AAUP Report: Political Interference and Academic Freedom in Florida’s Public Higher Education System


The AAUP Report regarding the impact of Florida’s political interference is now available.

Below are selected quotes.

There is a tremendous sense of dread right now, not just among faculty; it’s tangible among students and staff as well.

We are tired of being demonized by our government. Many of us are looking to leave Florida, and if we don’t, we will leave academia, and nobody wants our jobs.

Senate Bill 520 … creates a Florida sunshine law exemption for personal identifying information of candidates for state university presidencies

Charging that accrediting agencies have an “inordinate amount of power,” Governor DeSantis signed a bill, SB 7044, on April 19, 2022, that requires public colleges and universities in the state to change accreditors at the end of each accreditation cycle, a process that can take as long as ten years.

… the political interference in classroom teaching that began in 2021 is unprecedented in its sweep and ambition in both the state and the nation, with a frightening potential impact on the academic freedom of faculty members.

Post tenure review … although board representatives claimed that no one would be fired without being granted the opportunity to first complete a performance-improvement plan, the policy clearly permits immediate dismissal upon receipt of an “unsatisfactory” rating.

Governor DeSantis signed SB 256, a measure aimed at limiting union power.83 Under the law, government employees, including university faculty, may no longer have their union dues deducted from their paychecks. Union members must now take extra steps to set up payment plans to remain up to date. Additionally, as of October, public employee unions must share data with the state about how many of their members have paid dues in the most recent membership renewal cycle. If a union does not cross a threshold of at least 60 percent of dues-paying members, the union will be decertified.

These past events provide context for what has become a central thrust of the reactionary assault on learning in Florida (and nationwide): the move to eliminate programs aimed at promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at colleges and universities.

The unprecedented takeover of New College of Florida and the imposition at that institution of an aggressively ideological and politically motivated agenda, marked by improper denials of tenure and a faculty member’s dismissal without due process, stands as one of the most egregious and extensive violations of AAUP principles and standards at a single institution in recent memory.

Bargaining Update: May 3, 2023

Dear FSU Colleagues,

This is the first bargaining update of the year, and we plan to continue to keep you updated on the status and progress of bargaining. Both the Board of Trustees (BOT) team and the UFF-FSU team hope that we can quickly come to an agreement this year. This will depend on the fairness of the offer and the financial resources of the University.

The BOT team asked that the UFF-FSU team make the first offer and that bargaining would start on Monday May 1, with meetings every Monday and Wednesday following that. The BOT team cancelled the first meeting, and so we will meet this Wednesday, May 3, from 2-5pm, at the FSU Training Center (493 Stadium Drive). These meetings are open to the public, and your physical presence at bargaining is appreciated and helpful. If you cannot make it to the Training Center, we will provide a live stream to faculty. Please email Brian Arsenault for a Zoom link.

This year we proposed to the BOT team that both parties waive their right to open articles other than salary. This keeps the contract stable for another year and allows us to concentrate on a single article. The full contract was open last year, and many changes were made, so time is needed to see how they work in practice. Thus, we will only be bargaining the salary article this year.

Since the bargaining session was cancelled, the UFF-FSU team emailed our first offer to the BOT team to help keep negotiations on schedule.  In summary, this offer consisted of 5 parts.

  1. Promotion increases have been left at the level they have been for the last 10 years or so. Promotion to Associate Professor, or second rank at 12%, and promotion to Professor or top rank at 15%.
  2. Sustained performance increases have been changed from a 7 year cycle to a 5 year cycle to accommodate changes requested by the BOG for post tenure review. The first cycle shall include those who are in their 6th and 7th year of the cycle to accommodate this change.
  3. Merit increases retain the same eligibility requirements that are in the current contract and in two sections.
    1. Performance Increases are tied to the Consumer Price index increase from March 2022 to March 2023, which is currently established by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as 4.98%.  This increment shall be effective on the start of the fiscal year for 12 month faculty and at the start of the semester for 9 month faculty.
    2. Departmental merit for the next fiscal year is set at 3% with the same eligibility and criteria as in the current contract.
    3. Deans’ merit is removed for the usual reason and past experience of the criteria for most deans is unstated, unclear, and arbitrary.
  4. Market Equity is changed to be implemented in September instead of late in the academic year.  The amount of a total of $1 million for Market Equity is divided as $800,000 for tenure track faculty and $200,000 for specialized faculty in the 4:1 ratio that we have used in the past.  The total market equity deficit as shown by the distribution from last year is approximately $18 million, so even this amount is way too small to eliminate our Market Equity issue in a reasonable time.  A slight increase from last year may help us get close to having our faculty pay scale match the national average.  The cap and floor on Market equity increases are left as in the current language.
  5. The cap on Administrative Discretionary Increases is set to 1%.

The full article with markup for changes is available on our website. We are stronger and able to negotiate because of our members. Please consider joining so that we may negotiate more effectively (or at all).

-Scott Hannahs – Specialized Faculty, Magnet Lab
-Jennifer Proffitt – Professor, Communication