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Once Again, the Morrill Hall Gang Tramples Faculty Rights

From a Blanket Email by the President:

March 12, 2010

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Thank you for the robust discussion on the proposed faculty furlough plan that took place at the March 4 University Senate meeting. As you know, the Faculty Senate will be asked to vote on a temporary reduction in salary at a special meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 25.

Under Section 4.5 of the Tenure Code (which can be found online at http://www1.umn.edu/regents/policies/humanresources/FacultyTenure.pdf), the president determines, in consultation with the executive leadership team, that the University faces a financial stringency. (This is quite different from a state of fiscal emergency, which requires a formal declaration of the Board of Regents.) In such circumstances the president may propose a temporary reduction or postponement in compensation for faculty, and the Faculty Senate must vote to authorize a temporary reduction in faculty compensation. It is my considered judgment that we do, in fact, face a financial stringency...

[President Bruininks, you cite section 4.5 of the tenure code and ignore other sections of it that are directly relevant to the present situation. Please see below. Bottom line: you have ignored required actions in this matter and this is just another instance of trying to sidestep legitimate faculty input which is required. This behavior is a continuing disgrace to your administration.]

I would like to share a few additional thoughts. Some of you have raised concerns about paying the 27th pay period, the cost of which is included in this plan. I believe that paying the 27th pay period honors our legal and ethical commitments to compensating our employees for their work. I want to emphasize that the challenge of the 27th pay period will be solved within the next fiscal year to ensure that we do not face this dilemma in future years.

[Bob, this 27th pay period problem was forseeable. To do nothing about it is gross negligence. Why should we trust an administration to chart the best financial course for the institution when it performs in this manner? Other examples of extremely bad financial judgment are evident, e.g. MoreU Park, new unnecessary construction, EFS, I could go on.]

Some have also raised concerns about providing a 2 percent compensation pool in this budget environment. Doing so ..

[So basically I will ignore the almost universal feeling that an increase is uncalled for - especially since it isn't really an increase for most employees but merely administrative sleight of hand.]

The proposed faculty salary reduction is a critical piece of a larger plan to balance the University's budget. I cannot reduce faculty pay without an affirmative vote by the Faculty Senate. If there is not a vote in support of a reduction in pay for faculty, our budget plan going forward will necessarily include deeper college- and unit-level cuts, which will inevitably lead to additional job losses.

[Blackmail much, Bob?]

Robert H. Bruininks

A good description of the President's failure to follow the procedures outlined in the Tenure Code follow:

The president fails to read Section 4.5 (on the temporary reduction of faculty compensation)in conjunction with Section 11.4 (on the same subject).

However, Section 11.2 expressly states that "the following general principles of priority apply IN ANY FINANCIAL CRISIS." A temporary reduction in faculty compensation may be taken in the second stage of a financial crisis. See Section 11.4.

In the first stage of a financial crisis Section 11.3 REQUIRES the president to identify measures to alleviate the situation that do NOT impair faculty rights.

The president must give the senate consultative committee FULL ACCESS to all available information and must RESPOND SPECIFICALLY to additional proposals suggested by the committee. The University MUST consider reductions in expenses, increases in tuition, sales of assets, and borrowing. Such alternative measures MUST be implemented.

Here the proposal of the president violates the Regents' Policy because it goes directly to the temporary reduction of faculty compensation, the second stage of a financial crisis under Section 11.4. Yet Section 11.4 authorizes that measure to be considered only AFTER the University has implemented ALL of the measures that are required to be considered in the first stage and has determined that such measures are not adequate.

Michael W. McNabb
University of Minnesota B.A. 1971; J.D. 1974
University of Minnesota Alumni Association lifetime member

Provost Sullivan, Counsel Rotenberg, what say you?

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