Open Letter to President Pinto

TO: President Pinto

FROM: Connie Kendall Theado, AAUP-UC President

DATE: August 26th, 2021

RE: COVID-19 Communications

CC: Provost Ferme, College Deans, AAUP-UC Bargaining Unit

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented pressure on the entire University of Cincinnati community, and it has been an exceptionally difficult eighteen months. As the professional organization representing the collective interests and workplace rights of more than 1,700 faculty at UC, AAUP-UC remains committed to being an effective partner who works with the Administration to fulfill the core academic missions of teaching and research. To that end, we are increasingly concerned about several ongoing communication issues that have unnecessarily complicated the return to campus for faculty, students, and staff.

Over the past several weeks, for instance, we have received numerous phone calls and emails asking for clarification regarding the information provided by the University about COVID-19 safety protocols and policies. A recurring concern from faculty focuses specifically on how various colleges and campuses have been receiving different and sometimes conflicting information about these very protocols and policies. The issues currently causing the most concern and confusion among faculty include:

  • The UC COVID Check app, specifically how and when to use it;
  • Mask wearing, particularly how the stated policy will be enforced and by whom;
  • How and when PCR testing will be requested or required;
  • And most recently, President Pinto’s decision to Tweet out an important announcement about the University’s position on vaccine mandates, rather than using official channels of communication.

From an institutional perspective, especially on a matter as serious as a global pandemic—which we know the Administration also takes very seriously—communication of vital information, like the concerns listed above, should be shared in a unified, consistent manner and from a centralized source. In other words, it should not be left to each college administration or individual academic unit heads to interpret and craft a message about COVID-related policy decisions or rules from the President’s or Provost’s offices. We strongly urge the Administration to revisit their communications model, which is not meeting the moment, and instead reach out to all constituent groups and shared governance bodies with unified and clear messaging.

In a recent statement on the re-opening of colleges and universities, AAUP President Irene Mulvey called on “campus administrations to do everything possible to ensure the highest level of health and safety,” noting that:Institutions of higher education exist to serve the common good. As places of knowledge creation and scientific discovery, our colleges and universities are uniquely situated to provide leadership by amplifying and promoting trust in science and CDC guidelines as well as putting in place sound public health policies and practices including making vaccination easy and convenient for all members of the campus community.”

In the spirit of shared governance, AAUP-UC is ready to work with the Administration to address the pressing concerns faculty have shared with us and that we are now sharing with you—including the critical question of vaccine mandates to protect our own health and wellbeing as well as the health and wellbeing of everyone in our UC community.

We are committed to promoting and assisting this work in any way we can.

AAUP-UC Executive Council

Looking for a few good Chapter members:

Are you a member who is interested in getting more involved with your union? Are you interested in working directly with other members to help them through contractual and other concerns?  If so, please consider joining us! The AAUP-UC is searching for members willing to serve on small committees that will work directly with others on contractual issues such as Article 7 RPT concerns, Article 15 equity issues, APR reviews, and workload documents.  Once the committees are formed, we will be conducting short trainings over the summer, so that the committees can hit the ground running in fall of 2021.  If you are interested, please contact Cassie Fetters at

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:

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