WSU Re-Vitalizes AAUP Chapter and Gets to Work
2009-2010 Annual Report for the Washington Conference of the AAUP
With threats to cut faculty and academic units looming, faculty from across campus came together in March 2009 to re-establish an AAUP advocacy chapter at WSU. The new president, Rich Alldredge, (Statistics) announced the re-formation of AAUP to the WSU Faculty Senate and administration in April, noting that the chapter was “concerned that shared governance and due process may not be observed during imminent, expected program discontinuations.” According to past chapter presidents Nick Lovrich (Political Science) and George Hinman (Environmental Science), a fairly active chapter existed at WSU in the 1970’s and 80’s. Lovrich, currently Faculty Senate representative to the state Legislature, expressed excitement at seeing AAUP back in Pullman to represent faculty interests and rights.
While the initial focus of WSU-AAUP was necessarily consumed with the effects of budget cuts and the restructuring that took place during the spring, in fall 2009 the revived WSU-AAUP hosted an inaugural event on September 22, featuring Duane Storti, University of Washington Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Vice-president of AAUP-UW. “Protecting Faculty Employment in The Crisis Economy” identified four problems that are causing the erosion of employment security for faculty: “Adjunctification,” “Commodification,” “Administratification,” and “Katrinafication,” the latter of which is when a crisis is used as an opportunity to institute actions that are otherwise unacceptable. The presentation was sponsored by WSU-AAUP and the Washington State Conference of the AAUP.
Other activities in the fall included working with the Faculty Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate to revise the Faculty Manual to more clearly protect faculty interests during program elimination and restructuring. WSU-AAUP’s recommendations were fashioned following AAUP policy that clearly states that, “the faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction”; the long-term educational interests of the institution should always be paramount; and budget constraints alone are not appropriate justification for the discontinuance of academic programs. WSU-AAUP also consulted policies already in place at the University of Washington and the University of Idaho.
Work with the Faculty Affairs Committee and the Faculty Senate continues this spring, as WSU-AAUP reviews and provides input on relocation of faculty as a result of reorganization or discontinuance of programs, freedom of speech, and harassment policy and procedures. In early February, when WSU President Elson Floyd sought input from faculty on whether to use furloughs or “vertical cuts” to handle an additional loss of state funding, WSU-AAUP officers wrote a letter to reject this narrow view of fiscal management, strongly urging faculty input and exploration of additional options. Chapter officers are also educating themselves about “Committee A” obligations, which concern assisting faculty with employment disagreements of several kinds. Regular meetings have included visits from Faculty Affairs Committee Chair Cathy Claussen and Ralph Jenks, Director of WSU’s Office of Procedures, Records, and Forms.
The highlight of this semester has surely been a February 22 visit by Gary Rhoades, General Secretary of the American Association of University Professors and Professor of Higher Education at the University of Arizona. To a packed crowd in Avery Hall, Rhoades presented a talk entitled “Building a Saga for the Public Good: The Need for an Independent Faculty Voice.” During his visit Rhoades met with faculty, graduate students, and AAUP officers. This event was also supported by both WSU-AAUP and the State conference. Finally, the first volume of the WSU-AAUP newsletter was published and is available at the chapter website: http://www.wsu.edu/~wsu-aaup/.