Dear colleagues and friends,
I don't usually use the words "Senate meeting" and "exciting" in the same sentence, but Monday's meeting was nothing short of electrifying. The strategy laid out by American Association of University Professors (AAUP) president Cathy Wagner went off without a hitch. AAUP vice president and senator Don Ucci made a motion to change the agenda to consider our resolutions, which passed without difficulty. He then read the two AAUP resolutions (which should have been on the agenda). Each of the resolutions (with friendly amendments) passed overwhelmingly. Another meeting to consider the Lecturers, Clinical and Professionally Licensed (LCPL) faculty cap was scheduled for next Monday.
While we are very pleased at this outcome, this should not be taken as a sign of opposition to raising the LCPL cap. AAUP members are aware of the complicated nature of the issue and wanted to insure that there was ample time for discussion. Now that our concerns about tenure, academic freedom and due process have been aired and potentially enshrined in the Miami University Policy and Information Manual (MUPIM), many AAUP senators will no doubt support the increase in LCPL faculty, although given the complex nature of the issue, we have not taken a position as a chapter.
Since the Senate by itself does not have the power to amend MUPIM, the resolutions are subject to review by the Board of Trustees. We of course hope that they will be adopted, but even if they are not, the administration and the Board are now aware that the faculty, students and staff of Miami University are concerned with the preservation of tenure and with guarantees of academic freedom and due process for non-tenure track faculty. And we have made it clear that the practice of leaving important issues until the last Senate meeting of the year should be avoided, whenever possible, to enable community feedback and debate.
There are several important takeaways from this event. The first is that a well-organized group of faculty has the power to transform Senate into a true deliberative body. The second is that the AAUP has proved itself to be that group. If you believe that Miami benefits from the active participation of the faculty in shared governance, please become an AAUP member.
If you are tired of the endless unfunded mandates that come from Columbus and negatively affect our working conditions, know that John McNay, president of the Ohio Conference of the AAUP, testifies tirelessly before the legislature and successfully quashes many of the worst of these.
If you are concerned about attacks on the academic freedom of university professors across the country in these politically contentious times, know that the national AAUP is the one major group standing up for academic freedom.
Go to https://www.aaup.org/membership/join. If you are already a member, make sure that your dues are current. You can set up automatic monthly payments, which put the cost of membership in perspective (I, for one, spend more on coffee in a week). We would love to have you participate, but even if you don't have time for a single meeting, support our work by becoming an AAUP member. Our strength at Miami has so far been in our resourcefulness, but we can become even stronger with greater numbers.