UNF Administration Finalizes “Banking” Policy
On November 28, 2016, Provost Earle Traynham sent our chapter of the union the Administration’s finalized policy regarding banking credits (to be accumulated for course releases) for faculty who conduct Directed Independent Studies and who direct theses and dissertations. Academic Affairs made numerous changes to the prior version of the policy; in doing so, the administration addressed some of the union’s biggest concerns with that model.
Click Banking Policy to see the newest policy proposal.
Our Long National Nightmare
Has Just Begun
On August 9, 1974, the newly sworn in Gerald Ford said in his first words as President that “our long national nightmare is over.” He was of course referring to the Watergate scandal that brought down a president and disgraced the presidency itself. On November 9, 2016, his words should be reversed. We very well may be entering what might easily become a long national nightmare ahead. In January, a grossly-unqualified demagogue was elected president. What he represents should be of no surprise to the American people; his one attribute is that he never sought to hide his baser beliefs and instincts. Instead, he celebrated a platform of fear, hate, ethnocentrism, and uber-nationalism. Regardless, he will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.
If the new president remains true to his words, we all have much to fear–especially our fellow citizens who have long been disenfranchised and repressed by institutional racism and sexism. They were the obvious “other” at the brunt of his campaign attacks. At the same time, academics and union members have much to fear as well. The president-elect has derided public education and the professoriate on numerous occasions. He has nominated a Secretary of Education with no education experience who has used her considerable wealth to attack public schools and promote vouchers (public funding for private schools). The president-elect has also publicly and vehemently attacked unions and their workers. He holds up as a model people like Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, who destroyed public employee unions despite overwhelming opposition to that goal. He has a history of refusing to pay employees for work completed and then insulting those who complain. He has repeatedly called for the ability to “sue” the press (and, by extension, other professionals engaged in searches for truth). He even publicly stated his desire to imprison his opponent in the presidential campaign.
While we should lament the state of the nation (a nation that obviously harbors far more racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, and fear than most of us wanted to believe), we cannot merely complain. We must engage and advocate for change now like never before. We must work collectively to refocus attention on the real problems we face–to focus attention on the very issues that the president-elect tries to obfuscate with bloviation and misdirection.
I ask that you join with us in fighting for social justice both within the academy and without. Everything the professoriate cherishes is at stake.
State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota Faculty Votes to Unionize
The faculty of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) has spoken and by a vote of 75-24 becomes the newest United Faculty of Florida (UFF) chapter. The faculty voted 75.8 percent for UFF with 92.5 percent of the faculty voting. The vote count followed a three-week period of balloting by mail and was certified by the Florida Public Employees Relations Committee today.
“The State College of Florida faculty, over campuses and through departments, have come together to support each other in gaining a seat at the table,” said Dr. Courtney Ruffner, professor of English. “We have asked to be heard, to be taken seriously, to be respected by our Board of Trustees and administration and have been met with silence. Our community has come together to complete our college family by showing its support in our decision to unionize. It is clear that we all want to better the working and learning environment for our faculty, our students and our community at large. Our union with the United Faculty of Florida can help us achieve that desire.”
“I want to congratulate the dedicated faculty at the State College of Florida as they become a part of the United Faculty of Florida,” said Dr. Jennifer Proffitt, UFF president. “This vote is based on the premise that the faculty, who are the cornerstone of this institution, should have a collective voice in determining what is best for the college and the students it serves. This isn’t about confrontation; it is about ensuring that all stakeholders have a voice in determining the future of this great college and ensuring that its core mission — the education of the next generation of leaders — is fulfilled to its greatest potential. We look forward to working with these committed and dynamic faculty members for the betterment of the State College of Florida and higher education around the state.”
“This effort also stands as an example to other colleges that are beset with Boards of Trustees whose awareness of educational imperatives is little or none, and beholden to political and business interests that appoint them. We look forward to working with the board in negotiating the future for SCF and its teachers, students, and stakeholders,” said Del Jacobs, director of Film and Media Studies.
UFF represents more than 20,000 faculty members at 11 state universities, St. Leo University, ten colleges, and at four graduate assistant chapters.
AA’s Proposed Banking Model for Directed Independent Studies
On Monday, August 29th, our chapter provided Academic Affairs with your feedback on the university’s proposal for banking credits accrued for leading Directed Independent Studies, serving on doctoral dissertation or masters thesis committee, or chairing a doctoral dissertation.
While UNF-UFF has been in discussions with the office of the Provost regarding the proposal, we have deferred taking on an official position until such time as we could solicit faculty members’ feedback on the proposal. The concerns we expressed weeks ago to Academic Affairs largely mirror those that faculty noted via the poll.
UFF Statement Regarding Governor Scott’s “Degrees to Jobs Summit”
May 23, 2016
The very premise of Rick Scott’s summit is problematic in that the mission of higher education is much more than just jobs. While obtaining a job after graduation is important, higher education is about developing educated, well-rounded citizens and future leaders who are able to communicate and write effectively, think critically, and solve problems – skills that are also important criteria for those who do the hiring.
If Governor Scott is serious about improving higher education, then he needs to make sure that our university and college systems are funded properly, not relying on gimmicks such as one-size-fits-all performance funding.
If Governor Scott is serious about improving higher education, then he would work to protect the institutions that nurture rigorous inquiry and strong research that will attract and retain the best faculty, such as tenure and continuing contracts.
Perhaps most importantly, if Governor Scott is serious about improving higher education, then he would have a real summit that includes our faculty members, who are critical stakeholders in any discussion of higher education and higher education curriculum. Unfortunately, no faculty members are listed in the agenda for the summit, which is incredibly problematic as we are in the classrooms and in the labs teaching these future leaders the skills necessary to succeed, and we serve as mentors and as references for our students when they apply for jobs or continue on for graduate school.
The United Faculty of Florida, which represents more than 22,000 faculty members, was not invited to the summit, even though we have the knowledge, the research, the experience, and the networks to serve as meaningful partners in the summit.
Without meaningful faculty participation, this summit does little to move Florida’s higher education system to the next level of excellence.
THE SALARY ISSUE
NEA Higher Education Advocate
Data show that in terms of annual compensation, UNF faculty are last place in the state university system (SUS). These numbers are not adjusted for region and cost of living.
Click HERE for more detailed and disaggregated salary data.
The Chronicle of Higher Education also publishes salary data. Their database is useful for disaggregating faculty groups, comparisons to private institutions, etc. You may access their database HERE.
Click on the title above to review a letter that chapter president John White sent to Governor Scott in the fall of 2015. White sent the letter in response to the Governor’s request for feedback from faculty on how we might make our universities stronger and more efficient.
Although the letter was mailed in the early fall of 2015, White received neither a response nor an acknowledgement of receipt of the letter. He emailed the letter again in late May 2016 and received an automated response that it was received. We will keep you posted when or if we receive a true response.
Help Us Reach > 50% Membership
There is strength in numbers; the stronger we stand, the louder and more powerful our voice. We need strength now more than ever as we are in the midst of a time of unprecedented attacks on public employee unions, on faculty tenure, on academic freedom, and on equitable funding to public universities. We ask that you, our members, get more involved in the union, primarily by encouraging your colleagues to join our ranks. Doing so would help us in our efforts to ensure that UNF is an institution where:
- Students have a high quality education and opportunities to engage in research.
- Faculty have academic freedom and their intellectual property is protected.
- Administration recognizes the need to prioritize family during emergency situations.
- Salaries are corrected for inversion, compression, merit, and cost of living.
- We lead in the governance of the university and in guiding its mission.
Encourage fellow faculty to join. There is no better time to join than now!
Where Does the Money Go?
The UNF family has been repeatedly reminded over the past academic year that the university’s financial situation is dire. There is “no money” for any of the proposals our bargaining team has put forth, virtually all faculty searches have been canceled, and departments have been asked to remit unused department funds back to the university. There have even been vague references to layoffs or cutting programs.
While my union colleagues and I understand that the Board of Governors’ metrics have hurt our funding–and we are harshly critical of the punitive measures they attach to performance assessments–we nonetheless continue to question where and how UNF does spend money.
For example, we question the need for one administrator for every three faculty. We question the exorbitant rate at which a bevy of administrators are paid. We question why former administrators take with them a much higher rate and stipends when they revert back to faculty roles. We question why some offices (e.g., Deans’ Offices) need four or more secretaries. We question why the university spends exponentially more on distance learning than face-to-face course development (e.g., CIRT funding verses OFE funding) when DL courses make up less than 5% of the university’s course delivery and when we cannot compete with Florida’s “preeminent” universities in this regard. We also question why UNF has paid exorbitant fees to outside legal counsel (to lead its bargaining team with numerous constituent groups) when the university maintains four full time attorneys while our side contains no attorneys (does no one in the Office of Legal Counsel have expertise in contracts and contract negotiations?). We conservatively estimate that since the summer of 2014, UNF has paid Carson & Adkins far in excess of $250,000, a sum that does not include what UNF has spent on the administrators who sit on their bargaining team (a group that includes a UNF attorney, a college dean, the director of HR, a vice president, etc.).
To be clear, my colleagues and I are very sympathetic to the financial challenges President Delaney and other top UNF administrators are currently facing. We also very much respect that President Delaney has consistently avoided layoffs during these troublesome financial years. However, it is important that in discussions about our university’s financial condition, we all start to recognize and begin to address the administrative bloat that has sucked up a huge percentage of the funding we do have.
UNF-UFF Family Leave Proposal
In this year’s contract reopeners, our bargaining team put forward proposals for a paid family leave policy. Our argument is that the plan–which we believe would prove to be revenue neutral–would benefit not just UNF faculty but the university community more widely. It would ensure that newer faculty (who have little to no accumulated sick leave) would not be forced to choose between work and family needs.
Click Family Leave Proposal to see the article in its entirety.
Outstanding Faculty Service Award, 2015-2016
Mark Ari, COAS
John W. White, COEHS
Mark Ari John White
Two of the union’s most active members/officers were selected as recipients of this year’s Outstanding Faculty Service Awards. Mark Ari (“Ari” to all who know him) is a senior instructor in the English Department and has served–among many other roles–as Grievance Officer, as Senator, and on the Bargaining Team for our chapter. Most recently he made a presentation to the National Education Association about his work to help create promotable ranks (and raises) for non-tenure-track faculty. Joining him in that presentation was the other service award winner, John White, chapter President 2014-2017 (as well as past Grievance Officer, Senator, Secretary, current web master, state Government Relations Committee, and AFL-CIO representative).
It is a testament to the hard work and the resulting successes of myriad people in the UNF chapter that both of this year’s service award winners are union officers and that last year’s recipient of the award was Susan Perez (chapter Vice President).
2016-2017 UNF-UFF Officers
UNF-UFF held chapter officers last week. The results are below:
President: John W White
Vice President: Susan Perez
Secretary: Bess Wilson
Treasurer: Caroline Guardino
Juliana Leding, Rebecca Marcon, Hope “Bess” Wilson, Peter Magyari
UNF-UFF Officers Invited to Speak at NEA Higher Education Conference, 2016
John White and Mark Ari were invited speakers at the NEA Higher Education Conference April 1-3 in San Diego, California. The ttitle of their presentation was “Seeking Equity for Invisible (non-tenure-track) Faculty“; it describes the development and negotiation of the first-ever promotion ranks for non-tenure-track UNF faculty.
Response to March 3rd Question Posed Via the Faculty Association
QUESTION (paraphrased): As the CBA affects all in-unit faculty, why can’t all faculty vote for the union’s leadership?
ANSWER (Chapter President John White): There are three answers to this question. The first is that limiting officer voting to a union’s membership is a common practice–one that is at the heart of union activity. Officers of a chapter are responsible for setting and maintaining a direction for the chapter, for creating and enforcing a collective bargaining agreement, for serving as a liaison with university administration, and for providing union members with specific services. These duties necessitate that officers be nominated and selected by dues paying members; by definition, members have a greater stake (and investment) in the success of a chapter than do nonmembers.
Second, the United Faculty of Florida Constitution and the UNF-UFF Constitution specify that only members in good standing may vote for chapter officers.
Third and most importantly, all in-unit faculty have ample and equal opportunity to have a say in the governance of our UFF chapter and in the contract that governs our terms and conditions of employment (the CBA). Any and all in-unit faculty can join the union at any time (at a very reasonable rate) and participate in our monthly chapter council meetings where they can learn more about the issues affecting UNF faculty and where they can have a say in our approach to dealing with those issues. We welcome (and even seek) members to become a part of the chapter’s bargaining team, where contract-related issues are researched, debated, and ultimately negotiated. And even those faculty who choose not to join the union–but who nontheless receive numerous tangible benefits from the union’s work–have the opportunity to attend negotiating sessions and to vote on the contents of the CBA (which must be ratified by faculty vote). Finally, the chapter solicits feedback from all faculty before engaging in contract negotiations. We use the feedback we receive to guide our bargaining priorities.
UNF-UFF Budget Information Request
To better understand the financial climate in which UNF seems to be struggling, we have sought out information from the university. Attached HERE is our budget information request and the relatively cryptic response we received. Attached below is UNF financial data regarding “deferred inflows” and “deferred outflows.”
In addition, we have been working with union colleagues at the other SUS institutions to get their interpretation of the Board of Governors’ metrics, scoring formula, and actual rules around funding.
Click Board of Governors for BOG information including terms, metrics, and performance funding.
We are pleased to report (finally) some good news from Tallahassee: it appears unlikely that the Guns on Campus bill (Senate Bill 68) will become law in this legislative session.
Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R – Miami) has refused for a second consecutive year to bring the House-passed legislation to the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings. As Chair of that committee, Diaz de la Portilla said, “I don’t think this is a Second Amendment issue…I think what we’re talking about here is campus safety and the best way to address that issue.” He went on to note that this legislation “is worse than the disease [campus violence].” As a result of his decision, Senator Diaz de la Portilla has been targeted by a number of NRA-affiliated groups who have, among other things, sent inflammatory and often misleading mail directly to the senator’s campaign contributors. One such message reads “Senator Portilla would rather have me be raped again than even schedule a bill.” Fortunately, Senator Diaz de la Portilla’s common sense and bravery have withstood such onslaughts.
Unfortunately, the gun lobby is attempting to circumvent Senate procedure to get this bill passed. NRA-sponsored and supported legislators are working to bring the law to the floor of the Senate for a vote and thereby avoid committee hearings. And if these efforts fail, they are already poised to reintroduce the legislation in the next session (and, if their efforts are successful, to remove Diaz de la Portilla as an obstacle to their goals).
The United Faculty of Florida will continue to fight against this misguided guns-everywhere policy.
“Best and Brightest” Bill Reappears
Last year the Florida Legislature appropriated $44 million for a program called Best and Brightest. Senate Bill 524 by Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) would make the Best and Brightest law. The Best and Brightest Teacher “Scholarship” Program awards teachers based upon their high school SAT or ACT scores. This program has been called “ridiculous,” “the worst bill of the year” and the “biggest waste of taxpayer money in history.” It is a national laughingstock. We need to remind our lawmakers that basing bonuses on a teacher’s SAT or ACT score is completely absurd and does not help teachers or students.
Click here to urge your senator to VOTE NO on SB 524! Ask your senator to vote against the Best and Brightest program and pay all teachers fairly instead.
The study described in this article shows how open-access journals–with questionable peer-review and marketing processes–have attracted a vulnerable audience (scholars under pressure to publish as much as possible in as short a time as possible. The result has been hundreds of thousands of articles a year (a huge jump in only a few years) with many of them never having been peer reviewed in any true sense of the concept.
Click title above or click HERE for the article.
Predatory Journals: What Faculty Need to Know
“Predatory open-access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit. That is to say, they operate as scholarly vanity presses and publish articles in exchange for the author fee. They are characterized by various level of deception and lack of transparency in their operations. For example, some publishers may misrepresent their location, stating New York instead of Nigeria, or they may claim a stringent peer-review where none really exists.” – Professor Jeffrey Beall (Chronicle of Higher Education)
Predatory publishers began proliferating in the past few years with the increase in open access publishing. These journals claim peer-review, scholarly integrity, and have titles that often sound impressive despite their predatory nature. There has also been a sharp rise in predatory conferences, some which choose a name nearly identical to an established, well-respected conference. Traits common to predatory publishers and conferences are high acceptance rates (for manuscripts or proposals), quick turnaround, and fees to publish or present. It is important to note that predatory publishers may also claim to be included in directories and indexes when they are not. Some claim to have prominent university faculty on their editorial boards even when those individuals have never agreed to serve in that capacity. See also Open Access, Open Education, & More: Predatory Publishing.
How to perform due diligence before submitting to a journal or publisher
Check with departmental colleagues or discipline-area peers elsewhere to see if the journal is reputable. It is critical that faculty members differentiate between open access, fee-based journals, and predatory journals (there are distinctions of varying degrees between each of these). Also, look for the publisher and the journal on the predatory publishing lists linked below.
You may also contact the University Library for a second (or first) opinion about the authenticity of a publisher or journal. The library has numerous resources, the most valuable of which is Journal Citation Reports from Thomson Reuters.
- Check that the publisher provides full, verifiable contact information, including a physical address, on the journal site. Be cautious of outlets that provide only web contact forms.
- Check that a journal’s editorial board lists recognized experts with full affiliations. If in doubt, contact some of them and ask about their experience with the journal or publisher.
- Check that the journal prominently displays its policy for author fees. Avoid outlets that require author fees (except when explicitly accepted within the discipline). While some disciplines may find author-fee associated journals acceptable, most do not. Check with experts in your discipline to learn about which fee-based journals–if any–are legitimate.
- Be wary of e-mail invitations to submit to journals or to become editorial board members. Such solicitations have become ubiquitous in recent years. In short, if you receive a mass email about publishing in a journal, be skeptical!
- Generally, avoid open access (and even print) journals that have published very few volumes and issues. While some highly reputable organizations (e.g., the American Educational Research Association) have recently started new open-access journals, predatory journals are notorious for having very few volumes.
- Read some of the journal’s published articles and assess their quality. Contact past authors to ask about their experiences.
- Check that a journal’s peer-review process is clearly described and try to confirm that a claimed impact factor is correct. Avoid journals that have low impact factors or have no impact factor. You can confirm Impact Factor via Journal Citation Reports. Impact factors are, most simply, a ratio of citations per article per journal issue. For more on Impact Factor, click HERE.
- Find out whether the journal is a member of an industry association that vets its members, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (www.doaj.org) or the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (www.oaspa.org). [Some questionable journals appear in directories such as DOAJ and Cabell’s; we don’t advise using this as your sole criteria.] Be especially cautious of journals that are not affiliated with a scholarly or professional organization.
- Be cautious about open-access journals published in developing nations. This is not to suggest that these countries do not have reputable journals or that you should not seek publishing opportunities in foreign presses. Nonetheless, predatory journals based in developing nations (e.g., India, Nigeria) have flourished in recent years.
- Be skeptical of journals with dubious titles or claims that are too grandiose (e.g., The International Journal of…, The Universal Journal of…). While some reputable journals have such titles, this is also a hallmark of predatory journals.
- Use common sense, as you would when shopping online: if something looks fishy, proceed with caution.
- Contact your librarian!
Resources for Scholars
Journal Citation Reports (available at Carpenter Library & other university libraries)
Recent Articles & Research Papers on Predatory Publishers
On Predatory Publishers: a Q&A With Jeffrey Beall, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too), New York Times
Sham Journals Scam Authors, Nature
Also see our recommendations for writing a strong curriculum vita and preparing one’s dossier for promotion and tenure. Visit our Promotion and Tenure Page.
Enough is Enough Rally
By Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President
On January 14, 2016, the Florida Education Association (FEA) held an historic rally titled, “Enough is Enough.” Thousands of teachers, education staff professionals, parents, college and university students, faculty members, sister unions, and community supporters from around the state attended. Speakers included FEA officers President Joanne McCall, Vice President Fedrick Ingram, and Secretary-Treasurer Luke Flynt; Mindy Haas, President of the Florida PTA; Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Florida NAACP; Wendy Bradshaw, former teacher; Karla Hernandez-Mats, UTD secretary-treasurer; Tiffany McClary, president of the FAMU Student FEA; Lynnita Lucas, secretary of LESPA; and Monica Russo, Florida SEIU president. Participants rallied behind the theme, “Enough is Enough,” in response to more than a decade of legislative tinkering with Florida’s K-20 education that has focused on dismantling our public institutions in favor of for-profit education schemes. I was fortunate to have been asked to speak at the rally, and I focused on the corporatization and privatization of our public higher education institutions. The text of my speech is below. A video of the rally highlights can be found here.
That same day, UFF First Vice President Elizabeth Davenport, UFF Government Relations Chair Teresa Lucas, and I visited Senate offices to explain our opposition to the guns on campus bill. A special thanks to Elizabeth and Teresa for their work on this important issue!
Click HERE for Jennifer’s Prepared Remarks
Beware: “Study Sites” Posting Final Exams and Faculty-Owned Materials
In recent years, a number of websites have been created that ostensibly help college students study more efficiently and effectively. Sites such as studyblue.com offer students a means for accessing materials posted by other (generally former) students in a particular class. In other words, the site posts class notes, powerpoint slides, and even midterm and final exams from prior semesters. They do so without the knowledge or consent of the faculty who created those materials. Furthermore, these sites publish exams that in many cases could only have been copied through cheating.
When one of our chapter’s officers contacted studyblue.com to ask that her materials be removed from the site, she was told that the onus was on her to determine which specific materials needed to be removed and why (which itself requires creating an account through the site). She was also told that they would not remove materials without copyright and that even those materials that were copyrighted might not be removed (citing “fair use”).
A preliminary search shows that a number of UNF faculty members’ midterm and final exams are posted on the studyblue.com site.
“It is going to be a nuclear war between the government, the unions, the Republicans and the Democrats,” Trujillo said on the air Sept. 30. “That war is coming.”
Why continuing contracts matter; State College of Florida trustees should rescind vote to eliminate tenure
Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President
State College of Florida Board Eliminates Tenure
LAKEWOOD RANCH — Starting next July, new faculty members hired by the State College of Florida will not be able to earn tenure.
By a 7-1 vote Tuesday night, college trustees ended a longtime continuing contract system for SCF teachers. As of July 1, new faculty members at the Manatee County-based school will work on annual contracts at the only state school in Florida that does not offer tenure to qualified employees.
When Teaching Becomes a Crime
A proposed Kansas bill would make it easy for educators to face jail time for showing “harmful materials.” Lawmakers say they are only trying to protect students, but are they really trying to discredit public school educators?
Click HERE to read full article. Read an article in The Atlantic about parents and students increasing desire to avoid new or potentially controversial ideas on college campuses. Also see satire of this and similar actions in The Onion
Law Defines Professors as Management
(and thus not eligible for collective bargaining)
Full-time faculty members at Ohio public institutions are objecting to proposed legislation with big implications for their right to organize unions. Tucked deep into a 3,090-page budget bill pending before the state’s House Finance Committee is language that would reclassify professors who participate in virtually anything other than teaching and research as supervisors or managers, and therefore exempt from collective bargaining. So serving on a committee, for example, turns a professor into a manager.
For the entire text of the article, click HERE.