The state of higher education, especially in public universities, remains challenged due to heavy budget cuts, furlough plans, layoffs, hiring freezes, and other issues that place consistency in academic programs a goal to strive for, but one that is hard to reach.
The job market is grim for our students, and, as a result, some are re-thinking their majors or their plans for after graduation. The global economic climate looms large as each day Americans hear about creeping improvements in the major economic indicators, while unemployment remains high, and the European Union is left to bail out struggling economies on the continent.
Towson University seems to be faring better than many other public institutions of higher education, yet we are still feeling deeply the pressures created by the budget crisis. For two years now, faculty have dealt with the challenges of furloughs (and faculty are not alone in this on the campus), with another year of unpaid leave right around the corner. This is in addition cuts in travel and research support, increased class sizes, and workload pressures. Faculty have a vehicle on campus to which we can turn: the TU-AAUP, whose officers are dedicated to dealing with a wide range of faculty concerns. The TU- AAUP has addressed a variety of issues, detailed in this newsletter, that cross the colleges of the university and are of interest to all members of Towson’s faculty: a family-leave policy, a mentoring program, junior faculty programs, while also promoting faculty research through the “Second Friday” forums, which are always accompanied by an opportunity to meet informally after the lectures to share conversation and an adult beverage!
The leadership of the TU-AAUP is working diligently on behalf of all faculty members to ensure that we all share a vibrant campus academically speaking which allows faculty in all departments to thrive in their research efforts. Yet, this is a collective responsibility and the TU-AAUP tackles a lot with few personnel resources. Beginning in AY 2010-2011, the TU-AAUP will revive a now dormant Membership Committee, chaired by Kimberly Katz (Department of History). The committee will include a representative from each college (please contact Kimberly Katz if you would like to serve in this capacity), with the hope that college representatives will work within their own colleges to develop awareness of the role of the TU-AAUP and encourage faculty across the departments and colleges to add the faculty association to their service responsibilities.
The long term economic outlook seems gray, but we must all work together to make our campus an enviable place work. Faculty input in the forward momentum of our university will enhance the learning experience of our students, and that is the main goal that we all share. Please consider joining both the TU-AAUP--by sending your dues check for $15, made out to TU-AAUP, to our new treasurer, Shaun Johnson, in the Early Childhood Education Department--and the national AAUP, both of which are tax-deductible. And participate in the range of opportunities that the TU-AAUP/Faculty Association sponsors: the 5th Annual Crab Feast/Vegetarian Extravaganza (for faculty, friends, and families); the Regional Maryland AAUP meeting that Towson University will again host in October; the TU-AAUP/Faculty Association Spring Meeting and Friday Happy Hour; and additional Second Friday talks and other events throughout the course of 2010-2011. Take advantage of what the TU-AAUP has to offer, help shape shared governance at Towson University: participate!
Kimberly Katz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
TU-AAUP/Faculty Association Newsletter Editor
Department of History