Policy Board Minutes—Nov. 11, 2015
Present: Nola Agha, Brandon Brown, Robin Buccheri, Suparna Chakraborty, Steve Devlin, Sharon Gmelch, Devon Holmes, Keith Hunter, Richard Johnson III, Jack Lendvay, Gabe Maxson, Gleb Nikitenko, Meera Nosek, Sonja Poole, Steve Roddy, Stefan Rowniak, Todd Sayre, Claire Sharifi, Betty Taylor, James Taylor, Brian Weiner, Maggie Winslow
Guests: Ron Sundstrom (Philosophy), David Uminsky and Paul Zeitz (Mathematics & Statistics), Annick Wibben (Politics), John Zarobel (International Studies), Allison Luengen, and 3 others
A. Revised CAC Bylaws—Neaman presented a draft of the revised bylaws. He noted that the deans from the schools of business and nursing have been consulted and are in favor of the major change, which is to move the evaluation of new CORE courses from the office of the Provost to the Dean of Arts and Sciences.
The main changes to the bylaws are::
1. II(F): Objectives— To undertake assessment of the CORE per Article VII of these by-laws (see below). Neaman noted that when the original bylaws were written, over fifteen years ago, the scope of assessment and demands by WASC were much lower than today,
2. VI(D): Sub-Committees—If courses are not approved, appeals can be made to the CAC. Neaman explained that in the current bylaws faculty who have courses rejected or sent back for revisions appeal to the same subcommittees that made the ruling. In the revised bylaws, appeals are made to the entire body of the CAC.
3. VII(A): Assessment—In carrying out assessment, the CAC may decide to utilize the assistance of an outside paid expert consultant or a task force, also to be compensated in a matter agreed to by the dean and the serving members. Neaman explained that the amount of work needed to do assessment can not be done anymore without additional resources.
4. Throughout the revised by-laws, The Provost has been replaced by Dean of Arts and Sciences. A discussion began. Sundstrom said that the CAC had been consulted, had made suggested changes and is in favor of the revised bylaws. Lendvay made a motion to approve the Bylaws. The motion was seconded and approved by a vote of 22 in favor, none against and no abstentions.
B. Negotiations 2016 Survey Results—Neaman explained that a survey on next summer’s negotiations has been open for around two weeks and will remain open until soon after Thanksgiving. A reminder will be sent to those who may not have completed the survey yet. So far there have been 114 responses. Neaman noted that the survey is only one part of a broader initiative to elicit feedback from our members. There is also a comment box set up on the USFFA website at usffa.net. Neaman offered what he considered to be useful ideas and suggestions from the survey:
1. Sabbatical and merit pay. Currently faculty who are granted a two semester sabbatical leave receive 75% pay in contrast to 100% for a one-semester sabbatical. This is an equity issue since often faculty would very much like to take a one year sabbatical, but are prohibited by personal financial constraints. Others are lucky enough to have the financial resources to afford the one year research leave. That means in effect that scholarly advancement and productivity is tied unfairly, in part at least, to the individual financial conditions of our members. Neaman would like to see all sabbaticals at 100% and believes that this position is widely shared by our members. He also noted that it is in the interest of the university to have a fair policy and one that leads to the most effective outcome in terms of research and teaching effectiveness.
2. Dental benefits. The current cap on Delta dental expenses is $1500, which has not been raised in years and often does not cover the year’s expenses in case of major dental work. implants and bone graft surgery are also not covered. The current maximum lifetime cap on orthodontia work is $1500 which is also well below the actual cost. Neaman would like to see the caps raised and unused portions of the insurance from one year be allowed to carry over to the following year in two year rolling fashion so that the cap is expanded to help cover higher cost procedures. Also many dentists are recommending 3 visits per year for cleaning, which should be covered by Delta.
3. Housing. Currently USF offers only a second mortgage of The 2nd Mortgage of $53K at below market rates, but which must be paid back within seven years. There are many problems with this benefit. For one thing, it hardly addresses the major problem of helping new faculty or faculty who have never owned a house or condo to buy into the prohibitively expensive bay area real estate market. Second, if a prospective mortgage applicant has a high debt to income ratio, then the bank may see a second mortgage as a reason to deny the loan to begin with. Nevertheless the second mortgage can be useful for some, and should at least be doubled to around 100k. There were many comments from the survey on housing assistance. Some suggest debt forgiveness of the second mortgage after a certain period of service. Others suggested that USF should make direct loans to people who are first time buyers. Lendvay mentioned that we need to look at what other schools are doing to help their employees. James Taylor said that other universities offer a forgivable loan, such as LMU. Neaman agreed but noted that the LA market is quite different from the Bay Area, LA being much larger so that average house prices are much higher here.
(The average home price in San Francisco is currently $952k compared to $490k in LA, and the average monthly rent in SF is $2k, while it is around $1400 in LA. See http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2015/finance/housing-costs/housing-costs.aspx). Agha said that pay, housing and transit are related—there is a relationship between these variables. How do we split up the pie? Wibben said that is hard to recruit and retain faculty in their department because of the housing issue.
Neaman reiterated that the main problem with an effective mortgage benefit is its size. The cost would dwarf all other benefits. Roddy said that lower tiers at other schools have been bumped up but Neaman replied that one has to be careful about altering the salary steps. Devlin added that we essentially have no housing benefit since ½ of the loans go unclaimed. Neaman said that another idea is to pool the money from childcare and other similar benefits, aiming to enlarge the pie from which forgivable loans could be drawn. This alone will not allow people to buy homes in the Bay Area, but it could help. The problem is daunting. Even if USF were willing to provide the money for a down payment on a property (a big if), the size of the actual mortgages today would be huge, likely over the $625k cap which secures a lower rate loan because it is guaranteed by Freddie Mac. Maxson asked about how many houses the university owns. Neaman said that USF owns some houses in the neighborhood and nearby, some of which are rented out, and he will get exact numbers for next meeting. Maxson said that some faculty renting in the City have been Ellis-acted, where tenants are ejected on dubious procedural grounds. Agha suggested that the amount of money dedicated to housing benefits could be more effective if moved away from the mortgage program and redistributed to solve other issues mentioned in the survey – child care, transportation, etc. Uminsky suggested that young faculty should be able to get the one year retirement buy-out at the front end, rather than the back end, in order to put a down payment on a home. Neaman replied that he had discussed this solution already with the administration, but first, this can not be negotiated at the bargaining table since the retirement benefit is not in the CBA, and second USF can not put any language in the CBA because then they would have a large accounting liability. James Taylor suggested starting a pilot group to test out new mortgage assistance but Neaman reiterated that first we had to negotiate getting something firm in the contract before we start any pilot project. Currently the pilot would be flying a plane that does not yet exist. Uminsky suggested that a Loyola Village II should be built. He added that at NYU, faculty get apartments—tax free for the university. Lendvay also asked what happened with the original Loyola Village and why it wasn’t made available to faculty to buy. Neaman responded that at the time the price seemed too high – basically owners would not realize the full value appreciation offered under those contracts. Lendvay asked about viable options. Neaman said that we need a viable plan that puts reasonable costs on to the university but can actually help faculty. That is the circle we need to square.
The question was raised about subsidizing rent? Neaman said that we have rental assistance for a short period at the hiring stage but beyond that our members are divided on benefits that apply to one group but not another. Wibben said that we are already have that with Blue Cross, and child care etc. Neaman said that Blue Cross or Kaiser is a choice and the child care benefit is obviously only for those with children, but it is on the whole an exception. Also he said the cost of mortgage assistance is a much higher ticket item. Devlin said that USF simply can’t recruit good faculty if we don’t solve the problem. Lendvay asked about a joint committee—we need to work with the administration. Johnson III asked if we know how many faculty candidates turn down jobs at USF due to cost of living. Uminsky said that another problem is many faculty are way over scale and can afford to buy a house, so many inequities exist. Neaman is in favor of a task force, whose mandate would be to set out all these issues in a clear manner and then look at possible solutions. He said he is always hesitant to create task forces, since they often send the signal that we don’t have an answer, so just create a task force. But in this case the problem is so large that it may be necessary. It could be established in a side letter to the CBA, which has been done for other issues on many occasions before.
4. Term faculty. Neaman asked PB to weigh in on the two proposals asked about in the survey. One proposal is to create a new hiring category of a teaching professor. This line would involve the same workload as term faculty, but would be tenure track and promotion and would be contingent on teaching and service only. The other proposal is to make term faculty eligible for tenure after a set number of years of service to USF, or upon promotion to term full professor rank. Winslow said that term faculty are at a great disadvantage since they have no job security; they want and do research but have no sabbatical and no time for research. This makes it hard to secure another job in cases where the contract is not extended—making them very vulnerable. Neaman said that from the survey it appears our members support the second proposal (term eligibility for tenure), let’s call them A and B, since A (teaching professors) had quite a few more “definitely do not support” votes. Maxson added that job security was not necessarily synonymous with tenure, which is perhaps a “loaded” word in this discussion. Zeitz said that tenure promotes academic freedom to do research. Zeitz said that the tenure process is a very difficult hoop to jump through—tenure track faculty searches involve hundreds of candidates. Holmes explained that national searches are standard practice in the Department of Rhetoric and Language, whose full time faculty are made up almost entirely of Term Faculty. Many other departments on campus also hire their Term faculty through the national search process. Zeitz said that different departments have different cultures, but he would not be in favor of Proposal A because it would hurt the standing of his department.
He reiterated that he is only speaking about the math department and doesn’t know how other departments feel. Sundstrom said that he agreed with Zeitz and had reservations about both A and B. There is a long process to hire terms in Philosophy—the high teaching load benefits the university, but he was wary of moving in the direction of even more and permanent term faculty. Neaman said that the teaching professor is not unusual. Many universities across the country now have them. He mentioned that departments would be just as careful about hiring in these lines as they are now. Uminsky said there are other models, such as at UC Berkeley where they have lecturers with secure employment. Uminsky said there could be other consequences, since USF’s ratings depend on tenure track and tenured researchers. Neaman agreed but noted that more tenure track faculty and less part time faculty also scores points in the ratings game. Either of the two proposals A or B would add to the tenured faculty count for the purpose of ratings, while term faculty currently do not count, since they are not currently tenured.
Lendvay said that at SCU, the faculty can negotiate a reduced teaching load to conduct research. He said it could be to our benefit to blur the lines between term and tenured. He added that WASC does not have a research requirement. Zeitz said that this would not work for Mathematics and Statistics. There would be a downward pressure on research. Winslow said that term faculty should be given the opportunity to conduct research—and in fact, in her department there is one example. Agha said that if the university values teaching and research the same (as in the tenure process), then terms should not be viewed as lesser positions; the positions are used in very different ways in different departments and different schools. Regardless, there should not be an inequity between terms and tenure, she explained.
Zeitz said that is rare to get research done with the teaching load for term. There will be fewer people doing research overall. Sundstrom agreed. Niles said that we should keep the terms to a reasonable number but they should have job security. Weiner asked for a clarification. Do these proposals apply to new hires or current long term faculty? Are we creating a new kind of position? The CBA states that certain term positions are “to provide instruction in a disciplinary specialization or emphasis within a specialization not regularly included in the University curricula.” (CBA 17.2.3. (B). Weiner asked if we are planning to change that language, since currently it does not always accurately describe the purpose of the positions? Winslow added that there is another issue—equity in term of sabbaticals and extra pay at retirement. Not all conditions for terms are described accurately or not at all in the CBA. Nikitenko said the practices may also vary across schools and departments. He added that for term with one year contracts “renewability” may be the only issue. Winslow said that there is another example of class differentiation: hires with one year or short contracts.
Nosek asked who makes the decisions about hiring terms. Neaman said that terms are currently limited to 95 in the CBA and the deans offer them to departments, who usually run the searches, but as always make recommendations to the dean for new hires. Hiring is the prerogative of management. Zeitz said that there are different types of term positions, and that some, for example, long-term hires, should have different types of contracts reflecting different responsibilities and teaching loads. However, there should be a rigorous process for tenure, he reiterated. Lendvay said that we need to eliminate the class system.
Zeitz said that evaluating teaching was more difficult than research because it is more subjective and less amenable to peer review. With time running short, Neaman listed some suggestions from the survey he thought worth exploring, in no particular order:
- Increase $75 commuter check
- Summer courses should be able to count as units, instead of pay
- 32 Unit Teaching Load (instead of current 36) over two semesters. The proposal would even out course load for most faculty who teach 4 unit classes at 2-2-2-2 over two years.
- Improve long-term medical care benefits, in particular disability insurance
- Above assistant rank, or after six years service, ACP’s conducted every three years or at most every two years. (Currently deans have to approve deviation from once a year ACPs). Deans’ ACP responses always in writing.
- Sabbatical Merit pay for 4th year
- Electrical charging stations on campus
- Librarians get fall and spring break like everyone else
- Choice to put Emeriti benefit ($50 per month) into 401b
- Full fall break up one week
- Choice to convert faculty landlines to cell phones and reimburse cost for cell phone when working from home
- Telecommuting work from home policies. Example: USF pays for home office if you choose to give up or share faculty office
- Better and more options for retirement accounts
- Standard policy across all schools for overload courses. Pay should be at least PHP. (Currently only intersession and summer is 10% above PHP).
- Salary: biweekly pay option
- Step 9 Full Professor Plus – add additional pay step decided by Peer Review Committee
Neaman asked the term faculty to get back to the PB with their feedback and suggestions. He concluded by saying that this is only the start of a long process.
The meeting adjourned at 5:00 p.m.
Submitted by Julia Orri
Policy Board Secretary