The Annual Meeting of the Louisiana State Conference of the American Association of University Professors occurred on April 19, 2008 on the campus of Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge .
The meeting was called to order at 11:15 by President Al Burstein. Attendees introduced themselves.
The next item of business was consideration of a group of proposed changes to the constitution and by-laws of the Conference designed to bring them into line with contemporary practice. The proposed changes had been posted to the conference website prior to the meeting and the membership informed through the listserv of their presence there. After discussion, it was moved and seconded that the changes be adopted. The motion passed unanimously.
A slate of candidates for state office was proposed by the Nominating Committee, chaired by Gloria Giarratano. The slate consisted of Al Burstein, President; William Stewart, Vice-President; Paul Bell, Treasurer; Linda Carroll, Secretary; Mike Fontenot, At-Large Member. The membership had been given prior notice of the nominees via posting to the website and e-mail communication. As none of the positions was contested, the slate was adopted by acclamation.
The financial report for 2007 was presented by outgoing treasurer Charles Delzell. The opening balance was $14,145.63. Through the treasurer's diligent efforts, some funds have been put in a savings account and some into a certificate of deposit, which produced a total of $216.06 in interest. Other income included dues payments of $1630.84 and a per capita grant of $660. Expenditures of $1449.48 were reported. The final balance was $15, 203.05. A lively discussion ensued regarding the relative merits of putting various sums into certificates of deposit and/or of expending various amounts in the service of membership development. It was moved and seconded that the new treasurer explore the rates and maturity periods offered by various financial institutions and report back to the executive committee. Treasurer Delzell was given a round of applause for his activities. In a later discussion over lunch, much enthusiasm was expressed for the notion of a coordinated campaign of advertisement of a calendar of chapter and conference meetings in student newspapers this autumn as well as for other expenditures that would augment the activities of the conference.
A summary of the contents of a report that will be published shortly in Academe on the status of the censured Louisiana institutions was given by Linda Carroll, one of the regional delegates to National Council. While some progress has been reported at most of them, the only one where the extent and nature of the progress was termed 'encouraging' was Southern University, New Orleans . Two of the University of New Orleans terminated faculty members reported on their unresolved status and their ongoing discussions with the university. Despite the end of the university's state of financial exigency, they have not been restored to their previous positions.
One attendee provided more detail about the UNO situation:
Out of the tenured faculty dismissed under "financial exigency" from the University of New Orleans , approximately 38 registered a valid appeal in 2006. Financial exigency expired at the end of the fiscal calendar in 2007.
Throughout 2006-7 the administration repeatedly stated their intention to terminate furloughed faculty when exigency expired. Forced into an involuntary "leave without pay" status since the Fall of 2006, only 8 continued with their appeals in 2007. The UNO Faculty Handbook makes no mention of a "leave without pay" status. Moreover, the official documentation regarding furlough, termination and appeal refers consistently to a right of individual affected faculty members to "repositioning," apparently on the basis of the Bylaws and Regulations of the LSU System, under Declaration of Financial Exigency, which refers to "existing programs² (5.13a). Six faculty members were subsequently considered for repositioning, or given their original jobs back, at the end of 2006-7. But each person's circumstance is different, as programs were not equally affected by restructuring or subsequent departures. Multiple lawsuits are pending and two tenured members of the UNO faculty remain on involuntary leave without pay, disenfranchised from faculty affairs, while their appeals have gone to the LSU System President and the Board of Supervisors for action. UNO has to date not aknowledged any obligation to reposition tenured faculty and has made no offer of temporary employment.
Treasurer Charles Delzell located the policy statement concerning various kinds of leaves (P.M. 20, I.B.5; <
http://www.lsusystem.lsu.edu/pdf/PM/PM-20.pdf>) ; the text referring to leaves without pay specifies that they are "granted," which carries the implication that they are initiated voluntarily by the faculty and not imposed unilaterally by the administration.
Bill Stewart gave the legislative report. Bills of particular concern are HB
199 allowing concealed firearms on campus and forbidding campus authorities from countermanding such permission; SB 561 permitting the use of religious texts in the discussion of scientific topics (it was learned after the conference meeting that a list of specific topics, including evolution, had been cut from the bill, which was left with an emphasis on 'objectivity' in teaching science; the bill however still permits the use of religious texts in science instruction and is an egregious example of legislative usurpation of the faculty responsibility of setting the curriculum); and HB 179 that would allow for the reduction of accrual of Annual and Sickleave, currently a matter of state law, on a campus-by-campus basis. A description of this bill with an illustrative Q & A had been distributed to the listserv by Prof. Stewart, president of the Association of Louisiana Faculty Senates. A rather different account of the bill coming from a member of the Louisiana State University Human Resources office, the originator of the bill, was given by Treasurer Delzell. Some of its assertions, including that the authors had worked with all of the Senates in the LSU system concerning it, were questioned by attendees (who are serving members of the LSU Faculty Senate).
Al Burstein provided a report on situations of concern that have arisen on Louisiana campuses. It has been reported that Louisiana College is returning to a prior policy of having course content approved by the president. The National Office has authorized an investigation of Nicholls State University 's dismissal of a long-serving faculty member. The investigating committee is composed of Becky Williams of the University of Central Arkansas (chair) and former Louisiana Conference member Carl Ventrice.
The discussion of chapter services grants focussed on an advertisement campaign to be carried out through campus newspapers; advertisements would be placed in campus newspapers around the beginning of the academic year to present to new and ongoing faculty members a calendar of meetings both of individual campus chapters and of the state conference. Another welcomed idea was that the conference should explore establishing contact with the American Federation of Labor, the bargaining agent for faculty members on some state campuses, and ally with them on issues of shared concern.
The chief item of other business consisted of a group of proposals intended to improve the state conference's relations with legislators. One of them was to form a legislative committee composed of faculty members with legislative contacts, especially retired faculty members wishing to remain active. Several names were suggested. President Burstein said that he would draw up a text that would be sent out, that attendees should contact potentially-interested individuals and that a notice would be put on the listserv.
Discussion continued over a luncheon arranged by LSU colleagues. The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.
Linda L. Carroll