sarahy
May 25, 2018

Critical Inquiry Training Stipend

7 comments

Hi to members at USC-Aiken and to members at any other chapters who may have helpful suggestions. USC-Aiken members may have heard about the recent, surprise announcement that the training stipend for attending the Critical Inquiry (CI) Summer Institute will be reduced from the expected $600 amount to $300. It is my understanding that any instructor who teaches CI at USC-Aiken is required to take the training to teach the CI class. Many of the CI instructors are adjuncts, and this sudden reduction in expected pay could really place them in a bind. Also, other faculty not scheduled to teach the CI class can take the paid training for professional development purposes. While budget constraints may make it necessary to adjust the amount of the training stipend at times, it is important for the administration to communicate such changes with proper notice. Next year, it may be appropriate to offer a lower stipend, but for this year, those of us who enrolled with the expectation of a $600 stipend should get it in full. (My two cents.) Does anyone else have comments or suggestions on this issue?

davidb
May 25, 2018

I don't think higher admins with their six figure salaries understand the impact the loss of a few hundred dollars can have on junior faculty, especially adjuncts who live hand-to-mouth over the summer. My understanding is that USCA's last accreditation review identified critical thinking as a weakness and critical Inquiries was created to address that problem. Unfortunately it's mostly taught by under resourced adjuncts who can't vote in faculty assembly or serve on committees and have no means of redress. Has anyone complained directly to administration? How was this communicated? Who administers the CI program? The situations reminds me of the county in Texas that outlawed the teaching of critical thinking....

tomacbyg
May 26, 2018

I agree, it was very naughty of them to pull a bait-and-switch. One idea might be for Drs. Deal and Bruzina to meet with Dr. Timmons (acting provost or whatever the correct title might be) to represent these concerns. I am about over the summer and could possibly join an AAUP delegation to his office if needed.

davidb
May 26, 2018

I know for a fact that the more laggardly of those two bums won’t be useful for at least another fortnight.

In the meantime, maybe some additional raps on the knuckles could be mustered.

 

Were there any tenured faculty signed up for the workshop? If so, maybe one or more could be recruited to set up a petition or delegation to express the group’s disappointment? (If notice of the change was sent by email, there will be a useful contact list of folks immediately impacted.)

Anyone on the FWC signed up? Perhaps the committee could be nudged towards issuing a frowny as well.

 

(From an AAUP perspective, what are some good ways of characterizing this issue’s relationship with faculty governance and academic freedom?)

 

AAUP of SC
May 26, 2018

I have answers to some of the questions asked.

 

The notice was sent via email to everyone signed up for the CI institute on 5/11. The current CI coordinator was unexpectedly informed of the change in stipend on 5/10. The change was made by the office of Academic Affairs which is in charge of funding for the CI program. Looking through the email list, there were 43 people signed up prior to the change in the stipend. Although I do not know the status of everyone on the list, at least 7 are adjuncts, and 25 are full time. The number of participants has increased each year, but very few participants ever elect to teach the course. There is a mix of full-time and adjuncts who teach CI, but I would estimate that more adjuncts teach CI than full-time instructors, and theorize that those numbers reflect the pay rate for teaching CI classes; in terms of prep and class time v. compensation, teaching CI is a "good deal" for adjuncts, but not an especially "good deal" for faculty who are accustomed to earning more per credit hour. The CI director has made changes to the institute to compensate for the reduced stipend for attending. Originally the schedule was 8 am to 5 pm for all attendees both days. That schedule has been altered to 8am-4:30 pm on day one, and 8am-2:45 pm on day two for those NOT teaching CI in the coming year. Those teaching will attend 8am-4:30 pm on both days.

 

There were people on the FWC signed up to attend prior to the change in stipend. I am unsure who has opted out. I have heard a few people mention that they have cancelled their attendance. I have not opted out. I am scheduled to present and will be attending both days for the full duration.

philipm
May 27, 2018

I can respect that there are budget restraints and that there are needs to reduce compensation for participation. As aforementioned, many of the participants do not teach the CI course and attend for an opportunity to achieve both professional development and monetary compensation and it is not unreasonable to reduce (or eliminate) compensation for attendees who will not be teaching the course. I find it nothing less than dastardly or incompetent to announce that pay will be reduced by half only a fortnight before its scheduled date when most staff are no longer on campus. I am skeptical that the timing of this announcement is coincidental. Of course, it should also be noted that the Vice Chancellor made Dr. Vieyra deliver his bad news. I am certain that this was less than a uncomfortable assignment for her. Anecdotally, some folks have spoken about protesting by not attending at all, but most have said that they are forced to attend because they need the money so badly they cannot turn away from it. Most of the people I have spoken to have attended this for years and have now become accustomed this supplemental resource and were nothing less than cut at the knees when the announcement came because the money. They quite simply have to attend because this money was more or less spent before it arrived. I really have nothing new to add except that the timing of this announcement is suspect at best.

sarahy
May 29, 2018

'davidb asked:

 

'From an AAUP perspective, what are some good ways of characterizing this issue’s relationship with faculty governance and academic freedom?"

 

Well, the fact that Dr. Vieyra as CI Coordinator was not made a part of the decision-making on this is a problem. We'd have to ask her for exactly what happened, but it seems to have been a decision imposed on her from admin, and as others have noted, she was left to communicate the bad news to us. I don't get the sense she was involved in making the decision. From a faculty governance perspective, it seems the coordinator of the program should be consulted and involved when there are "fiscal" decisions made that have such an impact on the program.

 

As for getting FWC involved, I am aware that at least one member is open to addressing the issue. I don't want to speak in place of that person on this forum, but the discussion has been had.

davidb
May 30, 2018

FWC has agreed to take up the issue next meeting. We'll have an AAUP person there.

 

AAUP/Redbook position is (roughly) faculty should have input over who teaches what to whom under what circumstances....

 

Coordinator should have had input. It affects adjunct faculty who don't have representation....

 

I assume Vieyra and other folks signed up for the workshop have made AA aware their concerns--was there any response?

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