Amendment 11, which passed in November, gave the USF faculty a voice on the Board of Trustees.
That voice, at least until the end of his term, belongs to Faculty Senate president Greg Paveza. And Monday, Paveza, in his first official board meeting, made his voice heard.
Speaking on behalf of his constituents, Paveza told his fellow board members during a conference call that the faculty no longer seems to trust the board.
“There is, unfortunately, a growing crisis of confidence I believe between what is perceived as the board and administration on one side and the faculty on the other,” Paveza said.
The reason, Paveza said, was the “clear lack of consultation” from the administration when it developed its 90-day emergency rules to govern the university following the Jan. 7 expiration of the collective bargaining agreement.
The board, during its conference call, voted to change the rule regarding faculty misconduct. Faculty leadership, including Paveza, had argued against the rule concerning misconduct before the board originally voted on the rules in November.
Paveza told the Board Tuesday the faculty’s reasons for disagreeing with the rule.
“This rule in particular has raised serious concerns for many of the faculty (who) clearly perceive the rule as basically gutting any rule we have on academic freedom,” Paveza said.
The board voted to return the rule to its original form as written in the former collective bargaining agreement. Paveza said the correction is “a critical change.”
BOT chairman Dick Beard and USF President Judy Genshaft were both apologetic for not attempting the proper consultations. Beard said he did not know how important the rules were for the faculty.
“We thought that these were rainy-day, temporary rules and would automatically go out of place, and we would hopefully have completed or be in serious negotiations with whomever we were supposed to be in negotiations with,” Beard said. “(We) felt like it was more technical than real but, obviously, it turned out to be wrong, so I’m glad we’ve been able to correct this part of it.”
These comments were similar to ones Genshaft and Beard made Jan. 15 during a meeting held live on the Internet for the faculty. The meeting ended in disaster for the administration as Genshaft left quickly, while waving her hand at the pleas of faculty in attendance to return to the stage and answer questions. She later said she left because it wasn’t going to be a “civil dialogue.”
After her departure, faculty union president and the administration’s nemesis Roy Weatherford took the stage to express several of the union’s grievances.
Beard, on Tuesday, tried to continue his reassurance of the faculty.
“We’re not trying to avoid or change (the collective bargaining agreement) or anything like that,” Beard said. “We’re just trying to technically be correct.”
“I think many of the faculty are not sure about that,” Paveza responded. “But I think all the Board can continue to do is interact with the faculty in good faith.”
Beard again answered that the university had done wrong.
“We’ve learned that process is important in the life of a university, and we hope we all understand that clearly now,” Beard said.
For his part, Weatherford said late Tuesday that he had not talked to anyone involved with the meeting and had not heard of the amendment to the emergency rules. He said, however, he feels it is a positive step.
“I think it is a good sign that the administration responded to the concerns of this issue,” Weatherford said. “But it’s important to remember that they wanted to pass it, and they would have passed it if people hadn’t spoken up against it.”
Negotiating a permanent set of rules now falls on the shoulders of the BOT. The responsibility of handling bargaining issues was delegated to the board during the Florida Board of Governor’s first meeting.
The Board appointed a workgroup Tuesday responsible for handling the early phases of negotiation. On that committee are lawyer Rhea Law and Tampa Electric head John Ramil. Beard said he will stand in during negotiations.
Paveza urged the Board to begin bargaining as soon as the faculty union is recognized as the bargaining agent. Genshaft said the kind of consultation not present for the temporary rules will be an integral part in developing permanent rules.
Weatherford said it is a good sign that the Board has appointed a committee and seems to be preparing to negotiate.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a good sign to have a trustees committee,” Weatherford said. “They don’t have the time, information or the background to be involved in the details of the process. (But) if they are just generally supervisory I suppose it might work out.”
The Board also appointed their other workgroups, which, besides the addition of new board members, show little change. In addition, Beard was re-elected as chairman.
Beard and Weatherford have, at least publicly, been less than cordial. Weatherford has repeatedly answered questions about the bargaining issue with “(the Board) is going to screw us.” Beard has responded, “That’s Roy’s job.”
Now it seems the two will have to sit around the same bargaining table. Weatherford talked Tuesday about that possibility.
“I can work with anybody, and I very seldom get angry,” Weatherford said. “But the events of the past year have certainly put a strain on our relationship and rubbed some sensibilities fairly raw.”
In other BOT news, the Board named former member Gus Stavros to the St. Petersburg campus board.
Stavros, an investor who said he lives within a few blocks of the waterfront campus, said in a statement he wants to focus his energy on helping the campus.
“I want to help USF St. Petersburg become an integral part of downtown St. Petersburg, and I want downtown St. Petersburg to be part of the campus,” Stavros said.