By Erin Shanahan
Faculty members stood outside of today’s Continuous University Strategic Planning (CUSP) meeting in silent protest of the administration’s objection of the Faculty Hearing Committee’s findings that said the administration broke the university’s own governing laws.
Over 150 Fordham faculty members adorned red flowers and stood silently outside the Bateman conference room at Fordham University’s School of Law while trustees and administrative members of the university walked into the CUSP meeting with Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university.
“It was a great show of solidarity among the faculty from all of the schools, not just arts and sciences, and contingent faculty, not just tenured or tenure-track faculty,” said Andrew Clark, chair of the Faculty Salary & Benefits Committee. “There is a lot at stake so knowing that we have this support and strength will help future actions.”
According to Clark, who helped to organize this protest, 96 faculty members submitted an R.S.V.P. However, over 150 faculty members were in attendance. Another 56 faculty from Rose Hill wrote in support but were teaching at the time of the protest, while 18 other professors responded in support while they were traveling or out of the country.
The faculty protesters stood in silence in front of the Bateman Conference room from 12:20 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. while the Trustees and administrative members of the university arrived.
The protest stemmed from several events which transpired within the past 6 months between the Faculty Senate, the administration, and the Faculty Hearing Committee.
The faculty contends that the administration ignored the university’s governing statutes when it unilaterally determined the amount of a pay increase for the faculty for the 2016-17 academic year rather than coming to an agreement with the Faculty Senate. As a result, the President of the Faculty Senate and English Professor, Anne Fernald, Ph.D., filed the grievances against three administrators and the Board of Trustees in September.
Faculty Hearing Committee, who received and reviewed the submitted grievances, ruled that “the Board of Trustees and the Administration violated the University Statutes by imposing a salary decision for FY2017 without having reached a ‘final agreement’ with the Faculty Salary and Benefits Committee of the Faculty Senate, and without having that agreement ‘reviewed and approved by the Faculty Senate.’”
The administration’s response states that the Hearing Committee lacked jurisdiction in this matter and that it does not plan to renegotiate the faculty’s 2016-17 salary at this time.
“Since the Committee had no authority to act upon the grievances, the decisions of the Committee are not determinative,” University Counsel Elaine Crosson said in her email responding to the results of the Faculty Hearing Committee. “The Administration will not be re-opening salary negotiations for the current academic year, but looks forward to continuing to work with you on negotiations for the upcoming year.”
After the Faculty Hearing Committee released their findings, Bob Howe, director of communications for the university, said “We are currently engaged in productive compensation negotiations with the Faculty Senate, and have every reason to believe that we will conclude the process on time, and present a University budget that is both equitable to faculty and reflects fiscal reality.”
The Fordham Ram has reached out to the university for a comment.