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Merit Pay & Imposed Decisions

From: "Fox, Dennis" <>
To: UIS Campus <>
Subject: merit pay & imposed decisions
Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997

UIS Faculty:

When the legislature forced SSU into UIS, we were reassured many times that nothing would change unless we wanted it to change. We could retain our norms, our standards, our goals, our policies. Unlike at SSU, we were told--where the "non-collegial" faculty union stuck its nose where it didn't belong--at U of I the faculty supposedly had real power to control their destinies.

Now that the union no longer has the right to bargain, it's increasingly clear that much of what our administrators promised us was a lie.

The latest issue: Must UIS faculty implement a system of merit pay, or do we have a choice?

I don't want to get into the substantive issue here of whether or not merit pay is a good idea. There are arguments on both sides. If the University had been telling us the truth, we could debate the issue on its merits and make a decision.

But apparently we don't have that option. Near the end of the report of the October 10 Campus Retreat on the Role of Schools in Shared Governance,in the "Closing Discussion" section on page 8, there is a line that says "We have to have a merit pay system."

Today I was told by my Dean that this conclusion was not a decision made at the retreat, but "was a reiteration of the directive we received last year from President Stukel and the UI administration that we have to have merit pay systems for faculty, academic professionals, and administrators.... It was not a choice given to this campus, it was a directive to all the campuses."

This may have been clear since last year to some people, but not to all the faculty members at the retreat. According to one participant, the retreat's subcommittee on personnel was not told there was no choice about merit until the end of the day. The subcommittee's report (on page 6) makes it clear that the subcommittee still considered merit pay a debatable issue, only to be told otherwise after they finished their deliberations.

We don't have to participate in a fraudulent process that doesn't even give us the appearance of fairness, let alone the substance.

Regardless of your views about merit pay, the real issue here is whether we will continue to let them roll over us without a struggle.

I'm not sure what our options are. We need to work those out together.

One thing we should do is urge the Campus Senate to revisit this issue and try to clarify exactly what the bosses in Urbana have in mind. If we can't make up our own minds about merit pay, and we can't make up our own minds about a grievance procedure, what else is there that we have no choice about, other than the choice to make believe we have a decision making role?

Part of the problem, as I see it, is that UIS has no Faculty Senate. The Campus Senate includes non-faculty members; the meetings are packed with administrators; Senators have a hard time standing up to the administration. And when they do take a stand, they are just blown off (as when the Chancellor vetoed the Senate-approved grievance procedure early in the semester).

It would be useful if the Senate called a faculty meeting where we could all speak freely (with no administrators present) about our concerns on merit pay as well as other bylaws-related issues. Suddenly having to devise bylaws without any campus-wide discussion is a prescription for division and isolation rather than for democracy and debate.

I hope union members attend the Faculty Union Retreat on November 14 (details on the UPI website, The union can't bargain now, but we can be a voice for faculty concerns. We can discuss what the future holds in store and plan how to have an impact. But we won't get very far if we all just give up.

Dennis Fox
Associate Professor of Legal Studies

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