LETTER: Wednesday headline says it all between FA, CMU

The Wednesday Sept. 28 Central Michigan Life headline says everything that needs to be said about the current administration/faculty contract negotiation impasse: “CMU adds nearly $50 million to unreserved funds.” As reported in this article, Central Michigan University’s unrestricted funds now equal “about $276 million.”

Meanwhile, the administration raised tuition 3.47 percent and is attempting to extort unnecessary and hurtful cuts from faculty who are already near the bottom in terms of compensation both nationally and in the MAC.

According to the American Association of University Professors, CMU ranks 194 out of 227 reporting Category I institutions in terms of 2010-11 assistant professor average annual salary (CMU is 178/227 for associate professors and 187/227 for full professors).  Compared to other Mid-American Athletic Conference (MAC) schools, CMU ranks ninth out of 12 in terms of average salary.

Believe it or not, some Michigan community colleges now pay their faculty more than CMU does and, although the very modest cost of living increase proposed by the faculty association would work out to half of one percent of CMU’s $429 million 2011-12 operating budget, this has been flatly refused.

CMU clearly has abandoned its commitment to undergraduate education and, while paying lip service to the importance of excellent faculty, the administration’s position and tactics send the exact opposite message.

It is clear that with an enormous $276 million surplus, the university can easily afford a reasonable contact for its faculty. Instead, it has opted to capitalize on Michigan’s financial distress in order to pursue a short-sighted and harmful course that will diminish its reputation and the educational experience it offers — hurt families, and hurt local economies.

Jeffrey Weinstock

Professor of English