What Standing Together Can Accomplish

Many of you may be aware that the administration of Long Island University—Brooklyn announced on Labor Day weekend that it was abruptly locking out all bargaining-unit faculty because of an extended impasse in their contract negotiations.

This lockout was unprecedented in the history of American higher education, and it not only attracted national attention but also provoked considerable outrage. Last week, after starting the semester with administrators and newly hired adjunct faculty hastily assigned to as many classes as possible, the university administration finally relented.

What follows is a debriefing by one of the faculty actively involved in resisting the lockout. For those of you who have not been following the story very closely, there is then a series of links to other posts to the Academe Blog.


Back to Class with Lots of New Lessons: Debrief on the LIU Lockout


Saturday, September 17, three days after the LIU administration ended its lockout of faculty in the midst of contract negotiations, I feel a little like Wile E. Coyote running off the edge of a cliff. I can’t stop running.

As I hover over that abyss, before resuming the more or less normal functions of life as a professor, I need to think through what the lockout taught us. And given its significance as an unprecedented case of what could happen elsewhere, those of you following the news about it are also probably wondering what happened.

As reported in the press, our old contract was extended until May 31, 2017, our demand for a mediator was met, any health insurance expenses are to be reimbursed, and negotiations are to resume immediately. At our union meeting on September 15, the day we returned to campus, we heard more details.

We learned about two conditions proposed by President Kimberly Cline and swiftly rejected by our incredulous LIUFF team: the first was that we issue a joint statement announcing the end of the lockout; the second, even more preposterous, was that we sign a “non-disparagement” clause. As a member of our team put it, first she locked us out, now she’s threatening our First Amendment rights.

We also got a copy of a letter to Cline from the NYS Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education warning her that media reports and complaints alleging the use of unqualified replacement workers could lead to an on-site review of the University’s compliance with state regulations and to deregistration of programs.

The crisis of the lockout thrust LIU into the national spotlight. Together with amazing support from labor—especially the AFT and its crew of experienced staff—elected officials, colleagues, friends, and alums, LIU Brooklyn faculty and students stood up for higher education and won a major victory.

Had we gone on strike—an action decided against well before the lockout—it would have been newsworthy but not extraordinary. Once the lockout was implemented, students and faculty were cast into history-making roles defending our campus against the president’s neoliberal, union-busting tactics and her assumption that it was okay to replace 450+ professors with reassigned administrators and scabs hired on Monster.com.

The lockout transformed the LIU Brooklyn faculty from a diverse group of intellectuals across the political spectrum into a more or less unified, disciplined local willing to fight collectively not only for ourselves but also for the other four unions on our campus without contracts, the students, the right to unionize, and the future of our university. Next we need to figure out how to maintain unity, focus, and resolve now that the crisis has ended.

Students were likewise transformed by the lockout and the fraudulent replacement of their professors. They rose up in unified protest that forced the administration to buckle. Simultaneously, they began to understand discrete instances of their own mistreatment (e.g., cuts to scholarships and stipends) in qualitatively different terms as linked to larger structural assaults on education and democracy. They learned they have power when they act collectively.

We emerged victorious in this round of attack but that is clearly insufficient. We have immediate work to do at LIU—negotiating a fair contract and mounting a campaign for new university leadership. The future of LIU, however, is inextricably linked to the long-term, systemic problem of the evisceration and corporatization of education.

None of us anywhere will be able to fight these battles alone. The LIU lockout is already fading from headlines but the ubiquitous struggle continues. Many of us have researched and lamented neoliberal trends in education, from privatization and austerity to high stakes testing and how international conglomerates are writing curricula and controlling classroom pedagogy.

We know that Bill Gates and other big private donors have discovered what he has publicly called “a uniform base of customers.” The question remains how to build a national, activist movement—one that goes beyond think tanks and the publication of research—of students and teachers across disciplines, institutions, grade levels, and localities that can fight for education as a human right essential to democracy.

To end on a lighter note, during the lockout I was assessed a late fee for an unpaid credit card. I wrote a message to the bank explaining I had been one of over 450 LIU faculty locked out of the university. I suggested the clerk reading my query might have heard about it on the news, indeed, might have heard me on the news. The message I got back telling me the fee had been waived also stated: “We are aware of the unfortunate circumstances and hope things get better.”


Links to other posts to the Academe Blog on the LIU—Brooklyn lockout, arranged chronologically from the earliest to most recent:

“LIU  Lockout Scheduled for Midnight”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/02/24861/.

“Locked Out on Labor Day: Faculty at LIU Brooklyn Fighting for a Fair Contract and the Future of Our Campus”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/03/locked-out-on-labor-day-faculty-at-liu-brooklyn-fighting-for-a-fair-contract-and-the-future-of-our-campus/.

“Why Does the New York Times Ignore the LIU Lockout?”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/04/why-does-the-new-york-times-ignore-the-liu-lockout/.

“Lockout Lessons”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/04/lockout-lessons/.

“Front Lines of the Academic Precariat: LIU Brooklyn Faculty Still Locked Out”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/05/front-lines-of-the-academic-precariat-liu-brooklyn-faculty-still-locked-out/.

“Administrator Oversteps and the Threat to the Faculty: LIU, Northwestern and More”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/06/administrator-oversteps-and-the-threat-to-the-faculty-liu-northwestern-and-more/.

“LIU Lockout [Statement from national AAUP]”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/06/liu-lockout/.

“Who Is the College?: Straight from the LIU Lockout”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/07/who-is-the-college-straight-from-the-liu-lockout/.

“Lockout of Faculty at LIU: Looking Down into the Abyss”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/08/lockout-of-faculty-at-liu-looking-down-into-the-abyss/.

“Scenes from the LIU Student Walkout”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/08/scenes-from-the-liu-student-walkout/.

“One Week and Counting: More Lessons from the #LIUlockout”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/09/one-week-and-counting-more-lessons-from-the-liulockout/.

“How to Destroy College: The Long Island University Method”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/09/how-to-destroy-college-the-long-island-university-method/.

“The Logic of the LIU Lockout: Does the Goldwater Rule Apply to University Presidents?”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/13/the-logic-of-the-liu-lockout-does-the-goldwater-rule-apply-to-university-presidents/.

“LIU Lockout Is Over”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/14/l-i-u-lockout-is-over/.

“LIU Lockout Is Over”: http://academeblog.org/2016/09/14/liu-lockout-over/.




Open Letter to President Hopkins and the Board of Trustees

Sunday, September 11, 2016

To President David Hopkins and the WSU Board of Trustees:

The AAUP-WSU wants to notify the upper administration that we strongly oppose the firing of any bargaining unit faculty that support the core mission of our University: teaching our students. Fiscal mismanagement by the central administration has produced our current budget deficits. In particular, it has poured funds into entities and auxiliaries (e.g., Wright State Applied Research Corporation, Intercollegiate Athletics, Double Bowler, ad infinitum) which neither generate enough revenue to pay for themselves nor support the core mission of our University. Consulting expenses are at an all-time high–over $2 million in the most recent year reported, FY 2015! These misplaced priorities have continued in the budget cuts (still only vaguely delineated) made this summer, in which academic units suffered greater cuts than administrative ones. (See Cracking the Nut, Part 2.) Notably, the administration completely ignored the priorities enunciated by AAUP-WSU regarding where cuts should be made (see our April 13 letter to the Board of Trustees).

In a recent blog by the AAUP-WSU (see Cracking the Nut, Part 3), we have shown members of the campus community that the administrative headcount ratio compared to all employees in the University is 50.9%, which is second only to Ohio State University among Ohio’s doctoral-level public universities.

The State Legislature is now requiring an Administrative Productivity Measure, and for this they specify four ratios: 1) Course Completion Ratio, which divides the Student Course Completed FTE by the Administrative Employee Headcount; 2) the Degree Completion Ratio, which divides the Student Degree Completion by the Administrative Employee Headcount; 3) Administrative Headcount Ratio (reported above for WSU) and 4) Administrative Expenditure ratio, which is administrative salary expenditure divided by Education and General Expenditure. In the productivity measures, Wright State had the third lowest course completion ratio, the lowest degree completion ratio and the second highest administrative expenditures ratio. From this data, only Ohio State has more administrative bloat than Wright State does, but at least they have positive net revenues nearly every year.


Faculty who teach and staff who support this teaching are certainly used to having our productivity and efficiency measured on a yearly basis, and we have proven our worth year after year. This is the first time that the administration’s productivity and efficiency in Higher Education has been measured in Ohio, and from this analysis it is clear that a key place to cut personnel to improve Wright State’s productivity and efficiency is in the upper administration. The State is requiring that Universities reply to this report with actions that will improve their productivity and efficiency. Why, at this time, are the academic units that support our teaching mission being told that they must undergo drastic cuts, which will impact our ability to teach and bring in revenue for the University?

Let’s examine the accomplishments of the central administration in the past two years. It has brought a federal investigation into H1-B visa misuse on our campus that also implicated some members of the Board of Trustees, forcing their resignation. Various top administrators have departed or been suspended. Notably, the former Provost sits at home collecting a very substantial salary, and we still don’t know whether the reasons for his suspension are only apparent misdeeds, or deeds actually subject to prosecution, or something in between. Three years ago, the central administration began WSU’s unprecedented three-years-and-counting run of genuine deficit spending. This has necessitated precipitous reductions in WSU’s reserves. But, rather than acting to cut immediately entities that neither generate enough revenue to pay for themselves nor support the core mission of our University, the central administration continued its profligate spending on these very same entities! Our intercollegiate athletics program has never come even remotely close to paying for itself, or very rarely even staying within its generous budget, but this last year, in the midst of a serious budget crisis, the central administration decided to fire the basketball coach, whose contract had recently been extended and with whom a substantial settlement then had to be reached, and to hire another one at a considerably higher cost.

According to the table above, WSU’s Administrative Expenditure Ratio is second worst in the state. But despite this clear evidence of administrative bloat, the central administration failed in performing one of its most basic duties: to report standard university data to the Carnegie Foundation during this time, resulting in a drop in our Carnegie Classification from R2 down to R3. For the first time in memory, the central administration also failed to report faculty salary and benefits data from the main campus to the AAUP Compensation Survey, despite repeated requests for this data. Likewise, Wright State was very late in filing financial data with the Board of Regents in this past year. The upper administration continues to pay huge consulting fees to help it figure out what it should do to respond to the numerous crises it has created. All of this taken together begs the question, exactly why are we paying such huge salaries to the top administrators? The only sensible thing the central administration has done in the past year is pull out of the Presidential debate when it became obvious that it could not raise enough money to cover the cost. But even that decision was made only after the university had incurred millions of dollars of costs for a debate that is now being held elsewhere.

An unending series of scathing media stories ranging from the sexual assault scandal involving the tennis team, to misuse of money to external consultants (who are supposedly not lobbyists!), to the aforementioned H1-B visa fiasco have made it very clear to everyone that the central administration has either caused or not done enough to prevent serious and ongoing damage to the reputation of our university.

Given your chronically misplaced priorities and wanton negligence, it is beyond the pale to ask WSU students to suffer for your errors by reducing the full-time faculty and otherwise cutting academic units who deliver their education. You need to do the right thing and absorb the bulk of the cuts yourself. You need to trim administrative bloat and to cut entities that have generated costs rather than revenues and reinvest in the core mission of this university.

If you are either unable or unwilling to act in this way, then you should resign.

Marty Kich

President, AAUP-WSU

On Behalf of the Executive Committee of AAUP-WSU




“Cracking the Nut,” Part 4

When the administration was presenting its plan to address the budget issues, it explained the size of the proposed reductions, in part, by pointing to the need to accommodate the faculty and staff pay raises. But, very recently, it has been reported to us that at least one college has been instructed to make further reductions in the current fiscal year’s spending equal to the size of the pay raises. If this is true, then the administration is, in effect, linking our pay raises directly and causally to further cuts in personnel, stipends, or initiatives within the colleges.

This is a new variation on an old narrative.

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the administration asked our bargaining unit to relinquish it raise. We refused because the university was not experiencing a real budget deficit but had, instead, simply seen a dramatic drop in its return on investments. Moreover, we did not see comparable cuts being made in areas less central to the core mission of the university; so it seemed to us that the raise that we were being asked to relinquish was simply the most expedient way that the administration could identify to replenish the investment revenues that it had lost.

The administration, however, framed our refusal as an affront to the institution, as the bargaining unit’s putting the interests of its members above the greater interests of the institution. The administration demonstrated its dissatisfaction with us in several ways. First, it gave a 2% raise to everyone outside of the bargaining unit, without really explaining how that was possible if our relinquishing our raises was such a fiscal necessity. The upper administrators then announced that they would be donating their 2% raises to the campus scholarship fund. They failed to note, however, that most of those in the upper administration had been promoted into their positions over the previous year or so and had received 40%+ pay increases as a result of their promotions. So, although the donation of the 2% increase was a very nice gesture, it was hardly a major sacrifice.

Second, when we were negotiating a new contract in the midst of the passage and effort to repeal Senate Bill 5, the administration refused to give us any pay increases beyond what was necessary to cover the increases in STRS and healthcare costs. The circumstances surrounding those negotiations were very complex, but the administration made a point of framing the very negligible pay increases as retaliation for our refusal to relinquish the previous raise that we had negotiated with them. (If you have joined our faculty after 2011 and, in particular, if you lived previously out of state, Senate Bill 5 was the centerpiece of Governor Kasich’s legislative agenda immediately after he was elected. It would have severely constrained the collective bargaining rights of all public employees in the state. But, because the BGSU faculty had just voted to unionize, their attorneys had language provided language that made its way into the bill and would have completely eliminated the collective-bargaining rights of all public college and university faculty. The bill was repealed by referendum, by a 2-1 margin, in November 2011.)

Well, we are not letting any such narrative go unchallenged this time around. Whatever budget problems that did actually exist in 2011 were attributable to a national recession. In contrast, the current budget problems are largely attributable to administrative mismanagement and the absence of meaningful oversight by our Board of Trustees.

The major cause of the current deficits has been the money flushed into multiple enterprises that have been a massive money-losing drain on our institutional resources while contributing nothing to the advancement of the core mission of our university.

We have finally been getting responses to our open-records requests and have accessed other resources, and we will have much more to say about those enterprises—e.g., the “semi-autonomous units”–in future communications.

But if anyone asks you if your pay raise is costing someone his or her job, you can cite the following statistics.

Our best calculation is that a 1% raise for our bargaining unit (TETs and NTEs together) amounts to $619,355. So a 3% raise amounts to $1,858,065 and a 3.25% raise amounts to $2,012,903.

That sounds like a great deal of money. But remember that Wright State’s annual budget far exceeds $300 million; so, the raises for our entire bargaining units amount to just .5%–one-half of one percent–of the budget.

Moreover, the university knew that it had to budget for this pay raise three years ago when it negotiated it with us—and when it already was well aware of the changes in state funding to which it has disingenuously attributed the bulk of the deficit that it is only now trying to address.

Presumably, our pay raise is now being scapegoated as a cause of the further reductions to the college budgets because the administration’s budget has failed to account for some other eventuality—most likely the failure to hit a targeted 1.5% increase in enrollment. Perhaps if some of the $17 million “invested” in property over the last half-decade had been invested in targeted marketing and recruitment, we would have met or even exceeded those enrollment goals.

In any case, the administration has rather blithely allocated the equivalent of our raises to all sorts of other “priorities.”


1% BUFM Raise: $$619,355

3.25% BUFM Raise: $2,012,903

President Hopkins’ “Bonus”:  $354,560

Compensation to Current and Former Basketball Coaches: $725,0001

“Branding” Consultants: $2.3 million2

Cost of Hosting the Presidential Debate That We Are Not Hosting: $4.2 million3

Budgeted Subsidy to Intercollegiate Athletics: $9-$10 million

Budget Deficit Nonetheless Accrued by Intercollegiate Athletics: $900,000+

Budget Reduction to Intercollegiate Athletics: $350,000 of the $900,000+ Budget Deficit4

Road-Salt Barn: $4-$7 million5


And, again, none of this includes any of the massive amounts of revenue that have been flushed and continue to be flushed into the university’s 19 “semi-autonomous entities.”



1 As always, the administration has claimed that this money has come from “other sources.” As always, there is a paradoxical disjunction between the concepts of “shared revenue” and “shared sacrifice.”

2 This was the amount budgeted. I am fairly certain that we spent all of it or more because when I have cited this number, the administration has never indicated that it spent less but only indicated that some of it came from “other sources.”

3 This is an aggregate of the public statement on what the university had spent when it announced it would not be hosting the debate ($3.3 million) and what it later indicated it would still have to pay for contracted services ($1.3 million), minus the contributions that it had received (close to $400,000).

4 This calculation is kind of a dark joke because no matter what is budgeted for intercollegiate athletics never covers what is actually spent, and the administration always finds the revenues to cover all deficits.

5 I will be sending an entire communication on just this boondoggle. Combining the university’s road salt storage with that of several of the surrounding townships was supposed to save the university $40,000/year for ten years. But the project has had to be relocated, two parcels of land have been surveyed and access roads and utilities designed, one parcel of land has been cleared and utility lines have been laid, roads have been relocated and then redesigned, the old storage facility has been removed and the land under it has then had to be environmentally remediated, and the permanent salt storage facility has still not been built because the lowest bid was about $3.6 million, or about $1 million above what the university was expecting to pay.


“Cracking the Nut,” Part 3

It may simply have been a coincidence, but the day on which President Hopkins announced that the university would no longer be hosting the first presidential debate, the Chronicle of Higher Education released its annual data on the taxable compensation received by public university presidents in the U.S.

On the list simply indicating total taxable compensation, Dr. Hopkins ranked 10th. These are the top 25:

Chart 1_Page_1 []

Chart 1_Page_2 []

On the list ranking the compensation of the public university presidents by the number of full-time students at their institutions whose tuition is required to pay their compensation, Dr. Hopkins also ranked 10th:

Chart 2_Page_1 []

Chart 2_Page_2 []

And on the list ranking the compensation of the public university presidents by the percentage of their institutional budgets required to pay their compensation, Dr. Hopkins ranked 11th (the dollar amount is the amount that their compensation represents out of every million dollars in the institutional budget):

Chart 3_Page_1 []

Chart 3_Page_2 []

Over the past several years, I have done a series of posts on the compensation of the presidents of Ohio’s public universities. In most years, those presidents have all ranked among the top 100 in the nation, and I have asked rhetorically what other rankings, of any kind, include all of Ohio’s public universities. I could ask something comparable with respect to the lists in this communication, but I am fairly certain that someone would counter that Dr. Hopkins’ compensation is in no way responsible for the current budget issues that his administration is attempting to address.

Perhaps. But there is a “trickle down” effect on salaries, in particular among the top tiers of university administration. In some later communications, we will focus more pointedly on that effect. But I will close this communication simply by pointing out that the state measures (see chart below) administrative overhead against course completions, and degree completions, administrative/student headcounts, and administrative/total expenditures, the results very much contradict the administrative assurances that we have addressed administrative bloat more effectively than many of the other public universities in Ohio.

Now, it is possible to rationalize our poor ranking on the first two measures by pointing to our being an “open-admissions” institution, but that does not explain our poor ranking on the third and fourth measures.

Chart 4 []