Friday, May 15, 2009

UVM Caters to Mega-Classes

As UVM moves forward with its plans to aggregate intro classes single mega-lectures taught by one factuly member and several undergraduate TAs, with as many as 600 students, they beginto lay the foundations in professional development:

** Workshops ***  + LEARNING IN LARGE CLASSES: DESIGNING OUTCOMES, SUPPORTING   ENGAGEMENT, AND ASSIGNING AND RESPONDING TO STUDENT WORK + Thursday, May 21, 09:00 am http://www.uvm.edu/ctl/?Page=events/index.php#313  + LEARNING IN LARGE CLASSES: STUDENT INTERACTION + Thursday, May 21, 1:00 pm http://www.uvm.edu/ctl/?Page=events/index.php#314  ***Panel Presentation***  + UNIVERSAL DESIGN: INCLUSION FOR ALL + Monday, June 15, 4:00 pm http://www.uvm.edu/ctl/?Page=events/index.php#315 

Join Students & Faculty to Speak Out to the Board of Trustees

On May 16th at 8:30am in the Davis Center, Students and Faculty will present our case to the Board of Trustees to truly reinvest in academics, roll back layoffs and make administrative pay cuts to balance the budget. Be there!

Also, please read below, from Tina Escaja, Romance Languages, and Nancy Welch, English...

WHAT: Join concerned students, staff, faculty, parents, and community members this Saturday morning, May 16, 8:30-9 am, Livak Ballroom, 4th Floor, Davis Center during the UVM Board of Trustees public comment period.

WHY: Many concerned community members and parents have written to the trustees and President Fogel asking that the university administration recommend to the state's attorney that all charges be dropped against the 31 students arrested last month for "trespassing" when they held a sit-down in Waterman to protest President Fogel's tuition hikes, layoffs, and class-size increases. To date, President Fogel and the trustee Chairman Boyce have responded by asserting that the matter is no longer in their hands.

But at today's arraignment, we learned that this may be far from the case. In fact, the state attorney's office is likely to be in close contact with the university administration between now and the June 10, the return court date for many of the students. The administration *could* concede that this was a nonviolent and nonobstructive protest that in no way threatened university operations or individual safety and that university's response of bringing in police and pursuing criminal charges was an overreaction. The administration *could* publicly announce that it now recommends the dismissal of the cases against the students. After all, the administration has not sought internal sanctions against these students--for which President Fogel and his administration are to be commended. As the administration clearly and rightly feels that no sanctions against these students would be justified, they *should* take the next step and let the state and public know that the criminal charges against the students are without justification either.

So far the administration has been reluctant to make this recommendation. That's where the trustees come in: Stand with the students and university community members who'll be addressing the trustees Saturday morning, 8:30-9 am, Livak Ballroom, Davis Center.

We especially want to make sure there are many, many people standing together to urge the trustees, both in discussion before the meeting's start and through the public comment period, to call on President Fogel--in the interest of upholding UVM's commitment to social justice and so we can continue a vigorous and widely participatory debate about UVM's challenges and priorities--to announce his recommendation that the cases against the students be dismissed.

Please join us. Throughout this difficult year we've repeatedly learned that the trustees and administration do indeed respond for the good of UVM when we stand together in large numbers. And there's no better way to say thanks to these dedicated students than to let the trustees know that we support them--and that an administration fond of showcasing nonviolent student protest in the past should not punish it in the present.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

UVM Trustees' Chair Sends Retort to Concerned Parents

As you may know, 33 UVM students were arrested at the UVM Sit In on April 22nd. Their parents were very dismayed to see that the University would pursue charges against their children for nothing more than peaceful protest.

Here is Trustee Chairman Ian D. Boyce's (email address: ian.boyce@verizon.net) response...
Dear Concerned Parents,

I am in receipt of your recent communication with respect to the citation of student protesters. I want to assure you that the University is handling the cases of the students who violated our dissent and disruption policies appropriately. I would however, like to speak to some of the points raised in your email.
Okay, here I'd like to mention that we were sitting and singing in an open UVM building. What policy does that violate and why is there a policy against peaceful protest anyway?
First, these students were presented with numerous opportunities to learn and understand the budget reconciliation process through direct interaction and dialogue with members of the senior administration and the Board throughout the academic year, and indeed they were directly engaged with our Chief Financial Officer on these issues on several occasions. Moreover on more than one occasion they had the opportunity to express themselves directly to the Board through the public comment period.
Yes, we did indeed meet with Richard Cate several times. (Fogel always refused to talk to us.) And we did our allotted 3 minute public comments at the trustees' meeting. And we sent emails and made phone calls. We exhausted all diplomatic options before escalating actions. So, that's why you're punishing us? The University was always the first to escalate by ignoring us, closing the building early on us, and threatening us. This, for our part, was intended to be a peaceful dialog.
Despite these opportunities for learning and interaction, these students chose to pursue a series of demands that could not be met in a way that was acceptable to them. And they pursued them in a disruptive manner that was a far cry from peaceful dissent. While the University respects the rights of our students to express themselves, no group or individual has the right to disrupt the normal functions of the University, no matter how passionate they may be about a particular issue.
Uh...remember the time during the Sit In when we had *very* pared down demands on the table and President Fogel said he needed to think about them and he'd be right back and then he walked out the back door and went to a party and didn't come back? Who wasn't being reasonable? I'll give you a hint, it wasn't the people who got arrested. Also, what part of singing and chanting wasn't peaceful? What is your idea of peaceful?
Our country is a country of laws, and our university one that values respectful dialogue. It is my understanding that the students who were cited had every opportunity to avoid legal or disciplinary consequences, but intentionally chose not to do so. Through communication with the Director of Police Services I learned that numerous warnings about the possible consequences of their actions were provided to the students. At this point, it is up to the court system to determine if and how these violations will be pursued and up to the University to consider how any disciplinary sanctions may be applied. I am confident that these students will be dealt with fairly in this matter.
Oh, how very patriotic of you! There's a thing called compassion and another called respect. These students were standing up (sitting down actually) for your faculty and staff. Try a little of each.
I believe this event has indeed provided a "teaching moment," in that we all must be aware that our behaviors have consequences, and ultimately we all must be responsible for our actions. I am proud of the passion and commitment of our students. But whatever the issue, when dissent dissolves into the disruption of the activities of the University and threatens the safety and wellbeing of our community members, it will be addressed within the well-established policies of the institution.
Thank you for sharing your concerns.

Sincerely,
Ian D. Boyce
Consequences! How interesting that you bring that up as the UVM Administration never had to face consequences for, as the Free Press put it, having "squandered millions" on PeopleSoft overpayments, nor the nearly $1 million in executive bonuses and extra compensation paid out. Nope. Instead you're punishing the faculty, staff, and students for your mistakes. All while giving the President a pay raise.

Mr. Boyce, I genuinly feel sad for you that you think a teachable moment is arresting 33 peaceful protesters. It tells me that you yourself may be beyond truly teachable moments. You clearly weren't there and either a) want to believe bad information or b) need to justify someone else's actions. There was no time during that event when the safety or wellbeing of our community members was at risk. Though I can't say the same for the faculty and staff losing thier jobs.

UVM Prez gives himself a raise

UVM President Fogel is giving himself a raise while laying off faculty and staff - read all about it http://bit.ly/t7oRW. Ew.

Article about yesterdays news conference from the Free Press
UVM budget fight still kickin'! http://bit.ly/kYXIJ

Board of Trustees Meeting is Friday, you still can still write a letter:
http://www.uvm.edu/~jggrossm/dontDownsize/chooseLetter/choose.php

Monday, May 11, 2009

Students Stand Up & Faculty Union Joint Press Conference

Dear UVM community members,

Below is a press release that will go out Monday morning announcing a
press conference to be held Tuesday, May 12, 12 noon, Mildred Livak
Room, Davis Center, by United Academics and the Students Stand Up.
Please mark your calendar and join us! Although the UVM administration
plans to restore $3.2 million to teaching and research, a good number
of you are painfully aware that this has not directly translated into
job and position restorations for many faculty, staff, and programs.
In addition, some 30 students still face charges for their peaceful
protest of academic downsizing last month. Let's make sure the
trustees know that our concerns about academic quality and student
experience have not yet been fully and satisfactorily addressed.

Please spread the word about Tuesday's press conference and attend
yourself--sitting in the audience or, if you can, standing with
Students Stand Up! and United Academics speakers. If you still have a
"Don't Downsize Education at UVM" placard, bring it along. Or come a
few minutes early to make a poster to hold reflecting the press
conference concerns and faculty and students' shared goals.

Nancy Welch
Professor, English
Communications Co-Director, United Academics

For Immediate Release
UVM UNITED ACADEMICS AND STUDENTS STAND UP! TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE TUESDAY
University of Vermont Faculty and Students Oppose Budget Cutting
Measures Together

Press Conference
Tuesday, May 12
12 Noon
Mildred Livak Room (4th floor), Davis Center
University of Vermont

We are encouraged to see that the UVM administration has recently
agreed to provide a $3.2 million reinvestment mostly to teaching and
research activities. This distribution of monies reflects the hard
work and strong voices of students, faculty and staff on campus who
spoke out about the original cuts and the severe impact they were
likely to have on academic quality. Despite this positive step, other
administration actions still threaten to damage the quality of our
academic life and our reputation as a student-friendly institution.
This need not happen.

United Academics is inviting Students Stand Up! to join us in
expressing our serious concerns over the administration's budget
cutting measures. "Faculty and students share this university," said
David Shiman, president of the faculty union. "We share a commitment
to academic quality in the face of increased enrollment, fewer
instructors, larger classes, and diminished curriculum offerings. We
share a commitment to opening up what has historically been a rather
closed budget decision-making process so that the voices of the
stakeholders in the university can be heard and valued. And we share
a commitment to the fair treatment of those students who were arrested
for engaging in peaceful civil disobedience in late April."

Explained Kait Del Pozzo of Students Stand Up!, "We are trying to
engage the administration in a constructive dialogue. We understand
the economic climate the university faces. But we also know that the
budget doesn't need to be balanced on the backs of students, staff,
and faculty. We see other solutions that aren't being considered,
such as Administrative pay cuts."

United Academics, the UVM faculty union, represents full- and
part-time faculty members at UVM. Students Stand Up! is a student
group formed in the fall of 2008 in opposition to some of the
university's budget- cutting measures. While their agendas and tactics
might differ from time to time, both organizations share the goal of
maintaining academic quality at UVM. United Academics values the
students' commitment to protecting the quality of this institution as
demonstrated by their hard work, enthusiasm, and concerted action, and
we call on the University to respect these rights both practically and
legally.

The press conference will include both faculty union and Students
Stand Up! speakers.

For information, contact:
David Shiman, President
United Academics
656-1428 or 881-4583

Friday, May 8, 2009

Type to Trustees Today!

Hello UVM & Co -

Today we are launching a one-day campaign to show the UVM Trustees how much we care. Please write a letter and distribute widely.

On May 15th the UVM Board of Trustees will decide the fate of UVM's budget. These decisions will determine whether 109 UVM staff and faculty go back to work. We need to tell them to put a higher value on academic quality at UVM, than the administration currently is.
The trustees don't work at UVM and the don't live in Burlington. They haven't been to the walk out, seen the sit in, heard the forum or walked past the banners. They probably haven't even seen the news coverage. To reach them, we need to write to them. They are not Fogel - we need to convince them to join our team!

Use our email templates to get started:
http://www.uvm.edu/~jggrossm/dontDownsize/chooseLetter/choose.php
It only takes a sec!

**Spread the word via listservs, Facebook, twitter, or just plain old email! This will work best if we all do our part.**

Thanks in advance!

PS. More info at:
Blog: vtflatlander.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/reqs.php#/group.php?gid=53137243463&ref=ts
Twitter: http://twitter.com/studentsStandUp

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dissecting the Rhetoric of the Hughes Memo

I'm done with finals, so now all I have to do is stay on top of the Fogel Administration, I guess. Lucky for me John Hughes sent out a new memo today detailing how much of the $3.2M of the Pathetic Reinvestment Plan was actually going to which college in the university.

I will say this. Thank you, Provost Hughes, for giving us this information. And then I will say this, too. How about taking a freaking pay cut so that no one needs to be laid off?

Okay here's the memo with my editorializing:
As previously announced and subject to final approval by the Board of Trustees, the President and Provost have made $3.2 million available in the FY 2010 general fund budget for reinvestment in the academic budgets of the colleges and schools. The allocation of these funds has been informed by the April 29, 2009 Report on Budget Constraints prepared by Vice President Cate and Associate Provost Knodell based on meetings with deans, the April 13, 2009 Preliminary Fact Finding Report of the Faculty Senate Financial and Physical Planning Committee (FPPC) based on input from individual faculty, and by recommendations from the Academic Quality Assurance Task Force. Updated reports of the FPPC will be forwarded to the deans as they become available. The Task Force, a joint group of Faculty Senate committee members and senior administrators, reviewed the two reports and presented five principles and priorities to the President and Provost to guide their allocation decisions. This report presents the results of this process of consultation.
Read: Here's the people who we consulted about this. It was everyone except you.
There was a good deal of consensus between the two reports. A key finding is that, as a result of the budget reconciliation for FY2010 and efforts to reach target student-faculty ratios set for the various colleges and schools, more undergraduate course sections will be taught by full-time, tenure-track faculty and full-time lecturers. The size distribution of course sections has shifted somewhat to larger sections. Consistent with the recommendations of the Task Force, much of
the $3.2 million fund has been allocated to uses that mitigate the effect of higher teaching loads on scholarly productivity, that ensure adequate support for lab and discussion sections, and for clinical and field supervision, and that protect the quality of the first-year experience. The reinvestment allocations described below are all base funding increases, except in the case of the School of Business Administration, where one-time funding will be applied for FY 2010 and base funding for FY 2011 will be determined after a permanent dean is appointed. The specific instructional purposes of these funds will be determined by the deans in consultation with
the Provost.
Read: The only way we can pull of the targets that we thought were so awesome is by overloading faculty with courses and only teaching ginormous courses that suck for students.
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Due to the pressure of high enrollments and high student-faculty ratios in certain units, the reallocation will fund lecturers and offset base funding lost in the correction of a structural deficit in Extension, which provides some funding to this college. $190,000.
School of Business Administration: The reallocation will fund lecturers to maintain
important curricular offerings, deal with some class-size issues and stabilize the School’s operating budget. $200,000.
College of Arts and Sciences: The College will receive funding for a new college-wide
undergraduate teaching assistantship program, to assist faculty teaching larger sections of introductory courses. The College will also receive funding for its lecturer budget, which has grown to meet higher enrollments without commensurate new base resources. Some funding is also provided to assist with start-up packages for new faculty. $1,300,000.
College of Education and Social Services: The College will receive funding for lecturers to ensure adequate staffing for the supervision of education students in the field. $120,000.
College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences: The College will receive funding for graduate teaching assistants to assist faculty with larger sections, and for a tenure-track faculty position in a high-enrollment area. $250,000.
College of Nursing and Health Sciences: To address concerns about program viability, the College will receive funding for three pools of part-time clinical faculty to provide supervision for nursing students, and for two tenure-track faculty positions to cover integral areas of the curriculum. $800,000.
Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources: The College will re-
ceive funding for lecturers to address staffing needs in several areas, including the Environmental Program. $330,000.
Honors College: The College will receive new base funding to restore the Summer Seminar and to consolidate programming in support of undergraduate research across campus. $20,000 in new base funding, plus $100,000 transfer from Arts and Sciences to support the HELiX program in its new configuration.
Read: Here's the amount of money that we'll put back into your colleges. You don't really know how much was taken out to begin with or what exactly was cut because we didn't feel like telling you. But here's a random number that people should be able to magically distill into fairies and rainbows. Also, Arts & Sciences, we're going to put most of your money into a scab labor force of unqualified undergraduates to take the place of the oodles of experts and professors that we just laid off. Cuz that's almost the same.
In addition to the $3.2 million reinvestment in the colleges and schools, the budget of the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College will increase by $750,000.
Uh... what is this?

So, the only thing I'm sparing you (because the formatting was getting getting all wonky) is a table about how oh-so-generously the University has actually raised the budget of each college's base budget this year. Okay, so a) what is the "base budget"? If you're always moaning about a budget gap, then obviously that's not the only money that matters. So, that's totally deceptive. But thanks. And b) If you're raising everyone's budgets then why aren't you sending 109 employees back to work? Please spare us the BS next time. I can find another hobby.