Posts Tagged ‘financial exigency’

Posted today on

The key issues in the strike flow from SIU Chancellor Rita Cheng and SIU President Glen Poshard’s attempts to impose a “corporate education” model on the school. As one student and Navy veteran asked in an open letter, “Is SIUC just after my government benefits after all? Like [the for-profit] University of Phoenix?”

“What is at stake here,” said striking professor Jyostna Kapur, “is the education of working class and middle class students. The administration wants to cheat our students of a good education by trying to make us work for more and more with less and less at a time when working class and middle class students are going into debt for this education.”

Read the full article.


Message from Randy Hughes, President of the Faculty Association:

Today, Wednesday, November 9th, we’re still on strike. But there is good news, too. In twelve hours of negotiations, our bargaining team made progress on a number of fronts. We are near agreement on language that will ensure that we retain our right to pursue our Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge concerning the unilateral imposition of furlough days last spring. And there was also some progress on countering the inflammatory and disrespectful language in the BOT back to work proposal. But at 9:00 pm the two bargaining teams mutually agreed to break off work for the night and return to the bargaining table at 9:30 am on Wednesday.

Slow progress, while better than no progress at all, is frustrating. And we all want to be in the classroom rather than on the picket line. But it’s important to remember everything that our hard work and resolve has enabled us to achieve so far. We’ve protected tenure. We’ve ensured that administrators cannot force faculty to teach distance education against our own academic judgement. We’ve strengthened shared governance by strengthening the faculty’s ability to control their own operating papers. We’ve reached a workable compromise on overload pay. And we’ve established a schedule for dealing with procedures concerning Conflict of Interest and Sexual Harassment.

Most heartening of all may well be the incredible support we’ve received from SIUC students. Their support has not only helped us achieve progress at the bargaining table, but is a victory in itself – a victory for our university, its students, and the bond between faculty and students on campus.

While we’ve made much progress, several important issues remain. The BOT proposal on furloughs, while it has been improved since the terms imposed on us in the spring, still fails to provide adequate transparency and accountability. Their back to work proposal would not provide for the make up days we would like to offer to students whose classes have been covered by unqualified substitutes. While it contains new language protecting actions taken in support of the strike, it still gives the false impression that faculty have engaged in misconduct and threats. And the administration is still unwilling to offer us the same chance for securing fair share that it has offered other locals.

These issues are worth fighting for. And if we remain united in our commitment to securing a fair agreement, we have every reason to believe that we can reach one sooner rather than later.

You may have heard mention of an infamous incident in SIUC’s history related to another administration’s lack of respect for its faculty and tenure. Some aspects of this incident sound awfully familiar:

“This is a very grim and unfortunate thing that no one on this campus wanted,” said Southern Illinois University President David R. Derge. It is just about the only statement that has been made recently on the Carbondale, Ill., campus with which everyone can agree. The event that Derge referred to: as a result of a budget cut, the university fired 104 faculty and staff members and then, in a move that at first glance seemed to add insult to injury, immediately filed a class-action suit against six of the dismissed teachers.

Source: Time Magazine. (The full article requires a subscription, but those of you who haven’t had your ID blocked can access it for free through Morris Library’s website.)

Hardest hit by the firings, which included 64 faculty members and 40 professional staff members and program directors, were the humanities–English, philosophy and history.

[Assistant Professor of English Robert] Harrell contends that this is part of a general restructuring of SIU away from the humanities and into a technically oriented vocational school to serve industry.

Source: Tthe Milwaukee Journal.

Nicknamed “The Carbondale 104”, the fired professors and their colleagues fought back, eventually restoring tenure protections. Some of those fired were reinstated, but the administration’s decision led to a lingering climate of distrust that affects SIUC to this day.

Jyotsna Kapur connects the dots.

While SIU is currently involved in a strike over transparency in definitions of “financial exigency” for purposes of furloughs and layoffs, our colleagues around the country have also had experience with this issue. Helpful perspective about the importance of transparency in this process is available in a report released by the American Council on Education. See especially the section “Faculty Consultation in Times of Budget Crises,” which begins on page 16 of the report, available at the link below. Throughout that section, the council articulately advocates for the importance of faculty participation throughout the process of creating and applying standards for layoff and other decisions related to financial exigency. This is required reading for all of us.