UFF-FSU Statement Regarding Donor Agreements

The promise of higher education is based in several democratic principles, including academic freedom, faculty governance, evidence-based, peer-reviewed scholarship, integrity, and transparency. It is the role of universities to disseminate and advance knowledge, to support and sustain ground breaking, cutting edge research, and to teach our students how to be critical, creative, innovative, and independent thinkers, citizens, and leaders. To do this, protecting academic freedom is essential. As the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure states:

Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning. It carries with it duties correlative with rights.

It is incumbent upon faculty, administration, and students to support and defend academic freedom in order to meet the goals of higher education and critical inquiry. Florida State University’s Statement on Academic Freedom (largely based on the AAUP 1940 Statement) recognizes this:

It is the policy of Florida State University to maintain and encourage full freedom, within the law, of inquiry, discourse, teaching, research, and publication, and to protect members of the academic staff against influences, from within or without the University, that would restrict them in the exercise of this freedom in areas of scholarly interest.

State legislatures have cut higher education funding over the last decade, which has led to an increase in private funding. To protect academic freedom and sustain faculty governance, that funding must not come with strings attached, including hiring and curriculum decisions or other demands based solely on the ideological motivations of the funding organization. Undue outside influence on academic and hiring decisions violates the principles of higher education that we hold so dear.

Documents recently made public reveal that the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) has signed agreements with universities that seek inappropriate influence over faculty hires and curriculum. These agreements further the agenda of the CKF at the expense of the mission of the University. The Chair of Florida State University’s Department of Economics wrote of the 2008 FSU-CKF proposed agreement:

These organizations have an explicit agenda. They want to expose students to what they believe are vital concepts about the benefits of the market and the dangers of government failure, and they want to support and mentor students who share their views. Therefore, they are trying to convince us to hire faculty who will provide that exposure and mentoring. If we are not willing to hire such faculty, they are not willing to fund us.

Such agreements violate academic freedom and pose a threat to shared governance. As Rudy Fichtenbaum, President of the American Association of University Professors, stated in 2013:

[T]he agreement with Florida State allowed the foundation to appoint a committee to determine the pool of candidates—and to withdraw its funding if it was unhappy with the final decision. These conditions make a mockery of shared governance and academic freedom, since faculty search committees know that the wrong choice will result in a loss of funding. [...] Arrangements involving earmarked donations like these present a clear threat to academic freedom.

For these reasons, Florida State University should take immediate action to insure that all existing and future contracts with private donors, including the Charles Koch Foundation, are transparent and meet the standards for academic freedom, integrity, and faculty governance. Instituting a faculty-led review process of donor agreements and clear, transparent policies regarding what donors can and cannot expect regarding hiring and curriculum decisions would help to prevent violations of the fundamental tenets of higher education.

Resolution Regarding Concealed Weapons

The UFF-FSU Executive Council passed the following resolution:

Be it resolved that we, the Executive Council of the United Faculty of Florida-Florida State University, oppose proposed legislation that would allow concealed weapons on university campuses. We support the arguments and evidence suggesting that an increase in deadly firearms on campus will not enhance the safety of our students, faculty, or staff because of the potential increase in collateral damage, accidental shootings, and confusion regarding who the aggressor is in a given situation.

Report to the Faculty Senate, December 3, 2014

by Professor Jennifer Proffitt

Bargaining

As I reported at the last Faculty Senate meeting, departmental merit and dean’s merit were implemented November 7 and reflected in your November 26 paycheck. You should also see a bonus in your December 12 paycheck that is the difference between the start of our contracts August 8 and the day the $1500 performance increases were implemented in October. We are hoping to begin bargaining the implementation of market equity in January, but we should know more after next week’s consultation.

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Report to the Faculty Senate, November 12, 2014

by Professor Jennifer Proffitt

Bargaining
Good news: the departmental merit and dean’s merit that we negotiated have been implemented as of November 7. You should see this in your next paycheck.
Since the Faculty Senate last met, we had a very informative meeting with Bob Bradley, who was tasked with updating the market equity study that was done in 2007. Perhaps it’s no surprise to many of you: Lack of market equity at the associate and full professor levels is extremely problematic. His insights will be very useful for negotiations regarding market equity, which we hope will commence soon.

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Report to the Faculty Senate, October 16, 2014

by Professor Jennifer Proffitt

Implementation of the CBA
The implementation of raises has begun!

The $1,500 performance-based increase for faculty with an overall annual evaluation of at least “meets FSU’s high expectations” on their 2014 performance evaluations will appear in Friday’s paycheck. As a reminder, a lump sum distribution to make up the difference between the August 8 start of the academic year and the actual implementation of the increase will appear in our Dec. 12 paychecks.

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FSUS Ratification Results

On October 3, the FSUS faculty voted unanimously to ratify the 2014-2017 collective bargaining agreement.
Thank you to all who voted and to all who volunteered to help with ratification. Special thanks to Noreen Beattie, Sal Guastella, and Michael Craig for their work at the bargaining table. An extra special thanks goes to Norma Jean Jones for her work at the bargaining table and for organizing ratification.
Congratulations!

Report to the Faculty Senate, September 19, 2014

by Professor Jennifer Proffitt

Ratification
The ratification vote for the changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement was held last week, and the vote was 285 “yes” and 3 “no.” Some of the highlights include:

  • Continuation of Sustained Performance Increases of 3% for eligible full professors and eminent scholars, and, for the first time, for the top rank of Specialized Faculty working for seven years or more after their promotion to the top rank.
  • Promotion Increase MOA continues promotion increases of 12% for the second rank and 15% for the top rank.
  • $1,500 performance-based increases for faculty with an overall annual evaluation of at least “meets FSU’s high expectations” on their 2014 performance evaluations. These increases will appear in the paychecks of Oct. 17. A lump sum distribution to make up the difference between the August 8 start of the academic year and the Sept. 26th implementation will appear in the Dec. 12 paycheck.
  • Departmental merit raises of 1.55% to be distributed based on Spring 2014 Merit Evaluations. These increases will appear in paychecks on Nov. 7.
  • Deans’ merit of 0.20% of the in-unit salary base to be distributed on Nov. 7.
  • Establishment of a Post-Doc Faculty Mentor Award.
  • Renewal of the Domestic Partner Stipend Policy.

For more information, see uff-fsu.org

Presidential Search
I also wanted to let you know that the Florida International University Faculty Senate passed a resolution supporting the FSU Faculty Senate resolution passed September 10th. The UFF-FSU chapter also passed a resolution in support of your resolution. I encourage everyone to attend the presidential search meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

GOTV
UFF is also working on getting out the vote, so if you are not registered to vote, please do. I will send out additional information about voter registration soon.

FIU’s Resolution in Support of FSU’s Resolution

Florida International University’s Faculty Senate passed the following resolution today:

The Faculty Senate of Florida International University expresses its support for the following resolution adopted by the Faculty Senate of Florida State University:

“Be it resolved that we, the members of the Florida State University Faculty Senate, call upon the Presidential Search Advisory Committee not to recommend Senator Thrasher as a candidate for President of FSU. We further call upon the Board of Trustees not to hire Senator Thrasher as the next President of FSU. Senator Thrasher lacks the stated qualifications required for the position, whereas the other three finalists meet those qualifications. We encourage all faculty members to participate fully in the interview process and to submit comments.”