Faculty Town Hall: March 31

MAPPING AN AGENDA FOR GW’S FUTURE

WITH A NEW UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT

What do you want our new university president to know?

The GWU Faculty Association is gathering faculty from all units of the university to begin to articulate a collective vision and list of priorities that we can communicate with incoming university President Thomas LeBlanc.

Please join us for a Town Hall for Friday, March 31 at noon in Phillips Hall 328-329.  The event will begin with brief remarks by faculty members from:

The Elliott School of International Affairs
The Milken Institute School of Public Health
The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
The Graduate School of Education and Human Development
and The School of Business

We will then open the discussion to all attendees and map an agenda to present to Dr. LeBlanc when we meet with him later this spring.

Please join us!  And bring a friend.

FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2017
12:00-1:30PM
PHILLIPS HALL 328-329
ALL FACULTY WELCOME

Fall Newsletter

FacCheck

Newsletter of the George Washington University Faculty Association

FALL 2016

In this issue:

  • Fall Colloquium
  • A Win on Health Benefits for 2017
  • GWUFA Speaks on Tech in Classrooms, Provost Listens
  • Shared Governance in the University Presidential Search

GWUFA Fall Colloquium on the Governance of the University

On October 11, 2016, GWUFA hosted the first of several colloquia that will be held over the course of the 2016-17 academic year in order to discuss the relationship of university governance to the wider social-political structures in which we, the faculty, operate both as academic experts and as public intellectuals.

Christopher Britt Arredondo, Associate Professor of Spanish and a member of the GWUFA Steering Committee, presented a brief talk in which he outlined a humanist critique of the administrative culture of the university and proposed intellectual trespass as a new, albeit informal, foundation for shared governance.

According to Professor Britt, the university has ceased to be a place where the many forms of knowledge generated by research are brought together.  Instead, we are confronted today by the consequences of bureaucratic micro-specialization.  Chief among these is the fragmentation of human intelligence and the replacement of well-rounded intellectuals with specialized academic experts.  Our educational system has abandoned the objectives of an all-around education capable of harmonizing the acquisition of technical and scientific knowledge with the emotional and intellectual development of the entire person.  It has turned its back on the humanist project for a reflexive, global, and theoretical understanding of our social, political, and historical reality.  What is called for is an awakening of the life of knowledge, and a resuscitation and expansion of enlightenment through the reintegration of humanistic and technical knowledge: an action for scientific and humanistic intellectuals, which constitutes participation in the governance of both our universities and our democracies.

Following the presentation, there was plenty of time for discussion.  Much of it focused on the development of a platform for GWUFA that would be informed by a renewed sense of the university as a place for reflection where the many are turned into one, affirming the underlying unity of knowledge, nature, and community.

GWUFA’s Spring Colloquium will pick up on these issues — stay tuned for details.


GWUFA Advocates for Better Health Care Benefits

There is both good news and bad news in the benefits changes announced by GW for 2017.  The good news is that the changes could have been far worse. GW’s Human Resources staff proposed raising the out-of-pocket maximum per family on the high-deductible health plan from $6,850 to $10,000, but after vociferous protests by GWUFA members of GW’s Benefits Advisory Committee, the limit was adjusted to $7,150 instead. GW also proposed raising the co-pay to visit a specialist for employees on the PPO plans from $50 to $65, but GWUFA opposition resulted in that co-pay remaining unchanged at $50.

There is, however, more bad news than good. The current “Medium PPO” plan is, for all intents and purposes, being eliminated. This is especially bad news for employees who liked seeing some out-of-network doctors (faculty will now have to run up more than $2,000 in out-of-network bills before the PPO plan will pay any benefits at all). Even in network, the cost of seeing a physician will increase, as GW is raising the co-pay for primary care office visits by 20%. And the monthly premium for the 47% of employees already on the GW Basic PPO plan will increase next year by 10%. So while things could have become far worse but for GWUFA vigilance, in terms of co-pays, deductibles, out-of-network coverage, and out-of-pocket maximums, GW’s medical insurance plans remain woefully subpar.

GWUFA will continue to fight to defend and improve benefits at GW.  You can help by telling your colleagues about GWUFA and wearing your GWUFA button on campus to show our strength.


Technology Issues in Classrooms:  Solved

This fall, many faculty were dismayed to find themselves teaching in classrooms that had inadequate technological capacity.  GWUFA created a form for faculty to report their specific concerns and presented the information directly to the Provost’s office. We spoke and they listened.  The Provost’s office stepped in and got every issue fixed.

This is yet another reminder that GWUFA advocates on your behalf to improve our working conditions, which improves students’ learning conditions.  Join us!


The Next GW President

The Board of Trustees made it very clear in a series of Town Hall meetings this fall that they–and they alone–will select our next president.  They are working in consultation with an appointed Search Committee that includes no faculty of color, only one woman faculty member, and no faculty from the humanities or social sciences.  (Seriously!)  The Board is also working with a search firm that costs the university hundreds of thousands of dollars, but GW will not reveal exactly how much we are paying or what services we are getting.  The lack of transparency and faculty input on every aspect of this process has prompted outrage.

In GW’s last Presidential search in 2007, faculty elected the voting members of the actual search committee.  When asked to state the rationale for skirting this procedure this year and selecting rather than electing a search committee, Search Committee Chair Madeleine Jacobs offered only that the Board “had its reasons.”  In the face of widespread faculty discontent, the Board ultimately relented and created an ad hoc, partially elected “Faculty Consultative Committee.”  The role of this committee, though, is limited to providing feedback on the job description but not on the selection of finalists for the position.  Our representatives on this committee have stressed the need for communication and transparency, and relayed faculty concerns over GW’s increasing bureaucracy, fragmentation, and dysfunction.

If these search procedures were isolated incidents, they would be bad enough.  We know, though, that they are part of an ongoing trend that demonstrates contempt for, or ignorance of, principles of shared governance fundamental to a research university.  Our faculty must speak up, with a heterogeneous but united voice, to demand participation in the consequential decisions at the university.  We must refuse to be silenced!  Lend your voice to the effort by joining GWUFA and passing word of the association on to at least one of your colleagues.


Join Us

Want to get the real news about GW that you can’t get from GW Today or the Hatchet?

Join the GWU Faculty Association and get the news from us first.  Membership is open to all full-time faculty.  1 in 4 are already members.

Read about our principles here.

If you are not already member, please sign up by clicking here.

GW’s Principles of Support for Undocumented Students

GWUFA thanks President Knapp for his leadership in issuing GW’s “Principles of Support for Undocumented Students.”  As an organization that shares his commitment to the educational and research mission of GW, we appreciate his determination to keeping GW a welcoming campus for all its students.

We also hope that the university will pledge to defend undocumented immigrant students from the federal government’s expected legal persecution.

Misleading benefits information in GW Today

Recently GW Today published a misleading story claiming that employee benefits at GW are comparable to those offered at its peer institutions. This claim is based on a flawed report commissioned by the university administration to gainsay the conclusions of President Knapp’s own task force of GW faculty and staff. That original task force report, available on the GWU Faculty Association website here, concluded that “the University holds a significantly weakened competitive position compared to other universities concerning health care benefits.” Apparently Rice Hall did not like its own task force’s recommendation that the university spend more on employee benefits, so instead it spent its money to hire an outside agency to contradict the report.

The report referred to in the GW Today article is flawed because in many cases it compares the cheapest health plans offered at other schools to one of the more expensive ones offered by GW. We have asked Rice Hall to request from its consultant a revised report that compares equivalent health insurance plans, but the GW administration rushed out its flawed report in an effort to suppress the anticipated backlash against the huge 15%, 20%, and 25% (depending on one’s salary) health insurance premium increases for many GW employees that were announced Tuesday.

We in the GWU Faculty Association, a grassroots organization of over 1 in 5 full-time faculty members at GW, have advocated for the past two years that GW pay its fair share of employee benefits. This is only the latest obfuscation by an administration willing to lavish money on real estate, outside consultants, and high salaries and bonuses for top administrators, but not to pay competitive benefits to its own employees.

We call on all GW employees to demand a fair deal from Rice Hall, and we call on Rice Hall to end its pattern of obfuscation and stonewalling on benefits.

We invite all full-time faculty to join the GWU Faculty Association. We provide real information when GW Today provides messaging. We fight for fair employee compensation while Rice Hall treats faculty like a business expense, to be reduced like any other. 

Please join GWUFA today, encourage your colleagues to join, and forward this message.

Membership Meeting

GWU Faculty Association
General Meeting

Tuesday, March 17 • 4:00 PM

Teamster’s Room
7th floor of Gelman library

Find out what we’ve been doing to improve GW’s below average employee benefits, protect academic freedom, and make sure that GW’s expansive building program does not come at the expense of its teaching and research mission. Let us know what you see happening at GW so that we can fight together for an excellent and equitable university.

More GWUFA Faculty Senators

GWUFA members turned out in force for the February 20 CCAS Faculty Meeting to elect all five of the GWUFA members who ran for the Faculty Senate. Congratulations to Harald Griesshammer (Physics), Leslie Jacobson (Theater and Dance), Randall Packer (Biology), Marie Price (Geography), and Cynthia Rohrbeck (Psychology)!