Post Classifieds

An Op-ed from the CU Faculty Chapter of the AFT

By James A. White, Ph.D.
On October 29, 2015

The primary purpose of this op-ed is to acknowledge a central fact of higher education: faculty and students have primary interests that are identical. Our two groups need the help of administrators and staff to accomplish these shared ends in light of the challenge of scarce resources.

Students are here to be educated by expert faculty, ultimately earning credentials that certify that learning and are themselves valuable. The primary purpose of our CU liberal arts experience is not employment, but we all know that educated people are not only better community members and democratic citizens but also more fulfilled and productive workers and earners. We faculty strive to provide our students with the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their potential, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to provide this service.

We all know that our university faces trying fiscal times. Our current budgetary problems are clearly worse than the ones we typically face, but, regrettably, the nature of public institutions is scarce/insufficient resources. We must not allow fiscal difficulties to divert us from our mission of educating our students and serving our region. 

Balancing budgets is not a goal, but a requirement. The key to good public administration is not saving money but rather spending money wisely, protecting shared priorities. Students must be viewed as more than a revenue stream and faculty as more than an expense. 

The particular challenges of this difficult fiscal year will be best met if we proceed deliberatively and collaboratively, with focus on appropriate institutional priorities. At our AFT Emergency Meeting on September 29 we set our priorities for the coming year. We unanimously voted to urge the CU Administration to make the Concord Athens campus tobacco free and to immediately restore faculty sabbaticals. We also voted to prioritize campus equity through elimination of arbitrary course cancellations, enforcement of the Faculty Pay Plan, and Title IX compliance. Additionally, noting that CU faculty salaries have failed to keep pace with inflation over the past eight years, we prioritized faculty raises as well as fair payment for and reduced reliance on adjuncts and overloads. 

Finally, we resolved to oppose misplaced administration spending priorities. We oppose squandering scarce funds on out-of-state consultants and extra-curricular amenities. We don’t need piles of applications from out-of-state students in the hopes a few dozen more might come to CU and we don’t need even more spending on inter-collegiate athletics. We do need to increase our local college-going and institutional retention rates and a reasonable inter-collegiate athletic program that reflects a healthy and engaged campus, with vibrant intramural, club, and physical education programs.

Times like these require all of us to work together and to work harder; division and fatalism will lead to worse outcomes. We believe that faculty and students share common cause with the classified staff at CU, who make all of our lives better. We know they need raises, too, and, that in the coming months we must all work together to keep CU the vital institution it has been and must continue to be. We look forward to continuing this discussion in future submissions.

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