All full and part-time faculty and professional athletic staff belong to the Rider University American Association of University Professors (AAUP), a union established 40 years ago in response to poor working conditions. Since that time the AAUP has negotiated with successive administrations to build a contract, or agreement, largely responsible for the fine reputation Rider currently enjoys.
Our agreement ensures faculty members have meaningful roles in academic decision-making, from hiring and promoting the best people to creating courses, degrees, and programs. It guarantees our members will be treated fairly and equitably, and provides mechanisms for resolving disputes. It provides opportunities for our continuing professional development and includes a mix of compensation and benefits that make it possible to hire top candidates in every field.
This administration’s proposed changes threaten virtually every element of our agreement. Faculty would lose their vote in making academic decisions. Support for professional development would plummet. New categories of faculty would be created with dramatically lower compensation, higher workloads, and different rights. The use of part-time faculty would increase substantially and all provisions that guarantee their loyalty to Rider would disappear; their compensation would be reduced to the lowest in the state. Over time the number of full-time faculty would shrink by 40 percent.
The rationale for this administration’s proposals is sobering: Because it is commonplace to pay people poorly, treat them badly, and give them no true voice, this administration claims that the University should also embrace these “best practices.” They have already embraced another “best practice”— that of rewarding upper management during a period of hardship for students and modest improvement for faculty. During 2002–12, the years for which we have University data, the administration increased tuition 59 percent while faculty compensation rose a mere 17 percent. During the same period, compensation for Rider’s top administrators increased an average of 69 percent while the president’s compensation leapt by 79 percent.
Faculty are deeply concerned by this administration’s vision for Rider’s future. Administrators come and go, but faculty and students must live with the consequences of their actions. We simply cannot follow the path they have proposed because it leads to the destruction of our University.
What faculty want to do is work with our students, but we are willing to do whatever necessary to preserve the integrity of the institution to which we have dedicated our lives.
-The Rider University AAUP Negotiating Team
Jeff Halpern, Chief Negotiator, Mike Brogan, Gary Brosvic,
Dave Dewberry, Herb Gishlick, Joel Phillips, Nancy Westburg
Printed in the 09/17/14 issue.