Lessons from Summer Institute 2012, Part 2

[This summer, a handful of CCSU-AAUP members traveled to Chicago’s Roosevelt University to participate in the 2012 AAUP Summer Institute. The Summer Institute featured workshops on topics like negotiations, grievance administration, institutional financial analysis, direct action campaigns, and organizing. We asked this year’s participants to share some of the lessons that they learned. This post includes thoughts from Jason Snyder, Associate Professor of Managerial Communication. He can be reached by email at snyderjal[at] ccsu [dot] edu.]

This year’s AAUP Summer Institute was my third. Although I’ve learned a great deal at all of these meetings, I came away from this year’s Institute feeling empowered. I certainly learned about legislative and administrative attacks on higher education, but this year’s Institute also focused on what we can do in the face of these attacks.

Most of the sessions that I attended were hosted by the Ruckus Society, an organization that provides training and assistance to partner organizations in preparing and executing nonviolent direct action (NVDA) campaigns to combat social injustice. In these sessions, I learned about the big steps necessary to plan a NVDA including goal setting, negotiating, and initiating confrontational tactics.

I also got my hands dirty and learned about some very specific tactics that can be employed in NVDA campaigns. I learned how to deconstruct – through a process of “narrative power analysis” – an opposition or status quo narrative into its basic story elements, including conflict, character and assumptions. The instructors then taught me about building an alternative story. Some of the materials related to story-based strategy can be found on the smartMeme Web site.

I learned how to silk screen shirts, and made the one featured in the picture above. I also learned how to mass produce signs (see below) that look hand made.

 

Attacks on tenure, cuts in funding, increases in tuition, and assaults on collective bargaining (among other things) make it necessary for faculty to fight back, and NVDA is one way of doing so. Although it is necessary for us to stand up for our own causes, a major takeaway of the Institute was that we need to stand up for others’ causes as well. One opposition narrative pits the “privileged” faculty against other workers. That is a narrative that we have the power to change. We need to fight back when our values are under attack, but we also need to help our students, fellow workers, and neighbors confront the social injustice in their own lives.

Note. Photo at top of post Creative Commons Flickr photo by AAUP

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Lessons from Summer Institute 2012

[This summer, a handful of CCSU-AAUP members traveled to Chicago’s Roosevelt University to participate in the 2012 AAUP Summer Institute. The Summer Institute featured workshops on topics like negotiations, grievance administration, institutional financial analysis, direct action campaigns, and organizing. We asked this year’s participants to share some of the lessons that they learned. This post includes thoughts from Briann Greenfield, Professor of History. She can be reached by email at greenfieldb[at] ccsu [dot] edu.]

What did I learn at AAUP summer camp? As a first time attendee at the AAUP Summer Institute, I chose to attend sessions on direct action, messaging, lobbying, and shared governance. Several of the sessions I attended were organized by the Ruckus Society, a group that trains environmental, human rights, and social justice organizers in nonviolent direct action. We learned how to organize rallies, communicate with the media, and present our issues in a way that would resonate with the public. I am looking forward to using some of the techniques on campus. (I also learned about organizing strikes—not applicable to our current campus situation, but a good reminder that faculty are not powerless in the face of educational or economic injustice.)

Although it was three hours of policy statements and PowerPoints, I have to admit that I found the session on shared governance uplifting. So often, shared governance gets watered down to a faculty representative being present at university policy discussions, or the faculty senate ascending to decisions fully crafted by the administration. How nice it was to have confirmation that such practices are ineffectual. In 1966, AAUP issued a Statement on Government asserting primary faculty responsibility and authority for all areas related to curriculum and research on the premise that you get the best results by giving the management of education to people who know something about it. As we head into a year of legislative-driven education reform, that will be my mantra.

I have finally unpacked all the AAUP manuals that I came home with. Time will show how useful those are, but I am already grateful for the perspective attending the conference brought to our struggles at home. Attacks against public education and public employees have forced many AAUP chapters to evaluate their purpose. The conference’s closing session was entitled, “We are All Workers.” Several participants talked about the need to reframe the AAUP as more than a contract defender and to engage in larger social justice struggles. It made me proud that our chapter has given support to the anti-war movement and has spoken out against the student debt crisis.  Those were certainly small steps, but it was important for me to see that other campuses are moving in the same direction.

Note. Creative Commons Flickr photo by AAUP

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CCSU-AAUP Stands with the Chicago Teachers’ Union

Members of the CCSU-AAUP voted at its September 12 meeting to stand in solidarity with  their brothers and sisters in the Chicago Teachers’ Union.

You can find the resolution’s language below. Those interested in providing individual support can find some ideas here.

Whereas all students deserve the right to a quality public education,

Whereas education “reforms” that privatize schools, dismantle the tenure system, and tie teacher compensation to student performance on standardized tests hurt both teachers and students,

Whereas teachers perform their jobs best when they have fair compensation and protection from arbitrary dismissal,

Whereas the threats against teachers in Chicago are part of a national attack against teachers and unionized public employees,

 Be it resolved that the Central Connecticut State AAUP stands in solidarity with the Chicago Teachers’ Union and upholds the importance of a quality public education, with a broad and diverse curriculum, for all students.

Be it further resolved that the Central Connecticut State AAUP calls upon the state and national AAUP to support the formation of a national rank and file direct action movement of educators to defend public education, strong collective bargaining, and build solidarity in the fight for social and economic justice.

In addition to this resolution, the communication committee was charged with organizing an event about education reforms and their impact on teachers, students, education, and workers. If you are interested in helping the committee, you can contact Jason Snyder (snyderjal [at] ccsu [dot] edu).

Flickr image courtesy of  Zol87

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Can We Expect A Flood Of New Faculty Hires?

Two recent stories might lead one to believe that CCSU will see a sharp increase in the number of full-time faculty hires.

First, this Connecticut Mirror story reported on the elimination of 24 highly-paid positions from the CSU and community college systems. According to Mike Meotti, Executive Vice President for the Regents, the cuts are expected to save about $5 million, and the story reported that:

“Meotti said the savings will be used to hire more faculty for the next school year. He said that since many of these central office staff are paid “substantially more” than faculty typically receive, many more teachers will be hired than the number of administrators laid off.”

Second, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Board of Regents voted to approve a tuition increase that would see CCSU students’ tuition go up by 3.7 or 3.8 percent. The two student board members voted against the tuition hike. If we are to hope for any bright side to this story, the Board has promised that this money would be used to hire additional faculty. Again, the Mirror quoted Mr. Meotti:

“This recommended increase will allow our state colleges and universities to hire additional faculty and stay competitive among their peer schools, without overburdening their students.”

Although these two stories may lead one to conclude that CCSU will see a sharp increase in the number of full-time faculty hires, one must also be aware of this letter from Governor Malloy to Benjamin Barnes asking for “a budget management plan that uses my statutory recission authority to ensure a balanced budget.” According to this story from CT New Junkie, Ben Barnes has said:

“By early next week, I fully anticipate that the governor will exercise his rescissionary authority. Additionally, other efforts to achieve balance may be implemented to include delayed or cancelled hiring, reductions in discretionary spending, closure of some programs, and, if necessary, action will be requested of the legislature.”

For what kind of flood should we prepare?

Flickr photo courtesy of cod_gabriel

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Minnesota?

When the Malloy administration forwarded the idea of higher education reorganization, it used Minnesota as the example for Connecticut to follow. However, when the new Board of Regents invited Terry MacTaggart, an expert on higher education reorganization, to share his thoughts, he suggested that Minnesota may not be the ideal model. From the Mirror:

MacTaggart, the author of a 1996 book analyzing higher education reorganizations in five states, said four of the five–in Minnesota, Alaska, Maryland and Massachusetts–failed to achieve their immediate goals. The reasons for failure included unrealistic goals, delays in implementation and mishandled relations with lawmakers, he said.

In Minnesota, for example, the reorganization got off to a slow start because officials focused largely on administrative and managerial matters at the expense of larger issues related to improving education, he said.

He also said most reorganizations ended up costing more than anticipated.

Board Chairman Lewis J. Robinson Jr. said that the board wants to utilize an organic, bottom-up approach to governing. In fact, he asserted that it would be erroneous “to start imposing and pushing stuff down the line. Campuses are where a lot of ideas are percolating.” The members of CCSU-AAUP need to hold the chairman to this promise.

In the end, MacTaggart remains hopeful that the new system, “will be an especially innovative one.” Given that the administration selected a poor model to follow, the system may have little choice but to be innovative. Hope is not a strategy.

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What I Learned at Summer Institute 2011

[This post is the first in a series about the 2011 AAUP Summer Institute. The Summer Institute is an annual event designed to enhance “leadership and chapter-building skills through discussion, learning, networking and brainstorming with fellow higher education colleagues from across the nation.” AAUP chapter leaders from around the country meet to discuss events in their states and on their campuses. The sessions cover a variety of topics from “strengthening faculty handbook language to analyzing institutional financial statements, from implementing a comprehensive communications strategy to fighting legislative attacks on higher education.”

This past summer, CCSU-AAUP sent a handful of its leaders to the Institute in Boston. Each individual self-selected the sessions they attended, which resulted in the accumulation of a wide range of new information. In this series, we hope to share with you some of the lessons we learned. This post includes thoughts from Lisa Frank, Associate Professor of Finance and Treasurer for the CCSU-AAUP Executive Committee. She can be reached by email at franklic [at] ccsu [dot] edu. -@drjasonsnyder].

I had the opportunity to attend the AAUP Summer Institute in the beginning of August this year. The Summer Institute is a four-day event with numerous opportunities for an education in the many facets of being an active member of the union. It also presents a terrific opportunity to meet members from other higher education institutions.

This is my second time attending and I am always amazed at how much there is to accomplish in such a short time. The most difficult part of attending is trying to decide which sessions to attend, since there are generally more than one in each time slot that pique my interest.

This year a session I chose to attend was the “Crash course in Institutional Financial Analysis”. There was a broad overview presented on Thursday evening at the opening seminars. Then, two additional sessions were offered over the course of the next two days. In the morning session we spent time reviewing the financial statements of our own institution (in my case CSU), pulling the data from the statements, and entering it into spreadsheets that were designed to present a thorough analysis.

I was fortunate that, due to its popularity, this set of sessions was offered twice. This allowed for smaller groups in the analysis phase of the course, and gave me the ability to move on to deeper analyses of the financials, which in my case included pulling the figures for CCSU. I learned how to find the financial data from the audited financial statements. This data is available either on the CSU system Web site (www.ct.edu), or on the IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) Web site (http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/).

Although I come from a finance background, this course proved very useful to me. It is important that the analysis focus on audited financial statements, not budgets. The financial statements that I had been most familiar with were those of corporations. University and College financial statements are vastly different, and without some guidance, are not always clear. Howard Bunsis and Rudy Fichtenbaum were terrific leaders, helping all of the participants to understand the nuances of analysis, whether they were from public or private institutions. The documentation that we received and the spreadsheets that we worked in not only proved useful for analyzing the financials at the session, but can be used for the same type of analysis when future financial statements are released.

Note. Creative Commons Flickr photo by Nick Ledford

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“If . . .”

When the CT higher education re-organization was being pitched, the administration argued that the main savings were in back-office efficiencies and in savings “on Woodlawn Street” (i.e., in the system offices of the various entities).

Here’s a new, gloomier talking point:

Ryan Leidy, a Shelton resident and student council president, asked Kennedy whether the merger would cost faculty jobs.

“If I say the merger is going to save money, 80 percent of our budget is personnel,” said Kennedy who hopes the downsizing can happen through attrition, not wholesale elimination of programs.

Now, this is pretty vague: “If I say the merger is going to save money . . .” (but maybe it’s not), and it’s not immediately clear what “personnel” would be implicated–but it’s still a noticeably different line of argument.

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