Advisory Council of Faculty Report

December 4, 2003

Advisory Council of Faculty (ACF) Report

Charleston Meeting

The December 4 ACF meeting convened Thursday morning at 9:00, at the HEPC Building in Charleston. Our plan had been to discuss our agenda items, break for the "Quality and Cost Containment in Higher Education" at the WVU Charleston Division, CMAC, then drive down to Lewisburg for the HEPC meeting Friday morning. Several of us were to meet with ACCE representatives on Thursday evening to discuss common legislative actions. Around 12:30 p.m., the Chancellor called to let us know that the HEPC meeting had been moved to Charleston from Lewisburg, so many of us cancelled our Lewisburg reservations. As the weather looked ominous, as I could not rebook my Embassy Suites room, and as I fundamentally dread I68 in inclement weather, I headed back to Shepherdstown after the ACF meeting, just ahead of the storm.  Here are highlights of this important ACF meeting.

I) ACF Resolutions on 10% Promotion Increase and Annual Experience Incremental Pay for Faculty:  Chair Jim Nemitz reported that letters had been sent to faculty senate presidents, BOG chairs, and members of the HEPC expressing the ACF position on reinstituting into State code the 10% promotion increase and on faculty receiving the Annual Experience Incremental pay increase (AEI)--faculty are the only state employees not to receive the AEI and are thus the only State employees who receive no salary increase whatsoever during these hard economic times. 

II) Legislative Agenda and ACF Brochure: The new ACF brochure was distributed, Chair Nemitz requesting ACF reps to present the document to local BOGs, senates and faculty. The brochure, detailing WV faculty's legislative agenda, will be used as the ACF speaks with legislators during the 2004 legislative session. Representatives from Marshall University were present to express their thoughts about the faculty legislative agenda. The substantive issue for Marshall was that their Senate felt that asking for clarification on faculty status as state employees (item 6) and asking for faculty to be included, as state employees, in the AEI pay increase (item 2) were mutually exclusive. ACFers explained that the 7 legislative items had been determined not necessarily with the idea that we would achieve each during this session but, from a political point of view, with the idea that they might serve as political bargaining chips. Further, we explained that the 7 items represented a consensus among institutions across the State, not simply the viewpoint of one or two institutions. Marshall approved only their own revised version of the ACF legislative agenda. Chair Nemitz thanked everyone for input in creating the agenda and the brochure, particularly thanking the Shepherd contingent, including Tim Haines and Ken Harbaugh for their assistance. The brochure will be central in all legislative activity during spring semester.

III) Legislation Draft for Faculty Senates: This legislative issue was one that Shepherd had doubts concerning, not wishing to have legislators define or limit senates already established at institutions; however, the bill appears necessary since some institutions have experienced administrative hostility toward faculty senates. The ACF thus decided to write our own legislation draft, with Gerry Hough (New River CTC), a lawyer providing the wording for the bill. After a good deal of discussion of the initial draft that Hough provided, it was determined that he would forward to ACF members a second draft of the bill for another round of commenting and revision. I will send out the draft to Shepherd colleagues for your commentary before sending to Gerry a response, as this is an important legislative item and likely to get through this session and become law.

IV) Union Representation of Faculty: There was a good deal of debate on this controversial issue, with ACF focus principally on two groups: AFT and WVEA. See email comments of Gerry Hough (Glenville/New River CTC), which provides a good summary of the discussion:

           "On the AFT vs. WVEA front, permit me to weigh in. As Glenville's Faculty Rep, I met with and fully understood the benefits/burdens of aligning our colleagues with either or none. Basically, the AFT offers more particularized attention to higher ed faculty issues, since it has only the scraps and crumbs from elementary and secondary memberships. Since the AFT is part of the mammoth AFL-CIO, it carries brand recognition and well-honed employment practice experience to the table. WVEA is a forceful political org in WV, but its focus, by virtue of the size of the membership is upon public education - not higher ed. Therefore, most WV higher ed colleagues contemplating union affiliation look at AFT because AFT might pay better attention to the members. One other consideration: faculty may not collectively bargain with administration. This is analogous to being prohibited from serving in the legislature. Knowing this, one must ask - what's the value returned for the dues collected? Basically, you get a lobbyist-like presence in the legislature. As you know, it would be virtually impossible to obtain unanimity on the issue of unionization on any campus. But, in light of the current economic environment, wouldn't one view union dues as the only 'insurance' available? And, I believe you get legal representation in the package too. Gerry Hough"

V) ACF Presentation to HEPC: Chair Nemitz discussed the PowerPoint presentation that he will give on behalf of WV higher education faculty to the Higher Education Policy Commission at the Friday meeting (hardcopy available upon request). The substance of the presentation will be the seven legislative agenda items, giving place of prominence to item 6, "Representation of Faculty Point of View in Higher Education Policy-Making Process."

VI) Discussion with Dr. Flack: Dr. Flack spoke about only one issue that his office is currently working on: Strengthening the Content Knowledge of Secondary Teacher Education Majors. A State Task Force has been appointed to make recommendations. Their charge is to find a way to require secondary 5-12 TE students to have their degree in the content field, while meeting certification requirements. At present they are exploring four alternative approaches:

1) Content baccalaureate degree + professional education courses that would allow certification (based on U of Maryland model);

2) Dual baccalaureate degree (Education and Content area);

3) Continuing the present system, with the baccalaureate degree in education with additional content course work;

4) Baccalaureate degree in content area + an MA in education (WVU model).

The State-wide Task Force has 22 members, including Dow Benedict (Shepherd) and Sylvia Shurbutt (ACF). Dr. Ann Rose from West Liberty State College will be the other ACF member of the Task Force.

VI) Conversation with Chancellor Mullen: Chancellor Mullen noted the dire budget environment, with Governor Wise insisting on cuts from all areas of State government, including higher education. The cuts will range somewhere between 2.6% and 3.5%, with Governor Wise's decision to include K-12 in this round of cuts determining whether higher education is to be on the low end of 2.6%. A range of alternatives to the cuts have been suggested to the Governor and to legislators, including the strategy of a one-time tax forgiveness option, where West Virginians in tax arrears can repay without penalty for a short grace period. This strategy has been successful in a number of states and can boost revenues to help offset a deficit for one specific year. Both Teacher Retirement costs and Workers' Compensation are sucking up State revenues, as well as retired employees health insurance costs, according to Mullen. If no remedies are settled upon during the legislative session, Mullen will ask for a tuition and fee maximum increase of 9.5% for four-year institutions, 14.75% for CTCs, and "whatever the market will bare" for out-of-state students. The Chancellor insisted that out-of-state students must be "charged the full cost of their education." 

Among the higher education cost-cutting strategies that will have to be considered, according to Mullen, will be "strategies in productivity" and "juried faculty judgment on who teaches and who researches," with only that research that shows significant benefit to be supported by the institution. Mullen also noted that faculty work loads should be adjusted to reflect the time required for instruction (i.e., teaching writing and literacy requires a smaller student ratio than instruction in other fields, according to Mullen). In the conversation that followed, Ben Miller (Marshall) suggested that the Chancellor's Office attempt to show some appreciation for the extraordinary job that WV higher education faculty do, providing a quality education for WV students with so little State support. Dr. Mullen acknowledged the importance of offering such appreciation.

The meeting adjourned at 1:30 p.m. so that ACFers might attend the "Quality and Cost Containment in Higher Education" presentation.

                                  

Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, Shepherd College ACF Representative


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