Faculty union wants to open a dialogue with President Schill

The University of Oregon community can send a postcard to their president this week. United Academics, the faculty union, is running a postcard campaign, asking students, staff and faculty to fill out cards that will be passed on to UO President Michael Schill.

Every campus member has a card option. Undergraduate students are blue. Graduate students and employees are dark green. Non-tenure track instructional faculty are white while their research colleagues are beige. Tenured faculty have yellow cards to sign.

The goal of the campaign is to show Schill the campus stands in solidarity with its non-tenure track faculty members.

United Academics launched the campaign in response to Schill’s blog post in response to a story in the Emerald last week.

Schill’s post addressed the high proportion of non-tenure track faculty. The president said that he felt that he has failed to acknowledge the role that non-tenured faculty have played on campus. These campus members, Schill said, bring crucial skills and ideas to classrooms as well as help connect students to the professional world.

Schill also addressed the commitment UO has made to its non-tenure track faculty members.

University of Oregon President Michael Schill (Emerald Archive)

The first collective bargaining agreement struck between United Academics and the university included important steps for non-tenure track faculty. The first step in that agreement was converting a number of part-time adjunct jobs to career positions in that agreement.

Mike Urbancic, vice president for non-tenure track faculty affairs, said the postcards aren’t designed to be adversarial.

“The campaign is not designed to ratchet up some sort of competition, or to fight about different points,” Urbancic said, “but simply to raise awareness for something we think is a crucial point of how our campus is.”

According to Urbancic, UO can’t function without the work of non-tenure track faculty. The union fears that Schill doesn’t fully understand the work that non-tenured faculty are doing.

“Many of them have been here for decades,” Elizabeth Pellerito, a staff organizer for the union said. “They have been credentialed for decades … we are really just asking [the president] to learn more about who non-tenure track faculty are and respect what they do and the important role they play at the university.”

UO administration has floated the idea that the school will spend its money more effectively if tenured faculty teach more. Urbancic says this thinking is flawed.

“Any additional hour they’re spending working with their classes is an hour that they’re not spending with their research,” Urbancic said.

The union will be in front of the EMU Tuesday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Students and faculty members who want to fill out a postcard after Tuesday can pick them up from the union office on 13th Avenue above Noodlehead.

United Academics sent Schill a letter Monday morning requesting a meeting with him and 30-40 non-tenure track faculty members. Pellerito says the purpose is to open a dialogue between the president and members of faculty. She said if the meeting happens, it will take place in early May. The union will present the postcards to Schill then.

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Max Thornberry

Max Thornberry

Senior News Editor. Baseball Fan. Martial Artist. Lover of books and words. Follow him on Twitter @Max_Thornberry

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