Tag Archives: no confidence

University of Virginia AAUP Chapter Statement of Support

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The AAUP chapter at UVA has issued the following statement in support of the UW System faculty and staff no confidence resolutions. (PDF: Statement of Support for the Vote of No Confidence in the Board of Regents and President of the University of Wisconsin System)

The University of Virginia chapter of the American Association of University Professors stands with faculty and staff of the University of Wisconsin system who have voted no confidence in the University of Wisconsin regents and president, for supporting massive cuts in the University’s budget, eroding the faculty’s role in shared governance, and undermining tenure and academic freedom.

Actions by the Wisconsin legislature, the Board of Regents, and the president of the UW system are, as the AAUP and AFT-Wisconsin have stated, “… an attack on the university as a public good that exists for the benefit of all citizens of the state, a vision of higher education that has shaped the UW System since the formulation of the Wisconsin Idea in 1904.”

These are not isolated incidents but symptoms of a national epidemic in public higher education. In 2012 the University of Virginia experienced a similar attack on shared governance that led to a vote of no confidence in the Board of Visitors by the faculty senate. This action ultimately resulted in a favorable change of direction by the Board that supported academic freedom, shared governance and quality in public higher education. We hope that the UW system faculty’s vote of no confidence will have a similar outcome.

We stand with the faculties, faculty senates, and AAUP chapters at Madison, Milwaukee, LaCrosse, Green Bay, River Falls, Stout, and Parkside, and at the UW Colleges, in urging the Regents and the President to follow AAUP-recommended policies and standards with regard to shared governance and academic freedom, especially those policies pertaining to tenure, “financial crisis,” and post-tenure review.

Issued by the Executive Committee of the University of Virginia Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, in consultation with chapter membership, May 26, 2016: John Alexander, Walt Heinecke, George Mentore, Jon Mikalson, Peter Norton, Herbert Tucker.

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No Confidence

Today at an unprecedented full faculty meeting, a resolution of no confidence in UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents passed unanimously. Coverage in the Journal Sentinel notes that almost 300 faculty attended in a room with a 175 capacity. And there’s this:

Chancellor Mark Mone said after the meeting that in his nearly 27 years as a faculty member on campus, he had never seen anything like it. “There has not been anything so important and heartfelt in that long,” the chancellor said.

Preceding the reading of the resolution, two officers in the UWM chapter of AAUP spoke. Here are their remarks:

Rachel Ida Buff, President, UWM AAUP

Colleagues:

We gather here today as bearers of a sacred trust. As stewards of the University of Wisconsin, we are the keepers of the Wisconsin Idea: that crucial, democratic notion that the “beneficent influence of the University (should) reach(es) every home in the state.”

Because of our dual mission of access and research, the Wisconsin Idea takes unique shape at UWM. And we have distinguished ourselves, earning esteem as a Research One and Engagement campus.

The Wisconsin Idea promotes educational democracy: the university is funded by and serves the public. Through our renowned and exemplary practices of shared governance, the University of Wisconsin has been a model of functioning democracy.

BUT In the past eighteen months, our ability to carry out our stewardship of the Wisconsin Idea has been impaired by a legislative assault on shared governance and academic freedom. This political assault has been accompanied by unprecedented fiscal cuts, impairing our ability to educate and serve our students.

We are no strangers to hard work. We are used to the slow process of shared governance. We have been patient, trying to actively participate in improving the situation. We have attended listening sessions and meetings; participated in task forces and surveys; researched and written analyses and op-eds and fact sheets.

And now, in concert with colleagues across the system, with consciousness of all we have lost and stand to lose, it finally makes sense to say it: No Confidence, rippling across the state, and beyond.

A vote for no confidence is a symbolic action:

By voting no confidence we assert that the current direction pursued by the Board of Regents and facilitated by UW system President Cross undermines the future of our university and of the Wisconsin Idea;

By voting no confidence we insist on the central role of shared governance, even in times of extraordinary difficulty. Without our inclusion in decision-making, we cannot believe in the integrity of the process nor work for a better outcome;

By voting no confidence we protest the intentional destruction of our internationally recognized university system. This destruction affects each of us professionally.

I have no confidence in the unprincipled duplicity of the Board of Regents and President Cross;

I have no confidence in the increased managerial control, the “flexibility” promoted throughout the UW system that compromises our collective job security and freedom of inquiry.

I have no confidence in a Research One/Engagement campus so deracinated that it cannot fulfil its vital missions.

But I have confidence in you, my colleagues. Together, we can affirm our sacred trust as public university employees, and the principled aspirations of the Wisconsin Idea.

Thank you.

Nick Fleisher, Vice-President, UWM AAUP

We are here today because we wish to speak with our System leaders and with the public about the course that UW System leadership has charted.

We are here because the course they have charted harms research, teaching, learning, and access.

In the past year, we have seen President Cross champion a hasty conversion of the UW System to a public authority, despite a near-total lack of detail on how the new entity would have worked.

We have seen the Board of Regents expressly decline to ask the Legislature to remove non-fiscal items affecting the UW System from the biennial budget.

We have seen a Tenure Policy Task Force that recommended policies which were never endorsed by its own members, and which were subsequently adopted by the Board of Regents despite their failure to comply with AAUP standards.

Thanks to intrepid reporting by Wisconsin journalists, we have learned that President Cross and the Regents worked actively to limit faculty input into those policies.

We have learned, most recently, that President Cross wrote approvingly to Regent Behling about “the real value of removing tenure-related policies from statutory language.”

He added that tenure should not protect faculty “when they are no longer needed in a discipline,” all while supporting policies that allow financial considerations to determine the educational needs of the institution.

And he falsely attributed to faculty the view that tenure is a “job for life,” a talking point repeated by Governor Walker in a press release issued earlier today.

All the while, our campuses have been dealing with unfunded mandates on top of massive budget cuts that harm our students’ education.

We have seen no sign of a plan from President Cross or the Regents for how to stem the tide of state funding cuts.

On the contrary, we have seen new policies meant to enable managerial flexibility: far from appeasing the Legislature, such policies are an invitation to further cuts.

Through all of this, we have seen President Cross and the Regents characterize our continual state of fiscal austerity as if it were an inevitable force of nature, rather than a deliberate political choice.

Such leadership inspires no confidence.

If we lack confidence in our leadership, we must not be afraid to say so publicly.

We must not let fear of reprisal prevent us from bringing our concerns to light.  To do so would be an abdication of our duty to the public whom we serve.

So today, we are here to advocate for those things that have made our university great and that will sustain it in the future.

We are here to advocate for those things that ensure student access to a world-class education in Wisconsin, and that affirm the University of Wisconsin as a truly public good.

Academic freedom and tenure, which is its guarantor; shared governance of the institution; access and affordability for students: these are matters on which there can be no flexibility.

To all appearances, and to the University’s great detriment, President Cross and the Regents have acted as if to carry out the designs of those who appointed them.  Today, echoing the recent comments of the president of the Association of Governing Boards, we call on them to remember “their responsibility as fiduciaries to care for the system.”

Together with students, staff, and colleagues across Wisconsin, we stand in defense of a great public University that is under attack.

Thank you.

UW Struggle: Gong Show Edition

In anticipation of the full faculty meeting at UWM to consider a no confidence resolution in the UW System President and Board of Regents on Tuesday, May 10, we bring you this blog post by UW-Green Bay’s Chuck Rybak, republished with his permission. The original is here.

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What if I told you that someone with responsibility literally brought a red button to a meeting? What if I told you that this person, while his subordinates were making test-run presentations, would push the button and the words ‘no whining!’ would be ejaculated as a sound effect? Again: this is not a metaphor. This is real.

So I’ll ask: Who is this person? What do you imagine the setting to be? Are we talking about adults? Younger people? A gimmicky corporate setting? Friday night neon bowling?

No. That would be the President of the UW System and the subordinates would be our campus Chancellors, who were asked to describe the campus effects of another quarter of a billion dollar cut to state support. They were instructed not to whine (as faculty have been told to not be emotional), and upon further review, the presentations themselves were cancelled. I know what you’re thinking: this can’t be true, no way, this is the president of a university system, we knew you were close and you’ve finally lost it!   I know; that’s what I thought as well. Here is the incident in question detailed by Nico Savidge:

“[The presentations] should be factual, not whiny,” Cross wrote in his message.

Cross insisted on this point — he said in the interview he brought a red button to the meeting to be used if he felt a chancellor was complaining too much in a presentation. When he pressed the button, a sound effect shouted, “No whining!” (emphasis mine, because wow)

What, were hand buzzers and bottles of seltzer spray unavailable? You couldn’t find someone on a unicycle to ride up and poke them in the eyes? Look, I miss Benny Hill too, but I have access to YouTube.

Still, this can’t be true. So I asked Nico on Twitter to confirm—Nico was tweeting a lot about the Final Four, thus I assumed he was brained by an errant chicken wing when the North Carolina Won’t Make Donuts for Gay Heels (see Glazed 3:15) went down at the last moment—he assured me that his mental state was not the problem:

Can you imagine, just for a moment, being a Chancellor of a university—a position with an enormous amount of responsibility to an incredibly wide range of stakeholders—and have someone interrupt you with a ‘No Whining!’ sound effect while you are trying to describe how many staff members you’ve had to lay off and what programs you’ll be cutting, with no end in sight? Would you have an existential moment of crisis where your inner voice conceded, “Oh my god, I’m an adult”? Well, I guess the ‘flexibility’ everyone wants for Chancellors doesn’t apply to their actually speaking without permission and an approved message.

For the record, I really respect my Chancellor and want him to be able to speak freely and honestly about his responsibilities. He is far too classy to ever complain about such a stunt, but I have no class, and thus at the first press of the button I would have immediately gone over the table and engaged in the full Indiana. What is the full Indiana? Behold:

Unfortunately, none of this is a joke.

Right now, the Board of Regents is meeting on my campus, pleasantly hosted by a great number of people they just stripped earned job protections away from. They will have the best parking spots and eat for free. A large portion of the Cloud Commons, where just two night ago students had to wait in line past 9 p.m. to cast their votes, will be blocked off and reserved for this meeting—the Regents will wait for nothing.

What is today’s meeting all about? The continuance of the big lie(s). Right now, a few of those include:

  1. The most important strategy for our future budgets is tone policing. Nico Savidge reported that the presentations were cancelled “after consulting with some Regents and considering, among other factors, the System’s next two-year budget.” False. Reducing money for all things public is a feature, not a bug, andmore cuts are coming no matter what we say or do. Don’t believe me? I suggest you begin making regular stops over at Jake’s place, where he dives into the deep, deep numbers, like this coming disaster: “If the tax-season months of March and April don’t have a bounce-back and stay below trend, it will be likely that the 2016-17 fiscal year budget will have to be repaired…even with $726 million in unspecified lapses built into that budget.”
  2. We have “comparable” and “often better” tenure policies than our peers. This lie has been repeated so often that it’s moving past “big.” We don’t have tenure anymore. We wear a button that says “tenure” until that button is taken away, for any reason you can imagine. That’s been the point all along. That’s also why, whether we whine or not, whether we are emotional or not, more cuts are coming. The reason you strip away everyone’s job security, other than welcoming them to the 21st century, is to begin removing those people. That removal will be dressed up in the language of “necessity” and “tough choices,” i.e. budget cuts. But I get it: the illusion of prestige will be necessary for some to come to work.

But somehow this is all a joke or a gag, worthy of a buzzer; was someone actually tasked with securing a “no whining” button? I can’t help but think what this models for our students and communities, and whether or not anyone cares anymore. We did, after all, just elect a supreme court justice whose main workplace skill/qualification is intolerance. The Rebecca Bradley apologists sang a constant chorus that is relevant to this blog post: those were just college rantings, who wants to be held responsible for their silly college-age thoughts? We grow out of that.

The implication: what college students say should not be taken seriously. But not only is it our job and responsibility to take them seriously, it is our mission.

What students think and feel matters today and it will matter tomorrow. When students interrupted the previous Board of Regents meeting with a chant of protest, the Regent who was speaking at the time rolled his eyes. I was watching the livefeed. He rolled his eyes at students who dared to speak out of turn. When the meeting resumed, the Regents gave themselves yet another round of applause for their hard work, which amounts to a speck of dust when compared with the tenure dossiers of the faculty they swiftly moved to devalue.

So what are we being taught by our central leadership?

Speaking honestly about the effects of another round of brutal cuts is whining. Fighting to preserve job protections, which are an earned property right, is being emotional. (What, after all, is a life’s work worth anyway?) And if you’re a student, or worse, a graduate who has significant debt…learn to be responsible! And these complaints about race and gender issues…silly young coddled college kids.

What is the value of a coordinated message that pretends that everything is okay? At what point is it just blatantly dishonest and who, outside of the UW, will point that out?

I’m not asking for miracles because I’m a realist and I know what is coming. Still, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for our system President to take us seriously, to not belittle the beleaguered, to not scold the scapegoated, and to consider, just once, standing with UW employees even if it means stepping out from behind the great “thank you” emblazoned on our flimsy, rhetorical shield.

A friend of mine posted the following photo the other day from her campus. But there’s nothing to see here, so let’s not whine about it.