Welcome to the Oakland University AAUP Chapter web site

Oakland University Faculty Facebook Groups:

AAUP Victory in Merit Pay Arbitration Case

October 12, 2017


The AAUP Executive Committee learned yesterday afternoon that the arbitrator in the Grievance filed in response to the Administration's misapplication of the merit review process has ruled decisively in favor of the faculty position. The complete decision can be found here.

Timeline of Grievance 2016-2

As you may recall, the grievance(s) made three claims: 1. some faculty were given scores of 0 resulting in no salary increase in that year; 2. that faculty who had their performance scores "adjusted" were not given an opportunity to respond as mandated by the contract; and 3. that departments that were asked to "adjust" more than 20% of scores were not given specific instruction as to which scores to adjust and why they required adjusting.

In each claim the arbitrator found that Oakland violated the contract. Faculty who were scored a zero can now be rated appropriately and in no case be scored less than a one resulting in salary increases for all those affected. In other words, all those faculty who received a zero score will have their salaries restored by no less than .5%. The money to do so will not be taken from any other faculty member (as suggested by the administration) and instead must be paid for separately. Regarding the second two claims the arbitrator likewise found decisively in favor of the faculty and moving forward the administration is required to provide specific justifications to departments when asking them to adjust more than 20% of scores. Faculty whose scores are adjusted must be informed of the adjustment and given the opportunity to respond to the new score.

This is an important victory for the faculty association and I would like to thank a number of people who helped make it happen. Our Grievance Officer Kevin Murphy is tireless in his pursuit of holding our administration to their contractual obligations and his work on this case went above and beyond the call of duty. Our Chief Negotiator Mike Latcha was called to testify in this case, necessitating both prolonging and reliving the negotiations of two summers ago. Our attorney Bob Fetter was instrumental and, as usual, brilliant in framing our issues to the arbitrator. Finally, my predecessor Ken Mitton worked diligently in the negotiation process, the implementation of the merit review system and in testimony to the arbitrator. We all owe him a debt of gratitude.

We will be having two General Membership meetings next week on Monday the 16th at 3:00 and Tuesday the 17th at Noon. Look forward to seeing you there and answering any further questions.

Tom Discenna
AAUP Chapter President

Final Note and Thank you from Ken Mitton Immediate Past President OU-AAUP

August 15, 2017

Welcome to August 15th 2017.

Today I become your immediate past president of our AAUP chapter and Tom Discenna becomes your new president. So welcome Tom. Thank you for stepping up to representing all of us in our Union. Over the Summer, Tom has certainly been in the loop on all the items that your union is working on in preparation for the Fall. We are in good hands. Tom has served as our vice president and chair of your Advisory Forum. He is a tenured faculty member now, and in the past was a part-time faculty member. This makes Tom a very good person to represent All of our faculty. Remember, we represent well over 500 full-time tenure track and over 200 part-time faculty.

As we ready for the Fall term, you can check your chapter website any time for latest news on issues we are handling on your behalf. There are several more most of you will not know about, as they involve the privacy of individual members who are benefiting from the aid of Scott Barns and the terms of the Agreement. ( http://oaklandaaup.org )

I want to thank all of our faculty colleagues who volunteer their time to be on our executive committee, past, present and future. These people make time to take care of so many issues on our behalf, and I am glad that I have now also chipped in after so many before me took care of the ship as I began by career at Oakland.

After serving on a bargaining team, and serving as VP and President, I can assure you that many things occur here at Oakland that require your union to step in. Sometimes by requests of our members, sometimes because of general actions that we think are contrary to your Agreement.

Some items currently in play are:

1) The grievance filed for the 2016 merit scoring process, has just completed the final day of investigation and testimony before an outside Arbitration judge. The AAAP and Oakland will have 30 days to provide the Arbitrator final statements after we get transcripts of last Thursday's session. Your lawyer, Robert Fetter, will submit our final statement. I want to thank Kevin Murphy, for his efficient and tireless work navigating this process in his role as our grievance officer. Do thank him in person or email him for all those summer hours he spends on this task.

We have just filed a 2017 merit score grievance based on Oakland's repeat of some of the same process as in the 2016 grievance. This 2017 grievance will be held in stasis for the moment as the 2016 merit judgment will directly impact the 2017 response. Win or lose, it is the opinion of your union that if you get your merit score changed by Oakland, then Oakland should tell you why. Especially when ALL of your raise is controlled by your merit score by the final time of the Agreement. Not providing feedback will just continue to encourage faculty to seek better treatment elsewhere. Not a great recruiting tool either.

2) The AAUP will meet with Oakland later in August to try to convince the University to manage the faculty tuition benefit correctly. That is to simply invoice in the e-bill system using the actual cost of a credit for faculty benefit students as described by the agreement and AHR's official written interpretation from Fall 2015. Currently, Oakland continues to e-bill the full regular tuition rate, then they add subtractions that make it look like the University gives extra money to the student. This can make it look like a scholarship to the student, which it is not, and that is also causing difficulty for some student's tax return preparation. We expect a final report and solution going forward on this process to harmonize with the Agreement. They do not. Oakland is also busy doing some back correction to overbillings they processed on some faculty benefit students. If you think you may have been overbilled in any past terms, do contact Scott Barns. 10% of the the lowest cost undergraduate rate is the simple calculation of the tuition cost per credit for faculty benefit students. (Only faculty's tuition benefit students do not bump other students from available seats.) If your benefit student has been billed more than the 10% calculation of the lowest cost credit hour rate, contact us (OUAAUP).

As far as new issues going forward into the Fall, I will leave that to your new OU-AAUP President to communicate. I look forward to being available on our executive committee for the next year as your immediate past president and continuing to support our Association's efforts for faculty and students. With the now well established advisory forum, email, surveying online, and our website, we have worked hard to open up the communication more than ever, and to respond to your needs here at Oakland. We intend to keep that process rolling.

Thank you for letting me serve you as your chapter President, and thank you to all the full- and part-time faculty who have worked with us on all our committees. The teamwork and productivity while working with my colleagues is fun to be part of.


Ken Mitton
Immediate Past President OUAAUP

Reminder Faculty Tuition Benefit Forms

July 31, 2017
Reminder Faculty Tuition Benefit Forms.

1) Just a reminder that faculty members should submit their forms for Fall course tuition benefits to Janet Tull. Please see the form attached.

While it would be helpful to Janet if you could get your forms to her by August 1st, strictly speaking there is no August 1 deadline in the Agreement. The University has a new tuition management system as you know that requires students to pay their tuition bill or have a payment plan set up by mid august, or risk being bumped from a class seat. HOWEVER, faculty tuition benefit students automatically create an EXTRA class seat in the registered class.

(Part time faculty are also entitled to some credits of tuition benefit, but may not know their hire status until after August 1st, but they are still entitled to this benefit for the fall term.)

If you are denied a tuition benefit for a course registered in the fall term, please contact Scott Barns.

We do note that the form is simplified from last year's in that you just have to check the term that the tuition benefit is requested. No need to add credit hour count, so students who are still trying to figure out registration sections etc., can keep doing so. Based on the Agreement, Oakland has the job of keeping track of who tuition benefit students are.

If you are a first time user of this benefit:

Please note that your faculty tuition benefit is not a tuition reimbursement. Based on the Agreement, faculty tuition benefit students only pay service fees per credit hour. Some time ago, Oakland altered their tuition structure and mixed in fees with tuition. So, for a time the tuition benefit rate for faculty was $0.0 per credit hour, because Oakland not longer published defined fees. Then in the negotiations of a previous OU + OUAAUP Agreement, the faculty offered Oakland the opportunity to again collect the equivalent of administrative fees by calculating a service fee proxy as "...equal to ten (10%) percent of the in-state lower division undergraduate tuition rate for the number of credits enrolled." That is also the language in our current 2015-2020 Agreement.

Because Oakland changed their tuition structure to several tiers, the AAUP met with AHR in the Fall of 2015 to clarify, and AHR provided the AAUP with a precise definition of the fee calculation as: "lowest in-state lower division undergraduate tuition rate". (See the attached PDF of Dec 18, 2015.)

In the end, your balance should be simply the number of credit hours multiplied by the faculty tuition benefit rate per credit hour. Because of the confusing way that Oakland dumps the regular tuition into your student's e-bill then tries to correct it later with subtractions, it is easy to miss any overcharges. So we recommend you check your e-bill final total carefully. We have suggested that Oakland simply e-bill the fee-proxy only in the first place, which would make it easier for both Oakland and the benefit student.

2) This summer, the AAUP discovered that some faculty tuition benefit students had an e-bill that seemed larger than expected. For some reason, financial officials instructed the e-billing system to add to faculty tuition benefit student e-bills the difference between the lowest in-state lower division undergraduate tuition rate and that of the course registered if it had a higher rate. However that was not the policy communicated to the AAUP on December 18, 2015. Upon bringing this to the attention of Academic Human Resources, Oakland has been working this summer on reimbursing students who were overcharged. We (AAUP) expect a final report on the extent of the problem and how many of the corrections have been completed.

So, your tuition benefit fee should simply be the Fall 2017 "lowest in-state lower division undergraduate tuition rate" multiplied by the number of credit hours. Please check your e-bills. If you have any issues that you cannot solve regarding your tuition benefit, please contact Scott Barns.

Hope you are having a good summer

Ken Mitton
President OUAAUP

Oakland's handling of Merit Scores in 2017 using the same process now at external arbitration from 2016.

Your Association (OU-AAUP) is aware that Oakland is applying a similar strategy regarding Merit Pay for full-time faculty as they did last year, repeating the same negative process which is currently the subject of a grievance that is now before an external arbitrator. This process, which the AAUP believes is contrary to the OU + OU-AAUP Faculty Agreement, is apparently being used within CAS, as far as we know at the writing of this email. This affects at least 4 CAS departments we currently know of.

(For reference, please see page 41 of the Agreement.)

Section 80.c states:
Oakland, in consultation with the department chairs (or other unit-designated faculty member in units without chairs) within each merit pay group may modify the performance score assigned to any faculty member by one whole number. Any score modification must be communicated by Oakland before June 20 to the affected faculty member in writing with justification based on the faculty member's approved performance Rubric and submitted activity report.

Section 80.d states:
In the event that Oakland wishes to adjust more than 20% of the proposed performance scores from an academic unit, Oakland shall give the academic unit a single opportunity to reconsider the proposed performance scores. The request for reconsideration shall be made before June 20 and be accompanied by Oakland's suggested Adjustments.

However, Oakland has chosen to simply send a communication to several department chairs in CAS, stating that the unit needs to revise their scores because over 20% are not acceptable to Oakland.

As far as we can ascertain, this strategy is an attempt to avoid the requirement of section 80.c, to have to provide written notification to employee faculty of Oakland's desired merit score change. In our current grievance from 2016, now before an external arbitrator, Oakland insists that section 80.d. replaces any obligations to inform the employee in 80.c. Your Association does not agree.

"Merit Salary Increases", Section 80, is a not a multiple choice, pick one, section. 80.d was simply intended to give Oakland the option of offering to a department the chance to redo all of your scores if your Deans think over 20% need to be changed.

But, which employee merit scores do your Deans desire to decrease? Who do they want to increase? Are they unhappy with 50% of the scores, 80%, 100%? If your unit has made some error in the application of the rubric in the Dean's opinion, what is the error?

Without any actual feedback, one possibility to handle this situation is to flip a coin for each of your faculty members: heads you go up one whole point, tails you lose. Why not hire a mentalist to read the minds of your administrators? :) The AAUP would like to suggest a much more scientific approach as provided in section 80.d, which says:

"The request for reconsideration shall be made before June 20 and be accompanied by Oakland's suggested Adjustments. "

Unfortunately Oakland, in some cases, has decided to ignore "and be accompanied by Oakland's suggested Adjustments:.

For your information, this identical notification was sent to several CAS chairs:

Dear ************,

In connection with the Performance Rubric and Merit Applications received by Oakland, and pursuant to Paragraph 80d of the OU-AAUP 2015-2020 Faculty Agreement, please be advised that Oakland wishes to adjust more than 20% of the proposed performance scores from your academic unit. In that regard, Oakland is offering your academic unit a single opportunity to reconsider your proposed performance scores. The proposed performance scores submitted by your department do not reflect the differentiations in performance among the faculty members contained in their respective annual activity reports. Oakland suggests that the proposed performance scores be adjusted consistent with the merit Performance Rubric applied to the actual performance of each faculty member. A revised set of performance scores, if any, shall be submitted to Oakland before July, 5, 2017.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Unfortunately, 80.d requires Oakland's suggestions, and suggestions are only useful if they indicate to Chairs who Oakland thinks is miss-scored. Who does your Dean think is too high and who is too low?

Chairs have indicated to us that they had no communication before June 20, nor even by June 20th, with any of these kinds of suggestions. Whose scores are just right or wrong? What is the justification?

So the OU-AAUP, again, has a problem with Oakland's chosen approach for this current Merit Pay determination phase on at least two grounds:

  1. 80.d does not say that Oakland can forget the 80.c requirement, to notify any of the faculty in writing if they want to change their unit submitted score. (Why would any organization think that could possibly have positive impact on their employee's morale and performance?)
  2. 80.d also says that Oakland offers the chance to reconsider all your faculty's score, but also with the provision of their suggestions. If you have no idea of what percentage they have problems with and who those faculty are, how can you guess?

Scott Barns and myself (Ken Mitton) have passed on this situation to our grievance officer (Kevin Murphy) and to our lawyer (Robert Fetter) currently working on the merit-based grievance now at outside arbitration from 2016.

I know this treatment of merit by Oakland is a repeated disappointment and clearly our feedback starting in 2016 has not changed Oakland's mind on how to process merit scores.


If you are a Chair that has been asked to revise your scores because of the 20% rule but have no actual provision with that request on how Oakland desires you to change the scores, then you are fine telling your Deans that you are happy with the process of your Rubric application and you may refuse to change any scores. You may also respond to your Deans that they have not notified any of your faculty of their desire to change their merit score and this information requirement deadline was June 20.

Please contact Scott Barns (barns@oakland.edu) if you have any questions.

You can find the latest status on the 2016 merit grievance at any time on your Association website at:

Just scroll the landing page through the news items.

Ken Mitton
President OU-AAUP

Faculty Tuition Benefit Overcharges to be Fixed

May 31, 2017

To OU Faculty

The University's finance department has apparently provided incorrect instructions to student financial services on how to calculate and bill tuition under the faculty benefit. We learned about this problem from a member, this week, and reported the problem to AHR.

Oakland had written a memorandum in Dec 2015 indicating that tuition is just a simple 10% of the lower undergraduate tuition rate for each credit hour enrolled, regardless of the differential tuition structure. This works because faculty pay 10% to cover administration expenses. Faculty teach each other's beneficiaries without extra compensation as a professional courtesy.

Tuition Waiver Clarification, December 2015

Faculty tuition benefit class seats are also bumped by regular paying students in labs where the seat number cannot be increased over the course cap. (Staff tuition benefit students are not bumped.) Staff also get actual funds applied to their full tuition. Faculty tuition is just 10%, period, based on the contract. Thus the faculty tuition benefit model here is zero cost to Oakland University.

Oakland has been billing 10% but also adding the difference between the lower tuition rate and higher differential rates. That later extra amount was not the correct process.

AHR has informed us that financial services will be looking at past billings, through Fall 2015, to find and correct overcharges to faculty tuition benefit students.

Ken Mitton
President OU-AAUP

Update on the status of the merit system grievance (2016)

May 4, 2017

The merit pay grievance's first arbitration meeting scheduled for May 10th has been cancelled. Oakland informed our legal representative, Robert Fetter, that Oakland will not be able to supply your Association with copies of the following materials by the end of the business day May 4th: faculty merit reports submitted last year, and the university's communications to staff and faculty regarding the merit process.

The association will continue to press for the timely provision of these materials and to reschedule for the first arbitration meeting.

Ken Mitton
President OU AAUP

Presidential Candidate Faculty Survey results

Carl Camden, PhD
Ora Pescovitz, MD

New recommendations from the OU-AAUP on dealing with harassing behavior by a student.

April 17, 2017

Recently, your association responded to a request from a faculty member, and their Chair, for assistance in dealing with a male student who was creating a disruptive classroom environment.

The student ignored a syllabus that forbids the use of sexually graphic and other inappropriate topics for writing assignments. After warnings from the professor, the student did not alter his behavior, but redoubled their effort, submitting very disturbing material that would be used in class workshops. This student’s communication with the professor was harassing and disrespectful, and so communication with the student was ineffective. Other students in the classroom reported anxiety and stress due to the student's behavior. The student posted derogatory and negative comments in his public Facebook page, and other students and faculty have come to know of the student from his agitated public commentary.

We expect that in a complex institution, occasional cases of inappropriate and harassing behaviors will occur. Because of that, we expect that Oakland has a defined response protocol and can move promptly. Indeed, the professor and their Chair followed the reporting method listed in the Faculty Handbook. However, the initial response of Oakland was ineffectual. The Chair and faculty member contacted us (AAUP), because the professor and students sharing the class were continuing to face disturbing behaviors. We became more concerned when we contacted our Chief of Police and found that the OUPD had no knowledge of this student despite reports of his inappropriate behavior. Regardless of the reasons for this student’s behavior, no one was being well served in this situation.M/p>

So where did the handling of this harassing student falter? According to the current Faculty Handbook, faculty are directed to a reporting form at the Dean of Student's website. Apparently, this reporting does not alert the entire Behavioral Concerns Committee. A well functioning Behavioral Concerns Committee (BCC), which would include mental health professionals and specially trained police-staff, is better qualified to respond to the situation. The daily expertise of most faculty and administrators does not equip them to deal with these sorts of harassment situations.

The OU-AAUP Executive Committee is now recommending that when faculty members are concerned about behavioral problems with a student, they should immediately use a behavioral concerns form, installed by Oakland on the OUPD website:

Submitting this form generates a record and the BCC will meet to discuss and decide on actions, if any. In May 2009, members of Oakland’s BCC received training from National Center for Higher Education Risk Management which recommended the formulation of written protocols, policies, and procedures. Chief Gordon has assured me that the full BCC addresses and keeps records on any case reported to them.

After the Chair and professor used the OUPD BCC reporting form, the BCC met and took action to monitor and deal with the student's behavior. While we cannot report specifics, I can tell you that the actions will provide opportunity for the student to change their behavior and they provide a new sense of safety for our faculty member. So, if you have concerns about inappropriate, scary or disturbing behavior at the university, please use the reporting form on the OUPD website.

Going forward, the association will place a link to this BCC form’s on our own website, (www.oaklandaaup.org). We will encourage Oakland to provide the current OUPD version of the reporting form on both the Dean of Student's and OUPD website, so that a consistent and complete policy will be in place. Finally, if you are not sure about the potential threat level of a student’s harassing behavior, we recommend that you contact the OUPD directly for advice on how to proceed.

Ken Mitton
President OU-AAUP

OU-AAUP Executive Committee Elections, Winter 2017 - RESULTS

President, Term to end August 15, 2019: Tom Discenna (Communication and Journalism)

Treasurer, Term to end August 15, 2019: Mark Navin (Philosophy)

At-Large Members, Term to end August 15, 2019:
Helen Levenson (Library, NT)
Karen Miller (History)
Cara Shelly (History, SL)

AAUP March Update: Merit, Grievances, Climate Survey

March 10, 2017


Department chairs turned in their responces to Dean's requests for revisions on Feb. 28th. I personally emailed chairs, and then later all AAUP faculty members, about what we consider requests from Oakland versus what is mandated by the Agreement.

I have emailed chairs again to remind them that they are not obligated to agree on requests for revisions. By April, Deans can impose their last suggested version of your merit rubric, so if they are going to do that anyway, let Oakland make the forced change. That is our advice.

One example of a non-mandate is the request to score 1 to 5 in three subcategories as well as an average overall score with 2 or less being a deficiency score. Units are NOT required to subscore. Just one merit score per Faculty member from 1 to 5 is required.

Rubrics have to be consistent with your Promotion and Tenure criteria. If you have ever reviewed promotion dossiers on your Dept., CAP, or FRPC, you know that we are all evaluated as having missed, met or exceeded the requirements for teaching, service, and scholarship, at all three committee levels. The Provost then does the same. At these four levels of independent evaluation we are evaluated without ever using a 1 to 5 or even any point system. Unless there is a point system in your Criteria, there is no point system required for your evaluation in teaching, service and scholarship.

Easy points done by you the faculty will certainly make it less work for Administrators, but evaluating the appropriatness of your Unit-submitted merit score is the job of your Dean's office. That means they need to read your reports that they wanted us to provide to them and then decide. If your Deans want three subscores, there is nothing to prevent a Dean from creating their own "triple system" as they read your merit reports and APPLY your rubric to help them decide if they are happy with your Unit-submitted score not. That is the job of Oakland, based on the contract: to determine if your submitted scores are ok, or if Oakland would like them adjusted.

Deans can simply trust their chairs as leaders and accept the scores too.

Deans can normalize the average score distibutions over all departments in the same pool if they want to stop money flowing from one Dept to another. There are so many posibilities.

But, the whole point of this merit system was for You to get, in writing, the justification for changing your score downward. Thus, you are told WHY you were deficient based on your Dean's evaluation. The justification could be as simple as "we just normalized scores to keep merit pay from flowing to mostly one department in your merit pool". But you should get that in writing. That is one easy way to manage the multiunit pool problem. There is no good reason to not provide feedback.


The grievance over last years first use of the merit system and Oakland's resistance to provide feedback to many who had scores reduced and Oakland's use of Zero scoring is now out to arbitration. The Association's lawyer, Bob Fetter, and Oakland's lawyer have agreed on an Arbitration judge. The first meeting will be scheduled. Based on all past arbitrations in my 15 years here, please inderstand that Oakland takes a long time to agree to meeting dates. So you will be kept informed. ...slowly. :)

The potential grievance filing rate has experienced a slight increase over 2016 to 2017, and they certainly affect more faculty. Noting the current interest Oakland University has regarding equal treatment of employees in the workplace, our Association is currently establishing a committee to examining how grievances and discipline impact our faculty, including impact relative to gender.

Climate Survey

The Association suggests you do the outside climate survey. Note that there is a section to ask about DSS related support at OU. We have told the administration and the BOT before that DSS is under funded and under staffed for the student population we have had for at least the last decade. Apparently there was money to pay for an Illinois lab to run the climate survey? Here is your chance to tell OU examples of problems you have with student special accommodations. Note that students are getting surveyed too. Let them know to do the survey and that you are too.

The survey does not really provide any place to speak about diversity issues regarding women in the workplace. That is unfortunate.

Note: The Association was not involved in planning or providing any suggestions for the survey design. We only became aware of it when it was emailed and already activated.

Have a good weekend
Ken Mitton
President OU-AAUP

AAUP Message: Faculty and Air Travel US Regulations and Rights

February 1, 2017

Some of our international faculty have brought this resource to my attention. Many faculty traveling in and outside the country may find it helpful:


This question and answer booklet describes the rights we have as visa, green card holders or US citizens regarding questioning and searches by officers during air travel.

As conference season begins for many of us, this information booklet may be a great education. Do share it with international colleagues who may be planning to travel to the US for meetings in your fields. The recent immigration changes are already impacting the travel plans of some of my colleagues to our largest annual vision science meeting, because it is in the US this year.

Ken Mitton
President OU AAUP

OU-AAUP Position on the US Presidential Restrictions on Immigration

January 31, 2017

To Member faculty of the OU-AAUP

It is the official position of the American Association of University Professors and the Oakland University chapter of the AAUP that the executive order of President Trump to ban Muslim immigrants is both unconstitutional and discriminatory. The AAUP is committed to the strong support of academic freedom and the broader rights to freedom of expression at this time in history where higher education and truths are under attack.

The ban initially applied by the White House is illogical based on the reasons provided by President Trump's cabinet. Terrorists who have acted in the United States are not always from any particular faith, and the 9/11 terrorists did not originate from countries included in the Presidential order. Islam as a religion does not support terrorist activities any more than Christianity, Bhudism, Judaism or several other religions do. In fact Islam condemns such actions.

It is not uncommon to find that 40-50% of the Faculty in many departments of research intensive universities were born in another country. Many of our own students are Muslim and are no different than any other student in their desire to complete their education and contribute to knowledge now and in the future. The percentage of foreign students at Oakland University has increased over the last several years.

American Universities are among the best in the world because some of the best students and professors in the world come to this country to mix with best born in the USA, generating a positive synergy that gives the United States a leading edge in many fields. Any policy to discriminate and attack this model will only weaken it, and it will also erase the respect that the United States has enjoyed as a defender of human rights and freedoms. These are the very ideals that brought many of us here to pursue our education, teaching and scholarship right here in Michigan.

Please consider going to the following action network link and signing up your support to fight this ban:

I did,
thank you,

Kenneth P. Mitton, PhD FARVO
President OU-AAUP

Welcome 2017: A New Year's Commentary to our Faculty

Jan 3, 2017

President Search for OU

As we closed 2016, I was personally disappointed to learn that President Hynd was not given a five-year term at OU. We all learned about his shorter 3-year appointment through the Detroit News, and that Dr. Hynd was apparently a transitional hire. That was never mentioned when we all participated in the search that found President Hynd several years ago. That said, on behalf of faculty, the OU-AAUP sent a communication letter to the Board of Trustees several weeks ago to emphasize the important role of the faculty in searching for a new President. In that letter from your OU-AAUP executive, we recollected to our current board that having sufficient faculty input is quite logical when faculty are ultimately the employees that create and deliver the product (curriculum) to our clients (our students). Currently, only one faculty member is appointed to the current presidential search committee, less than the last time. OU-AAUP executive committee members have been invited to meet with the search firm that will manage the search process, on January 10th. It will simply be an opportunity to maybe express what we have already attempted to communicate to the Board of Trustees in writing. We will do so at this meeting. I will be there. We will advocate for transparency about the qualifications used to select presidential candidates and we will report back to you, the faculty, how that meeting goes.

As a reminder, we have communicated to the Board of Trustees that:

  1. We are very willing to use our Association to bring the wisdom of our faculty to the search committee, as input and honest evaluation to help the board in their final considerations.
  2. We will continue to advocate that the final Presidential candidates are invited to make public presentations here on our campus. This would allow all short-listed candidates to present their vision for the university and to answer questions from the faculty, the staff, and our students.
  3. We are willing to be constructive and helpful to find a President who is experienced not only in university management and leadership but who also has extensive academic experience, in the trenches. Those credentials have proven to be the hallmarks of searches that have found the most successful University Presidents, and we should not waste time and resources to hire another interim president.
  4. We, the faculty, are here to assist. While the faculty do not expect to make a hiring decision, we do want to be heard regarding constructive and helpful input. People who discover and publish history, discover human genes, create musical scores, treat patients, derive mathematical treatments in astrophysics and disease, invent combat vehicle protection systems, develop economic analysis, and more, can certainly provide useful advice. Its even free.

Faculty are here to help, and they will if provided the opportunity.

Merit Pay Problems: A grievance progressing to arbitration.

The week before the holiday break, your OU-AAUP officers voted to reply to Oakland University's Step-2 meeting response by requesting this dispute moves to outside arbitration in accordance with the process in our Agreement. Through two meetings (step 1 and 2), we were not able to sway Oakland to back away from giving ZERO merit scores and ZERO percent merit raises to some of their faculty. Nor could we convince Oakland to back away from reducing Department-submitted merit scores without providing feedback to faculty members that had their scores reduced by Oakland.

The result of this, intentional or not, is to leave the appearance that Oakland wants the right to reduce merit scores, but at the same time not have to tell you why your score is reduced. It then appears that Oakland did not really want a Merit System for the purpose to encourage greater productivity, nor to reward specific faculty, because that can only happen if an employer actually communicates to the employee why they are unsatisfied with their performance and want to reduce a rubric-determined score. The rubrics were approved by Oakland before they were applied to the process, so why not tell the employee why they are judged to be deficient? Otherwise, do you guess what you must do different in the future? What if you want to appeal an incorrect reduction in your department submitted score. What can you ask your Dean to reconsider when the reason for the reduction is a secret to you? When I think about this, sadly I also laugh a bit because it reminds me of "double secret probation". A phrase from the infamous "Animal House" movie (1978). Google it. While it worked great to help create a new genre in cinematic humor, it does not work nearly as well for employee guidance. I have peeked around the management guides on the websites of some of our BOT member's companies and note that some specifically guide company managers on the problems of running merit systems this way. Employer feedback on performance is clearly emphasized as the most important part of the process. What did you do so great, or so poorly, so you can apply it moving forward? I am not sure why things should be different at a State University.

To be honest, we (OU-AAUP) are not certain how much each of your Dean's understands what the merit system is supposed to do, or what they are briefed as to its purpose by the administration. But we think that avoiding the provision of critical feedback to a faculty member is NOT going to provide the results Oakland says they want from a merit system. Your Association will defend our interpretation of the Agreement's merit system to the full extent that we can. I know many of you caught up a score reduction, without providing you reasons or even one appeal, are "feeling angry" and "unappreciated by Oakland". I read all of your emails, and I thank you for your feedback. We hear you.

Oakland University has until Jan 17th to respond in the process of selecting the outside arbitrator for this grievance. We will keep you posted. We formally requested the arbitration before the holiday break, and I would like to thank all of our officers who me last moment on this issue to get things moving before the holiday break.

One final point on this subject. As your association president, I have personally contacted President Hynd and Provost Lentini to express our concerns about how Oakland is choosing to use the merit system. We think it will increase budgetary strains by requiring more hiring (turnover), and decrease the ability to recruit new faculty.


Do not forget in this new year to get your health care annual physicals and any associated forms completed with your HMO provider, if you have those insurance options.

Remember to contact Oakland University's benefits office when you run into any snags. Kevin Venet in that office is very helpful to all university employees in solving various issues with our insurance providers or at the very least providing clarity of interpretation. The OU-AAUP has nothing but praise for the assistance provided to faculty over the last year.

Best regards, and happy new year

Ken Mitton, President OU-AAUP

End of year comments from Ken Mitton, OU-AAUP President to our Faculty

December 22, 2016

President Search for OU

As we end 2016, I want to say that I was disappointed to learn that Dr. Hynd was not given a five year run to start here at OU, and that we learned about his short 3-year appointment through the Detroit News. That said, on behalf of faculty, the OU-AAUP sent a communication letter to the Board of Trustees to emphasize the important role of faculty input into any search process for a new President for this University. We recollected to the current board that having sufficient representation from faculty input is only logical when faculty are ultimately the only employees that create and deliver the product (curriculum) to our clients (our students). Currently, only one faculty member is on the search committee, but we have just been invited as the OU-AAUP to meet as well with the search firm that will manage the process.

We have communicated to our BOT that we are willing to use our organization to bring the wisdom of our faculty to the search committee, as input and honest evaluation to help the BOT make their final considerations. Also, we will insist again to let the final three candidates present at OU and meet faculty and students to both present their vision and to answer questions. We are willing to be constructive and helpful to find a President who is experienced not only in management and leadership but also who has true academic experience in the trenches. Those are the hallmarks of searches that have found the most successful University Presidents, and we should not waist time and efforts to only find another short term president. We are here to assist. While faculty do not expect to make a hiring decision, they do expect to be heard and listened to with their helpful and thoughtful input.

Merit Grievance progressing to Arbitration.

Today your OU-AAUP officers voted to reply to Oakland University's Step-2 meeting response by requesting this dispute moves to outside arbitration in accordance with the process in our Agreement. We were not able to convince Academic Human Resources, nor any Deans, to back away from giving ZERO merit score and ZERO merit raises to some of their faculty. Nor could we convince Oakland to back away from reducing unit submitted merit scores without providing feedback to the faculty that had scores reduced by their Deans (Oakland). Oakland appears to want to be able to reduce merit scores period. But, not be forced to tell you why your score is reduced. We think this clearly proves that Oakland did not really want Merit System designed to encourage more productivity or to reward specific faculty, because if you get your score reduced from the Rubric determined score, would it not be useful to tell you why you are judged to be deficient? Otherwise you get to guess what to do different in the future.

Frankly the OU-AAUP is not certain how much each Dean understands what the merit system is supposed to be for, or what they are briefed as to its purpose by the administration. But we do not think that avoiding the provision of critical feedback to faculty is not going to provide the results Oakland wants. We do want you to know that we will defend our interpretation of the Agreement's merit system to the full extent that we can. I know many of you caught up in the score reductions without providing you reasons are feeling mad and unappreciated by Oakland. I read all of your emails and I thank you for your feedback.

Oakland University has until Jan 17th to respond in the process of selecting the outside arbitrator for this grievance. We will keep you posted.

I have personally contacted President Hynd and Provost Lentini to point out the nonconstructive nature of the way Oakland is choosing to use the merit system. We think it will increase turnover of faculty, increase budgetary strains by requiring more hiring, and decrease the ability to recruit faculty during regular searches. I am not sure if my communications have or will have any effect on the process. At this point we are going to arbitration, after trying to talk via Step 1 and 2 meetings.


Do not forget in the new year to get your health care exams and forms completed with your HMO provider, if you have those options.

Remember to contact benefits office when you run into snags. Kevin Venet in that office is very helpful to all Oakland employees in solving various issues with our insurance providers.

Best regards, and happy hollidays,

Ken Mitton
President OU-AAUP

Oakland Chapter AAUP Dues Holiday December, 2016

December 9, 2016

Your OU-AAUP Executive Committee has approved a dues holiday for the pay month of December, 2016.

No AAUP dues or services fees will be collected this month.

Ken Mitton
President OU-AAUP

AAUP Message Regarding the Presidential Search Committee

November 4, 2016

The OU-AAUP provided a letter to the Oakland University Board of Trustees on October 24, 2016, encouraging our Trustees to include faculty on the presidential search committee and faculty participation in the process as it goes forward through its various stages. Also, that an open slate of final candidates be available for public presentations before staff and faculty and students of the University.

While I chaired one of our General OU-AAUP membership meetings that afternoon, Karen Miller (History) also made a statement on behalf of our AAUP chapter at the Trustee' s meeting on this subject. A synopsis of the statement by Dr Miller follows:

We regard the process of selecting a president to be a preeminent responsibility of the Board of Trustees. The university president sits at the nexus between the Board and the larger university community. As such, the president provides an important link of communication—negotiating the aspirations and the fears of the various constituencies. Presidents are certainly leaders, but their roles also require the ability to balance the varying interests within the community.

We are strongly supportive of the Board’s decision to continue the practice of including faculty members on the presidential search committee. Oakland’s faculty is complex; it is critically important to consider a variety of faculty perspectives from the initial stages of the search through the final vetting of candidates.

Stephen Trachtenberg, former president of George Washington University and noted expert on the modern university, has argued Leaders in higher education must understand the nature of the academic enterprise. A college or university must be business-like in many of its functions, but it is not a business. Its missions are complex and sometimes conflicting. Its governance processes are built on a lively mix of consensual, political, and bureaucratic principles. Institutions of higher education are ventures in fact and faith, and most outcomes will not yield to single data point performance evidence.

So that we may be confident in our next generation of leadership, it is important that all constituencies—including the faculty—have a voice in the process of selecting Oakland’s next university president.

Last Friday, we were happy to see that at least one faculty member was named to the presidential search committee. Professor Karen Markel (SBA). The OU-AAUP would like to see two or three faculty on the search committee, as we experienced in the previous presidential search, and will continue to suggest this. We are happy with this initial placement of Dr Markel on the search committee and our chapter is willing to assist the search committee in taking advantage of input from all of our faculty.

Ken Mitton

2016 Open Enrolment- Healthcare: OU-AAUP Suggestions.

To OU Faculty - 10/26/2016

Now that you all have the University email regarding the Benefits and Wellness Fair on November 2nd, to start the 2016 open enrollment period, we have some comments and cautions to help you make decisions on your health care insurance choices.

We (OU-AAUP) have asked the Benefits office to find the answers to the following questions, and to make the answers clear in any information communicated to faculty and staff regarding our health plan choices. You can also explore these questions with potential providers yourself, such as Priority Health and Blue Care Network and the PPO options.

1) For any insurance plans with a tier system (standard, enhanced) that are determined by an annual physical with your primary care doctor: if the member's metric is outside the desired range of the insurer (for example BMI, or cholesterol) can the doctor set an alternative value if they are satisfied with the patient's overall health? In other words, if my BMI is 34 and the insurer wants 31, but my doctor is happy with my health based on a full knowledge set, can my doctor set my alternative goal at 34 and qualify me for enhanced (full coverage)?

2) Is the health insurance plan offered "pay and pursue" or "pursue and pay"?
We learned, while helping one of our members this summer, that Priority Health is currently "Pursue and pay". That means, if you or your family member get injured at a vacation place and have to go to the hospital, PH does not pay the hospital costs until the client tries to get coverage from the insurer of the vacation resort, or other property where the injury occurred. This can be more difficult when traveling out of state and even out of country.

In the other case, "Pay and pursue", the insurance company pays your medical service provider first, and then they pursue the resort or property operator for medical coverage.

Please make sure you understand the answers to questions 1 and 2 for any health insurance option that you select this year during open enrollment.

Ken Mitton
President OU-AAUP

To Faculty
OU-AAUP Update

As we end the week, there are some items I would like to keep all faculty up to date on.

  1. An OU-AAUP general meeting is tentatively planned for October 20th, noon.

    We currently have one open seat on the chapter executive, for an at large member. If you are interested in joining the slate of candidates for election, contact Scott Barns and he will pass your name on to our nominations committee.

  2. This week, the OU-AAUP filed a grievance with Oakland regarding the management of the merit pay system this year. This protests against two aspects of Oakland's management of the merit processing:

    1. Some faculty had their department submitted merit scores reduced without receiving prior notification as per section 80.c of the Agreement. Oakland appears to interpret the 80.d option as cancelling that of 80.c. However section 80 is not a multiple choice list of options, it is a set of mutually agreed processes that must occur to provide any faculty member due process during merit determination.

    2. Many faculty were assigned zero merit scores and were given zero percent merit component increases. We protest that action because the contract only states that scores of 1 to 5 are mentioned in the contract. Furthermore, within 80.e it is clearly agreed that the minimum percent merit raise for any faculty member in the merit pool group is 0.5%.

  3. Some faculty asked the OU-AAUP to find out what the raises were this year for other major work groups on campus, for comparison. Specifically, they wanted to know if the AP group had a market analysis as well and a significant raise. We asked AHR for this information and received the following information, from the office of our Chief Human Resources Officer:

    "....the average July 2016 salary increase (including across the board increases or market adjustments resulting from the Compensation Study) for the 512 Administrative Professionals who were hired before December 31, 2015 and who did not change positions or weekly hours worked in 2016 was 9.66%."

    So there is the information that some of you asked us about. Just a reminder, that for comparison, faculty got an average 1.85% raise this year (0.5% across the board, 1.35% merit). In addition just over 300 faculty were partially market adjusted with a total of $325,000. (The market shortfall was measured to be over $3-million, if you recall from our previous news.)

  4. The OU-AAUP advisory forum had their first meeting this term. Please do get to know your unit colleagues on the advisory forum. This body is there to help you let us know your concerns. See the advisory forum page on http://OaklandAAUP.org

  5. The OU-AAUP will be communicating to Oakland and our Board of Trustees that faculty are ready to help the university in its next national search for a University President, and that we hope faculty will be called upon to serve on the selection committee as was done for the previous search. The OU-AAUP wishes President Hynd all the best in his future plans after service at Oakland.

If you have any suggestions for us, concerns to voice, on any of the above issues, please email, phone, contact us.


Ken Mitton
President OU-AAUP

Salary, Merit, Market Reporting to Faculty - August 18, 2016

To all Faculty,

Welcome to August, and since the 15th we are into the second year of the current faculty Agreement (2015-2020).

Over the summer your OU-AAUP officers have been working to help departments and the University navigate the pains of implementing a new merit reporting and raise determination system. Our goal was to keep the process on schedule so that the University can do two important things by contract required dates:

1) Calculate the correct individual raise for each faculty member, which is now more variable.

2) On or before August 20th, the University must report to each continuing faculty member: your prior year's salary, the values of any raise component (across the board, market adjustment, merit, and promotion), your base salary for the following academic year, your performance score used for awarding the merit component (for full time faculty), and the percentage increases that were allocated by Oakland to each of the performance scores within your own merit pay group.

(Note: in the CAS, there are separate groups containing several departments each.) This information is also provided to the OU-AAUP. Please see Section 83. Pp. 43 of your the Agreement.

On a related matter, the OU-AAUP and Academic Human Resources thought that the University would be wise to do a careful audit of faculty compensation and benefits before implementing substantial changes to raise determinations. That audit determined that many faculty were under-paid their retirement benefit contributions for several years and a few over-paid. Members of the OU-AAUP executive met with AHR to determine how to correct these errors. The University promised to use historical investment data with Fidelity or TIAA to make faculty retirement contributions whole and correct, including potential lost investment growth. This process should be completed around this time and any affected faculty should have received clear communication from AHR on this matter.

Members of your executive also gathered complaints and problems being experienced by Faculty with Priority Health HMO customer service and compensation for medical services. We met with the PH account managers and provided several pages of concerns and complaints from faculty (anonymous). If you are experiencing any rejections of claims from Priority Health for medical services, please contact the OU Benefits Office (Keven Venet), who have been able to alert PH Account managers to often solve problems for OU clients that have otherwise remained in limbo for several weeks.

On behalf of the OU-AAUP
Welcome back to the the new school year,

Ken Mitton
President OU-AAUP
Associate Professor
Eye Research Institute

Recently, all Faculty received email from the Provost’s office (June 22, 2016) to report the general results of the first of two years of market adjustments as per the 2015-20 Oakland University & OU-AAUP Agreement. A Market committee was comprised of three members of the Oakland administration and three representatives of the OU-AAUP.

The OU-AAUP would like to thank all of the committee members for their extra work on a challenging task:

Peggy Cooke, AVP, Academic Affairs
Tomas Giberson, Assoc Prof Education, Human Resource Development
Michael Latcha, Assoc Prof Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
Mohinder Parkash, Prof Accounting, Business Administration
Catherine Rush, Academic Affairs
Barbara Smith, Financial Analyst, Academic Affairs

A list of full-time faculty eligible for market adjustments was assembled and discipline (CIP) codes were assigned to each faculty member, as well as years of time in rank. The initial set contained 401 full-time faculty eligible for market adjustments. The average years of service for associate professors and professors were calculated across these eligible faculty for use in the allocation formulae, 8.39 years for Associate Professors and 12.26 years for Full Professors.

The committee chose to utilize salary data averaged across all 327 Carnegie Doctoral universities reporting to CUPA (College and University Professional Association for Human Resources), to generate a comparison data set for Market analysis. This set provided sufficient numbers across the various disciplines. The committee used 4-digit CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) codes for the analysis, when available, to provide more detailed comparisons. Most Special Instructor, and all of the Library data available from CUPA, did not return 4-digit CIP data, therefore 2-digit data was used.

The market adjustment formulas compared faculty salaries to the reference data set to determine which faculty were above or below the calculated average market salaries.

Of 401 faculty initially eligible, 339 (84.8%) were identified as having salaries below the comparison market data for their field, rank, and time in rank. Following a review by the deans, as per the Agreement, no faculty were excluded by any dean for performance reasons.

Finally, the committee determined a strategy to allocate $325,000 across all faculty who remained eligible. This is the difficult part because only $325,000 is provided by Oakland for the first year of the market adjustment. This was the maximum we could get offered from Oakland during bargaining of the current contract. At that time, the OU-AAUP was sure that Oakland University Faculty were underpaid, compared to the average salary of their peer institutions, by at least 1.5 million dollars, based on the results of a previous market analysis done in 2006-2007, outside of the contract.

Faculty have been asking us (OU-AAUP) for information on how much lower faculty are paid based on the current market analysis. I only have average information, but its quite informative:

The current market analysis, starting with 401 eligible faculty, found that their total salary was $3.5-million dollars lower than the average salary in the comparison data set. In other words, this first market adjustment will only address 9% of this $3.5-million dollar figure. After two years of market adjustment, it can address up to 18%.

Because of this large gap, the market adjustment committee chose the to allocate based on a percentage of the calculated market adjustment with a minimum payment of $200 and a maximum of $1,300. These individual faculty allocations will be provided in the contractually mandated report in August.

This market adjustment analysis carried only compared 401 eligible faculty to the average salary in the comparison data set from peer institutions. Not the highest salary in those data sets. The take home message for all faculty is simple. Let no one tell you that you are over paid. Furthermore, your students should understand that their increasing tuition at Oakland University is not driven by faculty salaries.

Kenneth P. Mitton
President, OU-AAUP

Meeting Summary 6-3-2016: OU Benefits, Priority Health HMO, OU-AAUP

Dear Faculty

Most Faculty are using the Priority Health HMO option for their health insurance this year. Since January 2016 we have been alerted to many problems experienced by Faculty with this provider. Issues with a poor website interface, difficulties with obtaining the full enhanced 100% coverage level, difficulty with PH customer service.

One benefit of our Faculty Association is the ability to get feedback from many people simply by asking through our organization. Based on feedback since January, and response to a request for feedback emailed last week, we had a hunch that many problems experienced by faculty with PH are a result of the following problems. All are fixable.

Scott Barns and myself met last Friday with the PH director of accounts and the PH account manager assigned to Oakland's PH plan. Ron Watson and Kevin Venet of OU Benefits office were there too and I would like to thank them for arranging this meeting.

We started the meeting by providing examples (unidentified) of feedback from many of you who emailed to myself and Scott Barns regarding your Priority Health experiences. I had some positive feedback, which took up one page. I also shared SEVEN pages of what would be negative experiences and comments. Over 30 Faculty shared with me and Scott their problems with Priority Health within 48 hours of my email request for feedback. Thanks to all of you who took the time to do so.

Based on comments and feedback, one trend was clear. Those of us who are basically happy with Priority Health have generally healthy adult partners and no ongoing health management issues. Especially none that involve the metrics required for Priority Health's annual health qualification. However, that is not the case for many OU Faculty.

After our discussions at this meeting, it was clear that many problems exist because of disorganization on the part of Priority Health. We did receive several apologies. The AAUP communicated at this meeting that fixing several problems will be to PH's benefit as we approach the next open enrollment period. Several of you who provided feedback had indicated you are planning to change away from PH at the next open enrollment because of your bad experiences.

I have summarized what we (AAUP) took from this meeting and the same points listed below I have already emailed to everyone who attended the meeting Friday.

1. Inability to access information that is relevant to the OU specific P-health plan. This is because of an incompletely executed migration of the Priority Health client web-portal at the most critical time of year, Jan to March. In retrospect, a third party website should have been completely migrated and tested before swapping it for the old PH website, and that should have been done AFTER the critical months required for subscribers to do online assessments. Those of us who used the previous PH website last year, found it was basically functional. As of Friday evening (June 3), we really still have an incompletely migrated website as we are passing the halfway point in the current account year. To our knowledge, OU was not offered an extension of the qualification period by PH, but in retrospect that would have been useful. Apparently PH did that for some other client groups this year because of website issues.

2. Faculty experiencing inconsistent customer service when they attempt to get help from PH.

Inconsistent in at least two ways.

First, some calls get customer service representatives that can help solve a certain situation, while the very same situation for a different OU faculty member is concluded differently and/or incorrectly. Of course the subscriber calling has no way to realize they have a wrong result, because the the problems created by problem 1.) above.

Secondly, there is inconsistency in how subscribers are treated on the phone.

We (OU-AAUP) are getting reports from our members of condescending treatment in telephone conversations. This is quite annoying, as you might imagine, if we find later that the position of PH toward the member was also incorrect. It is clear from our member feedback, and from our meeting Friday, that PH customer service representatives sometimes provide the WRONG information to OU-subscribers and the customer service representatives may or may not be aware themselves that they do not understand the OU plan.

(For example, if you are on the lower 80% coverage tier, and your doctor resets your data to meet a current metric you can immediately be changed up to 100% coverage. Some faculty were told incorrectly that they have to wait til next year.

IF YOU are unhappy still with your situation, DO contact Kevin Venet in our benefits office. He can confirm what is correct or incorrect for you with account managers at Priority Health.)

3. PH does not provide printed documents to subscribers, relying on PDFs and a website, and so it is beholding on Priority Health to get this information to clients.

As of 11:52 PM Friday June 3rd: I (Ken Mitton) logged into my "My Health" and find that links to my coverage documents led back to the old PH website. There I find a link to a page of many documents for many plans. I must guess the right one to click on. With all due respect to PH, it is long past the time get the website fixed, or carry out some work around.

Many of us (Faculty) have maintained and designed fairly sophisticated web-sites for our own scholarly and research activities since the 90's, and we know that not having a simple link to a member handbook PDF is simply a matter of a website programmer NOT taking ten minutes to add a line of code to the shared template seen by all of PH's Oakland University subscribers. Our (AAUP) friendly advice to PH Accounts managers: If your IT people are dragging on this issue, tell them you know better that they can fix it now.

4. Faculty Concern: Travel for vacation and for the Required duties of academic faculty (research and scholarship)

I myself have had personal experience with health insurance in Alberta (AltaHealth), Ontario (OHIP), Virginia (BC/BS), Maryland (BC/BS), and Michigan (MCare, BCN, HAP, PH). MCare was at UMich. BCN, HAP and PH at Oakland University. This is my second year with a Family of five in Priority Health.

I must say that finding information on how to use my PH health insurance while outside my service area is the most difficult I have experienced of all the providers I have had experience with. Usually this information is pro-actively sent to us. All previous insurance providers had a simple phone number contact system to services that assist not only in locating medical care but in communicating with the distant care provider. It is not clear to many of our faculty members if such service exists with PH, as the website has a generic description of Assist America stating that "most" PH plans include Assist America. Again, not being able to find a specific member handbook for our particular OU-plan makes this yet another puzzle to solve or another reason for Faculty call PH customer service.

Beyond travel for vacations, Academics MUST travel for their own careers to national and international meetings in their fields to keep current and to build reputations. Most OU Faculty pay substantial out of pocket costs for this "work related" travel already, because University does not fully cover such travel for all Faculty. So faculty have have ZERO patience for anything else that makes travel difficult or stressful. While that is not Priority Health's fault, it is a reality that affects Faculty perception when choosing a provider during open enrollment.

We (AAUP) recommend that clear, concise information on how to access and use Assist America for medical coverage with PH outside our service area is prepared and placed on the Priority Health member website. Again this is just modifying the single shared menu and link template that the My Health web-server generates for every OU client login. This is not a big deal for website managers. I am not a website manager. I am a full time biomedical research scientist but I regularly update my own personal website over a cup of coffee, sometimes from my phone.

ONE LAST POINT: Your coverage tier. Just my personal free advice.

It is apparently true that whatever target your doctor thinks is alright for you at this time under their care is a target that your doctor can set to qualify you to full coverage status. I specifically asked about this, and this was not refuted by PH at this meeting. If you feel you are following your doctor's plans and they are not helping you get qualified now, then seriously consider finding another doctor that will work with you.

We (AAUP) have provided the above feedback to Priority Health and OU Benefits Office. We do thank everyone for meeting with Scott and I about the issues faculty have with their PH health insurance management. We appreciate that OU Benefits set up this meeting and I hope the result is better service for Faculty relying on Priority Health. I have also provided this meeting information summary to Academic Affairs (Cathy Rush).

Ken Mitton
President OU chapter of the AAUP

OU-AAUP Chapter Update for all Members - March 17, 2016

Several items of current interest for our members:

  1. Our website has a new issues page to not only keep you abreast of issues your chapter is working on for members, but to track the time required to solve issues and the status of each situation. Issues such as merit rubric development, problems with HMO service delivery, and extremely long travel re-imbursement times are some of the issues listed.

  2. We will soon be electing four at-large members for our Chapter Executive Committee. Eight candidates have agreed to run. Please watch for ballot information in your email.

  3. Just a reminder that the deadlines concerning merit rubric development were delayed by one extra week from those in the current contract due to challenges in the first year of their development. This time extension was offered by the Deans and accepted by the OU-AAUP.

  4. The OU-AAUP is providing the University with feedback on a new proposed OU Bullying Policy. Our analysis noted several deficiencies in the draft policy when compared to policies at other Institutions and in comparison to the State of Michigan Department of Education's model policy. In particular, bullying relative to gender, race, and sexual orientation should be addressed by the policy to be similar to modern policies in place a some institutions. Also, we feel that the definition of what constitutes bullying needs more details as in policies from other institutions.

  5. The full PDF of the 2015-2020 faculty agreement is now available on our website

  6. Printed versions of the contract are now in press and will be delivered to all units. I would like to especially thank Cathy Rush (AHR), Scott Barns (executive director OUAAUP) and Mike Latcha (engineering, our contract chief negotiator) for many weeks of assembling the new contract, error checking, and indexing.

  7. Your OU-AAUP Executive Committee has approved a dues holiday for the pay month of April 2016.

  8. An audit by AHR found just over 30 faculty were underpaid retirement contributions. Letters from AHR have gone out to those faculty affected. AHR tells us (AAUP) that the intent is to correct and make whole the deficiency, including potential lost investment growth. Two faculty were overpaid retirement benefits. That is being corrected as well using future pay adjustments.

Ken Mitton

Minutes from the November 11, 2015 General Membership Meeting.

AAUP Report on December 7 Meeting with President Hynd, Provost Lentini and Board Chair Schlussel

This past Monday morning, December 7th, several members of your OU-AAUP Executive Committee met with trustee Mark Schlussel (our BOT Chair), President Hynd and Provost Lentini. While this was not a meeting with the Board of Trustees, it was a meeting offered by Trustee Schlussel and accepted by me and other members of your chapter's Executive Committee.

Of course, we talked about the recent Chief Operating Officer (COO) hire. Trustee Schlussel and President Hynd continue to assert that this hiring decision was wise and represents no conflict of interest violations. Those from the Executive Committee reaffirmed that the faculty overwhelmingly feel that due diligence required that the Board first define the position and explain its need, and then conduct an open search. Furthermore, Oakland University's faculty do not understand the need to compress the COO search process merely to provide a hasty outcome.

The absence of an open search has been particularly troubling in light of the fact that our new COO was drawn from the Board of Trustees. In several public forums, faculty members have raised questions whether it is appropriate for Board members to accept high-salaried administrative positions with the university. Many are not assuaged by the Board's insistence that its own conflict of interest policy was not violated. We noted again that the perception of conflict of interest can be as damaging to the university's reputation as a confirmed conflict of interest. Faculty overwhelmingly hold this opinion because we are a public institution of higher education, and we have a mandate to rigorously follow open hiring practices and refrain from any actions that could be perceived as cronyism.

We also took the time at the meeting to contextualize the hiring of the COO from the faculty's perspective. The faculty's experience with the previous president had undermined both trust and cooperation. While we welcomed the establishment of a new presidential administration that touted its support for the faculty and professed its desire to improve the working environment, the experience of negotiating the current faculty contract revealed little change from previous negotiations. This disconnect between the assertion of support and the administration's stance during bargaining left many faculty disenfranchised even before the appointment of the COO.

Trustee Schlussel, Provost Lentini and President Hynd emphasized their desire is to improve the focus on academics at Oakland University and stated that they consider the support of the faculty to be essential to this goal. They hope that faculty would work with them to move the university forward in this new direction. We in turn, indicated that the faculty are fully dedicated to improving the educational experience for our students.

So, what can we do moving forward? We acknowledge that the faculty cannot force the Board to hire transparently; the Board is responsible for enforcing its own policies. We can be skeptical about the stated intentions of our Board and the administration. We can, at the same time, follow Trustee Schlussel's request to "have an open mind" as we observe the actions of the new COO. Regardless of these choices, we have the duty to object when we think things have been done badly and applaud the good actions of our university. At this juncture in President Hynd's term of office, very skeptical faculty members are still waiting for actions that match the rhetoric. This point was also communicated at this Monday's meeting.

As the president of the OU-AAUP, I will continue to read emails from faculty, respond to questions from journalists, discuss with my colleagues, and talk with our students to develop an understanding of the community's attitudes. I will pass on pertinent information to the administration so that they may act in a more informed manner. I will continue to identify those issues that we can affect and will use the contract to defend the interests of our membership.

Ken Mitton
Oakland University AAUP Chapter President

Important Message on Recent AAUP Grievance Settlement


An important and hard-won decision was recently reached in an AAUP/Oakland arbitration, a decision that has significant impact on every Oakland faculty member. The grievance concerned a faculty member who, on the basis of a student’s recording of the faculty member’s remarks in class, was issued an order of persona non grata and summarily removed from campus on Sept. 27, 2013. On the basis of the student’s recording alone, without interviewing any other member of the class or the faculty member, the administration judged the faculty member to be a threat to the safety of others on campus. The persona non grata order, issued by the OU Police Department, also mandated that the faculty member undergo certain medical and psychological exams.

Understandably, the AAUP grieved this action. Not only did the administration's action violate contract provisions that are specifically designed to deal with such a situation, but the claim of an immediate threat to the campus community, followed by rapid removal from campus, seemed a clear violation of principles of due process and fairness.

The Arbitrator, agreeing with the AAUP's reading of the contract, found that the administration violated Agreement Article IX, 66 c. and d. by failing to give notice to the faculty member and the Association prior to effecting the action, and by failing to state in writing (to the faculty member and the Association) the reasons for the action.

The Arbitrator also found that the administration violated Article XXXIII, 216 by failing to disclose relevant information "within a reasonable time after receiving a request."

The issue of a hearing is not directly addressed in the Agreement, but was based on Oakland University ordinance 9.04. This ordinance reads as follows:

Any individual who violates these ordinances and whose actions pose a threat to the health and/or safety of the university community, or to university property, or whose actions constitute trespass may also be referred to the university administrator designated by the president for a hearing which may result in an order denying the offending individual access to the campus for a specified period of time.

On this issue the Arbitrator found that use of the word "may" indicates that a hearing is not necessary, and therefore found for the administration.

The Arbitrator's ruling marked the conclusion of a lengthy grievance and arbitration, extended in part by the administration's delays in turning over information and in scheduling arbitration dates. The Arbitrator's finding on behalf of the Association regarding the timely disclosure of information is therefore particularly gratifying and encouraging.

The other part of the Arbitrator's decision in favor of the AAUP is an important one, as it supports the Association's understanding of the plain language of Article IX. Significantly, the Arbitrator found that the faculty member did not, in fact, pose a health or safety threat to anyone on campus and therefore the administration needed to adhere to the advance notification requirements of 66 c. and d.

Had the administration's actions been upheld in this case, our protections against extreme disciplinary actions would have been significantly eroded.

The Association is pleased to report the outcome of this grievance, particularly as current labor laws tend to favor management positions. We also want to acknowledge the hard work on this case of both our Grievance Officer, Kevin Murphy, and our attorney, Robert Fetter.

Kevin T. Grimm
President, AAUP-OU

The December 2014 OU-AAUP Newsletter is available for download.

Oakland University Faculty Facebook Groups: