PROFS report to the Faculty Senate, December 6, 2010

imagesYesterday’s Faculty Senate meeting was the chance for the annual PROFS report to the Senate. Senators and visitors received the printed PROFS report (here) and a handout distributed at the meeting (here). And we continued the PROFS tradition of cookies and coffee before and after the meeting. Daily Cardinal coverage of the meeting is here. What follows is a written version of our remarks to the Senate.

I won’t repeat what’s in the written materials you have, but would like to underscore a couple of points quickly. That means first thanking our staff, Jack O’Meara and Michelle Felber, who work extremely hard for all of us — I’ve come to rely on being in touch with them whenever PROFS business happens, including weekends and holidays. (Mentioning Jack and Michelle’s efforts on our behalf brought applause from the University Committee that quickly spread throughout Bascom 272.) Our current Steering Committee, with steady help from the University Committee, has been very active in this critical time and will be more active with the upcoming budget.

You see from the report the kinds of legislative work we’ve been doing, like:

  • supporting smart furlough legislation, to exclude people from furloughs who aren’t paid on state funds,
  • to protect academic freedom by getting a change in the language of SB 253,
  • by working on and supporting a Decision Item Narrative or DIN that would bring over $5 million in graduate student funding.

We’ve also begun to play a more public role, including hosting candidate forums and facilitating involvement of the faculty in campaigns throughout the state during the last election. And a fair number of you have attended our forums on funding higher education. The next one is in planning.

Finally, last year’s PROFS report to the Senate marked the launch of our new website. Over the year, it has established itself as a source for news on faculty issues, with regular updates by PROFS staff and leaders.

This coming year is going to be hard: we expect serious proposals to slash benefits for all state and university employees, including faculty and staff. We will be reminding policymakers that we’re already well behind the competition in terms of compensation. Dramatic increases in employee contributions, coupled with more furloughs, amount to cuts in pay. This will erode the quality of the faculty and, very quickly, the quality of the university. In short, PROFS will work to defend competitive faculty compensation, grad funding and your other key priorities.

I conclude by stressing that PROFS is YOUR voice, your chance to speak directly to state government in particular. Perhaps connected to that role, we have been seeing a jump in new memberships. If you’re not a member, you need to be.