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Banner Year for Conference Continues with National Committee Appointments

July 27, 2014

The Colorado Conference is pleased to announce that several members of the conference’s executive committee have been appointed by national AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum to committees of the association. Suzanne Hudson, secretary of the Colorado Conference and long-time contingent activist, has been appointed to the Committee on Contingency and the Profession. Caprice Lawless, president of the Front Range Community College chapter, has been appointed to the Committee on Community Colleges. Conference co-president Jonathan Rees has been appointed to the Committee on the Organization of the Association. Additionally, we are pleased to announce that Steve Shulman, professor of economics at Colorado State University, has been appointed chair of the Committee on the Economic Status of the Profession.

These appointments signal continued recognition of the conference’s significance to the Association. Earlier this year Hudson was honored to participate on the search committee to select a senior program officer to the Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance of the national AAUP. In June, Dean Saitta, past president of the conference, was awarded the prestigious Tacey Award from the Association of State Conferences for outstanding service over a number of years to a state conference, and Lawless won the Al Sumberg Award for her involvement with HB14-1154, the conference’s groundbreaking equal work for equal pay community college legislative initiative.

Congratulations to all for recognition well-deserved.

Senator John Kefalas accepts Friend of Higher Education Award.

July 4, 2014

 

fischer, kefalas, suz 2

 AAUP members present Colorado Senator John Kefalas with the Randy Fischer Friend of Higher Education Award on July 2, 2014. Pictured (left to right) are Senator Kefalas, Don Eron, Representative Randy Fischer, Caprice Lawless, and Suzanne Hudson.

The AAUP Colorado Conference is proud to bestow its newly renamed Randy Fischer Friend of Higher Education Award on Colorado Senator John Kefalas (Senate District 14, Fort Collins). This award is presented annually by the AAUP’s Colorado Conference to honor Colorado legislators and elected public officials “whose legislative work and public service has significantly advanced civic understanding and public support of higher education in the State of Colorado.” The award recognizes Senator Kefalas for his indefatigable efforts on behalf of Colorado higher education institutions and faculty of all ranks and disciplines over a legislative career that spans six years in the Colorado General Assembly’s House of Representatives, continuing since 2013 as senator. He has proven himself a highly effective public servant and skilled listener who reaches across the aisle to build stakeholdership on issues of common interest to all Coloradoans irrespective of party labels. The AAUP is especially appreciative of Senator Kefalas advocacy and support of House Bill 12-1144 on Non-Tenure Track Teaching Contracts, which became law in April 2012, and his recent support for AAUP’s Community College Pay Equity bill (HB14-1154) that Randy Fischer introduced at the General Assembly this year (John Kefalas co-sponsor in the Senate). AAUP Colorado Conference looks forward to working with Senator Kefalas on this issue and others in the 2015 legislative session and beyond.

Note: In 2014 the AAUP Friend of Higher Education Award was renamed in honor of Representative Randy Fischer’s outstanding career contributions to higher education advocacy in Colorado. It is especially appropriate in our view that Senator Kefalas should receive this award considering his long-time collaboration with Randy Fischer on Colorado higher education issues. For a list of past award winners see: http://aaupcolorado.org/awards/

The most influential AAUP state caucus in America.

May 30, 2014

I may be biased, but I think AAUP Colorado is the most influential state caucus in America. Where’s my proof? In 2012, two members of our leadership team, Don Eron and Suzanne Hudson won the Tacey Award from the Assembly of State Conferences. Today, we learned that two other members of our leadership team have been similarly honored.

Former Co-President Dean Saitta from the University of Denver is the winner of this year’s Tacey Award from the ASC. Here’s a passage from the letter that nominated him so that you can get an idea of his incredible service to the organization in particular and the professoriate in general:

“His contributions to the development of the Colorado Conference are extraordinary across a broad band of leadership and service categories. In 2006, he took the lead in reviving DU’s moribund AAUP Chapter, organizing faculty and championing academic freedom and shared governance on campus. He quickly became the go-to person for challenging a range of administrative decisions, from arbitrary faculty evaluations and tenure decisions to championing changes to the faculty manual strengthening shared governance. He designed a compelling webpage enabling colleagues to access AAUP resources and he offers commentary on governance issues both relevant to DU and Colorado higher education. His blogs and commentary relentlessly advanced academic freedom on campus and throughout the state and his skilled analysis of violations of faculty rights have been instrumental in reversing several unwarranted administrative decisions adversely affecting both untenured and tenured colleagues on the DU campus, CU-Denver Medical School, and elsewhere.”

Caprice Lawless, the fearless leader of our Front Range Community College chapter, is the winner of the AAUP’s Al Sumberg Award this year. Here’s a piece of her nomination letter:

“The Colorado Conference of the AAUP sponsored an historic bill in the 2014 legislative session titled The Community College Pay and Benefits Equity Act of 2014 (HB14-1154). This bill, which would become known as Colorado’s equal pay for equal work legislation, was instigated by Caprice Lawless, an adjunct instructor and president of the Front Range Community College chapter of the AAUP. Caprice built the FRCC chapter by recognizing the exploitation of the adjunct workforce at Colorado’s community colleges through below-poverty wages and denial of benefits. For example, when the full-time faculty were given free flu shots while the adjunct faculty, who comprise 85% of the workforce at FRCC and receive no sick pay or health insurance, were ignored, Caprice contacted the Department of Health and obtained flu shot vouchers, which she labeled with AAUP stickers and handed out to adjunct faculty. Caprice takes adjunct faculty to food banks every week; she maintains a blog that addresses the indignities of adjunct faculty’s working conditions.”

Congratulations to them both. It is truly an honor to work with them on behalf of faculty everywhere.

AAUP Report on CU’s Treatment of Philosophy Department

April 17, 2014

 

Following is a link to a report from the University of Colorado (CU) chapter and the Colorado Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) regarding the recent upheavals in the Philosophy Department at CU. The upheavals stem from complaints about sexual harassment made to CU’s Office of Discrimination and Harassment. The report details the CU administration’s attack on the academic freedom, shared governance, and due process rights of the members of the Philosophy Department faculty.

AAUP Report on CU Philosophy Department

Senator Rollie Heath Receives AAUP’s Friends of Higher Education Award

March 6, 2014

Members of the AAUP from the University of Colorado and Front Range Community College met with Senator Rollie Heath on February 28 for two purposes: (1) to present Senator Heath with the AAUP’s Friends of Higher Education Award and (2) to talk with him about HB14-1154, the Community College Pay and Benefits Equity Act of 2014.

Rollie Heath

      Suzanne Hudson presents the Friends of Higher Education Award to

Senator Rollie Heath

Senator Heath received his award most graciously. He also listened to the AAUP members’ concerns about the low pay and lack of benefits awarded to adjunct faculty at the community colleges. Senator Heath expressed concern about the working conditions of adjunct faculty and promised to study the issues and keep an open mind about the bill.

More on Fort Lewis.

March 4, 2014

The co-Presidents of the AAUP’s Colorado Conference have sent the following letter to the Board of Trustees at Fort Lewis College about the situation there:

View this document on Scribd

Fort Lewis College: Shared Governance Denied.

February 24, 2014

The following is a guest post from Mark Seis and Janine Fitzgerald of the Fort Lewis AAUP:

On February 7th, 2014, the Fort Lewis College (FLC) Board of Trustees (BOT) unanimously voted to change FLC curriculum from a three- and four- credit mix to an all three-credit model against the apparent will of a majority of faculty and students at the institution. This is the first time in the history of FLC that the BOT, advised by the FLC Administration, has overruled the will of the faculty on matters pertaining to curriculum, violating the AAUP’s principles of shared governance. This vote was based on a manufactured crisis generated by Provost Barbara Morris and President Dene Kaye Thomas.

The FLC Administration, claiming to adhere to AAUP principles of shared governance, misled the BOT, faculty, and students on several counts. First, the administration convinced the BOT that the three and four credit mixed curriculum was such a contentious issue among the faculty that “exceptional circumstances” (the only situation deemed by AAUP to constitute a need for administrative overreach) required the administration to override faculty governance by recommending to the BOT that FLC move to a three-credit model. However, the three- and four-credit issue had already been studied, debated, and voted upon by the faculty. The faculty senate convened a task force to study the issue in April 2013. The committee surveyed all departments and received 18 out of 22 responses. The committee agreed based on the responses that the best way to move forward was to maintain the three- and four-credit mix.

The three- and four-credit issue has long been conflated by the administration with workload inequity issues in some of the STEM disciplines because of the way lab hours/credits have been counted toward faculty workload. The committee report called for addressing workload inequities for the sciences by suggesting a two-course two-lab workload, reducing the workload for faculty in the sciences. The committee also recommended solutions for dealing with scheduling both three and four credit courses in a more uniform way to avoid overlap, another perceived problem with the mix of credits. The report was approved by all committee members and passed the faculty senate by a 12 to 3 vote in favor of keeping the three- and four-credit mix. In a survey conducted of voting faculty members, 56 percent overall favored keeping the mix, and among faculty who would be directly affected by the change, 90 percent favored keeping the mix. In a poll conducted by students, 84 percent of students surveyed believed that an all three-credit curriculum change would have negative consequences for their education.

In the face of a clear faculty and student majority against the three-credit model, the administration next put forward what they perceived to be four irrefutable justifications for moving the college to a three credit model: 1) HLC accreditation; 2) transferability of courses; 3) scheduling; and 4) workload inequality. In a document submitted to the BOT by the FLC AAUP chapter each of these administrative justifications were addressed separately.

Provost Morris has repeatedly insisted that our current three and four-credit mix was put into place without approval from HLC. However, the three and four-credit mix has been in place for over two decades in some disciplines, without ever having raised any red flags on previous accreditation visits. She has also stated both orally and in email communications that a massive shift to an all three-credit model would not require approval of HLC. Both of these claims are spurious and disingenuous. Neither claim is supported by previous HLC reviews, by substantive change policies and requirements available from the HLC’s website, or by email communications directly from the HLC. In a recent email to FLC’s Provost, Barbara Johnson, HLC Vice President for Accreditation Relations Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association explains the ramifications of changing to an all 3-credit model:

I have reviewed the requirements for submission of a substantive change form (Length of Term Affecting Allocation of Credit attached for your convenience) and whether the form is necessary depends on whether 25% or more of the courses will be impacted (i.e., the four credit hours that will be converted to three credit hours). So if 25% of the total courses are four credits then you will need to complete the form but if less than 25% of the total courses are four credit hours then you will not need to complete the form (Barbara Johnson, February 17, 2014 3:35 PM).

The BOT’s decision will require far more than 25% of the total courses at FLC to change from four to three credits and will clearly require special review and approval by the HLC. President Thomas and Provost Morris clearly misled the BOT and faculty by suggesting that this entire process of moving to a 3-credit model was being driven by the need to avoid such added review and scrutiny by the HLC. This is obviously not true.

The next justification offered by the FLC administration was the argument that transferability requires by statute that FLC must move to a 3-credit model. The Colorado Statutes cited by the FLC administration 23-1-108 (7), 23-1-125(1-5) as well as CCHE Policy I, L. do not in any way suggest that Colorado public institutions of higher learning should adopt a three-credit model. These statutes refer to the ability of transfer students to transfer unimpeded between Colorado public institutions of higher learning to ensure that students can satisfy general education requirements within 60 credits on their way to earning a bachelor’s degree within the 120-credit limit. Because other Colorado colleges have some 3- and 4-credit mix, seamless transferability does pose some challenges for students transferring. However, students transferring to FLC get full credit for every course they take elsewhere. In short, all students transferring to FLC who have completed gtpathways courses at other institutions are given full credit for having completed those requirements. Statutorily, it is clear that the FLC Administration was being disingenuous regarding the interpretation of the law to both the BOT and the faculty.

There is no doubt that there are some scheduling conflicts with a three and four-credit mix as demonstrated and argued by the FLC Administration. In some cases, scheduling conflicts do cause students to have to enroll in slightly overlapping classes. Faculty are concerned about this problem and have proposed five different models for resolving most of these scheduling problems while maintaining a three and four-credit mix of courses. These scheduling alterations involve starting courses earlier and ending them later. Faculty members have voiced no objections to adjusting their schedules to accommodate student needs. In addition, with required labs scheduling problems will remain regardless of what model we have. While scheduling presents challenges, it does not constitute, as the FLC administration suggested to the BOT, an “exceptional circumstance,” justifying the usurpation of faculty governance and the dismantling of an entire curriculum.

Yet another justification for moving to an all three-credit model by the FLC administration has been the issue of workload inequities raised by colleagues in the sciences. The FLC administration has misled the BOT and attempted to divide the faculty by emphasizing this issue as a major point of contention among disciplines. However, faculty members across the entire campus agree that the sciences have a greater burden when teaching three courses and two labs per semester. There is no doubt that three courses plus two labs require more preparation than three courses alone. Both the senate created committee on the three- and four-credit mix (referred to earlier in this article) and FLC’s chapter of the AAUP support the change to a two-course/two-lab model for faculty in the sciences. This accommodation to deal with workload issues for the sciences is a non-issue among the faculty, yet the FLC administration has repeatedly misled the BOT and the faculty by conflating workload issues in some disciplines with the completely separate issue of changing the entire curriculum to a 3-credit model. Forcing every discipline to operate under a 3-credit model would not change the workload issue in the sciences. This is a disingenuous effort on the part of the administration to obfuscate the issues.

In spite of the usurpation of faculty governance by President Thomas and Provost Morris, FLC’s AAUP chapter and general faculty body remain committed to the principles of shared governance. Fort Lewis College AAUP is working to restore these governance principles and is considering options regarding the administrations’ miscarriage of AAUP shared governance principles. It is important to emphasize that this entire process was in no way presented as a fiscally motivated decision. In fact, it will cost the college more money to make this massive transition to a three-credit model than it would to maintain the current mix of credits. A fact admitted by the administration. If the decision is not about money, then it must be about power and the complete usurpation of faculty governance processes. This episode is alarming and should jolt all faculty out of their complacency and complicity with the trend of hiring ambitious, careerist administrators whose sole purpose is to gratify their own egos at the expense of the collective knowledge and history of our esteemed institutions.

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