Sunday, February 9, 2003

UC adjuncts want voice in search


Part-time instructors ask to be involved in selecting the new president

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The University of Cincinnati's Presidential Search Committee faces another challenge to the way the search is being conducted.

The Cincinnati Enquirer took the university to Hamilton County Common Pleas Court last month, arguing that the search should be made public.

A settlement agreement presented before Judge Robert P. Ruehlman on Friday spells out that all decisions regarding a new president will be made in the public eye.

Meanwhile, members of UC's Adjunct Faculty Association say they want an active role in searching for the best president to succeed Joseph Steger, who announced his retirement Nov. 1 - and that includes a spot on the committee that will find the long-time president's successor.

"It is vital to the educational health of this institution that the voice of adjunct faculty is not only heard, but respected," said Howard Konicov, an adjunct math professor and coordinator of the adjunct faculty association.

"The reason to put a first-class educator on the board and in the presidency isn't for feel-good reasons. It's a matter of dollars and cents."

On Monday, the association will announce an all-out campaign to change the university's bylaws to allow for an adjunct to sit on the committee.

The association will urge all adjunct faculty to make their views known to the board in the coming weeks.

As the bylaws are now written, 13 members are allowed, including full-time faculty, deans, students and trustee members.

Changing the university bylaws would require board action.

"It is clear that the voice of the professional educator is not a priority in the qualifications being considered for the search committee," said Tom Mooney, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

"Certainly, if you are going to reach out to a group that has its finger on the pulse of the retention problem, adjunct faculty are who you want to have at the table."

Jeff Wyler, chairman of the presidential search committee, said he received a letter from the association.

"I sent a letter back saying that if the adjunct faculty wanted to send us something in writing about what they think the next president should be like, do it," he said.

"We'll be happy to put that in with the recommendations from other groups."

The adjunct faculty association is building on momentum created in September when the group announced its intention to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers in an effort to force the university to voluntarily recognize them as a union.

UC's chapter of the American Association of University Professors represents 1,976 full-time and part-time employees, according to recent UC payroll numbers.

The part-timers this union represents teach the equivalent of four or more classes per quarter.

But 1,495 other part-time faculty members are not represented by AAUP.

The non-represented make up about 43 percent of the total faculty.

They are paid a fraction of what full-time professors earn teaching the same courses.

In Ohio, part-time employees are not included in the list of people who can form unions.

The university could, however, agree to voluntarily bargain with such a union.

E-mail kgoetz@enquirer.com




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