Ordinary life amid extraordinary times

Hi everyone. It’s been almost a year. I don’t know about you, but I miss people. So I thought we could add a bit of fun to our regular communications: if you’d like, please share with us a picture from your 2020/2021 at-home life style. I’ve included two here, to start us off.

The first photo is of is my cat, up in my husband Don’s new-to-2020 home office (our guest bedroom). Her name is Matter Energy Transfer Beam, but we call her Mattie. She is definitely enjoying having both her humans around all day, every day.

The second picture is of my efforts to make a little indoor green space in my own home office. The center piece, a huge jade plant, has been travelling with me for about 18 years, and I’ve had the little cactus almost as long. The pothos was draped all over my office at school, and come home abruptly last March, with all its poor little tendrils stuffed into the pot. Once, I almost killed the jade by overwatering it—a rookie mistake—but I saved an upper branch, re-rooted it, and here we still are.

We’d love to see you, your pets, your kids, your alphabetized bookshelves, whatever has been an important part of your life this last year. It’s been tough, I know, but I also know you all have shown extraordinary professionalism, patience, and innovation as you strive to provide our students and our research community with your continued talents.

Send your photos and thoughts to: phoebe.reeves@uc.edu

Joint Committee Report Inspires Beginnings of Progress

The Faculty Senate/AAUP-UC Joint Budget Committee was formed in Spring 2020 to analyze the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the UC budget, evaluate the extent of shared sacrifice across colleges and non-academic units, and identify strategies to preserve the core academic mission of instruction and research. After months of collecting information, conducting analysis, determining recommendations, and crafting all of this work into a presentable form, the Committee released its report in November 2020.

The report’s key short-term recommendation was for the current 8% across-the-board budget cut mandated of all colleges to be reduced to a cut of 3%. Longer-term recommendations centered on 1. challenging the idea that permanent budget adjustments are the way to improve the quality and growth of every UC college and 2. questioning the university’s increasing tendency of outsized spending on activities not central to our mission.

In order to ensure continued collaboration with University administration, Faculty Senate and AAUP have outlined clear goals and next-steps. For example, along with directly emailing the report to university leadership upon its release, hard copies were also printed, bound, and mailed in January 2021 to President Pinto, Provost Nelson, the Deans of all UC colleges, and all members of the Board of Trustees. Additionally, the delivery of the report was accompanied by an immediate request for regular meetings between the AAUP-UC Budget and Compensation Committee and the Vice President of Finance to facilitate in-depth budget discussions.

AAUP-UC and Faculty Senate were thus pleased to receive a response in late January, with an invitation from Provost Nelson, Senior VP for Administration & Finance Robert Ambach, and VP for Finance Pat Kowalski to meet on February 11 to discuss issues raised by the report. On that date, Amber Peplow (Chair of AAUP-UC Budget and Priorities Committee), Erwin Erhardt (Chair of Faculty Senate Budget and Priorities Committee), and Greg Loving (Chair of Faculty Senate) spoke with this group to determine first steps in creating a more transparent budgeting process that more significantly incorporates faculty voices.

In this productive meeting, members decided:

  •  the administration would provide training on UC’s budgeting practices to the Senate and AAUP Budget committees in order to help alleviate the steep learning curve that all members, especially newer ones, face in analyzing and interpreting UC’s budget documents
  •  the administration would assist the AAUP and Senate Budget committees in conducting “deep dives” on topics of budgetary concern as they arise for each group
  •  the Chair of the AAUP-UC Budget and Priorities committee will now join the university Fiscal Coordinating Committee, a committee containing representatives of multiple constituencies from across the university where budgeting information and decisions are communicated
  •  the Chairs of the AAUP and Senate Budget committees have met with the administration to talk about how to improve the ways that UC budget information is communicated to the AAUP.

The Faculty Senate/AAUP-UC Joint Budget Committee report has hopefully, then, provided an impetus for needed changes in the way UC determines how to allocate its all-too-finite resources. We only need to look at fellow public Ohio universities like Wright State and Akron that have been devastated by financial mismanagement to understand that UC cannot afford to eliminate faculty input into how its money should be spent. AAUP-UC and Faculty Senate look forward to continue moving from these early steps towards a more truly shared budge

Town Hall Meeting

Happy New Year: May this year be a bit better than the last!

First, AAUP-UC President Connie Kendall Theado is on academic leave this semester. So you may be getting a few communications from me in the interim. Connie will be back after the spring semester.

Most importantly, AAUP-UC  will be hosting a Faculty Town Hall meeting on Thursday, January 14th at 12:15 p.m. via Zoom. The Zoom invitation will be sent next week. The purpose of the meeting is to further discuss the AAUP-UC-Faculty Senate Joint Budget Report and next steps for the fall semester. The Faculty Senate will be meeting later that same day. Faculty are encouraged to attend both meetings.

In other news, the Administration recently announced that it was establishing a paid parental leave benefit for UC employees who are not represented by a union (unrepresented employees). In 2013 AAUP-UC was the first UC union to negotiate a paid parental leave policy. You should be very proud that AAUP-UC was able to raise the bar; now more UC employees are able to take advantage of this important benefit.

Finally, the AAUP-UC staff is facing a significantly heavier than usual workload. If you need assistance on a contractual issue, it is recommended that you contact the Associate Council member in your college as an initial step. If you need to contact a staff member, email the office at aaupuc1@ucmail.uc.edu. This will ensure that your contact is tracked and responded to in a timely manner.

Phoebe Reeves

Vice President, AAUP-UC

 

 

AAUP-UC Bulletin

 

Dear Faculty,

Yesterday the Faculty Senate and AAUP Joint Budget Committee released the Joint Budget Committee Report.  The Report was initially in response to the Administration’s proposal to reduce faculty salaries in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. That proposal has since been withdrawn.

The purpose of the Joint Report is three-fold:

  • to analyze the extent of Covid-19’s impact on UC’s budget,
  • to identify possible strategies to preserve UC’s academic and research missions, and
  • to evaluate the shared sacrifice across all units

We heartily thank the Committee members–Amber Peplow, Dan Carl, Sarai Hedges, and Steve Mockabee–for their deeply positive work. The Report is thorough and comprehensive, a clarion call for real and dramatic change in the university’s budget priorities and an urgent appeal to refocus on the core academic missions of teaching and research.

The Joint Report is not the end, of course, but represents instead the beginning of a campaign for meaningful change. As a next step, we’re asking Faculty to please share the Report on social media. Click here for a summary that can be easily posted to social media sites.  Campaigning for meaningful change at UC involves students, parents, and the entire community. We need to make them part of the conversation, too.

AAUP-UC will be promoting the Report as part of the Fight for 51% campaign. A decade ago, 51% of UC’s budget was allocated to support the university’s teaching and research efforts. That percentage has been reduced over time to just 43% in 2020. A return to 51% will have a  demonstrably positive impact on teaching and learning at UC, and we hope all Faculty will join us in the Fight for 51% campaign.

If UC doesn’t make fundamental changes to its funding priorities and budget, our university will find itself in a position similar to Wright State University.

Thank you again to the Committee. And thanks to all of you, in advance,  for doing your part in promoting the Report.

In Solidarity,
Connie KendallTheado