Focus Shifts to Deeper Changes and Reclaiming ‘Portland’s University’
Portland, Or — Last week the executive council of the American Association of University Professors at Portland State University officially approved the tentative agreement between the members and the University Administration. The 975 members of PSU-AAUP voted today and yesterday in person for or against ratification of the contract in the Native American Center on campus. Of those voting 97% voted to ratify the contract.
Though ratified the membership sees this contract as only a first step towards changing the direction of PSU, refocusing on a student-centered budget and democratic shared governance.
The members of AAUP were able to achieve unprecedented advances on faculty stability, providing two- and three-year contracts for a much larger number of full-time non-tenure track faculty, while also maintaining protection for historic faculty rights in university governance essential for academic freedom. This comes after nearly two decades of cutbacks and frequent concessions on the part of the PSU faculty and academic professionals at the bargaining table.
“The collective efforts of hundreds of faculty and academic professionals, standing up together in defense of our students and PSU’s mission, created the opportunity to make important gains at the negotiating table,” says Mary King, President of PSU-AAUP. “This contract is an important step towards refocusing PSU on students and academics.”
The members of AAUP see this contract as the first step towards changing PSU’s direction. AAUP is building off the mandate for change demonstrated with the overwhelming strike authorization vote and mobilization during the contract campaign to shifting from a corporate model of higher education to a student-centered model. This entails:
- Prioritizing PSU’s current resources to create a student-centered budget allocating 50% of the university budget to instruction & academics. The percent of the budget dedicated to instruction has fallen to 33% under the current Administration.
- Fostering democratic and participatory shared governance in which faculty, academic professionals, staff and students have equal voice with the Administration in budgetary and institutional decisions.
- Re-focusing PSU as ‘Portland’s University’ with affordable and accessible education to the first-generation, working students from families throughout the metro region.
“President Wiewel said he is surprised by the widespread discontent with the direction and leadership of this University. If that is the case we expect him to move swiftly towards priorities that reflect student-centered outcomes,” said David Osborn, Instructor at PSU. “The overwhelming engagement of the membership and the community in this contract fight shows that there is a mandate for change at PSU. Our communities need PSU to be ‘Portland’s University’ and we are committed to making sure our institution returns to a community-focused, student-centered model.”