AAUP/AFT-CCU issues letter of support for Rutgers University strikers

The following letter of support has been communicated by AAUP/AFT-CCU to the Rutgers University AAUP/AFT. Copies of the letter have been sent to Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway and to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

Faculty, Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants, Postdoctoral Scholars, and all other workers represented by Rutgers AAUP/AFT have been working without a contract for nearly nine months.

The quality of education, research, and public service at Rutgers depends on the quality of working conditions, but these conditions have been impaired by salaries for PTLs and graduate students that have declined significantly when accounting for inflation and rising costs of living. Adjunct faculty receive unfair wages for the classes they teach, and their academic freedom is undermined by lack of job security. Graduate students receive far less than a living wage, which hampers their ability to research, teach, and learn, and threatens the quality and prestige of programs at Rutgers. The loss of department-level authority over course scheduling continues to frustrate their ability to offer an effective curriculum, with no demonstrated benefit to students and demonstrable harm to faculty.

We, Coastal Carolina University’s chapter of the AAUP/AFT, endorse the contract campaign demands at Rutgers, including those for fair salaries and stipends, job security for adjuncts, and departmental control over scheduling. We stand in solidarity with all Rutgers workers seeking a fairer and stronger institution and affirm the right of workers to bargain collectively and to take collective action, including strike action, when necessary to attain just demands.


AAUP/AFT-CCU issues statement in support of DEI funding

In early February, it was reported that South Carolina legislators requested information from our state’s 33 public colleges and universities regarding “all spending on programs, trainings, and activities targeted toward people based on their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.” The colleges and universities, including Coastal Carolina University, were given until February 23 to respond to that request. The AAUP/AFT was informed that this request is part of a broader effort by some South Carolina legislators to effectively ban diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in publicly funded higher-education institutions in our state.

In coordination with the AAUP/AFT-SC, the AAUP/AFT-CCU Executive Board, faculty delegates and representatives, produced the following draft statement, which was approved my a majority vote of support by AAUP/AFT-CCU members.

AAUP/AFT-CCU Statement of Support for DEI Work at CCU

Earlier this month, a group of South Carolina legislators requested information from South Carolina’s public colleges and universities about spending incurred annually on “programs, trainings, and activities targeted toward people based on their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.” According to media reports, the request mirrors similar inquiries made of publicly funded institutions of higher education in Oklahoma and Florida in recent months. Some reports state that the request is part of “a campaign by conservative activists to banish codified efforts to recruit and retain administrators, faculty members, and students from historically marginalized communities.”

In response to this development, the Coastal Carolina University (CCU) chapter of the American Association of University Professors/American Federation of Teachers (AAUP/AFT-CCU) affirms its strong commitment to CCU’s efforts to create a “learning, living and working climate where differences are welcomed and all members of Teal Nation feel that they are supported, respected, valued, and heard.”

To that end, AAUP/AFT-CCU is committed to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, which are defined by CCU as “the recognition and affirmation of different intersecting identities, referring not only to the background of the individual but also to the dynamic of the entire institution.” As a pillar of academic freedom and shared governance in higher education, AAUP/AFT-CCU views diversity, equity, and inclusion as integral components of daily life and work at our university. In this sense, we actively celebrate and encourage the affirmation of “identity in its various forms and expressions, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, sex, socioeconomic status, language, national origin, religion, age, (dis)ability status and political perspective.”

AAUP/AFT-CCU will work closely with all CCU bodies, groups, members of the faculty, administrators, leaders and students, who work to protect our university’s efforts to maintain and strengthen access, equity, inclusion, and diversity at CCU.















AAUP/AFT stresses need for higher faculty salary decompression in meeting with President Benson

Salary decompression for faculty is not a luxury. It is an essential tool that is used to keep track of salary discrepancies across colleges and academic departments within our university, and to compare CCU faculty salaries with those at higher education institutions across the nation. Salary decompression helps CCU remain competitive and continue to attract quality faculty.

When CCU launched its salary decompression scheme, nearly a decade ago, it made national news and was heralded as “a sustainable solution to relieve compressed salaries, especially in a period of budget cuts, shrinking state investment and rising tuition.”

Today, however, there are added reasons why faculty salary decompression must take center stage in CCU’s planning. As inflation and cost-of-living indicators are growing rapidly, our faculty need to be financially supported. There is no better time for the University leadership and the Board of Trustees to show that they value the faculty’s contribution CCU’s overall financial success.

In 2021, it was determined that the total funds needed to address CCU faculty salary decompression at 100% were $2,268,393. However, the Board of Trustees only approved $500,000, which represents just 22% of decompression needs. The AAUP/AFT finds that disappointing, especially in light of the fact that CCU is seeing record numbers of freshmen on its campus, as well as growing student retention rates. The faculty have played a major role in these increases, which enabled our University to grow stronger, despite the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Executive Committee of the AAUP/AFT raised this issue with President Mike Benson at a meeting on December 8. The central argument put forth by AAUP/AFT was that salary decompression must be felt by all at CCU, including teaching/research associates and graduate assistants. Additionally, the criteria by which the Board of Trustees determines the funding allocated to annual salary decompression should be demystified and explained to the faculty.

In response, President Benson agreed that CCU faculty should be compensated fairly in several ways, including financial. He expressed commitment to the goal of advocating to the Board of Trustees in favor of a sustained level of salary decompression for faculty and staff. The president also suggested that, a month into the spring 2023 semester, the leadership of AAUP/AFT should hold a meeting with him and other University officials who are responsible for the “procedural intricacies” of budgetary issues at CCU.

AAUP/AFT-CCU hosts fall social in Market Common

CCU faculty from numerous different colleges and departments came out for a drink and good discussion on election day, November 8, during AAUP/AFT-CCU’s Fall Social in Market Common. This was AAUP/AFT’s first face-to-face social since the pandemic. We were joined by several new members, as well as by new faculty, who took this opportunity to meet some of their colleagues across different disciplines.

Later that evening, we rejoiced doubly when we found out that voters once again approved the continuation of the Horry County “penny sales” tax, which has raised nearly $1 billion since 2008 to fund capital improvements for public education in our county. Voters approved the tax by over two thirds. Since its establishment over 100 years ago, the AAUP has been a staunch defender of public education in the United States. In 2011, in its Campaign for the Future of Higher Ed Principles, the AAUP noted that “quality higher education in the 21st century will require substantially more public investment over current levels”. It also challenged elected officials to “recognize high quality, affordable higher education and increased college attainment as public goods worthy of a public investment.”

Provost asked to address changes in Edwards College advising

CCU Provost Dan Ennis has agreed to discuss the recent changes in advising with Edwards College faculty at the College’s spring 2023 faculty meeting, following a request from AAUP/AFT-CCU.

On August 22, Edwards College faculty were informed by their Dean, Claudia Bornholdt, that they would be required to advise junior and senior students, starting in October. Previously, all Edwards College students were advised by the College’s professional advisers. The move aimed to harmonize the Edwards College advising structure with that of other colleges on campus. However, the feeling among the Edwards College faculty was that the change, which originated from the Office of the Provost, was abrupt and haphazard.

These concerns were relayed to Provost Dan Ennis by AAUP/AFT-CCU President Joseph Fitsanakis on November 2. Fitsanakis assured the provost that the AAUP/AFT-CCU did not object to the principle of establishing equity in advising models across the University. Moreover, the pedagogical reasoning behind increasing out-of-class interaction between faculty and students seemed easily discernible.

However, the manner in which this change was passed down to thefaculty was problematic, Fitsanakis noted. It was announced in a last-minute fashion at the beginning of the semester. The hurried implementation failed to take into account the fact that the faculty tend to carefully plan out their semesters. For some faculty in populous departments and programs, this change means having to suddenly advise dozens of students in a given semester. Since a typical advising session can last in excess of 30 minutes, this means that, for some faculty, two weeks in October must be dedicated wholly to advising. October tends to be a busy conference season, so several faculty had planned to be away.

To add to these concerns, the change in advising was announced just as the University was transitioning to a new advising platform, SelfService, which required extra time by both faculty and students. The bottom line is that faculty should have been consulted and given advance warning about this change, which represents a major change to their work.

Provost Ennis responded by explaining the reasoning behind this change, which was one of establishing equity between the Edwards College and other colleges on campus. Professional advisors had to be transferred to other colleges that have gained students in recent years, and where faculty are already advising junior and senior students. He concluded by vowing to provide clarification about this change at the Edwards College faculty meeting in the spring.

AAUP/AFT-CCU participates in state conference

AAUP-CCU president Joseph Fitsanakis represented the chapter at the AAUP-South Carolina fall 2022 state conference, which was held on October 8 at Francis Marion University in Florence. The conference brought together representatives from nearly a dozen institutions of higher education in our state. They had an opportunity to compare notes about developments in their respective schools and to strategize about upcoming challenges facing higher education.

The leadership of AAUP-SC, headed by state conference president Dr. Shawn Smolen-Morton, provided several important updates about the size and strength of AAUP-SC, as well as about significant updates from all corners of the state. A major topic of discussion was the recent merger between AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which now effectively means that AAUP National members are also members of the AFL-CIO-affiliated AFT.

There were also significant legislative updates about developments in Columbia, where extremist legislators are preparing to renew their attacks on public education. AAUP-SC fully expects to face renewed attacks on tenure and academic freedom by these legislators, who appear to be more determined and better organized than the last time they tried to assault the core principles that AAUP was established to defend.

Latest issue of AAUP-CCU newsletter now available

The CCU chapter of AAUP has distributed the sixth issue of its bi-monthly newsletter. Titled The AAUP-CCU Update, the newsletter is dispatched to AAUP-CCU members and supporters, as well as to members of the state conference’s Executive Council, in PDF form. This latest issue provides information about the recent expansion of the AAUP-CCU’s leadership team, as well as details about the upcoming AAUP-SC state conference in Florence, SC. This will be the first face-to-face meeting of our state conference in two years. We also provide timely updates about successful strike action conducted by faculty at Eastern Michigan University and Rider University in New Jersey. Lastly, there are links to important information about academic tenure in our state, as well as highlights from The Academe, the AAUP’s periodical. You can download our newsletter’s latest issue by clicking here.

AAUP joins new faculty/staff EXPO

On August 17, 2022, the CCU Chapter of the AAUP participated in the 2022 New Faculty and Staff EXPO, an event that brought together current and new faculty on campus. The EXPO was organized by the new Center for Professional Development and Academic Technology (formerly known as CeTEAL, TDSE, and COOL) and the College of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education. It aimed to introduce new faculty and staff to familiar faces across campus departments and the services they provide.

The Chapter was represented by Vice President Allison Faix, At-large Faculty Representative Jim Arendt, and Chapter President Joseph Fitsanakis. In just under two hours, over 30 new faculty signed up asking to receive updates from AAUP. The new faculty also collected useful AAUP material, including copies of a short selection of the most recent (11th) edition of AAUP Policies and Reports.

AAUP-CCU leadership team expands

The CCU chapter of AAUP is pleased to announce an expansion of its leadership team. The expansion follows the response from colleagues who stepped forward in April of this year, in response to our call for broadening AAUP’s scope and reach on our campus. Our new leaders are:

Sharon Tutrone (Communication) is our new Associated Faculty Representative.
Lee Hunter (Education) will serve as At-Large Faculty Representative.
Alex Hogue will represent Languages and Intercultural Studies as a member of our Committee of Delegates.
Dory Sibley (Theatre) has also joined our Committee of Delegates.
Douglas Weathers (Mathematics) is the third member of our Committee of Delegates.

These colleagues will join our existing leaders, Vice President Allison Faix (Kimbel Libary), Secretary-Treasurer Steve McCartney (English), Membership Director Tristan Daniels (Kimbel Library), At-Large Faculty Representative Jim Arendt (Visual Arts), our most recent past President Jose Sanjines, and Joseph Fitsanakis, who is entering his second academic year as chapter president.

Latest issue of AAUP-CCU newsletter now out

The CCU chapter of AAUP has distributed the fifth issue of its bi-monthly newsletter. Titled The AAUP-CCU Update, the newsletter is dispatched to AAUP-CCU members and supporters, as well as to members of the state conference’s Executive Council, in PDF form. The fifth issue highlights AAUP-CCU’s concerns about faculty compensation and decompression in light of national averages, as well as ongoing inflationary pressures on the economy. It also contains the text of the resolution on “Defending Academic Freedom to Teach About Race and Gender Justice and Critical Race Theory”, which was sponsored by AAUP-CCU and passed in the CCU Faculty Senate by 47 votes for and 2 against. We also provide a summary of the AUUP’s censuring of the Georgia University System. You can download our newsletter’s latest issue by clicking on the link below.

AAUP-CCU examines faculty compensation in light of national averages and inflation

On March 21, AAUP-CCU held its regular meeting with CCU President, Dr. Mike Benson. The meeting was held at the Singleton Conference Room. The AAUP-CCU delegation included Dr. Pamela Martin (Professor of Politics), who led a discussion of CCU’s faculty compensation and decompression plan, in light of national averages and ongoing inflationary pressures. The discussion focused on a core stipulation of CCU’s decompression plan, which states that our faculty should be compensated based on “national averages”. Our faculty were discounted at 6 percent for the southeastern region. However, the AAUP-CCU delegation argued that a 6 percent decompression is hardly proportionate to the rising inflation in our area and nation. We believe it is important that the University addresses this gap, given that our largest pay adjustments are for promotion and tenure (at 7 percent) and post-tenure review (also at 7 percent). Neither of these are commensurate with the current inflationary pressures we are facing as a nation. Given that our common goal is to increase the University’s reach, rigor and reputation, the AAUP is interested in working with the administration in order to create an infrastructure that supports our faculty—both financially and in kind.

President Benson was receptive to the issues raised by AAUP-CCU. He pointed out that the governor of South Carolina has called for a 3 percent raise for all state employees, which will hopefully go some way toward alleviating inflationary pressure. He also shared with the group that employer healthcare contributions are projected to rise by 18 percent in the coming months, which is something we need to take into consideration in financial planning for the institution. The president added that much will depend on income from tuition. Currently, applications by students remain high; however, a much more accurate prognosticator of tuition income for the coming academic year is housing deposits received. The contours of this landscape will emerge fully during the summer. The AAUP-CCU plans to revisit this issue with President Benson in the fall.

CCU Faculty Senate passes AAUP-CCU resolution on academic freedom 47 votes to 2

At its March 2 regular meeting, the Coastal Carolina University Faculty Senate passed, with 47 votes for to 2 against, a resolution in defense of academic freedom, which was proposed by AAUP-CCU. Titled “Defending Academic Freedom to Teach About Race and Gender Justice and Critical Race Theory”, the resolution focuses on a number of bills making their way through the South Carolina House, which are designed to limit various aspects of curricular content in higher education. Targeted topics include Critical Race Theory (CRT), gender, and LGBTQI-related issues.

The resolution calls upon our University leadership to reject attempts by bodies external to the faculty to restrict or dictate university curriculum on any matter. It also vows that CCU faculty will stand firm against any attempts by the South Carolina legislature, or Boards of Trustees, to interfere on curricular matters.

You can read the full resolution here.

AAUP-CCU to submit Faculty Senate resolution in defense of academic freedom

On March 2, the CCU Faculty Senate will consider a resolution in defense of academic freedom, which will be proposed by AAUP-CCU. Titled “Defending Academic Freedom to Teach About Race and Gender Justice and Critical Race Theory”, the resolution takes issue with efforts by lawmakers to limit academic discussions of racism and related issues in American history in the classroom. The resolution focuses on a number of bills making their way through the South Carolina House, which are designed to limit various aspects of curricular content in higher education. Targeted topics include Critical Race Theory (CRT), gender, and LGBTQI-related issues.

The resolution calls upon our University leadership to reject attempts by bodies external to the faculty to restrict or dictate university curriculum on any matter. It also vows that CCU faculty will stand firm against any attempts by the South Carolina legislature, or Boards of Trustees, to interfere on curricular matters.

You can read the full resolution here.

AAUP-CCU joins AAUP-SC Section in time for 2022 National Conference

The Coastal Carolina Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP-CCU) has joined the AAUP’s South Carolina (AAUP-SC) Section, in preparation for the upcoming National AAUP Conference and Biennial Meeting. This important gathering has been scheduled to take place in person between June 16 and 19 outside of Washington, DC. It will include a host of workshops and plenary sessions on topics such as remote teaching and research. It will also feature important committee updates, on timely issues, such as academic freedom and tenure, among other formal AAUP business.

By joining the AAUP-SC Section, our chapter would allow one delegate to vote on behalf of all participating SC chapters at the Conference. Several other chapters, including those of the University of South Carolina at Aiken and the University of South Carolina at Columbia, have also joined the Section. At the last biennial meeting, AAUP-CCU voted as a Section that included Clemson University, the College of Charleston, Francis Marion University, Furman University, and many others.

The process of joining sections is outlined here. Information about the 2022 AAUP Conference and Biennial Meeting is here.

Washington Post article on SC anti-tenure effort

The Washington Post carries today an insightful op-ed on the “Cancelling Professor Tenure Act” in South Carolina. It is written by Jesse Leo Kass, an associate professor of mathematics at the University of South Carolina, who is also assistant professor at the University of California Santa Cruz. Titled “South Carolina’s effort to cancel professor tenure echoes the 1950s”, the article (also here in PDF) also discusses efforts in our state to stop teaching critical race theory. Kass compares the situation in South Carolina with attacks that took place during the worst excesses of the Red Scare, “a national atmosphere of fear that Americans sympathetic to communism were committing treasonous acts in support of the Soviet Union”.

The author recounts some of the history of the Red Scare in our state, reminding readers that “suspicion fell on seven professors at Benedict College and Allen University, two small, private, church-related historically Black schools.” The professors who were targeted back then were challenging segregation. Even the FBI was involved in the cases, as declassified records show. Kass warns that the future “may closely resemble the situation in the 1950s, when an accomplished professor could be dismissed over a false accusation of being a Communist Party agent. Indeed”, he adds, “much of the current discourse surrounding ‘canceling tenure’ says that universities are promoting ‘socialist propaganda’ — statements that could well have been made by South Carolina politicians in the 1950s”.