Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

Question: Randy, can you explain why the concept of tenure is so important to teachers in universities? I understand somewhat its origins in the 60s and 70s and the desire of teachers to speak freely, but what makes teachers different than other professions?

Answer: Tenure is much older than the 60s or 70s. It goes back to the teens. The troubles began in the 1890s when college faculty members were routinely fired for advocating unpopular (often new, often true) ideas. There were a number of cases, such as Sheldon who was fired from Boston University for unpopular views on the Bible, and culminating in a series of cases in the teens. The American Association of University Professors formed to advocate the value to a free society of protections for persons who were likely to be generating ideas that were uncomfortable to those benefiting from the status quo. The institution of tenure was devised to protect academic freedom. It isn’t a perfect plan, far from it. But a free society requires some ways of safe-guarding the free flow of ideas among those who have earned the right through diligence, productivity, loyalty to their institutions and students, to enjoy some protection for speaking the truth as they see it. That protection now traditionally belongs to tenured university and college faculty members, among whom I am to be counted. Assuming I live a morally acceptable life beyond the academy, and that I perform my assigned duties, I can express my opinions within my discipline without fear of reprisal for their being controversial, or threatening to the beneficiaries of current received opinion, or even if those views are radically out of line with what is now regarded as knowledge. Knowing me as you do, it may not surprise you to learn that I say unpopular things that could get me fired if I were not protected, but I do not say them to stand out; I say what I honestly believe, and I expect to have those views tolerated and never censored. I have earned the right to this protection, and unlike most people, I earned it twice, at different institutions. I do not take my speech lightly, and I intent to do whatever is within my power to insure that people like me, who have earned this kind of protection, are still able to speak their minds without fear of petty or unjustified reprisal, in the future. As Sarah says above, if they can stifle me in Illinois, at a public institution, they can much more easily stifle people in benighted places like Oklahoma. (I speak from extensive first-hand knowledge.) Our struggle here will have implications all over the nation. Illinois has the best labor law in the country, from a worker’s point of view. If we can’t protect tenure, no one can. You asked.


From a doctoral student:

SIU administration is acting like the only effect this strike is having on the university is a tiny percent of classes being cancelled or having substitutes. What about the stress, anger, and frustration felt by so many of us who care deeply about what happens at this university? I may not have any cancelled classes, but I can’t focus on my work, am incredibly stressed out, and will never feel the same about SIU again. Wake up, SIU! Everything’s not going back to normal when the strike ends. The bad feelings will remain for a long time after.

The most recent petition signature reads:

“It is becoming increasingly apparent that something is terribly wrong with the Administrative structure as SIUC and this strike is actually a symptom of a larger problem. As a student I am signing right now to not only support my faculty, but to say ENOUGH! I believe that greed and corruption are at the center of this struggle. It is not the greed of the Faculty however, it is the greed for money and power at the top. I am asking that Glenn Poshard and Rita Cheng resign from this institution, so that we can restore dignity and integrity to this university.”- Mickey Johnson

Have you asked your friends to sign the petition today?

I know I am not a teacher.

Over the last five days, students, alumni, friends, parents and colleagues from across the country have signed the petition to support SIUC faculty. They have left comments with their signature and expressed opinions in the most beautiful way. One particular group has expressed serious concerns with how the administration is conducting “business as usual.” Hard-working parents hopeful for their children’s future are supporting the faculty on campus. Here are a few examples of what they have to say:

“My daughter went to her Math class yesterday and the person teaching it yesterday, came in and said “I know nothing about Math, so we are going to read an article and have a test on it tomorrow.” I’m not paying thousands of dollars for her not getting her education. Plus last week, 2 of her classes were canceled because of no teacher.” – Beth Coulter

“As a teacher, fellow IEA member, and also a parent of an alum, I am appalled at how the SIUC administration is treating their tenured and tenure track faculty. There is no reason for a strike – not when in this economy, there is no salary increase being demanded. What is being asked for by the FA is completely fair, responsible, and shows the necessary professionalism our university faculty should demonstrate. One can only hope the administration would do the same.” – Lindy Hiatt

“The administration has been getting away with this kind of behavior far too long and it hurts the campus by driving faculty away. My son is a high performing high school senior and I will not allow him to consider SIUC until I see a change.”- Steven J. Dick, Ph.D.

“My daughter and son-in-law both attend SIU. I have good friends that are now on the picket line. I am just 1 person with that many people affected by this! This sounds a lot like Obama transparency, none!” -Judy Fox Hoepker

“We support the Faculty Association and your fundamental issues of transparency and accountability. Both my husband and daughter attended SIU. My husband and I have been teachers and involved with collective bargaining process for years. We are now retired, but always willing to support a just cause like yours. Solidarity!” – Donna K. Brown

Have your parents signed the petition?

Chancellor Cheng’s version:

“7. Back to Work Agreement – Neither the University nor the Association shall retaliate against any employee or student who participates or refrains from participating in the strike. The University will not agree to reimburse the lost wages or benefits for any Faculty member participating in the strike.”

quoted from

FA’s version:

“Back to work agreement. The Board’s punitive back to work proposal is an insult to the faculty exercising their legal right to strike under Illinois law. Particularly insulting are the Board’s broad implications that faculty have been engaging in threats and misconduct during the course of the strike. Inflammatory language will only inflame tensions on campus. The FA believes that an important goal for a back to work agreement is to build a better relationship between the faculty and the administration.”

quoted from the FA blog

Student picketers hold a sign that says: "We skipped out for our teachers."

Students at the rally today show their solidarity with faculty.

A faculty member found this note from a student in her inbox this morning:

“Hope all is going well on the strike front. It makes me proud to be at an educational institution where the teachers are fighting for themselves and us as students. I really appreciate what you all are doing. Good luck”

Growth in Administrators Outstrips Growth in Faculty Members – The Ticker – The Chronicle of Higher.

A report issued today says that the number of administrators for every 100 college students increased by 39 percent from 1993 to 2007, while the number of professors and researchers rose by 18 percent during that period. The study of 198 public and private universities was released by the nonprofit …

According to a report issued in August of 2010, one of the major crises facing education is "Administrative bloat." The study, reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, covered the period of 1993 to 2007. During that time, the 198 public and private universities surveyed (which included SIUC) had an average increase in faculty of 18% per 100 college students, while the average increase for administrators was 39%. (View the Chronicle story)

SIUC’s Numbers
SIUC’s own numbers, according to the report, were even more dramatic. Our faculty increased only 14.3% (3.7% LESS than the national average), whereas our administration increased 54.7% (an astonishing 15.7% MORE than the national average). In other words, our own trends are worse than the national averages on both parts of this issue. Clearly, the last four years, with various hiring freezes and faculty attrition of other sorts alongside upper administration seizure of more and more control over faculty lines, have seen the steady expansion of this grave inequity.

The study, issued by the nonprofit Goldwater Institute (View the Goldwater Institute study) does have detractors. Some argue that, because it includes counselors and accountants, for example, it may not accurately reflect a rise in administration per se. But, according to The Chronicle, the study’s lead investigator, Jay P. Greene, "said the point was to account for staff not directly involved in instruction or research. His report blames this ‘bloat’ for the increase in college costs."

Given our current situation in bargaining for a fair contract and the tendency to equate a faculty strike with a demand for increased salary that will drive up tuition costs, it seems important to remember that our own FA has offered to decline even small raises if it would lead to an increase in tuition.

Distance Learning
Additionally, one of the issues on the bargaining table is how on-line students will be counted. On the one hand, the administration doesn’t want them included in the faculty-student ratio for contract purposes. On the other hand, the administration also wants to be able to force faculty to teach on-line students. Clearly, this absurd contradiction would only worsen the problems outlined in the Goldwater Institute’s study.

Besides, who wants to be the one to tell the on-line students that they don’t count?

Union-Busting Agenda
The administration has often disguised its own union-busting agenda behind the opportunistic alibi of being realistic in the face of national trends. It’s time for them to recognize the real trends driving up education costs and diminishing the quality of the college experience. The culprit isn’t faculty greed—particularly where this faculty is concerned. We don’t want students to suffer. The administration wants fewer faculty to be responsible for an increasing number of students we don’t even get credit for teaching from accountants keeping track of faculty-student ratios.

Just how "realistic" is that?