FA News: July 20, 2017

Dear colleagues,

It’s certainly been an eventful summer for SIUC. We are welcoming our first state budget in two years, and a new Chancellor for our campus, Dr. Carlo Montemagno. Below you will find some updates from the Faculty Association perspective. Before the updates, a request for your help. The FA is only as strong as its members. We are looking for people willing to help out on each of the broad areas covered in more detail below.

  • Budget. We formed a budget committee last spring, but are looking for more faculty interested in learning about SIUC’s budget and for some faculty interested in serving on a potential bargaining team on salary. 
  • Program changes. We are looking for faculty interested in promoting communication about common issues of concern as well as helping the FA to respond to proposed changes to programs and colleges. 
  • Workload. We are looking for faculty interested in helping us protect against workload creep, shaping the FA’s response to a potential teaching track for faculty, and working to implement the Credit Hour Equivalency process to ensure faculty get full credit for their indirect teaching. 
Anyone interested in helping out on any of these issues—or any other issue of concern–is cordially invited to get in touch with me. I can promise that no work will be asked of you before the fall, and that there will be ways to limit your commitment to allow you to give all due attention to your day job. But we in the FA will want to hit the ground running come the new semester, as we expect our new administration will do. Getting involved with the FA is a great way to help shape the future of SIUC at a time when this campus is likely to see major changes. 
1. Budget. 
The welcome and long overdue arrival of a full-year budget for Illinois has resolved the most pressing part of the budget crisis. Funding will be at 90% of the 2015 level, which is actually 5% higher than that submitted as part of the sustainability plan the administration submitted to the BOT on July 13. 
  • Terri Bryant (R) and Brandon Phelps (D) voted in favor of the new budget, and to override the Governor’s veto. We thank both for their support of SIUC. Thanks are also due to the numerous faculty, and others in the SIUC community, for their work communicating with all in Illinois government about the importance of SIUC and the threat posed to it by the state’s failure to provide a budget over the last two years. 
  • We still face financial challenges, and numerous NTT colleagues still lack a firm commitment for employment this fall. But the arrival of a state budget should enable SIUC to stabilize its finances, and our contract allows the FA to reopen negotiations over salary. As the sustainability plan remarks, “At some point in the future, the university will need to explore salary considerations for both represented and non-represented staff in order to be competitive.” In a first step toward further discussion on this topic, the FA is working together with the administration to produce a study showing just how far our salaries lag behind those of our peers. 
  • The sustainability plan provided us with another batch of information on the budget. We continue to analyze that information in order to determine whether SIUC’s financial priorities mesh with our academic mission
2. Program changes
The sustainability plan discusses a number of possible changes to programs and academic structures on campus, including possible reorganization of colleges and the elimination of academic programs. The FA does not reflexively oppose program changes, but we will work to ensure that changes occur only after full participation of faculty in an orderly deliberative process. Shared governance cannot be an afterthought.
  • We are committed to the full implementation of the new Article 9 process, which protects faculty’s role in deliberations about any substantive changes to academic programs. We are concerned that the administration is pre-empting this process by closing programs to new students before the Article 9 process takes place; unless we are able to resolve this with the administration shortly, this concern could result in a formal grievance. 
  • Moves to restructure programs and units have major consequences, which require time to work through. These include changes to promotion and tenure and merit pay processes as unit boundaries change, and impacts on programs beyond those immediately concerned.
  • Please contact the FA with any questions or for help if your program appears on a list for elimination (as that in the sustainability plan) or is otherwise flagged for review. We can promote communication among faculty facing such changes, suggest questions you should be asking about program changes, and help ensure that your receive all the protections afforded by the contract. 
3. Workload
The sustainability report also outlines potential changes to faculty workloads, and suggests that more faculty will be faced with increased teaching loads
  • Changes to faculty loads must, as the sustainability plan recognizes, be equitable. Faculty subject to capricious or ill-informed judgments of their research productivity have the right to grieve such decisions. The FA has won workload grievances when chairs or directors assign workload inequitably. 
  • Consequences from increased teaching loads should be worked out in advance. Faculty given higher teaching loads should not forfeit their opportunity for promotion or merit pay in future years. 
  • Increases to teaching loads should not be justified by the failure to hire adequate numbers of faculty to sustain quality programs. 
  • Widespread introduction of higher teaching loads, or development of a separate track for teaching faculty, would raise questions about the nature of SIUC as a research university. It is worth noting that while the plan repeatedly suggests raising loads for “unproductive” researchers, it never suggests lowering loads for productive researchers, or otherwise increasing or restoring support for research on campus. 
  • The Credit Hour Equivalency provision in the contract can provide some remedy for uncompensated increases in indirect teaching work. We plan to reenergize this process this fall. 
Chancellor Montemagno has emphasized the importance of “vision and shared governance” at SIUC. We in the FA agree that both are needed. One major goal of our contract and our union is to promote shared governance. But while the FA bargains the contract and ensures it is followed, only active faculty involvement can ensure that the vision for SIUC that takes shape over the next weeks and months is truly shared, is responsive to SIUC’s history and mission, and is in the best interest of faculty and students. We therefore urge all faculty to inform themselves about ongoing changes on campus and take full part in the campus conversation about the future of SIUC. 

In solidarity,
Dave Johnson
President, SIUC-FA

About Dave Johnson
I'm an Associate Professor in Classics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Among other things.

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