Remarks on the PROFS 2008-2009 Annual Report to the Faculty Senate

capThe PROFS Annual Report for 2008-2009 is now available here and it provides a chance to bring you up to date on the most important developments.

Most fundamentally, PROFS finds itself in a strong position, thanks to the hard work of Louise Robbins, who has just stepped down as President, along with the work of our legislative representative, Jack O’Meara, and administrative assistant, Michelle Felber. As the public representation organization of this body, the Senate, much of our work is with the ‘other end of State Street’. We do that work in close cooperation with a variety of allies, from the Legislative Strategy Group organized from the Chancellor’s Office to the Wisconsin Alumni Association beyond campus.

Let me highlight a couple of our biggest successes from last year. First, for years, PROFS has worked hard for domestic partner benefits; last year finally saw that passed into law. Second, you know that UW faculty and academic staff now have the right to collective bargaining. In 2002, the Senate set forth seven principles that we considered crucial in such legislation. While some proposed versions did not address the Senate’s concerns, PROFS helped ensure that the final bill adhered to our principles. Third, PROFS and others work constantly to ensure ‘cost to continue’ from the state, that is, basic budget support for our institution. Last year again, those efforts succeeded, in tough budget times.

Looking forward, as you can see, we are  launching our new website, centered around a ‘faculty forum’, providing commentary and opportunity for discussion on vital issues like shared governance. (We also have a new PROFS brochure and would be happy to give you some for friends and colleagues. Just contact Michelle Felber.)  Beginning in the spring, we will work with other groups on campus to host public forums on pressing issues, beginning with the question of public funding for this University.

While these new tools provide new avenues of communication among faculty, we are also continuing our public work. We are supporting Rep. Kelda Helen Roys’ ‘smart furlough’ bill, which would give Madison the flexibility not to furlough employees who are not on state funding. (PROFS has provided input to sharpen the specifics of the legislation.) A major continuing concern for PROFS is funding for graduate students and that will be a central focus in the coming year.

Finally, I urge you to become a PROFS member if you aren’t and to urge your colleagues to do likewise. We are supported exclusively by voluntary faculty membership. Dues are a mere .1% per month over 9 months, meaning 7 or 8 dollars a month for many faculty. For the work that PROFS is doing, and the success we are having, that makes it a real value.

Joe Salmons

President, PROFS