January 15, 1997

Statement on the survey by AAUP

The "faculty morale" study issued by the faculty union at Wayne State University says very little about the true state of Wayne State University, but it speaks loudly about the loss of faculty confidence in the union leadership itself.

When a similar study was conducted 10 years ago, 62 percent of the faculty and staff participated. This year, 56 percent refused to participate.

The low numbers who participated in the survey demonstrate the lack of confidence in the union reflected in the refusal of faculty and staff to join the union. In the early 1980s, 53 percent of the faculty and staff voluntarily joined the union. Today that number has slipped below 28 percent.

Every objective indicator at Wayne State is that performance and commitment by the faculty and staff are very high. The total number of faculty and professional academic staff has increased from 1489 in 1983 to 1767 in 1996. Teaching quality is rated as excellent, with more than 90 percent of alumni surveyed giving Wayne State's educational program good marks. Wayne State's research program this year will top $110 million, three times its level ten years ago; and the University is ranked 71st in research expenditures among all American universities by the National Science Foundation. Faculty salaries rank second in Michigan, behind the University of Michigan and well ahead of Michigan State University; and we rank in the top third of all public universities nationally. Faculty show confidence in Wayne State by remaining here rather than taking positions elsewhere. The University has more than 1000 tenured and tenure track faculty; over the last four years, the average number who have left Wayne to take a faculty position at another institution has been 10 per year.

The leadership of the union made every effort to be sure that the results of their survey would be negative. They did not conduct this survey recently; rather it was conducted last spring during bargaining for a new contract, when stress between the faculty and the administration is always at its highest.

With low survey results, and a biased instrument, the only way to read this survey is to conclude that a small minority of the faculty has expressed dissatisfaction, while large numbers have expressed no opinion.

The refusal of a substantial majority of the faculty and staff to join the union or participate in the union survey reflects their concern about the opposition of union leaders to key programs for rebuilding Wayne State. The union leaders have opposed the University's program to buy land for expansion in the City. They have opposed the construction of 300 units of student housing, which were fully rented within 60 days of completion. They have opposed the construction of an undergraduate learning center, which will give Wayne State students access to modern computer-based learning and instructional technology. The union leaders have opposed performance-based salary increases, which are standard at research universities across the country. They have opposed student participation on University committees to select deans and department chairs and to review promotion and tenure. They have tried to restrict the development of research centers and institutes that have made Wayne State a leading national research university. And they have repeatedly opposed the creation of special clinical faculty positions in medicine and other health fields. Time and again the University administration has had to push these changes through over the opposition of union leaders. If these controversies have cost the administration some credibility, they have had disastrous results for the union, which has lost more than 45 percent of its members over the years.

When the people of Michigan, who own Wayne State, look at the progress being made at the University by faculty, staff, students, and administrators, they have much to be proud of.

Contact

Robert Wartner
Phone: (313) 577-2150
Email: rwartner@wayne.edu

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