Tuesday, November 25, 2014

AAUP Supports Oregon Teaching Fellows

November 25th, 2014

AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum issued the following statement on the situation of graduate teaching fellows at the University of Oregon:
The AAUP commends the University of Oregon faculty senate on its stand against the administration’s attempt to subvert faculty governance and weaken academic standards as means to undermine the potential Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation's strike.
In the 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, the AAUP affirms that the faculty “has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.” This standard is reaffirmed in the University of Oregon’s constitution. Decisions related to these fundamental academic areas must involve the faculty, through the appropriate shared governance body, and we commend the faculty senate for demanding that the administration adhere to these professional standards.
The university administration’s attempt to circumvent the shared governance process in order to break a potential strike by the graduate employees makes their action all the more troubling. The AAUP has long recognized academic unionization as both a fundamental right and an effective means of furthering AAUP’s core principles of academic freedom, due process, and economic security for all academic workers. We stand in solidarity with the GTFF and call on the administration to return to the table and to negotiate in good faith.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Potential Strike at University of Oregon

Greetings to all of you:

As we enter the week of Thanksgiving, my hope is that all of us can find some moments, and hopefully much more, to reflect on the spirit of this holiday. Please enjoy time with your loved ones.

Potential Strike at University of Oregon
I want to let you know that the Executive Council of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation at the University of Oregon has voted to strike effective December 2. This union represents about 1500 Graduate Teaching Fellows and Research Assistants. GTFF is fighting for a living wage, dental benefits, and paid parental and sick leave.

Here is a link to a message from the GTFF President, Joe Henry:

Here is a link to Corey Robin's blog (filled with more links and information):

Here is a link to a statement from AAUP re: this action:

Here is where you can sign the petition to support GTFF:

We will keep you posted on this situation.
Take good care!
Pam Miller
PSU-AAUP President

Friday, November 21, 2014

Portland State professor unlocks virus that could lead to drugs for HIV

November 20th, 2014

A Portland State University biology professor who's been tramping around the globe for 18 years hunting viruses has marked a breakthrough that could help patients infected with the HIV virus that leads to AIDS.
Professor Ken Stedman and his team are the first to unlock the structure of a virus found in volcanic hot springs in Japan. The discovery took their breath away: It resembled human immunodeficiency virus, which scientists had thought was unique.
"It's a lot like two HIVs stuck together," Stedman said. "It's a really big milestone."
His finding, made in collaboration with biologist Marc Morais at the University of Texas Medical Branch, could pave the way for the development of HIV drugs that disturb the virus' structure, making it difficult for the organism to mutate and adapt.
Many current HIV drugs target genes involved replicating the virus. But the genes are flexible. They can get around the drugs. Medication aimed at the structure itself would make the organism more vulnerable.

Portland State University raises millions for scholarships, ahead of schedule

The Oregonian
November 19th, 2014

Christine and David Verniersuccessful Portland-area entrepreneurs who never attended Portland State University, announced Tuesday evening they will donate $3.6 million for scholarships to help generations of PSU students afford college.
Their gift, giant by PSU standards, highlights an unusually successful drive by Portland State president Wim Wiewel and his fundraising team to win donations for the need he says is "right at the top of the list:" scholarships for needy, bright and diverse young Oregonians to earn degrees at PSU.
With the Verniers' gift and another anonymous $3 million donation also announced Tuesday, Portland State has raised $44 million for scholarships in just over two years, exceeding the pace that Wiewel had set to raise $50 million in 3 1/2 years, he said.
Last week, the University of Oregon reeled in a single $50 million donation from alumna Connie Ballmer and her Microsoft billionaire husband Steve Ballmer, $25 million of which went to endow scholarships for Oregon students.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Faculty receives grant to study climate change, Klamath region

PSU Vanguard
November 18th, 2014

Portland State environmental science and management faculty members Robert Scheller and Melissa Lucash received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of climate change and fire on the Klamath region of Oregon and California.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service website, “The Klamath National Forest encompasses nearly 1.7 million acres of land straddling the California and Oregon border.”
The website also said the Klamath National Forest is one of the most biologically diverse regions
in America.
“We focused our grant on that area because it’s this hotspot of [biodiversity], but also because it’s an area where people are worried about climate change and fire,” Lucash said. “There is more frequent fires than there used to be, and they think that that’s driven by this climate change increasing temperatures.”

Friday, November 14, 2014

Member Message November 14th, 2014

Greetings everyone:

I hope this member message finds you all well. Winter came early this year...we shall see what the weather holds for us in the upcoming months.

New Hire
Great news! PSU-AAUP has hired a full-time internal organizer, Michelle Zellers! She will begin on December 1. She will be busy working with the Executive Council, the Executive Director, and all of you to mobilize our union and move us towards the bargaining table in spring of 2015. We hope you can meet her personally early in winter quarter.

Summer Term
We resent the survey for summer session. It is very important for us to gather data so that we can develop a response and plan for summer of 2015 as well as consider the impact on collective bargaining. Hope to see you at the coffee hour drop in from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Friday, November 21 in 238 Smith. Members of your Executive Council and CORE will be present to speak with you individually and in small groups about your experiences this past summer.
Here is a letter to the editor of the Portland State Vanguard about summer term written by Patricia Schechter, Professor of History and member of PSU-AAUP's Executive Council.

Armed Police Force
There is another meeting of the Committee on Campus Public Safety on Monday, November 24 at University Place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. There does not appear to be an agenda for this meeting on the website at this time. Students, Faculty Senate, staff, and faculty across the campus are continuing to be engaged about having an armed police force on our campus. This could be the last opportunity to air your views before the full Board of Trustees makes a decision on December 11.

Warm regards,

Pam Miller
PSU-AAUP President

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Summer term

Portland State Vanguard
November 10th, 2014

Patricia Schechter

I don’t know anyone who is happy about summer term at Portland State.
In 2013, the abrupt cancellations of some 90 classes, a number of them fully enrolled, left students in the lurch. This move left faculty scratching their heads and earned PSU undesirable coverage in The Oregonian. In 2014, the summer term budget was cut yet units were expected to maintain student credit hours. Departments responded with a patchwork of approaches, most of which involved pay cuts to faculty regardless of rank and a push to online courses, for which students pay more.
The pleasing hum of learning on our summer campus capped by the outdoor August graduation ceremony in the Park Blocks is no more. What will happen this summer? Will empty buildings be rented out to even higher paying customers while we exile our students to D2L? Is this how knowledge serves the city?
Summer term at PSU has become a maquiladora zone in which administrators tinker with schemes to keep tuition flowing but in which questions of student access and retention, program quality and fairness to hard-working faculty appear to be marginal concerns. To be sure, summer term has never been well integrated into shared governance on our campus. This part of faculty work is understood to be part of “additional duties” acknowledged but not exactly regulated in the American Association of University Professors contract.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

PSU-AAUP Communications Committee Seeking Members

The PSU-AAUP Communications Committee is seeking energetic members to serve on the committee. Our communications tasks include working with a mix of social media as well as formal and informal communication channels to connect with PSU-AAUP Members and the community at large.  We hope you will recommend individuals from your units who could contribute their time to this important Committee.

This year the committee’s focus will be to:
  •  Push out stories regarding what work we still have to do to move PSU in the right direction;
  •  Follow up on conversations regarding sworn officers at PSU; and
  • Promote and discuss the opening of a new round of contract bargaining that begins in May.
Please send names of interested individuals to the Communications Committee Co-chairs, Justin Carinci and Emily Ford by November 15th.

Thanks for your commitment and dedication to PSU-AAUP!


Justin & Emily
Communications Committee Co-chairs

Monday, November 3, 2014

Member Message November 3rd, 2014

Greetings everyone:

I hope this message finds you all well. By turning back the clock, it does seem like fall is really here. The extra hour is welcomed!
My message today focuses on our Board of Trustees. Their official duties and responsibilities began on July 1 of this year. University of Oregon and Oregon State also have Boards. The other universities will follow in 2015.

On September 11, I was asked to give a brief overview of our union to the Board at its quarterly meeting. I finished that presentation by asking for a place on the agenda at each meeting to apprise the Board of our activities. The Presiding Officer of Faculty Senate and ASPSU (Associated Students of PSU) each have a standing five minute spot on the agenda at every meeting. This is most likely a carry over from when meetings were a part of the Oregon University system.

On October 27, I was asked to present at the Special Committee on Campus Public Safety concerning an armed police force on our campus. Here is my speech and here is the data from our poll. I shared the results of the poll and then mentioned that that the Board's "corporate" model prevented those who live here, work here and study here from access to them as decision makers for this campus. When members asked me where to send their input on an armed police force on our campus, the best I could do was point them to the Board's Secretary or the President.

On Wednesday, October 29, I received a phone call from the Board of Trustees' Chairman, Mr. Nickerson. He told me that none of the other 2 boards in Oregon have contact information for their members. He apologized for taking so long to get back to me concerning my request for time on the Boards' agenda at each meeting. He said he has just completed his poll of the Board members and the decision was that AAUP could not have time on the standing agenda (nor would any of the other unions on our campus). Mr. Nickerson said I could speak during the public comment period that is offered at the end of each Board meeting, or I could ask him for agenda time and he would consider my request. As President of our union and all it stands for and has accomplished on our campus, this felt dismissive and I find the timing of the denial to speak at each Board meeting quite interesting.

My feedback was that I was disappointed that the Board decided to not grant this time and I also added that it felt like I was being reprimanded for my words at the Campus Public Safety meeting on Monday.

In conclusion, my hope is that the next meeting of this Committee will offer more public input and less administrative filibuster on an armed police force on our campus. The meeting on October 27 was dominated by justification for an armed police force and students of color spoke at the very end. PSU-AAUP is not unified on this and I understand that. However, all groups need to have equal time to speak and all of us should have access to this Board who will set policies and practices for our campus. That's how a public university works!


Take care everyone,  
Pam Miller
PSU-AAUP President