Budget threatens Iowa State employees

Budget cuts have eliminated many non-faculty or professional positions and are forcing many people to relocate within the University. Although there are policies in place to protect employees’ jobs, some people are still having trouble with the reassignments.

“It’s kind of upsetting because you become attached to the department that you are at,” says Jill Litwiller, secretary at Women’s Studies. “You know the responsibilities and you know what you’re doing. You wouldn’t choose to leave.”

When a position is eliminated within a department, whoever occupied the position is allowed to relocate to a similar position within the university. The relocated employee will have to “bump” another employee from their position based on their seniority and therefore will force them to find another position and repeat the process or be laid off.

Fortunately, employees are protected by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and therefore, have some insulation from being laid off. The AFSCME contract includes provisions for individuals whose positions have been removed to relocate to another position provided it is within the same class title.

A class is a job title that includes positions like secretaries, clerks, and assistants. However, jobs performed by secretaries and clerks can vary widely between departments and often take long periods of time to train for.

Therefore, even if one employee gets moved to another position of the same title, they may not be prepared to adequately perform the required duties.

“It’s sad because there are so many people that know that position and know the responsibilities,” Litwiller said. “They’re not all the same. People have been trained for the position, and then they get bumped to a position that they don’t have any experience in.”

However, administrators at Iowa State are also in a tough spot because although they try to make sure everyone is placed in a good position, not everyone can be accommodated.

“It may not be the perfect match, but it’s designed to affect as few people as possible,” said Andy Bock, president of AFSCME Local 96. It’s designed to fulfill the needs of the institution and the needs of the employee.”

Employees who have to be bumped also have the choice of being voluntarily laid off, or changing their title – which would also limit their rights as employees and could reduce their pay.

“If an employee is unhappy about being bumped, it’s certainly understandable,” Bock said. “Through the contact they are given certain opportunities they would not have been given if they were not.”

Task force to present findings to Senate

A task force of the ISU Faculty Senate found that non-tenure faculty limitations to be determined by individual departments would be best suited for Iowa State, rather than setting a university-wide quota of non-tenure faculty allowed in each program.

The group announced that the university will leave it to the departments to determine the percent of instruction — determined by number of credit hours — that will be taught by non-tenure eligible faculty at the ISU Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday.

The task force found that because each department is different in its needs for non-tenure-faculty-taught courses and therefore cannot establish standards across the university.

However, there was intense opposition from the senate because of ambiguity regarding how each department would determine the proper percent of non-tenure instruction.

There are no guidelines or standards in place for determining the number because it is left up to the departments to set an non-tenure eligible percent instruction goal.

The senate was skeptical as to how each department is supposed to justify why it would be above or below the determined goal.

The ISU Faculty Senate also discussed an amendment to the handbook regarding removal of faculty members for not performing their duties adequately and to the standards set by Iowa State.

The handbook currently states that faculty members will be removed if they were not adequately performing their duties which includes but is not limited to things like not showing up to class to teach and not participating in faculty committees or boards.

The amendment received intense criticism from many faculty members because it does not explicitly define what is considered adequate performance. Many were concerned that faculty members would be removed from their positions because of prejudices and poor relationships between their departments.

Faculty Senate to discuss task force results

The Faculty Senate will meet to discuss the graduation list, vote on amendment to the faculty handbook, discuss results from the NTE Task Force and to pay respects to departed colleagues.

The most hotly debated subject will be the results from the Task Force to Examine Limits on Non-tenure Eligible Faculty.

The task force is a committee of ISU faculty that are working with AAUP guidelines to regulate faculty positions and to determine whether their guidelines are compatible with the learning environment and standards here at Iowa State.

“These are coming forward not as policy, but as recommendations,” said Faculty Senate President Mike Owen. “The thing we are wanting to do is to make sure that the faculty recognizes that. While some people are rather cynical saying that there is nothing we can do as far as achieving the number for NTE, but we certainly recognize that the cultures of each department are different so they all have very different needs.”

Owen also recognized concerns for colleges like the College of Design and the Greenlee School of Journalism that employ many lecturers who have teaching responsibilities at Iowa State alongside independent professional careers. He stated these faculty members are very important because of the high standards of professionalism and skill of instruction maintained at Iowa State.

“I think it is ignoring the key differences that exist between colleges that basically makes up the fabric of our ability to provide high quality instruction for the students,” Owen said.

In other words, many colleges depend on classes taught by non-tenure eligible faculty because they need experienced professionals.

Owen said there won’t be major changes and people should not be too concerned. Instead, this is an exercise to examine each college and promote discussion between deans and faculty.

“What we are wanting to do is to engage the faculty with administration both at the department level and the college level as to what the university should look like,” Owen said.

The senate will be casting the final vote on the amendment to the faculty handbook to renaming academic units. The amendment did not meet much resistance when it was proposed at the last meeting. It is mainly meant to streamline the process of renaming units after it was moved by a previous amendment.

The senate will also be addressing a new amendment to the faculty handbook regarding “Abandonment of Post.” Owen summarized the policy saying, “Faculty can be dismissed from their post that they were working on explicitly defining the repercussions when faculty members do not fulfill their duties.”

The meeting will take place 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union

New policy threatens non-tenure track faculty

This week, the Faculty Senate debated a new policy that could potentially restructure departments across the university and even eliminate some non-tenure positions.

The policy, slated for vote in December, is based on the findings of The Task Force for Examining the Limits on NTE Faculty, a committee organized by the Faculty Senate, whose purpose is to examine the percentage of non-tenure eligible faculty relative to tenure eligible faculty.

The task force is currently trying to find a way to balance the number of non-tenure with tenured and tenure-eligible faculty members with respect to funding that has been reorganized by the new Resource Management Model. They are currently working to understand and justify the number of non-tenure track positions, especially for departments that fall above the proposed goal of 25 percent.

“What the FDAR and the task force has done … is to provide a vehicle for which we can engage in the discussion as to what is actually going on in the departments and the colleges with regard to our tenure eligible faculty,” said Micheal Owen, professor of agronomy and president of Faculty Senate.

The 25 percent goal is based on standards determined by the American Association of University Professors and from 11 other peer institutions. However, some faculty members criticize the goal as an arbitrary number that has no practical application because it is unrealistic for many departments.

“The task force never really knew if these numbers made any sense. They’re just the recommendation of the AAUP,” said John Mayfield, professor of genetics, development and cell biology and former member of the task force.

The task force found that the NTE’s needs vary greatly from department to department, so they plan to shift focus to individual departments, rather than setting university standards, to understand what changes need to be made or whether the goal is unrealistic.

“Clearly a number of departments are [more than] 25 percent, and we don’t know as a Faculty Senate what’s going on, and in some cases, it makes very good sense for it to be at a certain level because actually the expertise is at a different level. That should become evident as the responsibility statements go forward,” said Ann Smiley-Oyen, associate professor of kinesiology and presenting member of the task force.

The new plan states that in order to determine whether or not a department is meeting their goals, the deans of colleges will issue a report called a responsibility statement every three years that will defend why they have not met their goal for NTE positions.

Many senate members were skeptical of the new system and some even went as far as to call it an exercise in futility. Their argument was that if a significant amount of departments cannot meet the guidelines, then this is simply a waste of paperwork.

“There are a lot of departments in this university that cannot meet these guidelines, or if they did so, being a faculty member in that department would not be worth being a faculty member. Wouldn’t it be better to make it public why we’re in this situation?” Mayfield said.

Another criticism is that if we are following AAUP then we should adhere to all of their guidelines, which would make many NTE positions into tenure track positions to make the process easier.

“We’re not sure how this is all going to work out. I would suspect that in some departments this is going to be a smoother process than in other departments and colleges, but at least its a start to get the discussions going and there may be some friction between departments and deans,” Smiley-Oyen said.

One solution Smiley-Oyen later pointed out was that in order to decrease non-tenure eligible faculty, professors would simply have to teach more classes and spend less time doing research.

Faculty senate to discuss evaluation, curriculum

The Faculty Senate will be discussing additions and revisions to the faculty handbook Tuesday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union. It will be addressing section 5.7, which deals with faculty evaluation and reviewing and proposing a new section.

The new section, 2.8, deals with renaming academic units. It’s intended to replace section 10.8 that was previously removed when the entire section was amended last spring. The change last April was intended to clarify the process of changing, adding and removing curriculum.

The senate is made up of a system of 82 total representatives elected by the general faculty and divided into seven caucuses making up each college.

The senate conducts its business through five committees and the executive board, made up of five councils and the chairpersons of the seven college caucuses and officers.

Iowa State hosts Iowa Music Teachers Association annual conference

Iowa State University Department of Music  hosted the Iowa Music Teacher’s Association State Conference last weekend. The conference is a three-day symposium that offers Iowa music teachers the opportunity to attend master classes, seminars and performances.

The Iowa Music Teacher’s Association is an affiliate of the National Music Teacher’s Association made up of more than 400 Iowa music educators. Nearly 100 Iowa music teachers were in attendance.

The IMTA State Conference has been active for more than 120 years, and has grown since its conception. Different music schools in the state host the conference each year, and the last time Iowa State hosted was 1999.

The conference brought in both local and national educators and performers that included ISU faculty and the featured artist, Brian Ganz, who appeared as the guest artist the last time Iowa State was host.

Ganz has performed with such notable symphony orchestras as the St. Louis Symphony and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. He has also established himself as an international champion in many prestigious piano competitions.

Ganz is also an established teacher, a member of the piano faculty and Peabody Conservatory and also the artist in residence at St. Mary’s College in Maryland. Ganz taught a seminar on performing Chopin’s “Preludes,” and a master class for advanced students.

ISU faculty members Michael Giles and Mason Conklin led presentations that included new technology innovations and jazz piano techniques that can be incorporated into the classroom.

Conklin is an innovator in utilizing advanced classroom technology in his piano classes at Iowa State. Giles is an active clinician, educator and performer in central Iowa and is often featured at the Maintenance Shop with his combo, the 3×5.

The conference featured a performance of the IMTA State contest winners Deborah Austin, and ISU graduate Rachel McCoy. These performers were the winners of the annual IMTA state auditions.

There was also an evening recital featuring pianists William David and Mason Conklin, and percussionists Matthew Coley and Corey Hills, which featured a performance of a newly commissioned piece by Erin Gee and Bela Bartok’s famous “Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.”

This conference followed the National Music Teacher’s Association Conference in March, and the next one will be March 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Summer dance opportunities are alive at Iowa State

Although a large portion of the student body has gone home for the summer, the numerous dance organizations on campus are offering a multitude of things to do for those of us who decided to stick around Ames. Whether or not you have any experience in the art of dance, there are opportunities through the various styles taught by the groups like the ISU Ballroom Dance Club and through the Memorial Union Workspace.

The ISU Ballroom Dance Club hosts weekly dance socials Friday nights throughout the fall and spring semesters, as well as into the summer sessions, but the location may vary depending on the time of year. Although the evening sessions are intended as practice sessions for those taking lessons through the club, ballroom dance instructor Mark Mehl invites people of all skill levels to come and enjoy the free dance. If you show up early, he might even show you a move or two.

The social itself is free, but the club offers instruction for all skill levels and the summer dance lessons will begin mid-June.  The dance lessons cover styles from swing, waltz and foxtrot with an emphasis on Latin styles as well. The music of the socials varies depending on the audience, and the live DJ is always open to requests. The best source for information would be through the ISU Ballroom Dance Club website at www.stuorg.iastate.edu/ballroom or by e-mailing Mark Mehl at ballroom-info@iastate.edu.

The Workspace is also active during the summer. Valerie Williams teaches an Argentine Tango class from 4 – 5 p.m. Sunday, and an offers an open dance from 5 – 7 p.m. The class is open to ISU students, as well as anyone else in the community from any skill level of dancing,

“We have everyone from college students to adults; the age range goes from 18 to 60.” Williams said. “We have a really fun group, Argentine Tango is a social dance, so everyone dances with everyone … we have a lot of fun too.”

Argentine Tango is different from many American styles because it is based primarily on improvisation and interaction between the dancers and the music rather than a standard dance step and variations. There is no basic step to Argentine Tango, because the dance is based on the musicality and interpretation of the music by the dancers. Rather than single steps, Tango is taught through a series of figures, which are a combination of steps that can be built on one another and combined to form intricate conversation between dancers and music. Payment for the class is based on punch cards that can be purchased at the Union.

Ballroom Club Dance Socials
When: 7:30 – 9:45 p.m. Fridays
Where: Gallery Room, Memorial Union
Cost: Free

Workspace Argentine Tango classes
When: 4 – 5 p.m. Sundays, except May 30 and July 4, open dance 5 – 7 p.m.
Where: 3512 Memorial Union
Cost: Punch cards – $30 for students, $40 for non-students

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