CFA Responds to Friday’s Massmail

This past Friday, Provost Cangellaris sent faculty a message regarding the “side letter” in the GEO collective bargaining agreement. The message was inaccurate and misleading. CFA believes it is critical for faculty to know what is really going on. Attached is a message that more accurately describes the “side letter,” and GEO’s position. I hope you will read the attached message and will share the information as widely as you can. Toward that end, we are looking for faculty willing to distribute hard copies of the attached message to their faculty colleagues – if you are willing to do so, please contact Howard Berenbaum (howard.berenbaum@gmail.com217-372-7612).


Dana Rabin

President, Campus Faculty Association

In his letter to the faculty on March 2, Provost Cangellaris provided his rationale for why the University is opposed to continuing the “side letter” (a copy of the side letter is pasted below). Provost Cangellaris wrote that the language of the side letter has led to decisions that “restrict a department’s ability to reclassify an existing graduate program to a self-supporting program.” He wrote that “the original side letter cedes your authority as faculty members to make the decisions that determine the future of this institution.” He implied that GEO is attempting to prevent “faculty within departments, schools and colleges to exercise their authority and responsibility to make decisions related to their academic programs.” The message conveyed by Provost Cangellaris is inaccurate and misleading.

The GEO does not have the authority to prevent faculty and academic programs from creating new programs or changing existing programs. Decisions regarding the status of graduate programs are made by the departments and reviewed by the Graduate College and the Education Policy Committee before being approved by the Faculty Senate. Ultimately those decisions need to be approved by the IBHE. GEO’s only demonstrated concern is that changes in programs not be used as a means of eliminating tuition waivers for or reducing the wages of students doing the same work of other protected Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants.  The GEO will, however, file grievances if and when changes in programs lead to violations of the collective bargaining agreement (e.g., by eliminating tuition waivers of students doing the same work of other protected Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants).

Here are things Provost Cangellaris is not telling you (a copy of the final paragraph of the last side letter proposed by the University is pasted below).

  • Many Ph.D. programs require more than five years to complete. Those students would not be guaranteed a tuition waiver following their fifth year.
  • The new side letter restricts tuition waivers only to Ph.D. students. All other degrees, including existing terminal degrees (Dance MFA, Landscape Architecture MLA, Art Education EDM, Music DMA, and all Education EDM) would not have a guaranteed tuition waiver.
  • Many doctoral programs require admission and completion of an academic Masters program prior to admission to the doctoral program. These students would not be guaranteed tuition waivers while they are in the Masters program.
  • Many students do not receive an assistantship or fellowship in their first year of the Ph.D. These students would not be guaranteed tuition waivers if they are hired as TAs or GAs in subsequent years.
  • By stipulating which degree programs are guaranteed tuition waivers, the proposed side letter by the Provost cedes your authority as faculty members to make the decisions that determine the future of this institution. These issues should not be included in bargaining with the GEO, but rather should  be addressed by the Faculty Senate.

Final paragraph of the most recent side letter proposed by the University

“All doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree programs will continue to grant tuition waivers. The University will guarantee funding to those students enrolled in a Ph.D. graduate program for a period of five (5) academic years provided that they (1) held a University provided tuition-waiver generating assistantship or fellowship throughout the first year (of the five year period) of their enrollment in that program, (2) remain enrolled in that same program, (3) continue to satisfactorily perform the duties of their assistantships, (4) maintain good academic standing, and (5) continue to make appropriate progress towards obtaining their degree.  The funding provided during that time period may take a variety of forms within the discretion of the University, including tuition-waiver generating graduate assistantships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, pre-professional assistantships, and fellowships.

Current Side letter

During the term of this Agreement (August 16, 2012 to August 15, 2017), Graduate Assistants and Teaching Assistants will not have their tuition waivers reduced while they hold qualifying assistantships, are in good academic standing, and are making proper progress toward graduation in the program in which they began. (Page 36)