Tag Archives: faculty

UT Rejects Same-Sex Benefits; Faculty Protests

Members of the University of Tennessee Faculty Senate called a letter Monday from the campus chancellors regarding benefits for same-sex partners “appalling,” reports the News Sentinel.
The letter sent by Chancellors Larry Arrington and Jimmy Cheek, followed a request for a response by the faculty after it drafted a resolution in April supporting education, leave and health benefits for same-sex couples that mirror what is offered to married couples.
…”We hope you understand that in our positions as leaders of an agency of the State of Tennessee, it is incumbent upon us to act consistently with the public policy of our state,” the letter reads.
The chancellors wrote that the three faculty proposals — offering education credits, leave to care for partners and their children, and family health care coverage that is consistent with what the university provides married spouses — are “inconsistent with the public policy of our state outlined in constitutional and statutory provisions.”
Faculty senators, however, expressed frustration that the three-paragraph letter left no room for dialogue, did not explain which laws such benefits would violate and did not offer alternative solutions.
“This seemed to be a three-sentence response, and it’s a very sensitive issue, and I’d like to know more in-depth some background on this,” Wanda Costen, an associate professor in the Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management, said during the meeting. “This is not one I’m willing to let go lightly.”
Tina Shepardson, an associate professor of religious studies, agreed that the letter was too brief. The resolution passed in April specifically asked for a plan for progress and a response to a list of 33 benefit items, she pointed out.

TSU Faculty Senate Chairman Removed from Office, Arrested

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A vocal faculty member at Tennessee State University who has opposed university leadership was taken away from a meeting in handcuffs on Monday and removed as the chair of the faculty senate.
Jane Davis, an English professor, was arrested by campus police on a charge of disorderly conduct, TSU spokesman Rick Delahaya told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/PAq0ex ).
Davis has been an outspoken critic of policies and decisions made by TSU interim President Portia Shields, who came to the university in early 2011 to make reforms for the school to gain a necessary full accreditation. Her contract expires at the end of the year.
Last week a suggestion was made to oust Davis and the Faculty Senate’s executive council and the university surveyed faculty members on the idea. In the online poll, 60 percent of those who responded said they wanted Davis removed and 59 percent said they wanted the executive council to go with her.
Davis said she wanted to speak in her defense about the survey and calls for her removal.
“Dr. Shields attempted to discuss the results of the Faculty Senate survey,” said Delahaya. “Dr. Davis then became extremely disruptive and would not allow the meeting to proceed.”
Davis said that she wanted to speak with Shields, who was at the meeting.
“This was my one chance to speak in front of her, but speech in front of her that she doesn’t agree with is disorderly conduct,” she said.
Following the arrest, the Faculty Senate voted to remove her as the chair. Davis said that the vote to remove her was illegitimate because the meeting had been called by university administration rather than the faculty senate.
“Nothing that happened there counts,” said Davis, who still considers herself the leader of the legislative body.
Davis said that the Faculty Senate was intimidated by Shields when they decided to vote her out.
“They see someone being put away in handcuffs. How will they not go along with it?” she said.
Delahaya said Shields did not suggest or endorse the removal of Shields and wanted the school’s entire faculty to be represented.
“She did want the faculty to have some type of voice,” he said.
Davis said she is being retaliated against by Shields for complaining that university administrators changed grades for some students. The university said it was correcting a mistake in grading.
“This is crystal-clear intimidation and retaliation,” Davis said.

Campus Workers Complain Faculty, Staff, Students Ignored in Higher Ed Conference

News release from United Campus Workers:
Days after the University of Tennessee system’s Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents raised tuition and fees for their respective campuses, and following Governor Bill Haslam’s announcement of a conference on the future of higher education to be held this Tuesday, United Campus Workers-Communications Workers of America local 3865 has issued a call to Haslam to include staff, faculty, and students from the campuses in the dialogue.
While invitees include politicians and even representatives of the Tennessee Chamber
of Commerce, the Governor’s office left out invitations to those people who are at the heart of the state’s higher education system: its faculty, staff, and students.
“We’re confused and disheartened by the Governor’s choice to privilege business interests over the interests of the people who are most directly involved in the higher education system,” said Tom Anderson, President of UCW-CWA and staff at the university of Tennessee-Knoxville. “We want to be at the table because we think we’re in the best position to see what’s working–and maybe more importantly what isn’t working. Any solution is going to involve all of us, so why aren’t all of us being asked to participate in this conversation?”

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UT Faculty: Raise Tuition to Raise Our Pay

Faculty at the University of Tennessee have asked the school’s chancellor for a tuition increase each year for the next decade to create a pool of money specifically for raises, reports the News Sentinel.
In a resolution passed Monday during the last Faculty Senate meeting of the academic year, faculty asked for the creation of the fund in order to give market adjustment raises – that is, bring the salaries closer in line with the national average based on rankings of individual academic departments.
Gov. Bill Haslam has recommended a 1.6 percent increase for all faculty and staff as well as recommending the university have the flexibility it needs to set its own salary increases. Both measures still have to be approved by the Legislature.