BGSU trustees ratify first faculty contract
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN/Sentinel County Editor
Friday, 03 May 2013 16:52
After nearly two years of wrangling, Bowling Green State University has its first collective bargaining contract with faculty.
The BGSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday afternoon to approve the contract already accepted by faculty members.
"This is both reasonable and equitable to the parties," said board chairman Bill Primrose
The four-year contract covers retroactive raises, current raises, increased job security for non-tenure track faculty, governance, promotion and tenure, a grievance policy with independent arbitration, academic freedom, intellectual property, retrenchment, and a spousal/partner hire policy.
Primrose thanked those on both sides of the negotiations for their hard work "to bring the matter to a successful resolution."
"Thank you again for the faculty and administration in their very dedicated work in making this contract a reality," he said. "It was a journey."
Faculty Association President David Jackson was there Friday to watch the trustees approve the long-awaited contract.
"It's a good contract, it's a fair contract," he said. "I'm glad they recognized that."
But Jackson cautioned that the "journey" for faculty was far from over. The 150-page contract must now be put into action, he said.
"Negotiations are behind us, but certainly not the implementation," he said.
Jackson pointed out that the faculty association still had no definite numbers from the administration about the estimated 100 faculty positions being cut. The administration had said the cuts would come through retirements, people voluntarily leaving, and faculty with one-year contracts not having their contracts renewed. But it was unknown exactly how many faculty still needed to be cut - leaving some in limbo.
"None of that's been revealed yet," Jackson said. "The struggle on that is going on."
However, when the board meeting was adjourned, an update on the faculty reductions was made available to media. The numbers are as follows:
• 27 faculty members have retired or announced their plans to retire.
• 29 have left the university, voluntarily or for other reasons.
• 43 non-tenure track faculty members did not have their one-year contracts renewed.
That adds up to 99 fewer faculty. However, the university has hired or is conducting searches for 26 new tenure-track faculty to fill some of the vacancies.
Dave Kielmeyer, BGSU spokesman, said the faculty numbers have not been available until recently.
"This changes daily as enrollment changes and we get new retirements," he said.
Provost Dr. Rodney Rogers agreed.
"This '100' number was always kind of an estimate," he said. "Staffing is so dependent on where the demands are."
Both Rogers and Kielmeyer said that all of the faculty being cut would have received notice by now.
While the faculty reduction may save money, it will harm the quality of education, according to Jackson. Smaller classes sizes are better for students, he said.
Reducing faculty is "obviously terrible for the quality of education at BGSU," he said. "It's a real mistake for BGSU to continue on this path."
The savings to BGSU for the cutting of the 43 one-year contract faculty is approximately $2 million in salaries, Rogers said. The faculty cuts overall will save an estimated $3.2 million. The savings will help pay the remaining faculty more, he said.
"The vast majority of the cost-savings from the reductions will be reallocated to fund the faculty salary increases agreed to in the contract with the BGSU Faculty Association, allowing the university to move toward its goal of ensuring that our faculty are compensated at competitive market rates," said an official statement from the university.
Jackson objected to the implication that faculty raises came at the expense of faculty cuts. BGSU has plenty of money for raises, without eliminating the positions, he said. He called the statement a "strategic attempt to divide the faculty."
But Rogers said the goal of the cuts is to bring BGSU faculty up to the "mean" salaries paid at Kent State, Miami and Ohio universities. He also said BGSU's staffing levels in proportion to student numbers are higher than those at other universities. "We have a much higher level of full-time faculty," he said.
Last Updated on Saturday, 04 May 2013 06:38