(Gainesville, FL) On Thursday, January 28 at 9:00 AM, the United Faculty of Florida of the University of Florida (UFF-UF) and representatives of the University of Florida’s administration will attend a second impasse hearing over stalled salary negotiations, this time before UF’s own Board of Trustees. The hearing is open to the public.
In numerous public statements, the University of Florida has announced the laudable goal of becoming a “top-ten” public university. This goal, and the drive to achieve it, is good for UF’s students, alumni, and faculty. It is also good for the state of Florida. But an ongoing dispute over faculty salaries has led a neutral and independent reviewer to conclude that UF is trying to attain this national prominence on the cheap despite its ability to pay.
In his recommendation for resolving the impasse in negotiations between the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) and the University of Florida’s administration, Special Magistrate Tom Young made three key points:
- he wrote, “UFF’s proposed faculty wage increases will contribute to improving the UF’s position in comparison to its peer universities on the national level.” Compared to 10 other “peer” flagship universities such as UC Berkeley, U Wisconsin, U Michigan, U Texas, and U Illinois, UF’s salaries for full professors rank near the bottom, and at the very bottom for assistant and associate professors.
- he rejected the administration’s claims that such increases would jeopardize university finances. UF has a $1.5 billion endowment, $148 million in unrestricted net assets. It has the largest reserve of funds, both in dollars and in percent of operating budget, of any university within the Florida state university system. In 2015, it set a fundraising record of $315 million, and its faculty set a research funding record of $707 million. In $24 million in performance-based funds from the state legislature—more than any other state university.
- he noted that taxpayer-funded institutions, such as UF, have a fiduciary responsibility to use reasonable amounts of their reserve funds to pursue their mission.
While UFF accepted Young’s recommendation, the administration rejected it. This means that case will now be heard by the university’s Board of Trustees. Professor Sumi Helal, Chief Negotiator of UFF-UF, said this about the upcoming hearing: “We convinced a neutral party that it is in the best interest of the university—and the public it serves—for the administration to manage UF’s money wisely by paying its faculty competitively. So we go into the next hearing confident that our case is strong, and hopeful that the Board will agree that fair faculty compensation is central to UF’s ‘top-ten’ goal.” Professor Susan Hegeman, President of UFF-UF, added, “At this hearing, we will find out something important about UF’s priorities. Does UF truly value the faculty as central to the university’s teaching and research mission, or is this ‘top-ten’ talk just rhetoric?”
Who: The United Faculty of Florida at the University of Florida (UFF-UF) Affiliated with FEA, AFT-NEA
What: University of Florida Faculty Salary Dispute to be heard by UF Board of Trustees
When: Thursday, January 28; 9:00-10:30 AM.
Where: Emerson Hall, President’s Room B (1938 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32603)
Special Magistrate Tom Young’s recommendations are available in their entirety here: http://www.uff-uf.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/SM-Recommendation.pdf
UFF-UF’s presentation, with facts about faculty compensation, is available here:http://www.uff-uf.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/SM-Recommendation.pdf