This statement was approved by the UFF-UCF Council on January 31,2022.
The UFF-UCF council is alarmed with President Cartwright’s decision to unilaterally appoint Michael Johnson to the position of Provost.
The absence of a national search denies the university community an opportunity for dialogue and input for a critical position at the university. The appointment of a Provost without faculty input disregards those who rely on that officer’s leadership to uphold the integrity of our academic mission. And it abandons shared governance.
A university is stronger when faculty perspectives and expertise are consulted on matters related to the institution’s core academic mission. When the chief academic officer–no matter how qualified for the position–is unilaterally appointed by the President rather than selected in a process that requires broad faculty input, the appointee regrettably becomes tainted. The autocratic means by which this selection took place creates the impression that the office holder will be accountable to the President alone and not also to those who carry out the academic mission which he oversees. Further, it sullies the public image of UCF at a time when universities in Florida are already under scrutiny by the public as well as accrediting institutions. And it undermines UCF’s stated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
This statement was approved by the UFF-UCF Council on September 20, 2021.
UFF-UCF supports UCF’s stated mission of:
meeting [our region’s] economic, cultural, intellectual, environmental, and societal needs by providing high-quality, broad based education and experienced-based learning; pioneering scholarship and impactful research; enriched student development and leadership growth; and highly relevant continuing education and public service initiatives that address pressing local, state, national, and international issues in support of the global community.
Fulfilling this mission requires hiring and retaining faculty with expertise in a wide variety of subjects, supporting faculty efforts to contribute to the development of knowledge, fostering collaboration and co-operation among UCF faculty, between faculty and students, and between faculty and other staff. It also requires facilitating research and creative collaborations among faculty from different parts of the region, state, nation, and globe and trusting faculty in their role as publicly engaged intellectuals who speak to the pressing issues of the day both inside and outside of the classroom.
Regrettably, Florida legislation affecting universities, such as House Bill 233 (mandating the assessment of “viewpoint diversity”) and HB 7017 (restricting foreign travel to, and research collaboration with or hiring of persons from “countries of concern”), together with Executive Orders prohibiting vaccine or masking requirements on campuses undermine UCF’s mission. Such acts pose challenges to our safety, question our professionalism, impede our ability to generate and disseminate knowledge, and disregard our expertise on a range of pressing issues from systemic racism to public health. State university policies that suggest all opinions are equally credible, that disincentivize international collaboration, and that fail to value the health and safety of faculty, staff and students are detrimental to UCF’s ability to recruit and retain faculty. If we do not have the intellectual and ethical courage to push back against such political overreach, we can expect UCF’s reputation to decline as coordinated attacks on higher education continue. To suggest that “our hands are tied” in the face of such attacks on higher education is strategically short-sighted, epistemically irresponsible, and ethically questionable.
The United Faculty of Florida, including your UCF chapter, is working tirelessly to protect the well-being of faculty as we attempt to carry out the teaching, research, and public service missions of higher education. (For further information, see resources below.) But a union is only as strong as its membership. We thus ask each of you to help uphold the integrity of higher education by doing one or more of the following:
- Write President Cartwright and Interim Provost Johnson about your concerns regarding HB 233, HB 7017, Covid protocols and policies, or other matters affecting higher
- Write Board of Trustee members explaining how State legislation and edicts may be impeding your unit’s–and thus UCF’s–potential for
- Talk to your non-academic friends and family in Florida. Help them to understand the importance of academic freedom, expertise, and collaboration to our regional, national and global well-being.
- Share a story of how your work has been negatively impacted by intrusive State policies with your UFF-UCF chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you are not yet a member of UFF-UCF, please join. Encourage colleagues to
- If you are a member of UFF-UCF, consider joining our Government Relations Committee or participating in lobbying
- Attend collective bargaining
- Stay abreast of UFF news and keep your chapter leadership informed of how State laws and policies affect you and your unit by joining UFF-UCF on Facebook and on Twitter.
Additional Articles and Resources
This is a living document that may be updated at a later date. It was approved by UFF-UCF Council on January 19, 2021.
We the UFF-UCF council are committed to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice as expressed in our UFF-UCF Constitution. We support the call that it’s time to be actively antiracist. Equity is at the core of union values, but that does not mean we always live up to the goals of creating a truly humane and safe working environment. Our UFF-UCF chapter and our university are not immune to the structural inequalities that are embedded within American society and within institutions of higher education. We are committed to fostering a union and workplace community that is anti-racist and equitable through practicing accountability, responsiveness, and transparency. This includes treating all union members with respect and not just those who agree with us. This work is on-going and should not fade away even if news coverage does. Making progress on these issues will not only require the acknowledgement that racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination exist, but also a commitment to managing our union in a way that helps build coalitions among our members to accomplish the work that must
We recognize that too often the work of equity and inclusion falls disproportionately on our BIPOC and marginalized colleagues and therefore we are committed to activating accomplices and holding those of us with more privilege accountable and engaged. Anti-racist, equity, and inclusion work requires much more than diverse representation. Diversity can take the form of tokenism where people from minoritized groups are used as props rather than being treated with respect with equal access to power and influence. We recognize the deep work we need to do as a chapter and on our campus. As UFF-UCF executive officers, we see our role as stewards, not union bosses whose opinions and ideas matter more than those on our council or our membership. We seek to promote dialogue and input, not to silence it. We know that many typical organizational practices, planning, and metrics are in fact the result of White supremacist norms. It is difficult work to break these habits and scripts. We look forward to engaging our entire membership in discussion and planning about critical changes that need to take place. In the meantime we have outlined our initial strategies and proposals for action in three core areas:
UFF-UCF Chapter Policies and Practices
- Our stewardship of union council meetings will be open and accessible. We will promptly and consistently publish meeting agendas, minutes, rules and policies. We will not weaponize Robert’s rules to silence or suppress discussion, even when we feel that discussion to be “disruptive.” Our role as stewards of our union’s resources is to lead while hearing critique and being open to challenges from our members. Together we guide ethical policy and best practice.
- Our annual budget will also be consistently clear and transparent. We understand budgets to be a statement of our community’s values. We will provide actual financial resources to the work of supporting those value priorities.
UCF Faculty Hiring and Retention
- We plan to complete a comprehensive, university-wide analysis and review of faculty salaries, awards, TIP/RIA/SoTL eligibility, workloads, spousal hiring practices and more to identify individuals and groups who have been discriminated against
- We will work to remedy the ways in which systematic racism are embedded in hiring and promotion policies and practices by looking at hiring data and bargaining change to hiring requirements
Climate and Faculty Advocacy
- We will review policies and practices around policing and surveillance on our campuses as part of the conditions of employment that make navigating UCF’s campus more difficult for some members of the bargaining unit than for others
- We commit to engaging in difficult dialogues about race and its intersections with other systems of oppression by hosting regular town halls and workshops that can lead to more collective insight into needed action
- We are committed to upholding the policies of nondiscrimination as outlined in our CBA Article 6.1 and will not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind. Our Council will include an Equity and Advocacy Committee that will be an essential part of union leadership, ensuring an equity lens guides all of our work as does advocacy and support for faculty who experience harassment and discrimination
There is tremendous faculty expertise and lived experience to be leveraged to drive change within our chapter and at our university. We are dedicated to community-based, participatory approaches to identification of both problems and solutions. Doing ethical meaningful work on behalf of our union members and campus community requires the support from and solidarity among everyone. Integrity means together.