Renewal and Reinvestment in Higher Education

Editors' Note

As we approach 2011, the worst economic recession since the Great Depression is still with us. Federal stimulus spending of hundreds of billions of dollars may have kept the bottom from falling out of the U.S. economy, but real unemployment hovers around 15% and concern with the growing federal deficit now dominates our political discourse. The national elections of 2010 suggest that another federal stimulus program is unlikely, to say the least, and some serious belt tightening lies ahead. The impact of all this on the states is both clear and negative: tax revenues decline, demand for social spending increases, and state deficits continue to grow. Worse, this year state governments will not continue to receive emergency stimulus monies to mitigate the fiscal crunch. None of this bodes well for institutions of higher learning in both the public and private sectors. Cuts in public funding; tuition hikes with their accompanying decline in student access; larger classes; an increasing dependence on adjuncts; perceived threats to tenure and academic freedom; a greater reliance on revenue producing activities; and even furloughs, layoffs, and retrenchments continue to characterize the immediate future of our nation's colleges and universities. It's not a pretty picture.

The second volume of the Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy focuses on the responses of both labor and management to the ongoing fiscal crunch in two op-eds, four articles of scholarly inquiry, and the first of what we hope will be many more practitioner perspectives. Practitioner perspectives are "notes from the field" authored by those on the front lines of academic collective bargaining.

Bill Perry, President of Eastern Illinois University, and Ivan Steen, Vincent O'Leary Associate Professor of History at the University of Albany of the State University to New York, provide perspectives from a Midwestern public university president and from an officer of a northeastern state-wide faculty union. Dr. Perry forecasts the affects of several forces that will likely shape the future of collective bargaining in higher education from the perspective of a university leader new to academic collective bargaining. Dr. Steen discusses his university's decision to discontinue majors and graduate programs in French, Italian, Russian, Theatre, and the Classics. He explores the impact of the cuts on academic quality and raises the jugular question facing his union and other higher education unions across the country. How does a union provide job security for non-tenured faculty?

James Castagnera, Associate Provost and Associate Counsel for Academic Affairs at Rider University and John Lanza IV, an honors student at Rider University, provide a scholarly look at social networking and faculty discipline from a legal viewpoint. They focus on a case at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania and implications for collective bargaining in higher education.

Deeb-Paul Kitchen II, former Co-President of Graduate Assistants United at the University of Florida, sees his university acting more-and-more as an entrepreneur with the dictates of the marketplace influencing the university's behavior. Kitchen asks if graduate student unions can reverse or slow down this process, which he dubs corporatization. His conclusion is provocative and sure to invite further studies and discussion. Graduate student unions, he claims, at least in the case of the University of Florida, do not stop the corporatization of the university and tend to legitimize such activities. However, his conclusion provides some solace for graduate student unions and their role in resisting the market-like behavior of institutions of higher learning.

Mr. Michael Klein, Director of Government and Legal Affairs at the New Jersey Association of State Colleges & Universities, takes a decade-long look at intellectual property rights in higher education collective bargaining agreements in the ten years after the publication of Gary Rhoades' Managed Professionals: Unionized Faculty and Restructuring Academic Labor. His legal-research analysis posits that commercial value is not the driving force behind ownership and that two-year and four-year institutions assert ownership interests in faculty work when faculty use significant or substantial institutional resources.

Dr. Mark Piwinsky and Dr. Mary Beth Leidman, professors at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Mathew McKeague, a doctoral candidate at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, investigate how technology has changed student-faculty interactions, what those changes mean for faculty workload, and possible implications for academic collective bargaining agreements and office hours in an increasingly virtual workplace.

The economic squeeze makes it more difficult to negotiate a contract. It's not easy to reach agreements on wage and benefit issues when there is little or no money to pay for them. It is within this context that Dr. Ken Hawkinson, Associate Provost and Associate Academic Vice President at Western Illinois University, in our first Practitioner Perspective essay, describes how a university and its faculty union successfully took on a tough and historically divisive issue of merit pay. The development of a points-based merit system took a lot more time and effort than originally thought but proved to be worth the effort.

As the economic crunch continues, pressures on institutions of higher learning and higher education unions continue to increase, placing tremendous strain on labor management relations. The articles in this issue reflect that strain and how academic unions and institutions are responding to it. They are provocative and, perhaps, even a bit troubling. That's good; the Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy would not settle for less. The Journal provides a forum to discuss and debate tough issues of collective bargaining in the arena of higher education.

We invite your thoughts on the articles and the issues and look forward to your participation in the discussion.

Jeffrey Cross, Co-editor
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
Eastern Illinois University

William Scheuerman, Co-editor
Past President
National Labor College



Practitioner Perspective