The AAUP, along with other higher education groups, strongly opposes proposed changes included in tax legislation being voted on by Congress this week. The AAUP particularly opposes the repeal of provisions exempting from taxation tuition waivers for campus employees and graduate students, which would cause a devastating tax increase for thousands of graduate students, and the repeal of the current Student Loan Interest Deduction, which would result in an increased cost of roughly $24 billion to student borrowers over the next decade. The attached link refers to a letter form the American Council on Education that expresses grave concern for H.R.1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
AAUP EXECUTIVE COUNCIL CALLS FOR GREATER TRANSPARENCY AND PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE’S BOARD OF TRUSTEES AND ADMINISTRATION
The University of Delaware’s Board of Trustees has become increasingly engaged in shaping decision making on vital academic issues at our university. During the recently concluded contract negotiations with the AAUP, which lasted more than a year, it became clear to the AAUP Bargaining Team that the level of involvement of some members of the Board of Trustees in formulating the University’s proposals and actions of the University’s Bargaining Team was unprecedented. Moreover, last year the Board of Trustees changed Article 3 of its own Bylaws to weaken substantially the role of the University Faculty Senate and heighten the powers of the President and Provost in academic policy-making, despite grave reservations expressed by an overwhelming majority of University Faculty Senators. Furthermore, at its semi-annual meeting in December 2016, with hardly any advance notice and absolutely no public discussion, the Board of Trustees revised Article 2 of its own Bylaws to consolidate the powers exercised by the Chair of the Board and his own appointees to the Board’s Executive Committee.
The AAUP Executive Council recognizes and fully respects the fiduciary responsibilities of the Board of Trustees and the vital role it plays in the life of the University and the State of Delaware. However, the AAUP leadership is concerned about the Board’s increasing activism in academic issues and its concentration of power in the hands of just a few trustees and administrators. This is especially the case because compared to the governing bodies of almost all other flagship state universities in the USA, such as Rutgers, Penn State, and the University of Maryland, the University of Delaware’s Board of Trustees has very limited transparency, with no opportunity for public observation of the discussions and decisions in the secret meetings of its committees, and no opportunity for public comment at its semi-annual meetings.
Having discussed these issues and deliberated about them, the AAUP Executive Council unanimously approved the following motion at its meeting on Wednesday, May 3, 2017:
Consistent with long-standing principles of the proper role of faculty members in the shared governance of American universities, the Executive Council of the University of Delaware chapter of the American Association of University Professors endorses and supports efforts to increase the transparency and public accountability of the operations of the university’s Board of Trustees and the administration.
In future communications, the AAUP Executive Council will elaborate more specifically on the issues presented here and suggest ways forward to realize the spirit of this motion.
In the vote for ratification of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, 582 ballots were distributed. When voting ended at 5pm on April 5, 2017, the final vote was 412 to accept and 38 to reject.
Negotiations for the new contract were long and arduous. The AAUP Bargaining Team and the University Bargaining Team had twenty-two meetings over a period of more than a year. The AAUP faced initial proposals from the University that would have terminated key retirement benefits and provided minimal salary increases. Over the course of negotiations, efforts to find common ground in order to minimize concessions on retirement benefits and to afford the faculty reasonable salary increases were successful. Through this process, the AAUP leadership and Bargaining Team held meetings with the Steering Committee and Department representatives both to keep them informed about proposals and counter proposals, and to take stock of their views and concerns. In addition, we held four open faculty meetings and updated the faculty on the negotiations by email.
The AAUP leadership is grateful to the increasing membership for their ideas and support during these contract negotiations, as well as their expressions of concerns about specifics of the new CBA. Without our concerted effort through collective bargaining to maintain and improve compensation and protections for the faculty, our conditions of employment would have greatly deteriorated. As we move forward, it is crucial that Steering Committee members, Department representatives, and individual faculty members stay involved in the implementation of the provisions of the new CBA.
The AAUP is the only legally authorized organization on campus that represents the entire full-time faculty and only full-time faculty. To be our best as a strong advocate for faculty interests and academic values, the AAUP needs continued growth of membership and invites the active participation of all faculty members. If you are not a member, please join by submitting the attached form. If you are a member, contact the AAUP leadership for ways you can get involved. Together, we can create our vision for the future of the University.
To view the 2016-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Delaware and the University of Delaware Chapter, American Association of University Professors click here.