Jan 3, 2017
President Search for OU
As we closed 2016, I was personally disappointed to learn that President Hynd was not given a five-year term at OU. We all learned about his shorter 3-year appointment through the Detroit News, and that Dr. Hynd was apparently a transitional hire. That was never mentioned when we all participated in the search that found President Hynd several years ago. That said, on behalf of faculty, the OU-AAUP sent a communication letter to the Board of Trustees several weeks ago to emphasize the important role of the faculty in searching for a new President. In that letter from your OU-AAUP executive, we recollected to our current board that having sufficient faculty input is quite logical when faculty are ultimately the employees that create and deliver the product (curriculum) to our clients (our students). Currently, only one faculty member is appointed to the current presidential search committee, less than the last time. OU-AAUP executive committee members have been invited to meet with the search firm that will manage the search process, on January 10th. It will simply be an opportunity to maybe express what we have already attempted to communicate to the Board of Trustees in writing. We will do so at this meeting. I will be there. We will advocate for transparency about the qualifications used to select presidential candidates and we will report back to you, the faculty, how that meeting goes.
As a reminder, we have communicated to the Board of Trustees that:
Faculty are here to help, and they will if provided the opportunity.
Merit Pay Problems: A grievance progressing to arbitration.
The week before the holiday break, your OU-AAUP officers voted to reply to Oakland University's Step-2 meeting response by requesting this dispute moves to outside arbitration in accordance with the process in our Agreement. Through two meetings (step 1 and 2), we were not able to sway Oakland to back away from giving ZERO merit scores and ZERO percent merit raises to some of their faculty. Nor could we convince Oakland to back away from reducing Department-submitted merit scores without providing feedback to faculty members that had their scores reduced by Oakland.
The result of this, intentional or not, is to leave the appearance that Oakland wants the right to reduce merit scores, but at the same time not have to tell you why your score is reduced. It then appears that Oakland did not really want a Merit System for the purpose to encourage greater productivity, nor to reward specific faculty, because that can only happen if an employer actually communicates to the employee why they are unsatisfied with their performance and want to reduce a rubric-determined score. The rubrics were approved by Oakland before they were applied to the process, so why not tell the employee why they are judged to be deficient? Otherwise, do you guess what you must do different in the future? What if you want to appeal an incorrect reduction in your department submitted score. What can you ask your Dean to reconsider when the reason for the reduction is a secret to you? When I think about this, sadly I also laugh a bit because it reminds me of "double secret probation". A phrase from the infamous "Animal House" movie (1978). Google it. While it worked great to help create a new genre in cinematic humor, it does not work nearly as well for employee guidance. I have peeked around the management guides on the websites of some of our BOT member's companies and note that some specifically guide company managers on the problems of running merit systems this way. Employer feedback on performance is clearly emphasized as the most important part of the process. What did you do so great, or so poorly, so you can apply it moving forward? I am not sure why things should be different at a State University.
To be honest, we (OU-AAUP) are not certain how much each of your Dean's understands what the merit system is supposed to do, or what they are briefed as to its purpose by the administration. But we think that avoiding the provision of critical feedback to a faculty member is NOT going to provide the results Oakland says they want from a merit system. Your Association will defend our interpretation of the Agreement's merit system to the full extent that we can. I know many of you caught up a score reduction, without providing you reasons or even one appeal, are "feeling angry" and "unappreciated by Oakland". I read all of your emails, and I thank you for your feedback. We hear you.
Oakland University has until Jan 17th to respond in the process of selecting the outside arbitrator for this grievance. We will keep you posted. We formally requested the arbitration before the holiday break, and I would like to thank all of our officers who me last moment on this issue to get things moving before the holiday break.
One final point on this subject. As your association president, I have personally contacted President Hynd and Provost Lentini to express our concerns about how Oakland is choosing to use the merit system. We think it will increase budgetary strains by requiring more hiring (turnover), and decrease the ability to recruit new faculty.
Do not forget in this new year to get your health care annual physicals and any associated forms completed with your HMO provider, if you have those insurance options.
Remember to contact Oakland University's benefits office when you run into any snags. Kevin Venet in that office is very helpful to all university employees in solving various issues with our insurance providers or at the very least providing clarity of interpretation. The OU-AAUP has nothing but praise for the assistance provided to faculty over the last year.
Best regards, and happy new year
Ken Mitton, President OU-AAUP
December 22, 2016
President Search for OU
As we end 2016, I want to say that I was disappointed to learn that Dr. Hynd was not given a five year run to start here at OU, and that we learned about his short 3-year appointment through the Detroit News. That said, on behalf of faculty, the OU-AAUP sent a communication letter to the Board of Trustees to emphasize the important role of faculty input into any search process for a new President for this University. We recollected to the current board that having sufficient representation from faculty input is only logical when faculty are ultimately the only employees that create and deliver the product (curriculum) to our clients (our students). Currently, only one faculty member is on the search committee, but we have just been invited as the OU-AAUP to meet as well with the search firm that will manage the process.
We have communicated to our BOT that we are willing to use our organization to bring the wisdom of our faculty to the search committee, as input and honest evaluation to help the BOT make their final considerations. Also, we will insist again to let the final three candidates present at OU and meet faculty and students to both present their vision and to answer questions. We are willing to be constructive and helpful to find a President who is experienced not only in management and leadership but also who has true academic experience in the trenches. Those are the hallmarks of searches that have found the most successful University Presidents, and we should not waist time and efforts to only find another short term president. We are here to assist. While faculty do not expect to make a hiring decision, they do expect to be heard and listened to with their helpful and thoughtful input.
Merit Grievance progressing to Arbitration.
Today your OU-AAUP officers voted to reply to Oakland University's Step-2 meeting response by requesting this dispute moves to outside arbitration in accordance with the process in our Agreement. We were not able to convince Academic Human Resources, nor any Deans, to back away from giving ZERO merit score and ZERO merit raises to some of their faculty. Nor could we convince Oakland to back away from reducing unit submitted merit scores without providing feedback to the faculty that had scores reduced by their Deans (Oakland). Oakland appears to want to be able to reduce merit scores period. But, not be forced to tell you why your score is reduced. We think this clearly proves that Oakland did not really want Merit System designed to encourage more productivity or to reward specific faculty, because if you get your score reduced from the Rubric determined score, would it not be useful to tell you why you are judged to be deficient? Otherwise you get to guess what to do different in the future.
Frankly the OU-AAUP is not certain how much each Dean understands what the merit system is supposed to be for, or what they are briefed as to its purpose by the administration. But we do not think that avoiding the provision of critical feedback to faculty is not going to provide the results Oakland wants. We do want you to know that we will defend our interpretation of the Agreement's merit system to the full extent that we can. I know many of you caught up in the score reductions without providing you reasons are feeling mad and unappreciated by Oakland. I read all of your emails and I thank you for your feedback.
Oakland University has until Jan 17th to respond in the process of selecting the outside arbitrator for this grievance. We will keep you posted.
I have personally contacted President Hynd and Provost Lentini to point out the nonconstructive nature of the way Oakland is choosing to use the merit system. We think it will increase turnover of faculty, increase budgetary strains by requiring more hiring, and decrease the ability to recruit faculty during regular searches. I am not sure if my communications have or will have any effect on the process. At this point we are going to arbitration, after trying to talk via Step 1 and 2 meetings.
Do not forget in the new year to get your health care exams and forms completed with your HMO provider, if you have those options.
Remember to contact benefits office when you run into snags. Kevin Venet in that office is very helpful to all Oakland employees in solving various issues with our insurance providers.
Best regards, and happy hollidays,
December 9, 2016
Your OU-AAUP Executive Committee has approved a dues holiday for the pay month of December, 2016.
No AAUP dues or services fees will be collected this month.
November 4, 2016
The OU-AAUP provided a letter to the Oakland University Board of Trustees on October 24, 2016, encouraging our Trustees to include faculty on the presidential search committee and faculty participation in the process as it goes forward through its various stages. Also, that an open slate of final candidates be available for public presentations before staff and faculty and students of the University.
While I chaired one of our General OU-AAUP membership meetings that afternoon, Karen Miller (History) also made a statement on behalf of our AAUP chapter at the Trustee' s meeting on this subject. A synopsis of the statement by Dr Miller follows:
We regard the process of selecting a president to be a preeminent responsibility of the Board of Trustees. The university president sits at the nexus between the Board and the larger university community. As such, the president provides an important link of communication—negotiating the aspirations and the fears of the various constituencies. Presidents are certainly leaders, but their roles also require the ability to balance the varying interests within the community.
We are strongly supportive of the Board’s decision to continue the practice of including faculty members on the presidential search committee. Oakland’s faculty is complex; it is critically important to consider a variety of faculty perspectives from the initial stages of the search through the final vetting of candidates.
Stephen Trachtenberg, former president of George Washington University and noted expert on the modern university, has argued Leaders in higher education must understand the nature of the academic enterprise. A college or university must be business-like in many of its functions, but it is not a business. Its missions are complex and sometimes conflicting. Its governance processes are built on a lively mix of consensual, political, and bureaucratic principles. Institutions of higher education are ventures in fact and faith, and most outcomes will not yield to single data point performance evidence.
So that we may be confident in our next generation of leadership, it is important that all constituencies—including the faculty—have a voice in the process of selecting Oakland’s next university president.
Last Friday, we were happy to see that at least one faculty member was named to the presidential search committee. Professor Karen Markel (SBA). The OU-AAUP would like to see two or three faculty on the search committee, as we experienced in the previous presidential search, and will continue to suggest this. We are happy with this initial placement of Dr Markel on the search committee and our chapter is willing to assist the search committee in taking advantage of input from all of our faculty.
To OU Faculty - 10/26/2016
Now that you all have the University email regarding the Benefits and Wellness Fair on November 2nd, to start the 2016 open enrollment period, we have some comments and cautions to help you make decisions on your health care insurance choices.
We (OU-AAUP) have asked the Benefits office to find the answers to the following questions, and to make the answers clear in any information communicated to faculty and staff regarding our health plan choices. You can also explore these questions with potential providers yourself, such as Priority Health and Blue Care Network and the PPO options.
1) For any insurance plans with a tier system (standard, enhanced) that are determined by an annual physical with your primary care doctor: if the member's metric is outside the desired range of the insurer (for example BMI, or cholesterol) can the doctor set an alternative value if they are satisfied with the patient's overall health? In other words, if my BMI is 34 and the insurer wants 31, but my doctor is happy with my health based on a full knowledge set, can my doctor set my alternative goal at 34 and qualify me for enhanced (full coverage)?
2) Is the health insurance plan offered "pay and pursue" or "pursue and pay"?
We learned, while helping one of our members this summer, that Priority Health is currently "Pursue and pay". That means, if you or your family member get injured at a vacation place and have to go to the hospital, PH does not pay the hospital costs until the client tries to get coverage from the insurer of the vacation resort, or other property where the injury occurred. This can be more difficult when traveling out of state and even out of country.
In the other case, "Pay and pursue", the insurance company pays your medical service provider first, and then they pursue the resort or property operator for medical coverage.
Please make sure you understand the answers to questions 1 and 2 for any health insurance option that you select this year during open enrollment.
As we end the week, there are some items I would like to keep all faculty up to date on.
We currently have one open seat on the chapter executive, for an at large member. If you are interested in joining the slate of candidates for election, contact Scott Barns and he will pass your name on to our nominations committee.
"....the average July 2016 salary increase (including across the board increases or market adjustments resulting from the Compensation Study) for the 512 Administrative Professionals who were hired before December 31, 2015 and who did not change positions or weekly hours worked in 2016 was 9.66%."
So there is the information that some of you asked us about. Just a reminder, that for comparison, faculty got an average 1.85% raise this year (0.5% across the board, 1.35% merit). In addition just over 300 faculty were partially market adjusted with a total of $325,000. (The market shortfall was measured to be over $3-million, if you recall from our previous news.)
If you have any suggestions for us, concerns to voice, on any of the above issues, please email, phone, contact us.
To all Faculty,
Welcome to August, and since the 15th we are into the second year of the current faculty Agreement (2015-2020).
Over the summer your OU-AAUP officers have been working to help departments and the University navigate the pains of implementing a new merit reporting and raise determination system. Our goal was to keep the process on schedule so that the University can do two important things by contract required dates:
1) Calculate the correct individual raise for each faculty member, which is now more variable.
2) On or before August 20th, the University must report to each continuing faculty member: your prior year's salary, the values of any raise component (across the board, market adjustment, merit, and promotion), your base salary for the following academic year, your performance score used for awarding the merit component (for full time faculty), and the percentage increases that were allocated by Oakland to each of the performance scores within your own merit pay group.
(Note: in the CAS, there are separate groups containing several departments each.) This information is also provided to the OU-AAUP. Please see Section 83. Pp. 43 of your the Agreement.
On a related matter, the OU-AAUP and Academic Human Resources thought that the University would be wise to do a careful audit of faculty compensation and benefits before implementing substantial changes to raise determinations. That audit determined that many faculty were under-paid their retirement benefit contributions for several years and a few over-paid. Members of the OU-AAUP executive met with AHR to determine how to correct these errors. The University promised to use historical investment data with Fidelity or TIAA to make faculty retirement contributions whole and correct, including potential lost investment growth. This process should be completed around this time and any affected faculty should have received clear communication from AHR on this matter.
Members of your executive also gathered complaints and problems being experienced by Faculty with Priority Health HMO customer service and compensation for medical services. We met with the PH account managers and provided several pages of concerns and complaints from faculty (anonymous). If you are experiencing any rejections of claims from Priority Health for medical services, please contact the OU Benefits Office (Keven Venet), who have been able to alert PH Account managers to often solve problems for OU clients that have otherwise remained in limbo for several weeks.
On behalf of the OU-AAUP
Welcome back to the the new school year,
Eye Research Institute
Recently, all Faculty received email from the Provost’s office (June 22, 2016) to report the general results of the first of two years of market adjustments as per the 2015-20 Oakland University & OU-AAUP Agreement. A Market committee was comprised of three members of the Oakland administration and three representatives of the OU-AAUP.
The OU-AAUP would like to thank all of the committee members for their extra work on a challenging task:
Peggy Cooke, AVP, Academic Affairs
Tomas Giberson, Assoc Prof Education, Human Resource Development
Michael Latcha, Assoc Prof Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
Mohinder Parkash, Prof Accounting, Business Administration
Catherine Rush, Academic Affairs
Barbara Smith, Financial Analyst, Academic Affairs
A list of full-time faculty eligible for market adjustments was assembled and discipline (CIP) codes were assigned to each faculty member, as well as years of time in rank. The initial set contained 401 full-time faculty eligible for market adjustments. The average years of service for associate professors and professors were calculated across these eligible faculty for use in the allocation formulae, 8.39 years for Associate Professors and 12.26 years for Full Professors.
The committee chose to utilize salary data averaged across all 327 Carnegie Doctoral universities reporting to CUPA (College and University Professional Association for Human Resources), to generate a comparison data set for Market analysis. This set provided sufficient numbers across the various disciplines. The committee used 4-digit CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) codes for the analysis, when available, to provide more detailed comparisons. Most Special Instructor, and all of the Library data available from CUPA, did not return 4-digit CIP data, therefore 2-digit data was used.
The market adjustment formulas compared faculty salaries to the reference data set to determine which faculty were above or below the calculated average market salaries.
Of 401 faculty initially eligible, 339 (84.8%) were identified as having salaries below the comparison market data for their field, rank, and time in rank. Following a review by the deans, as per the Agreement, no faculty were excluded by any dean for performance reasons.
Finally, the committee determined a strategy to allocate $325,000 across all faculty who remained eligible. This is the difficult part because only $325,000 is provided by Oakland for the first year of the market adjustment. This was the maximum we could get offered from Oakland during bargaining of the current contract. At that time, the OU-AAUP was sure that Oakland University Faculty were underpaid, compared to the average salary of their peer institutions, by at least 1.5 million dollars, based on the results of a previous market analysis done in 2006-2007, outside of the contract.
Faculty have been asking us (OU-AAUP) for information on how much lower faculty are paid based on the current market analysis. I only have average information, but its quite informative:
The current market analysis, starting with 401 eligible faculty, found that their total salary was $3.5-million dollars lower than the average salary in the comparison data set. In other words, this first market adjustment will only address 9% of this $3.5-million dollar figure. After two years of market adjustment, it can address up to 18%.
Because of this large gap, the market adjustment committee chose the to allocate based on a percentage of the calculated market adjustment with a minimum payment of $200 and a maximum of $1,300. These individual faculty allocations will be provided in the contractually mandated report in August.
This market adjustment analysis carried only compared 401 eligible faculty to the average salary in the comparison data set from peer institutions. Not the highest salary in those data sets. The take home message for all faculty is simple. Let no one tell you that you are over paid. Furthermore, your students should understand that their increasing tuition at Oakland University is not driven by faculty salaries.
Kenneth P. Mitton
Most Faculty are using the Priority Health HMO option for their health insurance this year. Since January 2016 we have been alerted to many problems experienced by Faculty with this provider. Issues with a poor website interface, difficulties with obtaining the full enhanced 100% coverage level, difficulty with PH customer service.
One benefit of our Faculty Association is the ability to get feedback from many people simply by asking through our organization. Based on feedback since January, and response to a request for feedback emailed last week, we had a hunch that many problems experienced by faculty with PH are a result of the following problems. All are fixable.
Scott Barns and myself met last Friday with the PH director of accounts and the PH account manager assigned to Oakland's PH plan. Ron Watson and Kevin Venet of OU Benefits office were there too and I would like to thank them for arranging this meeting.
We started the meeting by providing examples (unidentified) of feedback from many of you who emailed to myself and Scott Barns regarding your Priority Health experiences. I had some positive feedback, which took up one page. I also shared SEVEN pages of what would be negative experiences and comments. Over 30 Faculty shared with me and Scott their problems with Priority Health within 48 hours of my email request for feedback. Thanks to all of you who took the time to do so.
Based on comments and feedback, one trend was clear. Those of us who are basically happy with Priority Health have generally healthy adult partners and no ongoing health management issues. Especially none that involve the metrics required for Priority Health's annual health qualification. However, that is not the case for many OU Faculty.
After our discussions at this meeting, it was clear that many problems exist because of disorganization on the part of Priority Health. We did receive several apologies. The AAUP communicated at this meeting that fixing several problems will be to PH's benefit as we approach the next open enrollment period. Several of you who provided feedback had indicated you are planning to change away from PH at the next open enrollment because of your bad experiences.
I have summarized what we (AAUP) took from this meeting and the same points listed below I have already emailed to everyone who attended the meeting Friday.
1. Inability to access information that is relevant to the OU specific P-health plan. This is because of an incompletely executed migration of the Priority Health client web-portal at the most critical time of year, Jan to March. In retrospect, a third party website should have been completely migrated and tested before swapping it for the old PH website, and that should have been done AFTER the critical months required for subscribers to do online assessments. Those of us who used the previous PH website last year, found it was basically functional. As of Friday evening (June 3), we really still have an incompletely migrated website as we are passing the halfway point in the current account year. To our knowledge, OU was not offered an extension of the qualification period by PH, but in retrospect that would have been useful. Apparently PH did that for some other client groups this year because of website issues.
2. Faculty experiencing inconsistent customer service when they attempt to get help from PH.
Inconsistent in at least two ways.
First, some calls get customer service representatives that can help solve a certain situation, while the very same situation for a different OU faculty member is concluded differently and/or incorrectly. Of course the subscriber calling has no way to realize they have a wrong result, because the the problems created by problem 1.) above.
Secondly, there is inconsistency in how subscribers are treated on the phone.
We (OU-AAUP) are getting reports from our members of condescending treatment in telephone conversations. This is quite annoying, as you might imagine, if we find later that the position of PH toward the member was also incorrect. It is clear from our member feedback, and from our meeting Friday, that PH customer service representatives sometimes provide the WRONG information to OU-subscribers and the customer service representatives may or may not be aware themselves that they do not understand the OU plan.
(For example, if you are on the lower 80% coverage tier, and your doctor resets your data to meet a current metric you can immediately be changed up to 100% coverage. Some faculty were told incorrectly that they have to wait til next year.
IF YOU are unhappy still with your situation, DO contact Kevin Venet in our benefits office. He can confirm what is correct or incorrect for you with account managers at Priority Health.)
3. PH does not provide printed documents to subscribers, relying on PDFs and a website, and so it is beholding on Priority Health to get this information to clients.
As of 11:52 PM Friday June 3rd: I (Ken Mitton) logged into my "My Health" and find that links to my coverage documents led back to the old PH website. There I find a link to a page of many documents for many plans. I must guess the right one to click on. With all due respect to PH, it is long past the time get the website fixed, or carry out some work around.
Many of us (Faculty) have maintained and designed fairly sophisticated web-sites for our own scholarly and research activities since the 90's, and we know that not having a simple link to a member handbook PDF is simply a matter of a website programmer NOT taking ten minutes to add a line of code to the shared template seen by all of PH's Oakland University subscribers. Our (AAUP) friendly advice to PH Accounts managers: If your IT people are dragging on this issue, tell them you know better that they can fix it now.
4. Faculty Concern: Travel for vacation and for the Required duties of academic faculty (research and scholarship)
I myself have had personal experience with health insurance in Alberta (AltaHealth), Ontario (OHIP), Virginia (BC/BS), Maryland (BC/BS), and Michigan (MCare, BCN, HAP, PH). MCare was at UMich. BCN, HAP and PH at Oakland University. This is my second year with a Family of five in Priority Health.
I must say that finding information on how to use my PH health insurance while outside my service area is the most difficult I have experienced of all the providers I have had experience with. Usually this information is pro-actively sent to us. All previous insurance providers had a simple phone number contact system to services that assist not only in locating medical care but in communicating with the distant care provider. It is not clear to many of our faculty members if such service exists with PH, as the website has a generic description of Assist America stating that "most" PH plans include Assist America. Again, not being able to find a specific member handbook for our particular OU-plan makes this yet another puzzle to solve or another reason for Faculty call PH customer service.
Beyond travel for vacations, Academics MUST travel for their own careers to national and international meetings in their fields to keep current and to build reputations. Most OU Faculty pay substantial out of pocket costs for this "work related" travel already, because University does not fully cover such travel for all Faculty. So faculty have have ZERO patience for anything else that makes travel difficult or stressful. While that is not Priority Health's fault, it is a reality that affects Faculty perception when choosing a provider during open enrollment.
We (AAUP) recommend that clear, concise information on how to access and use Assist America for medical coverage with PH outside our service area is prepared and placed on the Priority Health member website. Again this is just modifying the single shared menu and link template that the My Health web-server generates for every OU client login. This is not a big deal for website managers. I am not a website manager. I am a full time biomedical research scientist but I regularly update my own personal website over a cup of coffee, sometimes from my phone.
ONE LAST POINT: Your coverage tier. Just my personal free advice.
It is apparently true that whatever target your doctor thinks is alright for you at this time under their care is a target that your doctor can set to qualify you to full coverage status. I specifically asked about this, and this was not refuted by PH at this meeting. If you feel you are following your doctor's plans and they are not helping you get qualified now, then seriously consider finding another doctor that will work with you.
We (AAUP) have provided the above feedback to Priority Health and OU Benefits Office. We do thank everyone for meeting with Scott and I about the issues faculty have with their PH health insurance management. We appreciate that OU Benefits set up this meeting and I hope the result is better service for Faculty relying on Priority Health. I have also provided this meeting information summary to Academic Affairs (Cathy Rush).
President OU chapter of the AAUP
Several items of current interest for our members:
Minutes from the November 11, 2015 General Membership Meeting.
This past Monday morning, December 7th, several members of your OU-AAUP Executive Committee met with trustee Mark Schlussel (our BOT Chair), President Hynd and Provost Lentini. While this was not a meeting with the Board of Trustees, it was a meeting offered by Trustee Schlussel and accepted by me and other members of your chapter's Executive Committee.
Of course, we talked about the recent Chief Operating Officer (COO) hire. Trustee Schlussel and President Hynd continue to assert that this hiring decision was wise and represents no conflict of interest violations. Those from the Executive Committee reaffirmed that the faculty overwhelmingly feel that due diligence required that the Board first define the position and explain its need, and then conduct an open search. Furthermore, Oakland University's faculty do not understand the need to compress the COO search process merely to provide a hasty outcome.
The absence of an open search has been particularly troubling in light of the fact that our new COO was drawn from the Board of Trustees. In several public forums, faculty members have raised questions whether it is appropriate for Board members to accept high-salaried administrative positions with the university. Many are not assuaged by the Board's insistence that its own conflict of interest policy was not violated. We noted again that the perception of conflict of interest can be as damaging to the university's reputation as a confirmed conflict of interest. Faculty overwhelmingly hold this opinion because we are a public institution of higher education, and we have a mandate to rigorously follow open hiring practices and refrain from any actions that could be perceived as cronyism.
We also took the time at the meeting to contextualize the hiring of the COO from the faculty's perspective. The faculty's experience with the previous president had undermined both trust and cooperation. While we welcomed the establishment of a new presidential administration that touted its support for the faculty and professed its desire to improve the working environment, the experience of negotiating the current faculty contract revealed little change from previous negotiations. This disconnect between the assertion of support and the administration's stance during bargaining left many faculty disenfranchised even before the appointment of the COO.
Trustee Schlussel, Provost Lentini and President Hynd emphasized their desire is to improve the focus on academics at Oakland University and stated that they consider the support of the faculty to be essential to this goal. They hope that faculty would work with them to move the university forward in this new direction. We in turn, indicated that the faculty are fully dedicated to improving the educational experience for our students.
So, what can we do moving forward? We acknowledge that the faculty cannot force the Board to hire transparently; the Board is responsible for enforcing its own policies. We can be skeptical about the stated intentions of our Board and the administration. We can, at the same time, follow Trustee Schlussel's request to "have an open mind" as we observe the actions of the new COO. Regardless of these choices, we have the duty to object when we think things have been done badly and applaud the good actions of our university. At this juncture in President Hynd's term of office, very skeptical faculty members are still waiting for actions that match the rhetoric. This point was also communicated at this Monday's meeting.
As the president of the OU-AAUP, I will continue to read emails from faculty, respond to questions from journalists, discuss with my colleagues, and talk with our students to develop an understanding of the community's attitudes. I will pass on pertinent information to the administration so that they may act in a more informed manner. I will continue to identify those issues that we can affect and will use the contract to defend the interests of our membership.
Oakland University AAUP Chapter President
An important and hard-won decision was recently reached in an AAUP/Oakland arbitration, a decision that has significant impact on every Oakland faculty member. The grievance concerned a faculty member who, on the basis of a student’s recording of the faculty member’s remarks in class, was issued an order of persona non grata and summarily removed from campus on Sept. 27, 2013. On the basis of the student’s recording alone, without interviewing any other member of the class or the faculty member, the administration judged the faculty member to be a threat to the safety of others on campus. The persona non grata order, issued by the OU Police Department, also mandated that the faculty member undergo certain medical and psychological exams.
Understandably, the AAUP grieved this action. Not only did the administration's action violate contract provisions that are specifically designed to deal with such a situation, but the claim of an immediate threat to the campus community, followed by rapid removal from campus, seemed a clear violation of principles of due process and fairness.
The Arbitrator, agreeing with the AAUP's reading of the contract, found that the administration violated Agreement Article IX, 66 c. and d. by failing to give notice to the faculty member and the Association prior to effecting the action, and by failing to state in writing (to the faculty member and the Association) the reasons for the action.
The Arbitrator also found that the administration violated Article XXXIII, 216 by failing to disclose relevant information "within a reasonable time after receiving a request."
The issue of a hearing is not directly addressed in the Agreement, but was based on Oakland University ordinance 9.04. This ordinance reads as follows:
Any individual who violates these ordinances and whose actions pose a threat to the health and/or safety of the university community, or to university property, or whose actions constitute trespass may also be referred to the university administrator designated by the president for a hearing which may result in an order denying the offending individual access to the campus for a specified period of time.
On this issue the Arbitrator found that use of the word "may" indicates that a hearing is not necessary, and therefore found for the administration.
The Arbitrator's ruling marked the conclusion of a lengthy grievance and arbitration, extended in part by the administration's delays in turning over information and in scheduling arbitration dates. The Arbitrator's finding on behalf of the Association regarding the timely disclosure of information is therefore particularly gratifying and encouraging.
The other part of the Arbitrator's decision in favor of the AAUP is an important one, as it supports the Association's understanding of the plain language of Article IX. Significantly, the Arbitrator found that the faculty member did not, in fact, pose a health or safety threat to anyone on campus and therefore the administration needed to adhere to the advance notification requirements of 66 c. and d.
Had the administration's actions been upheld in this case, our protections against extreme disciplinary actions would have been significantly eroded.
The Association is pleased to report the outcome of this grievance, particularly as current labor laws tend to favor management positions. We also want to acknowledge the hard work on this case of both our Grievance Officer, Kevin Murphy, and our attorney, Robert Fetter.
Kevin T. Grimm