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Resolution regarding removal of administrative bonuses proposed to OU Faculty Senate

In early November, joint members of Ohio University’s Faculty Senate and the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, or OU-AAUP, read for the second time a resolution regarding administrative bonuses, among other resolutions. 

The resolution argues administrative bonuses should not be given in years when faculty layoffs, program reductions and other cost-saving measures have been put into place, according to a copy of the document provided by John O’Keefe, a history professor at OU’s Chillicothe campus and regional campus coordinator for OU-AAUP.

The resolution is being brought up largely due to concerns on the part of OU-AAUP and faculty about recent waves of layoffs within the university. 

“There's … this larger issue, which is the corporatization of the university, and universities, once again, drifting away from their educational mission and being run more like corporations and with less shared governance and less accountability for people in leadership,” O’Keefe said.

That is a problem across the entire country, O’Keefe said, not just at OU. Additionally, the ethical aspect of administrative bonuses has been brought into question, he said, given they are negotiated for by those hired into such positions.

Not only are bonuses set by those within the administration, they obscure the true administrative operations costs because they are so large, he said. Judith Grant, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, added the bonus amounts increase as salaries increase.

“They are giving themselves these raises, at the same time that they are firing contingent faculty across the university,” Grant said.

Faculty Senate is in the process of debating and refining the resolution to reflect how faculty feels about the issue prior to voting on it. The body does not have the power to create policy through that particular resolution, Grant said. The only binding power it has is through modification of the faculty handbook, though the resolution is purely to make administration aware of the overall mood of faculty at OU.

Kyle Butler, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and instructional faculty coordinator of OU-AAUP, believes that although there is no tangible power behind the resolution, it’s important to make a “statement of your principles.” He also emphasized the significance of that statement not simply being made, but having been debated and voted on by Senate. 

In terms of the budget at OU, there have been significant problems since before COVID-19, Grant said. She asserted the university has taken advantage of the pandemic to make cuts that have been in the works for much longer, citing her frustration with faculty being laid off whilst administrators continue to receive large bonuses.

Butler highlighted the issue of bonuses as a priority problem, emphasizing his belief OU should focus on educational aspects.

“When we provide bonuses that are many times the annual salary of an instructional faculty member — while at the same time instructional faculty are being laid off, are being told that there's not a budget for them to have a five year contract and are left in a state of vulnerability and fear that if they get too involved, they'll be next — that's not a situation where we're prioritizing the academics in the educational mission of this university, in my opinion,” Butler said.

In addition to the resolution regarding bonuses, Grant, O’Keefe and Butler are bringing forward a resolution to ensure multi-year contracts for instructional faculty and a resolution to ensure academic freedom for non-tenure track individuals involved in shared governance.


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