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.
May 10, 2016
AAUP-UD Statement on Faculty Governance and Article 3 of the By-Laws of the Board of Trustees of the University of Delaware
Relationships and interactions between the University of Delaware’s administrators, the University Faculty Senate and the University of Delaware Chapter of the AAUP (AAUP-UD) are generally open, frank and proceed from positions of mutual respect. The foundation for this mutual respect has been shared governance, in which all opinions are valued and considered and where positions are open for discussion and potential modification. Indeed, the University of Delaware is often regarded as an example of the best practices in shared governance in higher education.
Last autumn, the Board of Trustees began to consider revisions to Article 3 of their by-laws. Article 3 defines the functions and responsibilities of the faculty and officers of the University. Two members of the Executive Council of the AAUP-UD, Calvin Keeler and Prasad Dhurjati, were members of an ad hoc committee assembled this semester by Acting President Nancy Targett to make recommendations to the Board of Trustees regarding Article 3. Throughout these deliberations your two representatives were consistent and steadfast in asserting the principle expressed in the AAUP Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities that “The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.”
At its May 2 meeting, the University Faculty Senate strongly expressed its desire to have further input on the proposed revisions to Article 3. Although your representatives on the ad hoc committee strongly advocated maintaining current practices of collaborative shared governance, it is the opinion of the AAUP-UD that the proposed language risks undermining the culture of shared governance. In the long-term best interests of the University, the AAUP-UD urges all parties to maintain the traditional policies and practices of shared governance which for decades have benefited not only our faculty, but also the students whose education has been entrusted to us.
Be assured that the AAUP-UD has been, and will remain, vigilant in protecting the rights of the faculty of the University of Delaware as expressed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Faculty Handbook, and other official personnel policies.
AAUP STEERING COMMITTEE RESOLUTION ON THE ADMINISTRATION’S RETIREMENT PROPOSALS
After careful consideration, at its meeting on Thursday, April 21, the Steering Committee of the AAUP unanimously voted to reject the current administration’s surprising proposal to phase out the retirement leave and the lump-sum retirement payout proportional to years of service.
These retirement benefits, which are similar to well-established forms of deferred compensation, have been in place for the last 20 years, ever since they were negotiated in collective bargaining in the mid-1990s. Hence for many years UD faculty members have expected and continue to expect that these benefits will still be available when they retire.
Since only those faculty who are 55 or older qualify for receiving these retirement benefits, they provide an inducement for faculty in their 40s and early 50s to remain at UD, rather than seeking better-paying jobs elsewhere, during their most productive years. They also provide an inducement for faculty in their 60s and 70s to retire, perhaps a year or two earlier than they might otherwise do so, and thereby open up vacancies which can be filled by hiring younger faculty.
We therefore believe that these retirement benefits, which during the last 20 years were maintained and even enhanced by the mutual agreement of the AAUP with both the Roselle and the Harker administrations, constitute a well-designed program which is beneficial not only for UD’s loyal faculty members, but also for our university as a whole.
Below you will find a link to a summary of the results of the AAAUP faculty survey, conducted earlier this spring. 508 (44%) of your colleagues responded to this survey, which is distributed periodically by the AAUP-UD to ask for input on questions which impact our working and personal environments. This year the survey posed questions about S-Contracts, searches and appointments of academic administrators, faculty governance at the college level, and morale. You will find the summary to be concise and informative.
AAUP Survey Summary
AAUP Survey Comments
The UD/AAUP Bargaining Team brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and leadership to the upcoming negotiations with our Administration colleagues. The team includes faculty members who are have been active leaders in the AAUP, the University Faculty Senate, and their academic departments and colleges:
Gerry Turkel, Chief Negotiator
Gerry is Professor of Sociology and Legal Studies. He joined the UD faculty in 1975. Gerry has served as Chief Negotiator for the past three contracts between UD/AAUP and the University. He serves as Contract Maintenance Officer for our chapter. In the past, he served in many capacities for the UD/AAUP, including President and Chief Grievance Officer. Gerry has extensive experience with national AAUP. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress for six years, a member of the AAUP National Council for nine years, and served as Chair of the Government Relations Committee.
Martha is Professor of Human Development and Family Studies. She has been a faculty member at UD since 1996. Martha has served on the AAUP Steering Committee and in many capacities in the University Faculty Senate. She has been a member of the Faculty Welfare and Privileges Committee, served as Chair of the Promotion and Tenure Committee, has been Chair of the senate Budget Committee, and is Vice President of the Faculty Senate. Martha was a member of the Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Responsibility Based Budgeting.
Deni is Associate Professor of Biological Sciences. He has been a faculty member at UD since 2000. Deni has been an elected member of the AAUP Steering Committee for two contract cycles. He served as President of the University Faculty Senate. He is in his fifth term as an elected University Faculty Senator and has served in the senate as President-Elect and Past President. Deni was a member of the Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Responsibility based Budgeting. He currently serves as an elected Senator-at-Large in the College of Arts and Sciences Senate. He previously served as Secretary of the College of Arts and Sciences Senate. He is a vocal advocate for protecting and strengthening the role of faculty in shared governance.
Brian Hanson is Professor of Geography. He has been a faculty member at UD since 1987. Brian has had administrative experience. he served as Associate chair and Chair of the Department of Geography and as Director of Environmental Science. He has served on the Executive Council of UD/AAUP since 2010, and has been serving as Chief Grievance Officer for the past three years. Brian has extensive experience in the University Faculty Senate. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate and as elected chair of the Committee on Committees and Nominations for the past three years.
Beth Morling is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences. She joined the UD faculty in 2003. Beth was Professor of the Year for the State of Delaware in 2014. Beth served on the UD/AAUP Bargaining Team for the current CBA. She is a CT faculty member. Beth is co-chair of the CT faculty caucus and is active in promoting fair titling and promotion practices for CT faculty members.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the University of Delaware and the University of Delaware Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (UD/AAUP) expires on June 30, 2016. Calvin Keeler, President of UD/AAUP, has informed the University administration that our chapter intends to initiate bargaining for a new contract at the beginning of Spring 2016.
The upcoming contract negotiations are singularly important for setting terms of employment for all full time faculty members. Salaries, benefits, retirement benefits, security of employment, workload, merit pay policy, s-contract compensation, and many other conditions of employment will be determined by the CBA negotiated between the AAUP and the University. Moreover, all of the policies in the Faculty Handbook that affect faculty members, including peer reviews, promotion and tenure, and sabbaticals are subject to the grievance procedure stipulated in the CBA.
The appointment of a Bargaining Team is the very important first step in preparing for contract negotiations. Following the Chapter’s Constitution and Bylaws, the Executive Council appointed a Chief Negotiator and proposed a slate of AAUP members to serve on the bargaining team to the Steering Committee. At its December 9, 2015 meeting, the Steering Committee had a full and robust discussion of the upcoming negotiations and unanimously approved the slate of bargaining team members proposed by the Executive Council.