“EMU’s 7.8% tuition increase means $1M less in state aid, $10M revenue increase”

As mLive reports, “EMU’s 7.8% tuition increase means $1M less in state aid, $10M revenue increase.” Here’s a quote:

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents unanimously approved a 7.8 percent tuition increase for students for the 2015-16 school year.

The increase exceeds the state’s recommended cap of 2.8 percent. As a result, the school will forfeit $1 million of its state aid, but officials at the school said it will gain $10 million in revenue from the increase.

It will be interesting to see how this works out, but I have a theory about all this.

If you do a search of EMUTalk.org for the 0/0/0 campaign back in 2010 or so and reflect on what has happened as a result, I think it’s pretty easy to see it wasn’t all that effective. Keeping tuition super-duper low didn’t increase enrollment all that much– maybe a little, maybe not at all. Further, EMU hasn’t been rewarded by the state for keeping tuition down. And to top it all off, to the extent that Martin will take the blame for this, she’s retiring.

So really, what does EMU have to lose here? Other than millions of dollars if they were to hold to the state caps? Like I said, it will be interesting to see how this works out over the next year or so.

Faculty Contract Negotiations Begin This Week; What Do You Want?

EMU-AAUP President Susan Moeller sent around an email about contract negotiations set to begin this week. Bargaining Council has been meeting since May 1 and has “around 30 proposals ready to take to the table” (more on that in a moment), there’s a “kick off picnic” on Tuesday, and negotiations proper begin on Thursday.

The “motto” for this year (I’m not sure this is a motto so much as it is an advertising tag line, but whatever) is “United We Stand– Divided We Beg,” and the EMU-AAUP has been making some modest efforts at branding, PR, and social media. Check out the Facebook group, for example.  Some of this I like quite a bit– for example, I like the idea of the interviews about why the EMU-AAUP. So far, I’ve only seen this one of Howard Bunsis:

On the other hand, I am not at all a fan of the motto, I suppose because while I am a firm believer and advocate of collective bargaining for faculty for all kinds of reasons, I don’t see the alternative of the union as “begging.” Rather than a message of “If you’re not with us, you’re screwed,” I’d prefer a message along the lines of “We are stronger with a union” or “Look what the union has done for you before.” Or something like that.

And I really don’t like this:


But I digress: this bargaining season also reminds me that the end of EMUTalk is approaching in a couple of months– September at the latest, and, assuming a happy end to the negotiations this time around, maybe earlier. Long-time readers will undoubtably remember that EMUTalk.org started as the result of what I think everyone agrees was the absolute ugliest negotiations ever in 2006, when the administration’s team walked away from the table, when we were out on strike for about 12 or so days, and when the contract wasn’t decided until it went to a “fact finding” and arbitration process that wasn’t really settled until well into 2007.

After that mess, contract negotiations have been a lot more productive and quite frankly, the last contract we got– which, among other things, lead to more funding for research and a process for a raise and promotion after the full professor rank– was probably the best deal I’ve seen since I’ve been here. And while I have no inside knowledge at all– I just have heard some rumors– I’m cautiously optimistic about this go-around too.

The administration has pretty much the same negotiating team at the table as they had last time, the EMU-AAUP’s team is pretty similar, EMU’s finances and state support seem reasonably solid (at least as far as I can tell), and I think there are good reasons for both sides to make a fair deal and to make it quick and with as little controversy as possible. After all, EMU is also about to start a search for a new president, not to mention a new VP for the graduate school and a new dean for our largest college, Arts and Sciences. We want to attract the best candidates possible for these positions, and the last thing the administration needs at a time like now is some kind of ugly and protracted fight with its faculty. At the same time, the whole “right to work” bullshit puts the faculty union in sort of an awkward position too– or at least a less certain one. So in a way, there’s a sort of “mutually assured destruction” thing going on here. And I think that’s a good thing.

I don’t know what is included in the 30 or so proposals coming out of bargaining council (and if anyone does know, that’d be interesting to hear), but I’m pretty sure there is going to be something about the faculty harassment issues highlighted by the infamous Yik Yak incident. My guess is that there will be the usual suspects regarding a percentage wage increase and how much we pay for health insurance, and there might be something in the mix this time about TIAA-CREF. As I recall, administrators now don’t automatically get the institutional contribution of a 11% of base salary, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the administration wants this for faculty too.

Which gets me to the question part of things: what do you want? I have to say that other than the usual– more money, good insurance, good benefits, etc.– my needs are pretty modest.

  • I certainly don’t want any of the gains we made in the last contract to go away, and I’d be surprised if they did.
  • I’d like to see some clarification about summer teaching because the way that’s been handled in CAS for the last couple years has been kind of confusing and/or crazy.
  • One of the things in that nutty flying letter video that comes up is “academic freedom,” which I obviously think is important and maybe, given some of the craziness going on around the country right now, maybe there is space in the contract for some language regarding that.
  • I’d like to see us exit once and for all from the EAA nonsense, and I frankly think the administration would like that too. The problem is the Board of Regents on that one.
  • I don’t think it’s going to happen, but it would be nice if there was agreement that we have a 3-3 teaching load rather than a 12 credit teaching load, a disparity that makes for inconsistent practices across departments.

So, what do you want?




“Board of Regents to Hold Special Meeting”

I don’t usually look at the “EMU Today” page, but I did this morning and I saw this interesting little announcement:

BOARD OF REGENTS TO HOLD SPECIAL BOARD MEETING: The EMU Board of Regents will hold a special board meeting today, Apr. 9, at 3 p.m. in room 201, Welch Hall. The agenda for the meeting is as follows:

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call Attendance
  • Chairman’s Comments
  • Section 1: Recommendation to appoint an Interim President
  • Section 2: Recommendation to establish a Presidential Search Committee and a Presidential Search Advisory Committee
  • Adjournment

There has been some conversation here and I’ve chatted with others lately about when we’re likely to welcome a new president to EMU. As we discussed earlier, there was a little confusion (at least for me there was) about the BoR’s plans for when they want to get a new president in place because pretty much everyone I’ve talked with agrees that getting a new president by the start of the 2015/16 school year (that is, this fall) would be pretty much impossible. So maybe this meeting is going to clarify that.

Susan Martin stepping down as EMU President

I was just thinking this morning that not a whole lot has been going on around EMU lately– certainly nothing worth posting much about on EMUTalk. And then just now I heard that Susan Martin has announced her retirement as EMU President.

Here’s the official press release; she sent around an email to EMU students, faculty, and staff, though interestingly, I didn’t get it in my inbox. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve switched over to Google for my campus mail or what– I assume I still work at EMU. Martin’s plan is she’ll be stepping down effective July 7, she’ll be on sabbatical for a year, and then she’ll join the faculty as a professor in Accounting and Finance. BTW, for those not familiar with the process here: it is very typical for lots of administrative-types to get a year sabbatical at the end of their time administrating, especially if they aren’t fired and/or if they plan on returning to the faculty for the year. Oh, and it turns out she will be in the same department/college as EMU-AAUP movers-and-shakers Susan Moeller and Howard Bunsis. That ought to make for some interesting hallway chats.

Why she’s stepping down now? I suspect it is some combination of  getting kind of “burnt out” by the job/frustrated with the Board, a sense of “I’ve done enough/done a lot,” and preparing to retire. I don’t know exactly how old Martin is, but if she was about 22 when she finished her undergraduate degree in 1971, that’d put her somewhere around 66 now. So my best guess is she’s doing what a lot (most?) academic administrators do: come back to teach for a couple years and then retire.

I’m sure there will be lots more to be said here over the next couple of months. For the most part, I think Susan Martin has been a good President at EMU, probably the best of the ones I’ve experienced. So you know, more power to her.

It is kind of funny though that she’s retiring from EMU and I’m “retiring” EMUTalk.org at about the same time. Coincidence?

“Now that Agilix’s BUZZ software has been fully beta-tested by Detroit student guinea pigs, it’s time to cash in!”

Via Steve Wellinski– friend of the site, and my colleague in Teacher Education who is the point person on the fight against the EAA– comes this from the eclectablog, “Now that Agilix’s BUZZ software has been fully beta-tested by Detroit student guinea pigs, it’s time to cash in!” A quote:

As I reported over a year ago, the Education Achievement Authority – Gov. Rick Snyder’s failed education experiment on Detroit children – was used as a testing ground for software that endeavors to teach children using computers with little teacher interaction. The colossal failure of this software called BUZZ has been well-documented here on this site.

Check out that article and follow those links for more details. I’m all for using technology to help teachers teach better, though the idea of using computers to replace teachers is a pretty crappy idea. Further, it seems really strange to me that this company is pointing to the clearly failing EAA as a “case study” to promote this software. I’m not marketing expert, but don’t you want to point to “success stories” to sell a product like this?

BoR and EAA news

I’m getting ready to get out of town for a conference that has to do with my day job, but I thought I’d share some links and such about the most recent Board of Regents meeting, which took place yesterday, and which I assume featured green beer (though I haven’t seen that reported anywhere).

First off, here’s a link to the official word of the meeting from the EMU web site. Among other things, the BoR approved money for health-related programs that are going to be housed in the refurbished Rackham Hall, and they approved some money to expand the Honors College.

But it sounds like the big drama at the meeting was about the EAA. mLive reported “EMU regents shut down again as EAA protesters disrupt meeting,” which featured a die-in from students. There’s video on the site.

I also received an email from Steve Wellinski, the professor in Education at EMU who has been leading the charge against the EAA, which included a number of documents. He said that he wasn’t able to make it to the meeting to give his statement, but here it is:

President Martin, Provost Schatzel, and EMU Community . . . I did not come here to praise the Regents’ for their actions on December 5th. Nor, did I come here to bury/embarrass the Regents.   The Regents are ‘honorable’ appointees.   Let us not forget that they offered a noble reason for continuing with the inter-local agreement that established the EAA: “to help those kids in Detroit.”

A. The Governor’s action last week illuminates the problems of Detroit as political NOT As such, the Regents with political loyalties chose to ignore the multiple educational options in favor of their political agreement. As the Regents are ‘honorable’ appointees, this must be the right path for those kids of Detroit.

B. It is convenient to have 2 honorable appointees simultaneously serving on the EAA Board. Yes, their unwillingness to investigate hindered FOIA requests or disregard potential EMU-EAA partnership opportunities — criteria outlined in their December 5th resolution — might be viewed as a compromised allegiance. Regents Morris and Treder-Lange are honorable appointees dutifully serving their board . . . which one?!?

C. Regent Stapleton claims that EMU faculty did not “hold an open mind to {their} agreement.” Regent Stapleton is an ‘honorable’ appointee and if he judged my mind as not open during my efforts to create practicum proposals for his EAA partners, it must be so . . .

D. Regent Webb defines the teachers who speak-out against his agreement as “bullies.” Regent Webb is an ‘honorable’ appointee and if he characterizes these teachers who have been committed to our EMU students without any university acknowledgement or compensation (not even a tuition discount) as “bullies,” it must be so . . .

E. Regent Morris recently declared the EAA’s reclamation “as impressive and well-thought out.” His efforts as Chairman and CEO of American Electric Power (AEP) “laying off thousands of workers, while collecting massive profits and bilking the taxpayers out of hundreds of millions” certainly establishes his credibility to make such a declaration. Regent Morris is an ‘honorable’ appointee and if he is impressed . . .

F. Regent Stapleton has recently voiced long-standing reservations about this agreement in part because he understands that Black Lives Matter. Yes, his concerns were lost in the celebratory fist-bump during the press conference introducing the EAA. But, his October email warning us of the Snyder Endorsement from the owners’ of The Chronicle as “the worst kind of African American . . . that have gotten theirs and care little about anyone else.” This certainly shows efforts to safeguard his community. Regent Stapleton is an ’honorable’ appointee and if believes that the EAA is good for the Black Community, it must be so . . .

G. EAA Chancellor Conforme is honorable as well . . . And, if she declares that “three years into this, achievement hasn’t moved,” it must be so . . .

Yes, the Regents are ‘honorable’ appointees!

“Study says many Michigan charter authorizers succeeding but poor performers have more schools”

A loyal EMUTalk.org reader just sent me this link in mLive: “Study says many Michigan charter authorizers succeeding but poor performers have more schools.”  This is a story about a report about how there is a relationship between the number of charter schools being authorized by an institution and how well those charter schools are doing. Go read it and you’ll see what I mean. But here’s the quote that really stands out (and not in a good way):

While the majority of the authorizers in the study got an A or B grade, the majority of the students who attend charter schools in the state don’t attend schools chartered by those authorizers.

Central Michigan University received a C grade, while Oakland University, Detroit Public Schools and Saginaw Valley State University all received D grades.

Eastern Michigan University and Northern Michigan University both received F grades. Northern received zero points for improving chronically failing schools and just 14 points for setting standards for current schools.

“Student performance at the schools authorized by one of our ‘F’ authorizers, Eastern Michigan University, borders on criminal,” the report states. “All nine schools ranked by the state were in the bottom third of all schools statewide. All but one school was ranked among the bottom 25 percent of schools in the state.

Most of the authorizer’s schools demonstrated low student improvement, with eight of nine schools showing significantly worse improvement in elementary math than the average Michigan school.”



And a few bits of EAA news

Also during the break, there were a few bits of EAA news, both from friend of the site/fellow EMU faculty member Steve Wellinski:

First, I was forwarded by Wellinski an email that he sent to the regents, which also contains some useful links about the EAA. Let me quote from that here:

Attached is an analysis of the effectiveness of Michigan’s  Educational Achievement Authority authored by Michigan State University’s Mary Mason and David Arsen (Hopefully, you are aware of Arsen’s respected expertise in this field).   Mason and Arsen unequivocally confirm the facts that your own experts (the faculty) have been sharing with you — This is NOT a debate between educational models as the EAA has nothing to do with education (TEACHING and LEARNING). http://education.msu.edu/epc/library/papers/documents/WP43MichigansEducationAchievementAuthority.pdf

Now, I do know there are those who refuse to read long factual accounts.  So, I am sharing a link to respected educator, Bill Boyle’s summary of the poignant parts of the report.



The even shorter version of the report about the EAA and the analysis of the report: The EAA sucks. The indirect message is EMU shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

Wellinski also forwarded me an email about an ongoing FOIA request by Tom Pedroni, who is a professor at Wayne State. One of the interesting twists there with this ongoing request (apparently, it’s been in the works now for like eight months) is part of the specifically cited responsiveness to FOIA requests as part of the things that need to change with the EAA for EMU to stay a part of it all. Of course, just because the regents said that doesn’t mean that they actually mean that.

“GUEST POST: EMU faculty honor University President Susan Martin’s courage & leadership and ask for her help re: the EAA”

It’s not a guest post here (though I always welcome such things); rather, it’s at the site eclecta blog, “GUEST POST: EMU faculty honor University President Susan Martin’s courage & leadership and ask for her help re: the EAA.” It’s a letter addressed to President Martin by EMU professor and friend of the site here Steve Wellinski, and I’d definitely encourage anyone and everyone who cares about the whole EAA mess to take a look at it. I’ll just quote from the opening paragraph because I think this is important:

President Martin,

On December 5th, the politically appointed Board of Regents intentionally placed our beloved Eastern Michigan University (EMU) in a merciless stranglehold. I need not remind you of the darkness that engulfed our community with their simpleminded choice. But, it is important to publicly recognize that a beacon of light did appear that afternoon – YOUR courageous step in recommending the severance of the inter-local agreement that establishes the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA).

Amen to that and to the other administrators who have joined the cause here to get EMU out the EAA.