, but, realizing the legal implications, the Administration subsequently unfroze them. Even amidst a general hiring and travel freeze, SBS is the only unit on campus which is being subjected to a total blockade. As of this writing, the interim dean of SBS has refused to request that K3 accounts be unfrozen.
The "options" open to SBS listed by the Provost are as follows:
"1. Creation of a new research entity that would serve as the primary location for UMKC research activities in Life Sciences and for collaborations with community partners, especially with the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute. Current faculty in SBS could have appointments in one of the basic sciences or a health science school;
2. Integrate SBS into existing health sciences schools;
3. Create a new School of Natural or Basic Sciences to be comprised of four or five basic science departments at UMKC (e.g. chemistry, physics, biological sciences, others); and
4. Support a transition from the current School of Biological Sciences to an independent research institute, not affiliated formally with UMKC. UMKC is willing to consider providing some salary support and space for this transition for a limited time period."
In other words, SBS has the "choice" of being dissolved (#1-3) or privatized (#4).
A successful school is being terminated against the desires of its beleaguered faculty. Dozens of teachers, researchers, and staff are being treated like pawns in a chess game, not professionals and faculty with rights, among others, the right to shared governance, which mandates a central role to the faculty in deciding the future of their School and the University. Instead, the administration is acting unilaterally and arbitrarily, in order to pursue its own agenda, which clearly contradicts that of the faculty.
AAUP guidelines on "termination of appointments by the institution" state that "an imminent financial crisis" must "threaten[...] the survival of the institution as a whole," and that faculty must play a major decision-making role. "As a first step, there should be a faculty body which participates in the decision that a condition of financial exigency exists or is imminent, and that all feasible alternatives to termination of appointments have been pursued" (AAUP Policy Documents and Reports, 9th ed., p. 23). "The burden [of demonstrating financial exigency] will rest on the administration to prove the existence and extent of the condition" (Ibid., p. 24).
No broadly representative faculty body is participating in this process at UMKC, including in the decision as to the extent of financial crisis and how to deal with it. The administration has arbitrarily declared a crisis without faculty advice and consent and has arbitrarily targeted a unit that has incurred its displeasure. In addition, the administration has not declared that the current budget crisis "threatens the survival of the institution as a whole." Such a decision, in fact, belongs to the sphere of shared governance, which includes the faculty as a major player.
As participants in the decision-making process, faculty must be provided with all relevant facts and figures in order to make informed judgments. "At institutions experienceing major threats to their continued financial support, the faculty should be informed as early and as specifically as possible of significant impending financial difficulties. The faculty--with substantial representation from its nontenured as well as its tenured members, since it is the former who are likely to bear the brunt of the reduction [emphasis Ed.]--should participate at the department, college or professional school, and institution-wide levels in key decisions as to the future of the institution and of specific academic programs within the institution" (Ibid., p. 23).
Since the UMKC administration has not declared financial exigency, guidelines concerning "Discontinuance of Program or Department Not Mandated by Financial Exigency" are appropriate here. "(1) The decision to discontinue formally a program or department of instruction will be based essentially upon educational considerations, as determined primarily by the faculty as a whole or an appropriate committee thereof [emphasis Ed.] [NOTE: 'Educational considerations' do not include cyclical or temporary variations in enrollment. They must reflect long-range judgments that the educational mission of the institution as a whole will be enhanced by the discontinuance.]" SBS faculty have been denied a voice in determining educational or other criteria applicable to the proposed elimination of the School.
Dissolution of the School is being undertaken putatively for the sake of an abstract "structural alignment among UMKC schools" that has been mandated by the "Life Sciences Task Force," a body which, nota bene, contains not a single SBS faculty member. The real motives of the Task Force emerge in the news that the Stowers Institute, the leading institution promoting privatization, has started a for-profit company, "whose stock will be owned by a non-profit," to commercialize "scientific discoveries made by the institute and future partners" (KC Star, 7 June 2002, p. C1). The consequences of privatization are vitiation of academic freedom, shared governance, and independent research and teaching (see The Faculty Advocate, Nos. 1-8).
To fully appreciate the significance of this move, we should recall that one year ago, SBS and its then Dean, Marino Martinez-Carrion, stood up to pressure from the administration to join the "Blueprint" team and embrace its agenda for the corporatization of science at the University. The SBS faculty was eager to participate in collaborative projects with industry, but resisted arrangements which would have meant loss of faculty control over curriculum, research, and personnel decisions. For his integrity in defending basic academic standards and AAUP principles, Dr. Martinez-Carrion was relieved of his post as dean. Thus the latest administrative move to dissolve the School is clearly in retaliation for the School's resistance to the discredited Blueprint ("SBS is unwilling to be a positive member of the university community and Kansas City life sciences initiatives," as the euphemisms in the Provost's letter assert).
During the summer of 2002 UM system-wide committees will be evaluating all four campuses to determine where money could be saved by termination of programs and even entire schools. The move against SBS, occurring in the context of a manufactured budget crisis, opportunistic assaults implementing long-standing administrative plans, and an ongoing push toward corporatization, may be only the first in a series of mass firings and downsizing or elimination of academic units. What is happening now in SBS may be repeated in the near future in other units of the university. Thus it is in the immediate as well as long-term interest of all faculty, tenured, nontenured, and contingent, to publicly make known their objections to the destruction of SBS and to insist on the proper role of faculty in determining the future of UMKC.
Please contact Chancellor Gilliland and Provost Ballard expressing your concerns, and send copies of your letters to Pat Brodsky (email@example.com ).
Administrative Center 301
5115 Oak St.
Kansas City, MO 64110
Administrative Center 358
5115 Oak St.
Kansas City, MO 64110
In addition, please share this news with colleagues, friends, family, and others, both locally and in other regions, and urge them to write. If you know any members of labor unions, they should understand well the issues of arbitrary cuts in pay, deteriorating working conditions, firings, absence of due process, lack of reasonable notice of termination, all of which are likely consequences of current policy (see also the following article on the Curators' decision to deal arbitrarily with the terms and conditions of university employment). If you offer to help labor unions when they need it, they will be inclined to reciprocate.
It is important for all of us, no matter what our campus or unit, to keep a sharp eye on these developments, and to help our colleagues in SBS resist the destruction of their school and their careers.
Replies to Provost Ballard by the School of Biological Sciences
1. From the Faculty of SBS
June 4, 2002
Dr. Steven Ballard
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
University of Missouri Kansas City
Dear Provost Ballard:
In your letter of May 24, 2002 to Interim Dean Morgan, which was copied to all members of the Faculty of the School of Biological Sciences (SBS), you requested a written faculty response to your concerns about the performance of School personnel. We are pleased to provide the following information and to reiterate our pledge to resolve perceived or existing issues of performance in cooperation with every level of UMKC administration, faculty and staff.
No member of the SBS Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC) or Executive Committee (EC) was informed of "serious issues of accreditation" arising from "problems associated with courses offered by the faculty of SBS." If specific information was provided to Interim Dean Morgan, it was not communicated to the FAC/EC. The FAC/EC, once informed by Interim Dean Morgan of the existence of a Health Sciences Deans' Curriculum Committee, repeatedly recommended that the Interim Dean convene immediate meetings, to include the Division Heads, with each Health Science Dean to assess and resolve any issues relating to that Dean's academic unit. At this time, no meeting hasbeen scheduled. We again request to meet with each Health Sciences Dean to resolve the specific concerns including any within the "very negative reports" (of which we remain unaware).
The FAC/EC was not advised by Interim Dean Morgan of administrative concerns about cost recovery performance. In order to address the statement that "the percentage of cost recovery in SBS is the lowest of all academic units at UMKC and third lowest in the System," we respectfully request access to data and the basis for computation of the cost recovery parameter. With this information SBS will take appropriate actions to address any unacceptable performance.
Recent statistics on SBS enrollment indicate improvements in student recruitment and retention as one outcome of increased faculty efforts. Nevertheless, "the productivity of the school related to the teaching mission of the university" inevitably and importantly will reflect the School's designation as a program of eminence charged with developing a nationally competitive research program in the life sciences. We believe that our "expenditures per student credit hour (SCH)" should be compared not only with urban institutions, but also with biological sciences programs of a nature similar to our own (i.e. responsible for undergraduate and doctoral education and instruction in basic sciences to health professional schools of pharmacy, nursing, dentistry and medicine) and with similarly targeted national prominence. Specific issues related to the SCH productivity of SBS, which may "have been raised frequently at Dean's council this year," were not brought to the attention of the FAC/EC.
Although it is stated in your letter that "SBS is unwilling to be a positive member of the university community and Kansas City life sciences initiative," the FAC/EC and every faculty member of SBS has been and remains committed to the full support of the university community and to the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI). Regarding life sciences within UMKC, faculty members of SBS have devoted considerable time and expertise to the establishment of the School of Interdisciplinary Computing & Engineering and an interdisciplinary Bioinformatics program. Within KCALSI, SBS faculty helped spearhead the Kansas City Proteomics Consortium and established formal joint programs with the Kansas University Medical Center, Department of Biochemistry, plus multiple individual collaborations with other KCALSI partners. Not only have we responded, without exception, to all KCALSI requests (i.e. Missouri tobacco research contract and federal earmark proposals) in a thorough and timely manner, we think that no other partner within the KCALSI surpasses SBS in the number of actual working, collaborative relationships that have been established.
Regarding the search for our permanent Dean, we sadly agree that "virtually no progress was made." We remain strongly committed to the recruitment of a nationally prominent biological scientist as SBS Dean. As you will recall, the members of the search committee, not only from within SBS but more importantly from other units, shared with you many concerns regarding the manner in which the search was being carried out by the chair. All members of the search committee, especially from SBS, are eager for the search process to continue in earnest.
We look forward to working with you to resolve these and other issues raised in your letter of May 24, 2002, including the options to be considered for the future structure of biological sciences at UMKC.
The SBS Faculty Advisory Committee and SBS Executive Committee on behalf of the SBS Faculty_____________________________________________________________________________________________
by Ed Gogol
The faculty of the School of Biological Sciences has been attacked in the letter from Provost Ballard of May 24, using trumped-up, unsubstantiated, and untrue charges as a set-up to place this academic unit under micro-management by his office. Since the ouster of Dean Martinez-Carrion, there have been repeated public statements and promises by both the Chancellor and the Provost that the School would be retained as an independent academic unit, and that no action (including the selection of a dean) would be taken against the wishes of the faculty. The Provost has suddenly threatened destructive unilateral action against the school. Academic process, etiquette, tradition, and the minimum decorum for faculty participation in academic governance have been summarily ignored. None of the charges issued by the Provost has been presented in a rational manner. No evidence supporting these charges has been offered, publicly or privately. No plan of action has been proposed, except for obtaining recommendations of a hastily-convened outside body, some of whom may have vested interests at odds with University goals. No evaluation of the implications of these sketchy proposals has been implemented, including the fate of the undergraduate biology major, apparently an afterthought for our "chief academic officer".
The faculty has written a request for clarification of these allegations and for public evidence supporting the need for proposed drastic actions (see above). If a real problem in any of the listed categories is substantiated, action should be taken according to professional and accepted principles of shared academic governance, not by fiat of an administration with dubious academic credentials in the Life Sciences. The proposed actions, pre-determined in principle, will have a catastrophic impact on the premier life science research unit of UMKC, an extremely successful Program for Eminence of the UM System. This unit has been widely acclaimed by previous and current administrations of UMKC and the UM System as one of its outstanding success stories. Such disruption is occurring simultaneously with administration claims that achieving national prominence in Life Sciences research is a major goal for UMKC. The current plan to destroy the central instrument crucial to this goal reveals the administration's public statements to be a sham.
Public chastisement for invented transgressions and the accompanying threat to shut down the school induce intellectual trauma and are entirely counterproductive to the envisioned role of UMKC in life science research and education. A competent administration would act to promote an intellectually stimulating environment that would continue to attract and retain scientists and build the critical mass needed to attain lofty Life Sciences goals. Rather, a climate has suddenly been precipitated by the UMKC administration that encourages faculty exodus (the most productive and best-funded will be the first to leave) and damages the reputation of the university and the Kansas City area as a place where scientific research and education are fostered. This is hardly an appropriate recipe for achieving "national and international leadership and prominence in the life sciences" (KC Star May, 2002).
Ed Gogol is Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and Vice President/Treasurer of the UMKC-AAUP Chapter
University of Missouri Curators De Facto Abolish Tenure
by Patricia and David Brodsky
The university and its faculty are under siege from a variety of forces. Over the last year we have seen the imposition of post-tenure review; numerous, not always transparent funding cuts within the University; the vindictive feeding frenzy in the Missouri legislature, spawned by its disapproval of a professor's research; the frontal attack on SBS; and a manufactured state budget crisis precipitated when conservative legislators refused to use Missouri's "rainy day fund" to make up a budget shortfall. The Governor compounded the assault by burdening the UM system with with a grossly disproportionate share of the shortfall (nearly half, on top of millions in previous cuts).
In retrospect the attack on Professor Mirkin appears to have been a way of testing the waters for a much more drastic assault on the core of the university itself. The manufactured budget crisis has set the stage for administrative implementation of a variety of destructive agendas. Within an environment of faculty bashing, the latest attack comes from the Board of Curators.
At its May 31st meeting the members of the Board unanimously passed an amendment to the Bylaws allowing it to circumvent existing rules and regulations concerning employment. Existing policy already permits the termination of university employees in any category (including tenured faculty) "at any time at the pleasure of the Board of Curators."
The amendment reads: "Notwithstanding any rule, regulation or policy of the University of Missouri to the contrary, all such appointments are subject to the right of the Board of Curators to adjust salaries and other terms and conditions of employment, on a prospective basis only, at any time during the indefinite, term or continuous appointment of all officers and employees of the University; provided, however, the foregoing shall not be deemed to restrict the authority of the President of the University under any specific or general delegation of authority from the Board of Curators."
The passage of this amendment is cause for grave concern on the part of faculty. It opens a clear path to a host of potential abuses by arbitrary administrative power operating beyond the confines of law, regulations, rules, and customary practice. Prior language empowering the Board to terminate any officer or employee "at any time" already contravenes AAUP principles as articulated in AAUP Policy Documents and Reports (9th Edition, 2001) and in Article 310.020 ("Regulations Governing Application of Tenure") of the University's Collected Rules and Regulations, which is based closely on AAUP language. Both these documents list a finite and specific number of legitimate reasons for termination of tenured faculty, including "for cause," financial exigency, and the discontinuation of a program or department. And, in each case, there is an established procedure for adjudicating the question of termination. Such due process regulations were intended as a protection of faculty against arbitrary or strategical dismissal.
The new paragraph now empowers the Board to ignore its own rules in the interest of "adjusting" the "salaries and other terms and conditions" of University appointments. The most basic "term and condition" of faculty appointments is tenure. Tenure not only provides job security for regular faculty, it is also the bedrock guarantor of academic freedom. It is specifically recognized as such and clearly spelled out by the University and the Board, in Section 310.020 ("Regulations Governing Application of Tenure") and 310.010 ("Academic Freedom and Economic Security of Academic Staff").
Article 310.010 states: "The Board of Curators of the University of Missouri believes that academic freedom and the economic security of its academic staff are indispensable to the success of the University of Missouri in fulfilling its obligations to its students and to society. The Board, therefore, hereby adopts and approves the following principles ... Academic Freedom [and] ... Tenure." The same article states unequivocally: "Tenure is the right to be free from dismissal without cause. Tenure is indispensable to the success of an institution of higher education in fulfilling its obligations to the common good."
A memo from Dr. Stephen Lehmkuhle, Vice President for Academic Affairs for the UM system, attempted to allay fears about the threats to tenure. The memo stated that the intent of the amendment approved by the Board was not to undermine tenure, but to enable the Board to apply future emergency pay cuts to faculty as well as to administrators and support staff--a course they could not legally have followed before the amendment was passed. He affirms that "the University cannot terminate a tenured faculty member without following its other established rules and regulations..."
Yet the amendment specifically states that the Board can act "notwithstanding any rule, regulation or policy of the University of Missouri to the contrary," which, of course, includes tenure regulations and due process provisions, administrative assurances to the contrary notwithstanding. And outright termination is not the only means to silence, intimidate, and punish faculty.
The new amendment to the Bylaws contains numerous threats to the professional and economic security of the faculty. Tenure and due process are undermined directly by the fact that the Board arrogates to itself the right to terminate any university employee, now without even having to follow University regulations and established practice. Secondly, the fact that the Board claims the right to adjust all salaries at any time de facto undermines the job security that tenure is designed to protect. Any cut in pay is a breach of contract. Applied too often or too deeply, such cuts will discourage faculty from remaining at the University, or will drive them out of the profession. Cuts also punish senior faculty for the entire period of their retirement, since their retirement income depends on the average salary of their last five years of service. Finally, the threat of sudden (and frequent) salary cuts is a potent weapon to intimidate faculty from speaking out, that is, it violates academic freedom.
The immediate context for these actions is the continuing series of drastic budget cuts that threaten to cripple the University. System-wide committees are already discussing closing programs, schools, and even entire campuses. The first casualty of arbitrary decision-making by non-faculty bodies is the School of Biological Sciences at UMKC (see article above). Such critical decisions, as well as faculty salaries and the terms and conditions of employment, fall squarely within the sphere of shared governance, in which independent, self-governing, broadly representative faculty bodies must play a significant role. The fact that far-reaching budget decisions about jobs, salaries, and the future of the University are taking place without major participation by faculty violates the principle of shared governance.
The larger context of the Board's decision is the privatization and corporatization of the UM system, a public entity. In court UM officials have presented arguments that "the University of Missouri [including its officials] is not a public body," and only the Board of Curators is a public entity (KC Star, 7 June 2002, p. B8). Like the Stowers Institute setting up a non-profit organization owning the stock of a profit-making company, the "public non-profit" Board of Curators may become a similar front for a privatized and commercialized university system.
The UM system already has a history of unacceptable treatment of faculty, the most notorious being actions taken in 1970 by the UM Columbia administration, the Board of Curators, and the President, which led to AAUP censure of UM Columbia in 1973. Academic freedom, shared governance, tenure, and due process were violated when the administration took reprisals against a group of faculty for exercising their First Amendment rights--namely, dissent from US government foreign policy in Southeast Asia and the Ohio National Guard killings and woundings of dozens of students at Kent State University. University of Missouri reprisals included salary cuts, denial of salary increases, denial of promotion and tenure, and coercing a faculty member into waiving his right to tenure. Removal of UM Columbia from the AAUP Censured List occurred only seven years later, in 1980, and was contingent on the University of Missouri system (all four campuses) complying with and incorporating AAUP policies into system-wide and campus-wide bylaws.
While Dr. Lehmkuhle's explanation of the Board's intent may or may not be accurate, the amendment gives the Board of Curators wide latitude to alter terms and conditions of employment, which would include tenure provisions as well as salary.
In the interest of an unambiguous adherence to AAUP principles and standard practices, the dangerously open-ended language of this amendment cannot be allowed to stand. Please write to the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri system urging the Board to rescind its resolution, to strongly affirm its commitment to tenure, academic freedom, due process, and shared governance, and to call for the inclusion of independent, broadly representative, self-governing faculty bodies at the center of any discussions about the future of programs, units, or schools. Please send a copy of your letter to President Pacheco, Chancellor Gilliland, Provost Ballard, and Pat Brodsky (firstname.lastname@example.org). They can be reached as follows:
Board of Curators
University of Missouri
316 University Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
Manuel Pacheco, President
University of Missouri system
NOW MORE THAN EVER!
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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)
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