AAUP Meeting Minutes
Thursday, November 19, 2009

 

Meeting called to order at 3:30 by Jennifer Ballengee.

 

The agenda was distributed to the attendees.

 

1. Opening Remarks.

 Jennifer outlined the three general issues that will be the main concerns of the TU-AAUP over the 2009-2010 academic year.  These are work-life balance, faculty development, and salary/compensation. Within that framework, the TU-AAUP wishes to develop an extended family care leave policy, a volunteer pilot mentoring program, and a pedagogical response to furloughs and budget cuts.

 

2. Family Leave Issues Committee (FLIC) Report

Karen Oslund (koslund@towson.edu) distributed  two documents. These are appended to the meeting minutes. The first page contained anonymous case studies of seven faculty members who were pregnant from 2003 to present and how their maternity leaves were handled. The FLIC Committee and Committee W are interested in documenting more of these cases in order to make the case that a university-wide policy is needed.

 

The second handout outlines proposed principles for Towson family leave. There was an extended discussion of the proposal, which centered around three main issues: 1) The preference not to conflate pregnancy with illness, though everyone agreed that it was more important to secure a maternity policy than to insist on this distinction. 2) The donation of sick leave to specific colleagues or to a general pool. More research needs to be done on the legalities of sick leave, particularly with respect to differences in the way that sick leave is handled for those on the Maryland State Retirement System and for those who are not. 3) The ability of faculty to “bank” classes for future credit.

 

3. Committee W Report

Ayse Dayi (adayi@towson.edu) reported that Committee W  is working on the issue of maternity leave policy as opposed to family leave. The committee’s work is still in the process of comparing the policies of peer and non-peer institutions and of formulating a survey to be distributed to the faculty.

 

At the end of Ayse’s report, Jennifer called for a vote over whether the AAUP should pursue a maternity leave policy this year and work on the family leave policy next year or simply pursue the family leave policy this year. Karen pointed out that maternity leave just covered one semester while family medical leave might extend over multiple semesters, perhaps making the maternity leave more accessible. Others argued that this might be the year to pursue a family leave policy since the Provost seems supportive  and accept maternity leave if the more general policy proves unacceptable.  A large majority of attendees supported a maternity-leave-only strategy; two voted for pursuing the family medical leave strategy.

4. Budget Report

Jennifer distributed a document prepared by John W. Curtis of the National AAUP, that listed the nine major state-level funding issues for higher education faculty.

 

Jennifer went on to report that the Maryland state budget was cut by $750 million for FY2010. During that same period, the University of Maryland System budget was cut by $67.7 million. The system used $40 million of one-time cash to offset the budgetary shortfall, making the reduction $27.7 million, a 3% budget cut.  The TU budget was cut by $8 million.

 

Jennifer pointed out that the library has been particularly hard hit. In spite of the enrollment expansion, the library has received no additional funds. They have had to cut $50,000 from journal and database subscriptions.

 

 

5. Furlough Responses

One of the main goals of the TU-AAUP is to develop a pedagogical furlough response. There was heated discussion on this issue and a great deal of frustration was evident. Jennifer is interested in an automated email response that would be generated on furlough days even if faculty members are answering their email. This automated response would explain the issues surrounding the furloughs and how they affect faculty and instruction. Such a response might be more effective if a preponderance of faculty agreed to do it on the same day, or if the automated response were coupled with a virtual walk out that included teach-ins and coverage by The Towerlight and The Sun.

 

Some faculty called for boycotting the TU Foundation, but Tim Sullivan pointed out that much of the foundation money went to support student scholarships.  Tim suggested that we get 100% of the faculty to donate to the fund – even if it is only a dollar, designating the donation for scholarships.

 

Some faculty called for boycotting graduation, but others pointed out that this was an important day for students and their families and that few in attendance were willing to spoil the occasion.  Another suggestion was to set up a table at graduation explaining the issues. It was suggested that graduation might be too late to educate students about who the faculty are and what they do. So another suggestion was to write up a one-page description of what faculty actually do each day. This could be distributed to students and their parents when they come to tour the campus or when they come for orientation.

 

Some faculty called for boycotting the January Conference and suggested creating life-sized Styrofoam cutouts with protest messages that could be placed at the Conference in protest. Others pointed out that the Conference is a faculty development activity that is sparsely attended in the first place and is used as a vehicle to discuss major issues confronting the campus.  (Perhaps it could be highjacked to come up with strategies to deal with furloughs.)

 

Some faculty called for boycotting faculty meetings.  Others suggested finding ways to reduce the time spent grading, such as reducing the number of assignments or making them pass-fail.

 

Matt Durington talked of the possibility of arranging a TU Day at the state legislature. Tim Sullivan said these kinds of activities, along with positive letter-writing campaigns, can be surprisingly effective.

 

The discussion ended with no decision on how to respond to the furloughs.

 

 

6. Junior Faculty Committee (JFC) Report

 Pamela Lottero-Perdue (plotter@towson.edu) is chair of the  JFC. They met  prior to the TU-AAUP meeting.

 

7. Mentoring Program

There was no time to discuss this.

 

8. Salary and Fringe Benefits Committee

 Matt Durington (mdurington) is chair of this committee, which started to compile data on salary and compensation. The committee suspended action with the hiring of the new provost but will begin its work again.

 

9. National Issues

Very few TU AAUP members are also members of the national group.  This group does excellent work on behalf of faculty members and Jennifer urged the group to join.  The AAUP national meeting will be held in DC June 9th through 13th and Jennifer encourages everyone to attend.  There will be a chance for TU people to meet with their legislators during that time.  There is also a summer institute to be held July 29th through August 1st in San Diego.  The AAUP has no funds to pay for the entire trip, but may have the funds to partially defray costs if anyone wishes to attend.

 

The meeting adjourned at 4:45.

 

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