Minutes, 2013 Annual Meeting, Louisiana Conference, held jointly with ALFS and Louisiana Statewide Colleagues Collaborative, Louisiana State University in Alexandria, April 20, 2013

 

The joint portion of the meeting was called to order by Kevin Cope of Louisiana State University at 10:00 a.m.

 

After introductions, the floor was turned over to Sandra Woodley, recently named President of the University of Louisiana System. She spoke about the importance of communicating to the public the extent and nature of faculty work and of faculty contributions to the community, concerns over potential further cuts to the budgets of state institutions, her intention to protect AAUP principles of academic freedom and tenure, and the potential of a number of good Louisiana institutions to become great ones.

 

Michael Walker-Jones in his presentation "Senate Bills 117 & 118: Possible Faculty Response" announced that he will propose that faculty be included in the process of the choice of the system presidents and on the committee, established by SB 117, that will oversee 'outcomes-based funding budgeting from the task force'.He advocated being active when the legislature is in session, affirming that simple involvement can turn things around.

 

Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell discussed the current state of higher education in Louisiana, noting that the systems had undergone cuts of approximately 50% in five years time. The Office of Commissioner of Higher Education itself underwent deep cuts, such that it can no longer provide many services. He spoke of bills currently being considered in the legislature that would skew funding toward certain subject areas. Another bill would lower the contribution to retirement plans for new hirees to 1.6%, below Social Security. A further important issue is that health science centers are losing the revenue from hospitals as they are privatized; in addition Schools of Agriculture are suffering from cuts. One bright spot is a bill that will provide for a $10,000 fine for supervisors if they fire an employee who tells the truth during testimony. On the horizon is a new system for measuring efficiency: programs will have to show that they break even, it will be possible that some will not, but most will have to. Some ways in which departments may produce a revenue stream include differential tuition, public outreach, the leasing of facility space, and distance learning.Commissioner Purcell touched on prior education assessment, i.e. the awarding of college credit for certification programs in industry when there is a corresponding course in the curriculum. The faculty members present suggested that such arrangements should be reciprocal, i.e. that college and university courses that offer training corresponding to certification programs available in industry should be recognized by industry as the equivalent.

 

AAUP members met separately during the lunch period; the meeting was called to order by President Brooks Ellwood at 1:00 p.m. Attending were Vice President Sudhir Trivedi, Secretary Linda Carroll, Chapter Services Co-chair Ravi Rau, Past President Al Burstein, Sandra Loucks, Dayne Sherman, Stephen Rushing, and Sam Shepherd. The following agenda through IX had been compiled prior to the meeting; time was inadequate to discuss all issues. Item X was added during the meeting.

 

I. proposed reorganization of the Louisiana State University system (not discussed)

II. hiring process for LSU system president; discussion of the Senate vote of no confidence in the process of choosing the LSU President/Chancellor. (not discussed)

III. update on situation of SELU French professors

Past President Al Burstein read a statement from the three French faculty members whose positions at Southeastern Louisiana University were cut; they acknowledged with gratitude the contributions made by the national AAUP and by AAUP members to their legal fund and stressed the importance of their legal case to all faculty members. He summarizedtheir current situation: their case will be going to trial.

IV. update on situation at SU-BR and report of investigative committee (not discussed)

V. other legal action involving UL System

Prof. Stephen Rushing provided an update on the court case in which he is currently involved that concerns issues of academic freedom, shared governance, freedom of speech, and due process. 

VI. report from Centenary College chapter

Sam Shepherd, the chapter resident, reports that about one-third of tenured and tenure-track faculty are now members of the chapter and that the national office is sending advice about the Faculty Handbook. The context for this growth was program discontinuance, faculty terminations, and a muddled appeals process. More recently the college's president has come forward and put in place an effort to have the curriculum heavily revised in a very brief period.

VII. survey sent by national office requesting the response of advocacy (non-collective-bargaining) chapters and conference to questions about a variety of issues including services provided by the national office, academic freedom, shared governance, government relations, research, legal programs, and membership building. (not discussed)

VIII. increasing membership

Membership forms were distributed to all attendees, who included about three dozen non-AAUP faculty members.

IX. establishment of a standing committee on "Membership Outreach and Communication"

The establishment of a standing committee on " Outreach and Communication" and Dayne Sherman's appointment to this committee were unanimously approved. Among his duties will be informing the executive committee and Conference membership about pending legislation, of which he has already been doing an admirable job.

X.  Deep concern and even alarm were expressed by most if not all those attending about the new definition of financial exigency that has recently been proposed by a subcommittee of Committee A and that will be voted on at the June meeting. It was the general sentiment that the proposal if passed would be the death knell at least of the advocacy side of the Association because the financial documents that this proposal asks to have provided to faculty members for their participation in the declaration of financial exigency, if any, would certainly not be provided by non-unionized institutions; because it assigns the definition of the academic mission of the university and the evaluation of programs to administrations and not to faculty who have the primary expertise in this area; and because the weakening of the definition of financial exigency would leave the Association with little leverage with institutions. In short, the new policy would leave faculty members with little reason to join the Association. Linda Carroll was asked to provide the committee with a copy of her annotations to the proposal and the message that she had sent to national leaders explaining objections to the policy. Subsequent to the meeting she did so and the executive committee voted to communicate these views as their position to the national leadership[LC1] .

 

The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda Carroll, Secretary

 

The executive committee was contacted after the meeting by faculty members at Dillard University (New Orleans) about the elimination of the positions of tenured faculty members there without the declaration of financial exigency. Those faculty members had contacted the national office about it and had received some preliminary response but a follow-through that had been promised some months ago had not yet occurred. The executive committee agreed to contact Committee A staff member Bob Kreiser[LC2]  and raise these concerns again with him.


 [LC1]Has this been done?

 [LC2]Has this occurred?