FA News: 8/18/2017

Dear colleagues,
 
My attempt to clarify the status of syllabi was itself unclear about what is meant by “electronic posting.”
 
Syllabi naturally must be distributed to students. A copy must also be shared with your Chair/Director. The contract does not say in what format syllabi are to be shared. 
You may distribute syllabi to students in hard copy, electronically on D2L, or both. I, like many faculty, do both, and nothing in the CBA is meant to prevent that. 
The controversy about electronic posting centered on the administration’s past practice of requiring public posting of all syllabi online, in venues where it was possible for anyone, not just students, to access and download the syllabi. It is this sort of posting that the CBA is meant to address. 
 
Indeed, the whole point is that a syllabus you create is your intellectual property as a faculty member (unless the university specifically paid you extra to produce it). So you may share it with anyone you please, in any format you please—so long as you also share it with your students and your supervisor in some form. 
 
The new contractual language limits what the administration can do with your syllabus, not what you can do with it. 
 
I apologize for the confusion, and thank two colleagues for promptly pointing it out. 
 
Dave J
 
[My earlier message is posted below in all its original, glorious ambiguity.]
—–
 
Dear colleagues, 
 
As we prepare for the new semester (not to mention the eclipse), it is also syllabus season, and the annual reminders about syllabus policy are making the rounds. Here are some comments from the FA perspective. 
 
Syllabi are an important part of our teaching work, and it is precisely because so many faculty put a great deal of effort into providing quality syllabi that the Faculty Association has worked to protect faculty’s interest in syllabi as intellectual property. The 
new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement, a.k.a. contract) clarifies that syllabi are the intellectual property of faculty, save under certain rare conditions, as when development of a syllabus was directly funded by a university grant. 

In keeping with that principle, the new CBA mandates that syllabi not be posted electronically, save for certain rather narrow exceptions: when faculty voluntarily agree to have their syllabi posted; when accrediting bodies require posting; or for the generic “standardized Master Syllabi” or syllabi included as part of the Form 90 process. 
 
We learned after the new contract was ratified last spring that many syllabi were still publicly posted online, including those clearly not falling under any valid exception. We informed the administration of this, and they have been working to remove such syllabi from public servers on campus. But if you find an old syllabus of yours still publicly available and want it taken down, inform your supervisor and ask them to see to it that it is removed from the university’s servers. 


So, unless your syllabus was directly funded by a university grant, it belongs to you. Even if you are teaching a course for which a Master Syllabus exists, any customization of that syllabus you have developed for that class is your intellectual property. The administration is authorized to collect syllabi to confirm that faculty are distributing them, but faculty syllabi belong to faculty.
 

In solidarity,
 
Dave Johnson
President, SIUC-FA

About Dave Johnson
I'm an Associate Professor in Classics and currently (fall 2016) President of the SIUC Faculty Association.

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