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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Interim President of Board of Regents Emphasizes Economic Development

In a somewhat surprising development, Robert A. Kennedy, the retired president of the University of Maine, has been appointed as interim president of the new Board of Regents.  From the Mirror:

In Maine, some critics likened an emphasis on relevance to the job market as nudging universities toward the approach of trade schools. He was asked Monday what is the right balance for the state university system?

“The right answer is a balance that serves in a public institution the needs of the state, and different people differ on their defintion of what that correct balance is,” Kennedy said.

But he added that in Maine, the balance he struck was applauded by the governor and legislature.

Points for honesty about whose opinion he values most in higher education.

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CCSU-AAUP Class Action to Defend Higher Education

NEW BRITAIN, CT – Faculty across the nation have realized that they must take action in order to defend funding and policies that provide for quality public higher education. They believe that affordable public higher education guarantees that America will have a well-educated middle class in the future.

The CCSU-AAUP (Central Connecticut State University – American Association of University Professors) has joined this movement to take public action in defense of higher education. On April 29, the CCSU-AAUP will host a “Class Action to Save Higher Education” event on the Central Connecticut State University campus.

Organizers designed the event to make students, faculty, and staff aware of proposed changes in policies and funding that might have detrimental consequences to the state of public higher education in Connecticut. The CCSU-AAUP is concerned that changes like the proposed reorganization of higher education, funding cuts of 10% or more, and tuition increases may reduce access to higher education, increase class size, limit class availability, and increase the time it takes for students to graduate. (See more: http://www.csuaaup.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Senate-Bill-1011.pdf and http://www.ctmirror.org/story/12139/csus-cites-federal-figures-defend-administrative-staffing)

Event organizers will ask students, faculty, and staff will to take action to defend public higher education in Connecticut. Students, faculty, and staff will be given the opportunity to send letters, make calls, or send emails to their state legislators and voice their support for public higher education. They will also be asked to write about the importance of public higher education in Connecticut on a paper leaf, which will be hung on a “tree of knowledge.”

The CCSU-AAUP has selected a white oak tree – Connecticut’s state tree – to serve as its “tree of knowledge.” At the end of the event, the leaves will be taken down from the tree and mailed to legislators. The CCSU-AAUP will donate the white oak tree to the university. The tree will be planted and serve as a reminder of the faculty’s commitment to high quality, affordable public higher education in Connecticut.

The nationwide campaign to defend public higher education began in California. On April 13, all 23 campuses in California held rallies, teach-ins, and other actions to call on university and state officials to use the university’s resources to help faculty and staff to provide quality education to students. Similar actions have taken place this month in Ohio, Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, and New York. (See more at: http://www.calfac.org/event/april-13-events-listing)

For more information, contact Jason Snyder, 860-832-3251 or Ellen Benson, 860-832-3794.

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Lesson Plans In Preparation for Class Action

Are you hesitant to speak with students about contentious issues such as the state budget, Connecticut politics, higher education reorganization, or problems in the CSU system?

To help you broach such issues with your students in a productive and intellectually honest manner, please consider using any portion of the materials below in your classroom. If you have assignments that accomplish the same goal, then please share them with us by commenting below.

The CCSU-AAUP invites you to use these materials to help our students understand what is going on and how they can have their voices heard. There will be a “Class Action” on Friday, April 29 on the CCSU campus. We invite faculty, staff, and students to participate. For information on how you can participate in the Class Action, contact Jason Snyder (snyderjal@ccsu.edu).

The Problem

Connecticut residents have lost money, their jobs, and their homes. They shouldn’t lose our great public universities. The CSU system is facing a potential 10% budget cut and reorganization, with the threat of increased student fees, higher tuition, fewer class offerings, loss of campus identity, increased faculty workload, and further erosion of tenure-track faculty positions.

The people of Connecticut, the students of the CSU system and their faculty and staff have all been blasted with the economic crisis and are being asked to shoulder an unfair share of the burden.

The Solution

We must insist on fairness during hard times. By standing together we can send a strong message to the state to do the right thing by keeping cuts and other measures away from the classroom. The CSU system can do better than devoting only 28% of the operating budget to instruction. We – faculty, students, and staff – are the voices of the CSU: If we don’t stand up for ourselves, no one else is going to.

We must also voice our concerns to our legislators. They need to hear from faculty, staff, and students about the need for public higher education as an investment in our state’s future. Find your legislators.

Below are some Lesson Plans, Discussion items, and Classroom Activities you might be able to adapt to your classroom or lab.

Sample assignment ideas:

  • WRITING: write an Op-Ed about the implications of budget cuts on students and their families; extra credit if it gets published somewhere.
  • SOCIAL RESEARCH METHODS – quantitative/surveys: design and conduct a survey about the ways in which budget cuts are affecting CSU students, faculty, staff, or other affected group. In designing the research, students should determine what type of survey design would be most effective and practical given the constraints of the assignment, include a sampling plan including the pros/cons of the chosen sampling method, and administer the survey.
  • FILM/MEDIA/JOURNALISM: film and edit a video or photo essay about the budget crisis and way the campus administration has handled it. Find ways to visually express some of the contradictory ways the university operates during this period of budget crisis.
  • BUSINESS/FINANCE/ACCOUNTING: Find and examine a copy of the CSU’s budget for the past five years. Examine how the CSU’s finances have changed over these years. How has the revenue stream been affected by the budget crisis? What choices have been made by administrators to deal with the budget crisis? What does the budget tell you and not tell you?
  • ETHNIC STUDIES: Decisions resulting from the budget crisis in Connecticut are affected by the demographics of the state and have a different effect on different communities of color. Examine and discuss these themes.
  • LABOR STUDIES/HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: SEBAC and the state are in discussions about $2 billion in concessions that the governor is requesting from state employees. Find out what issues are most pressing and examine the implications of each sides’ demands for students.
  • BUSINESS/FINANCE/ACCOUNTING: Find and examine a copy of the CSU’s audited financial statements. Using what you have learned about public institutions, what conclusions do you draw about the financial health of the CSU system?
  • POLITICAL SCIENCE/PUBLIC POLICY: Find out which state legislators are most influential in determining how the state budget allocates funding to the public universities. Schedule a meeting with a senator or assembly person who represents your campus to discuss the budget proposal for the CSU. Write up your impressions of the meeting.
  • SOCIAL RESEARCH METHODS: qualitative/interviews: conduct an in-depth interview with someone from your campus community about one of the issues motivating the April 29 day of action. The interview might be with a student, a staff person, an organizer, or even an administrator. Assignment should include the list of interview questions. The assignment might include interviewing multiple individuals who could be expected to have different perspectives about the same topic (such as a student and a faculty member).
  • SOCIOLOGY/SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Some say there is a growing national movement around public employee collective bargaining rights that started in Wisconsin. Is this a social movement? Why or why not?
  • POLITICAL SCIENCE/PUBLIC POLICY: In public discourse, public institutions and public goods are often framed as beneficial only or especially for the working class and the poor. Find examples (or counter-examples) of this is the mainstream media. Analyze the veracity (or lack of) of this position.
  • WOMEN/GENDER STUDIES: Analyze the various ways in which the state budget and political process that determines the budget is gendered. How is this expressed on campus?
  • SCIENCE: Analyze the jobs available to CSU graduates in the science field, how will the state’s future and student lives be impacted by budget cuts to science courses and curriculum?

Adapted from: Lesson Plan for CSU Professors. Found at: http://www.calfac.org/pod/lesson-plan-csu-professors

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