Faculty Advocate 14:2

Volume 14: Number 2, April, 2005

TWO TENURED NIC FACULTY FIRED

Two tenured faculty in the North Idaho College’s Division of Technology were terminated in March. They are now being represented by an attorney provided by the AFT. The case is also before the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The two instructors are members of both AFT and AAUP.

The case raises fundamental issues regarding the meaning of tenure. Tenure is a property right that cannot be removed except for professional incompetence, a felony conviction, moral turpitude, financial exigency, or program discontinuance. Tenure protects academic freedom and once it is granted there exists a presumption of continued employment until one of the above conditions can be demonstrated.

The reason given for the NIC terminations was declining enrollments in the instructors’ courses. State Board of Education policies dictate that only entire programs can be eliminated for this reason, not individual faculty members in that program. Financial exigency is obviously not the reason because the NIC Division of Technology is adding three new programs and reinstating another for 2005-2006.

If these faculty were at BSU, ISU, UI, or LCSC, their tenure status would entitle them to a terminal year of employment and it would also allow them the right to appeal. The two NIC faculty are not being afforded either of these rights. Does this mean that tenure means something entirely different for NIC faculty than for all other Idaho faculty? Logically and legally this cannot be the case.

GRISHKOFF CASE DOES NOT GO FORWARD

In April of 2003 UI art professor Glenn Grishkoff received a positive third year review that concluded: “His research record positions him as having an emerging national and international profile, which when coupled with his research activity, has given the result of having attained a notable national reputation.”  Passing the third year review normally means that UI faculty members will stay on tenure track until they are considered for tenure in their fifth or sixth year.

Then, against all expectations Dean Joe Zeller rejected the third year review and UI President issued Grishkoff a terminal contract. Sally Machlis, chair of the art department, requested that Provost Brian Pitcher reconsider the case.  Even with thirty letters of support from Grishkoff’s national peers, Pitcher upheld the Dean Zeller’s decision.

The AFT circulated a petition supporting Grishkoff that over 170 UI faculty signed.  A total of $10,200, including $6,900 from an art auction, was raised for Grishkoff’s legal defense.  But now, after consultation with his attorney, he has decided not to file a suit.  Delegates at IFT’s 2005 convention in May will be asked to return $5,000 of the money raised to Grishkoff.  He is now Artist in Residence in Joseph, Oregon and we wish him the very best in the future.  Due to the arbitrary actions of Dean Zeller, the UI has lost a great artist and teacher. For more details on the Grishkoff case see The Grishkoff Case.

AFT MEETS WITH UI PRESIDENT WHITE

On April 6 members of the UI Federation of Teachers and UI President Tim White met over a few beers to discuss faculty salaries, faculty morale, diversity, overuse of contingent faculty, large class sizes, and lack of travel funds.

WASHINGTON STATE FACULTY VOTE FOR UNION

In addition to representing faculty at 21 community colleges, the AFT, in a coalition with the Washington Education Association, has now won collective bargaining rights at Central and Eastern Washington Universities. The vote at EWU was 338 in favor and 46 opposed, or 88 percent for unionization. Of the 418 faculty voting at CWU 264 voted for the United Faculty of Washington. Faculty at Western Washington University will be voting very soon.

UNITED FACULTY OF IDAHO

The IFT Higher Education Council has invited AAUP members on Idaho’s campuses to join a coalition “United Faculty of Idaho” (UFI) for purposes of increasing faculty benefits and protecting faculty rights. (AFT and AAUP members would still of course remain in their respective national organizations.) AAUP members would pay UFI dues of $2 per month, half of which would be dedicated to the IFT Defense Fund, which would be available to all members of the coalition. Those wishing to join the coalition should send a check for $24 to Bob Dickow, IFT Treasurer, 1102 East 6th, Moscow, 83843.

TWO TIERS IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

By Derrick Z. Jackson, The Boston Globe (March 4, 2005, reprinted with the author’s permission)

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney vetoed nearly $33 million in raises for faculty at the state’s public universities and community colleges. The governor who tells us education is a civil right in K through 12 is the same one who accords public higher education professors all the dignity of a discount rack at his former signature company, Staples.

UMass-Amherst has already gone through two decades of slow but dramatic erosion, with a drop in permanent faculty from 1,215 in the mid 1980s to 865 today. The ratio of students to permanent faculty has jumped from 19-1 to 24-1. Similarly, UMass-Boston has lost 15 percent of its full-time faculty in the last decade. At UMass-Boston, part-time teachers outnumber full-timers, and at UMass-Amherst, part-timers, according to the teachers union, teach 40 percent of classes.

Then you have Brown University, one of the Ivy League schools. It just announced a budget increase of 8.2 percent, a 5.5 percent salary rise for faculty, and a 9 percent rise in the number of faculty. While UMass-Amherst has become legendary in higher ed circles for budget cuts to its libraries, Brown is increasing library funding by 5.3 percent. At Brown there are 628 regular faculty for its 7,595 undergraduate and graduate students — a student-professor ratio of 12-1. That is half of the ratio of UMass-Amherst.

A similar chasm is visible in student aid. In the past five years, Massachusetts has slashed financial aid by 22 percent. To partially compensate for a 4.9 percent rise in tuition, Brown is proposing a 9 percent rise in student aid. As Brown increases aid, the number of students who receive Massachusetts grants for college has fallen from about 32,000 to under 27,000.

The basic notion that an Ivy League college has more resources than UMass is no news. What should be deeply disturbing about this latest juxtaposition is that it demonstrates how the richest nation in the world is plunging even more deeply into an impermeable two-tiered society of higher ed. Eighty percent of the nation’s 14 million undergraduate college students go to public colleges. We already have a system where desperate parents flood the most desirable private and public colleges with applications.

We are starving the public colleges at a time when only 3 percent of the enrollment in the nation’s most selective colleges comes from the bottom 25 percent in family income. We are sending the clear message that public colleges are grimy places for rejects.

A quarter-century ago, according to the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, the average professor at a public university earned 91 percent the salary of a professor at a private college. Today the average public college faculty member makes only 77 percent the money of a private university faculty member. No relief is coming from the Bush administration, which is cutting higher ed to fund the war and to give tax cuts to the wealthy.

Business Week has reported how the funding priorities of federal and state governments have forced public colleges into a chancellors-in-the-barrel mentality of flagship schools desperately lunging for privatization schemes to stay attractive while the nonflagship schools are left to compete for even less resources. While public schools get government cuts, private schools tap into endowments and gifts from the wealthy. Out of the $24 billion donated to the nation’s 3,000 colleges in 2003, just 20 institutions controlled $6.2 billion of the money. The leader was, not surprisingly, Harvard, which has a $22 billion endowment.

Harvard, Business Week pointed out, received the equivalent of $28,300 per student in donations compared to $36 per student at Palm Beach Community College in Florida. The Rand Corporation’s Council for Aid to Education said that in general, ”voluntary support is not likely to offset declines in other funding sources.” David Breneman, an education scholar at the University of Virginia, told The Chronicle of Higher Education, “The most serious public policy issue involves the 90 percent or more of students and institutions that are not part of the meritocracy. Only when higher education is available to the bulk of potential students can we say that our system is strong.”

Rand and Breneman say this even as the system weakens into permanent stratification with declines in public funding sources. Brown gives faculty a raise and increases their numbers. Romney, with his Harvard law and business degrees, treats public college faculty in Massachusetts like another box of printer paper at Staples. We are rapidly heading to a day where the worth of a public college education is the price of that box.

IFT ELECTS OFFICERS

At its 2005 Convention on April 27 the number of AFT delegates will have doubled with the rechartering of three higher education locals. In addition to addressing the Grishkoff and NIC cases, delegates will be voting on a slate of IFT officers. UI members Nick Gier and Bob Dickow have been renominated as IFT president and secretary treasurer, Susan Andrews of NIC has been nominated as college and university vice-president, and Brent Fraue has been nominated as K-12 vice-president.

JOIN US IN THIS IMPORTANT WORK

Membership in the American Federation of Teachers and its local and state affiliates includes a $1,000,000 liability policy, access to legal and moral support, and national/state AFT publications. Dues are calculated progressively on the basis of salary, and they range from $5 to $11 biweekly. For an application form and dues schedule please visit www.class.uidaho.edu/ngier/ift/dues.htm.