Volume 15: Number 2, April, 2006

In this issue of Faculty Advocate:

NIC and ISU Receive AFT Charters

A Better Way To Choose a Dean

Western Washington Faculty Vote Union

Portland State Union Gets 8 Percent Raise

Athletic Deficits and Academic Missions

New Charters at NIC and ISU

AFT members at North Idaho College had their inaugural meeting on February 3. The NIC Federation has been officially chartered by the national AFT. Tom Flint is acting president and Susan Andrews is acting treasurer.

The ISU Federation has been rechartered on the Pocatello campus. AFT members there will now be able to resume defending faculty rights and increasing benefits, activities that go back to the early 1970s. (For example, the AFT helped save the job of tenure biology professor Rufus Lyman.) Dave Delehanty from biological sciences is acting president and Greg Green from economics is acting treasurer.

A Better Way To Choose a Dean

by Lynne Haagensen, Vice-President
University of Idaho Federation of Teachers

The role of faculty in the selection of deans should be valued and respected. The University of Idaho Faculty Staff Handbook specifies that at least 50% of the dean search committee be composed by faculty.  Each discipline within a college is to have representation.

In my view it is inappropriate for upper administration to rely on “head-hunter” firms for the identification of candidates; to be meaningful, faculty involvement must begin at the start of the search.

The UI Faculty-Staff Handbook also states all faculty within a college are to have an opportunity to interact with candidates selected by the search committee. This should mean the administration cannot bring dean candidates on campus in the summer when faculty are not under contract, and should not bring them during other times when faculty are apt to be off campus.

Current policy places the final decision for a new dean in the hands of the provost and president. I think AFT should consider petitioning the UI Faculty Council for a greater faculty role. In my view a strong argument can be made for the internal election of deans by faculty:

1) The character of the dean is vitally important. In my experience, it is very difficult to assess the character of external candidates. Election from within would improve the odds of selecting an effective leader.

2) With internal selection, there would be no need to spend many thousands of dollars on searches. The internal dean’s salary might well be lower as well.

3) An internally selected dean would not require a period of adjustment to new surroundings. Having been a UI faculty member, the dean would know first hand challenges faced by the faculty, and would therefore be less apt to be arrogant.

5) There should be no need for spousal accommodation for the internal dean, thus saving money and avoiding conflicts related to accommodation.

I realize there are arguments for national searches and against internal election. Given the UI track record of hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on national searches that have produced some very unsuccessful deans, I think it is time for us to take internal dean selections more seriously.

Western Washington Faculty Goes Union;
Central Washington Ratifies First Contract

Western Washington University faculty recently chose AFT-NEA as their collective bargaining agent. The vote was 300 for union representation and 284 against. This election constitutes a union sweep of the three regional universities in Washington. Last year’s vote at Eastern Washington was 338 in favor and 46 opposed; at Central Washington 264 out of 418 faculty voted for the United Faculty of Washington (AFT-NEA).

The United Faculty of Central just ratified their first contract, one that included an 11 percent pay increase over two years. There was a 8.5 percent across-the-board raise, a one time payment for all faculty, and a one percent merit increase.

PSU Faculty Union Wins 8 Percent Raise

The Portland State University faculty union is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors. The union has just finished negotiations on a contract that will grant a 5 percent across-the-board increase in February. About 500 of PSU faculty make less than $48,000 annually, and these faculty will receive an additional 1.25 percent raise. All faculty will share in an additional 3 percent increase later this year.

Athletic Deficits and Academic Missions
Oregon State, Portland State, University of Idaho

At a recent meeting members of the Oregon Board of Higher Education expressed concern about deficits in the athletic programs at Oregon State University and Portland State University. They noted that this was especially troublesome because they are being asked, once again, to make cuts in academic programs.

Even with Oregon State’s football success in recent years, the athletic department ran a $4 million deficit in FY05. This amounts to 11 percent of OSU’s athletic budget. OSU officials predict that $8-10 million will have to be cut from academic departments to make the FY07 budget.

Portland State, which plays Division I-AA football, had a $3.1 million deficit for FY05, which is an astounding 40 percent of its athletic budget. One of the arguments for the UI going to Division I-A was that it could make more money in gate receipts by playing (and generally losing to) I-A teams.

As stated in The Oregonian (1/6/06): “Universities with Division I-A football programs generally expect their athletic departments to become self-sufficient through ticket sales, donations, and other sources.” Nevertheless, 60 percent of these programs run a deficit after subtracting appropriated funds. Division I-AA programs do far worse with 90 percent running in the red.

The UI athletic department received $2.4 million in appropriated funds for FY05, which amounted to 26 percent of the total budget. Considering the impact of two financial exigencies in 1981-82 on academic programs, the UI Faculty Council passed a resolution that requested that the state funds be removed. For four years (1983_87) the Vandals, presumably without a subsidy, won five Big Sky championships.

Jeff Hale, President of the OSU Faculty Senate, stated that he wants less subsidy for athletics, but thought it was a “pipedream” to think that the programs will ever be self-sufficient. Many UI faculty, however, were distressed when the principle of self-sufficiency was used to shut down the University of Idaho Press, one of whose titles had just won a national award. To insist that a program that clearly serves the UI’s academic mission be self-sufficient but then subsidize a nonacademic program is inconsistent and hypocritical.

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 $12 biweekly. For an application form and dues schedule please click here.