The state of Maryland and the state of our university continue to be plagued by the weak economy, making the work of faculty exceedingly stressed. Many of last year’s challenges are this year’s and potentially next year’s challenges: heavy budget cuts, furlough plans, layoffs, hiring freezes. Students face a weak job market, so some are changing their majors to try to suit the job market rather than pursue their passions. Faculty across our university are under constant pressure to produce what it is that Maryland’s economy will need, yet with dwindling resources.
While Towson University is indeed fortunate in that it has not had to close off a major in Foreign Languages to students in a world that requires cross-cultural understanding now more than ever, the University System of Maryland has continued to reduce faculty (and staff) salaries as a way to solve its budget woes. The decision was taken again this year and the jury is out on what will happen next year.
While uncertainty abounds, faculty can rely on the TU-AAUP, whose officers and committee members remain dedicated to addressing a wide range of faculty issues. In the wake of last year’s success in producing a family-leave policy with regard to the arrival of a child, which is currently circulating at the level of the USM and has some support in the Administration, FLIC and Committee W are working on a family-care policy. All of us are likely to face a situation in which an immediate family member requires substantial care due to long term illness or other issues and the Family Medical Leave Act is not sufficient for faculty for a variety of reasons.
A new TU-AAUP committee has begun to operate this year. The Membership Committee aims to bring more members into the faculty organization and work to improve faculty working conditions while maintaining and enhancing student learning. If you are interested in serving on the committee, please see the committee report and contact the chair of that committee.
It is difficult to see what Towson University will look like when the economy turns around, but in the meantime we have much that is encouraging: great programs in the fine arts abound; the new Liberal Arts building is scheduled for a full opening in Fall 2011; faculty are producing top quality scholarship and are being awarded competitive national grants; and Towson has been nationally recognized for its strong graduation rates, especially those for minorities (see the recent Washington Post article on this). Those things are great news for students who seek a sound education at our institution.
Consider the issues that faculty face and make a decision to join both the TU-AAUP by emailing Shaun Johnson and the national AAUP, both of which are tax-deductible. Take advantage of what the TU-AAUP has to offer, and participate!
Kimberly Katz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
TU-AAUP Newsletter Editor
Department of History