Tuesday, September 17, 2013

newsletters still rule


…for campus or regional communication and as community building tools at the grassroots level. We'd like to post more from them for readers to learn more about campuses and workplace conditions in other parts of the country. Not everything changes and many traditional ways are as good as ever. Smart change is keeping what works, using new tools to share and make it better.

Board member Peter D.G. Brown is also President of the SUNY New Paltz UUP Chapter and edits its award winning newsletter, The Bullhorn. Peter shares this link to the September Special Issue noting that much of it is "devoted to contingent issues, as usual. I'd like the p. 4 article on Lavallee to get wide exposure, since he is being showered with money, while the campus administration cries poverty when it comes to increasing pay for adjuncts." Read and compare Peter's articles on Lavallee and New Paltz adjuncts posted below. But don't miss out on the rest of the issue or the Mayday Declaration (formerly Mayday $5K) for a living wage and basic workplace rights for adjuncts. Sign it. Share it.

David K. Lavallee

... is also clearly a winner. From 1999 to 2009 he was Provost at SUNY New Paltz with a final salary of $199,556. For the next four years he was SUNY's Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Provost with a salary of $316,490 in 2012.

Although he stepped down from this last position on July 31, 2013, he will continue to receive his handsome salary for the next six months while on a "study leave." Despite repeated Freedom of Information Law requests submitted to both the College and SUNY administrations, neither has been able to produce any record documenting the purpose or goals of this "study leave," or even a leave application document.

His "study leave" was originally planned as a three-month stint to prepare new courses that Lavallee would be teaching in our Chemistry department. However, he has now arranged it so that he will not be working either as a teacher or as an administrator when he returns to the New Paltz campus at the end of January 2014.

Lavallee will still be paid 10/12 of his final salary as Provost at New Paltz, making him the highest paid person on campus after the College's President. His duties will be to "engage College staff and faculty in professional development activities," to mentor a new chemistry professor and to "involve College faculty and staff in broader professional development and leadership activities in SUNY" (Memorandum of Understanding, 5/13/13)

Chancellor Zimpher recently appointed Lavallee to the rank of University Professor. In her June 11 memo to the SUNY Board of Trustees, she asks that he also "be entitled to use the title of Provost emeritus, and upon his retirement in good standing from the University faculty also the title of University Professor emeritus."
 
In stark contrast are…
Adjuncts: Losers?

I would be loath to categorize any group of people as losers. Most of the adjuncts I know are outstanding, highly proficient and dedicated teachers. Our adjuncts number somewhat less than 200 and deliver a substantial portion of our GE courses to undergraduates seeking a quality education at "one of the hottest schools in the Northeast." Most of our students encounter adjuncts during their critical freshman year, when adjuncts play a crucial role in retention by successfully engaging students in class and helping them make the sometimes difficult transition to college. 

Financially, adjuncts are not simply losers, but find themselves in a terrible situation that just keeps getting worse every year. These fine teachers are highly educated and experienced, many with multiple master's degrees or PhDs. Some have been working here for decades, yet they remain among the very lowest paid employees on campus. Unlike all other campus employees, adjuncts have little if any job security, hence no academic freedom. They can be non-renewed or laid off for any reason or no reason at all, without any due process or hearing whatsoever.

\The huge gap between their disgraceful salary and everyone else's just keeps on getting wider every year. A typical New Paltz adjunct teaches four courses a year for around $3,000 a course, totaling little more than $12,000, hardly a living wage. To simply subsist at any level above poverty, most adjuncts need to teach at several colleges or have another job or person to help support them.
As an illustration of the ever-widening gap: in 1970, President Neumaier's salary was 32 times what an adjunct was paid to teach a single course. In 2012, President Christian's salary was a whopping 72 times the per course salary for an adjunct.

Adjuncts are the only academics without any minimum base salary floor in UUP's contract with the State. When adjusted for inflation, adjunct pay has plummeted by more than 50% since 1970. In negotiations for our latest 2011-2016 contract, UUP made an all-out effort to establish a minimum salary for adjuncts, but was rebuffed by SUNY.

College presidents and SUNY officials making hundreds of thousands of dollars insist on continuing to pay poverty wages to a substantial portion of their teaching faculty.

When I asked Chancellor Nancy Zimpher during her visit to the New Paltz campus in May what SUNY could do to close the ever-growing wage gap between adjuncts and everyone else, she first replied that she had to carefully weigh the many needs of the University. She further made the bizarre claim, widely reported in the press, that SUNY was not even present at the bargaining table during contract negotiations with UUP. Actually, SUNY is duly represented at negotiations by Raymond L. Haines, Jr., Associate Vice Chancellor for Employee Relations. Ray has long been SUNY's Chief Negotiator on the State's team that negotiates contracts with UUP (http://www.suny.edu/ER/StaffER.cfm).

UUP launched its $5K campaign in May to raise the minimum starting salary for all SUNY teachers to $5,000 per course. This minimum salary has been endorsed by UUP's statewide Executive Board and by chapters throughout SUNY, as well as by the Student Association at New Paltz (see p. 12). In the months ahead, we will be seeking additional support from the entire campus community to pay our adjunct faculty a living wage.

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