American Association of University Professors
University of Delaware Chapter

301 McDowell Hall, University of Delaware, Newark, DE  19716
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March 2003 aaUPBEAT

Workload Facts
First, What to do... Then, Some Background

Notice to Departments: Do NOT Move Forward with Workload Policy Review until Reading the Following

As we wrote in the February newsletter, mechanisms for handling individual workload situations are already in place and therefore no new policies are necessary. However, in view of recent Administration threats to increase faculty workloads, we recommend that departments include in their workload policy a statement that reflects existing policy as well as a clarification of what Article 12.4 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement does not say. We suggest the following statement:

The metric in the unit's merit criteria (as described in Section 12.4 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement) forms the basis on which a faculty member is evaluated for merit pay increase. However, this evaluation process should not be used as a justification in and of itself for increasing the teaching or service components of a faculty member's workload. Such increases should only be considered after a scheduled peer review process (see Section III.1.1 of the Faculty Handbook) has concluded that the research effort of the faculty member in question is unsatisfactory for the period being reviewed.

Faculty should also review Section III.F. on faculty workload in the Faculty Handbook. Special attention should be given to the Workload Policy Statement and the Composition of Workload section as departments develop their workload policies.

We encourage individual departmental workload committees to invite a member of the AAUP Executive Council to one of your meetings to clarify any aspect of UD workload policy that you may wish to discuss.

Increased Workloads and Reconceptualizing Higher Education

The current controversy over faculty workloads hasn't arisen out of the blue. It is one of many symptoms of a nation-wide reconceptualization of higher education's purpose that places increased emphasis on the concepts of profitability and productivity.

More than ever before, college and university administrations across the country view higher education less as an environment for training minds to analyze the objective world independently and more as an institution in which higher education's many ingredients - e.g., freedom of thought, departmental expenditures, financial investments, etc. - must be evaluated not just in terms of what they do to promote education as such, but also in terms of their relative value in a world in which all "true" value is supposedly determined by market forces.

By setting educational value along lines determined by the so-called free market, not only can pay disparities between "valued" and "nonvalued" faculty increase, but the very nature of educational funding runs the risk of being reinvented so that "education" per se isn't funded, but rather what's funded are certain areas (i.e., departments or projects within departments) of education that are deemed more worthy than others of investment.

According to such a model, education won't be viewed as a broad-ranging activity consisting of a variety of specific - and essential - disciplines, but rather like a corporation with certain subdivisions, some of which will be heavily invested in, others of which will be downsized, and still others of which will be spun off as the market dictates their irrelevance to current corporate policy.

Nationally, the intensification of higher education's subordination to the corporate model has occurred in the context of shrinking state investment in public colleges and universities. Since 1980, according the Chronicle of Higher Education, the percentage of state funds targeted for higher education has dropped from 44 percent to 32 percent or lower. This withering of government support is traceable not only to the recent recession, but, more disturbingly, to a transformation in educational vision. The corporate world is no longer seen by higher education administrations as just a potential source of funding, but rather as its natural ally and a model for how to be productive in the modern world.

According to analysts like Prof. Patricia P. Brodsky of the University of Missouri-Kansas, evidence of what will happen to higher education as Administrators deepen their commitment to the corporate model already exists. She says one can see it merely by looking at the health industry.

"What academia is now facing the health care industry has already undergone," Brodsky insisted at a forum. "Physicians are under pressure to make diagnoses and recommend treatments on the basis of profitability, not medical need. Doctors are forced into an assembly-line mode and a speed-up. Decisions are made by managers under orders from the insurance companies that, increasingly, own the hospitals and facilities. Quality and choice have declined as prices have risen. Now there is talk of following the HMO's with the EMO-Education Maintenance Organizations."

This might seem like a bleak assessment, but the corporatization of education has already caused problems that raise questions about who or what the university serves, the public, companies or higher education's commercial interests.

Linda Bensel-Meyers, the tenured Director of Composition at the University of Tennessee (UT), has firsthand experience with how explosive this issue of education's purpose can be.

In 1999, after tutors whom she supervised alleged that some athletic department officials and athletes tried to force the tutors to write papers for the athletes, Bensel-Meyers investigated the situation, concluded that the tutors were correct and so stepped forward to defend them. She said her reason for speaking out on their behalf was that she had tenure and was therefore more protected than they were and consequently she believed it was her duty to help them. For her effort, she was criticized by the UT administration, which in a fit of defensiveness and angry name-calling accused Bensel-Myers, who had no previous history of interest in the issue of the commercialization of college sports, of having "a larger agenda - to eliminate scholarship athletics in colleges and universities as we know it." The English professor also received abusive email, death threats over the phone, and her office was broken into. All of this followed comments she made during an interview with an ESPN journalist who was investigating the scandal.

Bensel-Meyers says that while the scandal raged, she at first often wondered why "the Administration and the Athletic Department refuse to look at the evidence of academic dishonesty" and instead chose to blindly "preserve a system that so clearly violates everything the university should stand for?"

She eventually concluded, and this became a turning point in her life, that the answer was systemic and had to do with the UT administration's covert acceptance of the idea that preservation of the athletic department's viability as a revenue generator had greater educational value than did the maintenance of the school's academic values. Bensel-Meyers detected in this trend a "penchant for universities to adopt the corporate model of governance, a model that can be used productively to ensure fiscal responsibility at the institution. What this model has done for UT, though, is ensured that profit not education is the bottom-line, particularly because the success of the Athletic Department is deeply embedded in the political and economic structure of the state... The state depends on the success of the football team for much of its economic revenue for adjunct services such as merchandising and tourism trade."

The City University of New York (CUNY) is another site of corporatization conflict. On the one hand the university's recently adopted Master Plan is touted by supporters like CUNY trustee John J. Calandra as a "blueprint for change. It is our roadmap for restoring CUNY to its proper role as an esteemed institution of higher learning." Meanwhile, detractors point out that the plan stresses that it wants to restructure CUNY along hierarchical lines "derived from a corporate model where the Chancellor is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Vice Chancellors are corporate officers"and one of the institution's central primary goals is to "achieve productivity and program savings."

As Associate Prof. Barbara Bowen , president of CUNY's Professional Service Congress, told an interviewer: the CUNY Master Plan's productivity and savings language signals an intent to "raise faculty workloads... and to cut academic programs and jobs from our already bare-bones curriculum."

A Systemic Withdrawal of Support from Higher Education

Everywhere, faculty are faced with problems similar to the ones described above.

Unfortunately, public higher education administrations frequently do little to protect faculty and students from such trends. On the contrary they often actively support the forces that create these trends. They offer this support by acquiescing to the notion that in the final analysis students are consumers who are responsible for purchasing the commodity that has caught their eye - i.e., higher education. Consequently, administrators typically respond to budget cuts by passing on the costs to students and parents in the form of increased tuition. They do this instead of seeking out other options - for instance, allying themselves with state agencies and unions in demanding a more equitable way to fight a state's budget problems. Although the states, and not higher education administrations, initiate funding cuts, many administrations' resigned response to these cuts and their acceptance of the corporate approach to higher education undermine their credibility as defenders of students or faculty.

Unfortunately, higher educational costs are pricing education beyond the reach of growing numbers of potential students. Already prior to the recent UD tuition increase, Delaware students who attend state institutions paid on average 29 percent of their family's income for fulltime student status. According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, the high percentage of family income spent for a college or university education in Delaware places the state among the worst eleven states in the country in terms of the ratio between family income and higher educational costs.

Of course, higher education's mounting cost isn't just a Delaware problem, it's a national problem. As the Associated Press's Steve Giegerich has written, "Cash-strapped states from coast to coast are weighing hefty tuition increases for public colleges and universities, prompting experts to wonder aloud if state schools are pricing themselves out of the market for most students."

In terms of the state cutbacks that are frequently associated with raised tuitions around the country, Gordon K. Davies, a consultant to the Education Commission of the States, warns that the current reduction of state funds available for higher education is not just a response to a weak economy but is part of a permanent (if it isn't stopped) transformation in higher educational policy.

"College leaders are fooling themselves if they think the end of this recession will be like all the others," Davies recently told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "What we're seeing," he continued, "is a systemic careless withdrawal of concern and support for advanced education in this country at exactly the wrong time."

Davies is right: we are fooling ourselves if, as faculty, we refuse to come to grips with the facts before us. Funding cuts, mounting tuitions, increased workloads, the growing percentage of part-time faculty, widening pay gaps between different departments, and the rise of the "student as consumer" vision are all part of the corporatization of higher education. The end result of this process, if it is allowed to proceed unchallenged, will be a public higher education environment that serves a shrinking percentage of the community, has fewer tenured faculty, and is increasingly taken over by "for profit" methodologies.

This is not what we want.

Open Faculty Meeting to Discuss Workload Issues & Other Questions
Thursday, March 20, 11:00 a.m.--12:30 p.m., Kirkbride 006

In the December and February editions of the newsletter, as well as in this one, we have analyzed UD workload policies. Since this is an subject of special interest to faculty members, the AAUP will hold an open faculty meeting on March 20 where faculty can ask questions about workload and other issues of importance.