Hot Topics

Lecturer Status

Now, five years after the UW AAUP publicly advocated for measures to improve UW lecturer job security and working conditions, it’s time to renew university discussions.  Much work has been done since that time but several of the thorniest issues still remain, especially concerns involving those who are referred to as part-time non-competitively recruited lecturers   Over the last three years the Provost’s Office has published several guidelines relating to the hire and renewal of lecturers.  These guidelines have received little faculty notice and even less discussion. One essential prerequisite to public discussion requires the administration to fulfill the Provost’s Tri-Campus Committee on Lecturer 2014 Recommendation that it “gather and report recruitment, appointment, and reappointment data on full- and part-time lecturers in each appointing unit, for the next five years at least.”   If such data has been gathered, we urge that it be made publicly available for discussion.  Without such data, we cannot know whether current guidelines and policies are being adhered to, and if they are, whether this has occurred through the creation of more benefit ineligible part-time lecturers who work under conditions of extreme insecurity.  Read More.


Faculty Unionization

Bill Lyne writes about faculty unionization at Western Washington University: “In 2002, the Washington State Legislature passed legislation allowing faculty at four-year state universities to unionize. The administration at my university, Western Washington University, took a dim view of the idea of a unionized faculty and launched an energetic, if fairly bumbling, campaign to convince faculty not to vote for the union. In one of their messages, administrators ominously suggested that by unionizing we would be moving from an academic and collegial shared governance model to a corporate and confrontational labor-management model.

This proved to be genuinely clarifying. As Faculty Senate president at the time, I knew…”
The Faculty Senate at UW is considering a new faculty salary system. AAUP has been very supportive of this development.

International student fee:

Guest Gerald Baldasty, Sr. Vice Provost For Academic and Student Affairs came to the AAUP board meeting on 24 March 2014 to discuss the UW’s fee on international students.

About 2 years (spring 2012) ago the Provost and UW President created a task force to create an international student fee. It recommended charging $150 per quarter for international students. That was deemed too much, but eventually it was decided to charge a lower fee, of $45 (linked to specific services) for international students to support services they require, starting fall 2013. ASUW endorsed that at the time.

Dr. Baldasty circulated a document itemizing the costs associated with services provided for international students. The ASUW president  recently stated he it supported the services for international students, but believes these costs should be covered by any general tuition or fee increases.

International student services processes student requests to get driver’s licenses, do internships and travel. Homeland Security requires quarterly reports on all international students, too, and we were falling behind on the 30-day reporting deadline. Not only does Homeland Security not pay for the costs, but we have to pay for software associated with the reporting. We provide a lot of support to international students in the career office. International students require additional coaching around the academic honesty policies. Disabled students require translations. FIUTS is another service we provide, with expensive orientation costs. Graduate school visa processing is expensive. The Center for Teaching and Learning supports faculty to provide better pedagogy for international students. The total tab for 5,000 international students would run $660,000, or $45 per quarter per student.

Our yield rate on international students was much higher this year than previously, resulting in more than 5000 international students.

This year the legislature discussed taxing international students centrally, and redistributing revenues to the campuses. That idea, viewed as punitive, failed. AAUP has heard from the international student organizations that they oppose being singled out for these fees. Perhaps characterizing an all-student fee as an “international student support fee” could be considered politically palatable, as it comes to $7 per student or so. The administration feels that the services are needed, and is open to suggestions about how to cover the costs. We discussed whether to pass a resolution to support that concept, but didn’t take action at this time.

Higher Education as a Workplace

A fascinating read on the state of faculty employment conditions and a path forward to more equitable conditions by Helen Worthen and Joe Berry.

When we talk about higher education as a creator of social value, we want to know if enough people are studying basic sciences, history, primary-care medicine, social welfare, languages, and other fields that won’t pay off right away. Do faculty members have real academic freedom? Are research agendas captive to short-term goals of corporate funding? Nothing else in society substitutes for higher education as a place where long-term thinking and learning take place; but are those still the top priorities? Education as training for critical citizenship and democratic participation is now under attack.

However, higher education is also a workplace, and not just for faculty. Looking at it from the perspective of the people who work in it explains a lot about what has happened to it in terms of access and as a creator of social value.

Faculty diversity

At the November 29, 2012 meeting, the Faculty Senate unanimously endorsed A RESOLUTION ADDRESSING FACULTY DEMOGRAPHICS that among other provisions requested that all units and departments “make an effort to evaluate and discuss faculty demographics during this academic year.” The Faculty Senate website provides resources to help the discussion.

Charts detailing faculty demographics trends at the University of Washington

Following passing the resolution, there was a great deal of heated debate on the AAUP Faculty Issues and Concerns Listserver.

Academic Freedom

Washington state’s “Freedom to Innovate” Act Fails to Advance

Washington State Senate Bill 5247–the Freedom to Innovate Act–is effectively dead, at least for the 2013 legislative session, having failed to pass out of the Senate Higher Education Committee prior to cut-off.

If passed, the Act would have moved Washington state decisively closer to the goals outlined in the forthcoming “AAUP Recommended Principles & Practices to Guide Academy-Industry Relationships” which states, as follows, that the right of faculty to control their intellectual property extends beyond invention:

Faculty Inventor Rights and IP Management: Faculty members’ fundamental rights to direct and control their own research do not terminate when they make a new invention or other research discovery; these rights properly extend to decisions involving invention management, intellectual property (IP), licensing, commercialization, dissemination, and public use. As such, faculty inventor “assignment” of an invention to a management agent, including the university that hosted the underlying research, should be voluntary and negotiated, rather than mandatory, unless federal statutes or previous sponsored research agreements dictate otherwise. Faculty inventors and investigators retain a vital interest in the disposition of their research inventions and discoveries and should, therefore, retain rights to negotiate the terms of their disposition. The university, or its management agents, should not undertake intellectual property or legal actions directly or indirectly affecting a faculty member’s research, inventions, instruction, or public service without the faculty member’s and/or the inventor’s express consent.

While the Act did not advance during the current legislative session, State Senator Maralyn Chase has expressed an ongoing commitment to supporting faculty freedom to innovate, and academic freedom in Washington.

Academic Student Employees

Statement of Support of University compliance with ASE Employment Contract and Arbitrator’s Decision

The University of Washington chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP-UW) urges that the UW administration honor its commitments with UAW Local 4121 to maintain tuition and fee waivers for approximately 4,500 Academic Student Employees (ASEs) in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement.

Fees on ASEs can amount to more than 7% of the ASE income. Competitive ASE income is one of the key factors in the university’s ability to recruit the best graduate students. Fee waivers are needed to maintain competitive salaries. And by providing over half of the instructional contact hours and completing research that enables UW to bring in $1.5 billion in grants and contracts, ASEs are a critical pillar of the UW’s educational mission.

In September 2011, after UW imposed two new mandatory fees (Universal U-Pass and SFR) on ASEs with 50% appointments, the union (UAW4121) filed a grievance alleging that UW was not maintaining tuition and fee waivers per the collective bargaining agreement. The union and the UW administration proceeded to arbitration after the UW made it clear that they were unwilling to work out a solution during the earlier steps of the grievance procedure. The arbitrator and the mechanism for settling disputes were mutually agreed upon by both the UW and the union. The arbitrator found in favor of the union’s position. However, rather than accept this, the UW has chosen to launch a lengthy challenge to the decision, spending money on expensive outside attorneys all the while continuing to impose the fees. Not only is the UW’s action in violation of its own commitments under the CBA, it is also damaging the relationship between the university and the ASEs and a misuse of public resources.

In November, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) passed a motion urging the UW to swiftly resolve the dispute with the union. The AAUP-UW stands in solidarity with the ASE body and urges the administration to honor the arbitrator’s decision and maintain the fee waivers.

Faculty Salary Policy

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