Photo courtesy of Oakland University
To say that I am passionate about education and teaching is an understatement. I have proudly devoted the last 17 years of my life and career to OU. Like most faculty, I accept that we generally toil in our chosen profession with modest compensation that is supplemented by the joy and fulfillment we receive with the work that we do. And like most faculty, I trusted that the administration of OU understood that, without students and faculty, they have no reason to exist. University administration exists solely to serve the functions of the university, comprised of students and faculty. I have trusted OU with not only my own career and livelihood but the education of my oldest son, who is a proud OU graduate from the Department of Music, Theater, and Dance.
It was with extreme frustration and disbelief that I began to understand that OU did not have my back as a long-time faculty member, nor cared about my health and retirement. Having a recent diagnosis of breast cancer while simultaneously learning that the administration of OU wants to slash contributions to our health care and salaries leaves me worried about my health, my financial future and has caused me to question my commitment to the university to which I’ve devoted the bulk of my career.
Make no mistake. Faculty love what we do and we give tirelessly to education, scholarship, and service. Most of us work full-time year-round despite the fact that our contract compensates us only for eight months of the year (summer teaching is paid extra but that is also being slashed in the current administrative negotiations). Our passion inspires us to continue to meet, to develop new initiatives, courses, and programs, and mentor our students even during the months for which we are not compensated. And we do so because we love what we do. What we expect in return is respect from those who are in the position to serve the university – to serve the students and faculty. The current administration’s handling of contract negotiations is not leadership, and is a disappointing assault on the very foundation of Oakland University.