Message from the President
July 27, 2012
Dear member of the Wayne State faculty or academic staff,
I have received a number of notes of concern regarding the current contract negotiations, many from Wayne State faculty.
I thought it might be helpful to respond to you collectively, in order to get back with you in a timely fashion.
First, I appreciate your passion for what you do and your concern that this might be in some way threatened. However, please understand we have no plans to abolish tenure, despite the communications you have received and the reports in the media. All of us at Wayne State, starting with me, support the concept of academic freedom and have every intention of protecting it. We have excellent faculty at Wayne State. The great majority -- who are doing good work -- will be unaffected by any change in process. For the few challenges that arise from time to time, we have proposed a review process that is more efficient, while continuing to be driven by faculty peers. That is what we hope to discuss at the bargaining table. And despite what you may have heard, negotiations, though difficult, are progressing. Considering the complexity of the issues, and the length of time since the last full negotiations, we were asked for an extension of the existing contract, and offered to extend it through September 30.
The idea of collective bargaining is to offer ideas and proposals, discuss or debate them -- passionately if need be -- suggest changes, and finally come to an agreement. Unfortunately, when negotiations move from the bargaining table to the public, things can become distorted, as they have in this case. While I understand why this occurs, I am concerned for several reasons. First, uncontrolled public debate can damage the reputation of the University. Second, such tactics can be divisive internally, and can tear at the fabric of the culture of learning and scholarship we have at Wayne Sate. Finally, some comments, taken at face value, can cause genuine concern from the very people we want focused on teaching and scholarship, which is evident by the increase in messages from you. I appreciate the messages, but I do worry that people may be rushing to judgment based on limited information, or only half of the story.
In my earlier message to campus, I appealed for calm, and I reiterate my request. If these negotiations continue as intended by the collective bargaining process, I am confident we will reach an agreement that is good for the faculty, the University, and most of all our students, who count on us for excellence in teaching and research.