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Fall, 2010 Report

Theodore K. Miller (SPEA)
Charles S. Watson (SPHS)
Treasurer: Julie Bobay (Library)

Robert Eno:
Laura Ginger: (Business)
Moira Marsh:
Maxine Watson: (Biology)

IU Domestic Partner Benefits Policy Adopted

Freedom of Speech at IPFW
A Conversation With State Legislators
e Conference

On September 14, the Board of Trustees adopted a resolution providing for full health and other benefits for same-sex domestic partners of IU faculty, staff, and students.  The decision reversed a resolution passed by the trustees in 1994.  In that year, the BFC sent a domestic partner benefits resolution to the trustees, but the trustees emphatically foreclosed such a step.  The reversal represented a major victory for IU faculty on a strongly held matter. 

    During the period following 1994 there was a general belief that the clear position the trustees had taken made it useless to press the point further.  However, last year COAS assistant dean Steve Sanders decided to explore the possibility that negative attitudes towards domestic partner benefits (DPB) were softer than faculty assumed.  Sanders assembled a task force composed of faculty, staff, and students on multiple IU campuses to develop a background paper on DPB that could dispel misconceptions of fact that may have underlain the trustees’ action. 

      The approach of the task force rested on two major principles: that exclusion of domestic partners from benefits eligibility was discriminatory, and that the exclusion put IU at a serious disadvantage in recruitment and retention of quality faculty and staff.  Sanders and other task force members also recognized that it would be necessary to respond to two important arguments against DPB: that a DPB policy would cost IU more than it could afford, and that it would generate negative publicity and a backlash against IU.  As it pursued research, the task force learned that same-sex DPB policies at institutions comparable to IU had not, in fact, entailed significant costs; total health care cost increases ran well under one percent. The task force also assembled evidence that DPB policies were increasingly being adopted in the private sector in Indiana, and that surveys on the issue indicated a shift in Hoosier attitudes

      Task force members began a year-long process of contacting members of the university community.  Jim Sherman, then President of the BFC and an active advocate, asked the BFC Fringe Benefits Committee to initiate new BFC action.  Dan Dalton, dean of the Kelley

School of Business, was among the earliest and most active members of the task force, and his advocacy helped generate broad administrative support.  President Brand expressed support for the task force’s goals at an early stage, and helped bring other members of the university community into the discussion.

      The initial proposal had come solely from Bloomington, but any change in benefits eligibility must, by law, be systemwide.  The 1994 BFC resolution had not taken this into account, and had been purely Bloomington based.  This time, BFC leaders contacted Paul Galanti, IUPUI faculty president, to discuss moving a new DPB resolution simultaneously through the faculty councils of both the IUPUI and Bloomington campuses.  Galanti mobilized the IUPUI Fringe Benefits Committee, which worked with the Bloomington committee to draft identical resolutions.  It was clear that trying to move through the very different faculty governance structures on all eight campuses was not feasible, but faculty council leaders on every campus were contacted, and in a telephone conference late in the summer, regional leaders indicated that support for a DPB policy was strong throughout the system; they unanimously endorsed proceeding with a “two-campus strategy,” based on formal approval by the two large campus faculty councils.

      The IUPUI Faculty Council adopted the DPB resolution on September 7 by a unanimous voice vote, a forceful indicator of the strength of support beyond Bloomington.  Four days later, amidst the confusion of the September 11 events, BFC members gathered in an abbreviated meeting of considerable drama and approved the resolution by a vote of 51-0.

      As trustees were alerted that a new DPB resolution was forthcoming, their responses were unexpectedly receptive.  The task force report was effective in answering key questions, and the engagement of faculty on all campuses was clearly important to the trustees.  It became evident that there was, in fact, strong underlying support among the trustees for the principle of non-discrimination and sensitivity to the arguments for recruitment and retention – John Walda, a long-time member of the Board, stated that he had for years looked forward to a reconsideration of the trustees’ 1994 action. The faculty resolution had called for DPB benefits to be extended to both same and opposite-sex partners, but because no firm cost estimates could be made for the inclusion of opposite sex partners, the trustees elected to adopt a resolution that applied only to same-sex couples, and request further cost study of the broader option.  In that form, a DPB resolution was adopted by the Board.  The vote was unanimous.

      Domestic partner benefits has been an issue of major concern to the Bloomington faculty for many years.  A comparison of the 1994 and 2001 outcomes makes clear that effective faculty governance must, at times, go beyond the BFC itself and involve coalition building with other groups and other campuses.  It also suggests how important contact between faculty and trustees can be in creating a context of frank discussion where shared views can be discovered and differences negotiated.            

      In the years prior to 1994, faculty-trustee contacts were discouraged, a policy that has changed dramatically.  While it may not be likely that any process could have brought about a DPB policy in 1994, it is very possible that a framework for faculty-trustee discourse more flexible than communication-by-resolution could have softened positions then and led much earlier to an agreement and to tangible benefits for affected colleagues.  The adoption of a DPB policy with unanimous faculty and trustee votes in 2001 reflects a marked improvement in faculty-trustee relations. We should take every opportunity to build on that by seeking ways to broaden the contact of faculty governance with the trustees, and to extend the presence of faculty governance in patterns of normal communication throughout the university.

Bob Eno, EALC

AAUP Supports Freedom of Speech at IPFW

The AAUP weighed in on the side of academic freedom this fall when a controversial play was scheduled for production on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW).  As soon as word that Corpus Christi, a play critiquing Christianity in reference to the homophobic slaying of Matthew Shepard in Texas, would be directed by a student in partial fulfillment of his degree requirements, IPFW’s Chancellor, Michael Wartell, and the chair of the theater department, Larry Life, began receiving hate mail and threats, including threats by Indiana legislators who promised financial retaliation against the campus if the play were allowed to go on.    

Chancellor Wartell responded in a variety of venues, including a guest column in which he wrote, “The protection of this production exemplifies the essence of the First Amendment and academic freedom.  It is in these instances, as with “Corpus Christi,” where opposition rises to the level of moral outrage, that the principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom are most sorely tested.  They must prevail against the very understandable impulse by those who wield power to stifle or chill that which they would prefer not to hear.”          

 When a group led by Indianapolis attorney John Price filed a lawsuit against the school, the AAUP filed an amicus brief in support of IPFW.  Judge William Lee found in the University’s favor, and the play opened to highly positive reviews and rancorous, often ad hominem protest from a small group of hecklers.  In the middle of an extended and sold-out run, the university hosted a forum with a panel composed of three community members opposed to the production and two community members plus a faculty member who favored allowing it to proceed.

 Jack Nightingale, an Associate Secretary on the AAUP’s national staff, flew in from  Washington to attend, and Joe Losco, President of the Indiana Conference of the AAUP, joined him. Both spoke out very effectively on behalf of academic freedom, emphasizing the right, indeed the responsibility, of the academic  community to explore,  analyze,  and evaluate subject matter, including art, no matter how controversial or unpopular it may be.

      The play completed its run without incident, though demonstrators continued to shout homophobic slogans and insults at patrons as they arrived and departed.  In spite of the fact that the play was over, Judge Lee’s ruling was appealed.  A three-member panel of the Indiana Supreme Court upheld his finding, leading to yet another appeal, this time a request to have the case heard by the entire seven-justice court.  It too was denied.           

     During its annual meeting, this year at the University of Indianapolis, the Conference presented a forum on academic freedom and IPFW’s experience.  Professor Life described the harassment he, the cast, and the student director suffered and outlined the pressure public opinion and legislators had exerted in an effort to censor the play.  Subsequently, in recognition of their immediate and unwavering support for academic freedom, the Conference presented its Academic Freedom Award to Chancellor Wartell and Vice-Chancellor Hannah, and its Excellence of Educational Coverage award to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.                 

Rick Ramsey, English; Vice-President, AAUP-IPFW

A Conversation with Our State Legislators

Each fall for the past few years we have met with our state legislators to exchange ideas and express concerns concerning the welfare of Indiana University and its faculty.   This fall the AAUP Executive Committee met with Mark Kruzan and Peggy Welch, who gave us a clinic on how to get our concerns heard in the Indiana State Legislature.  They stressed three main points.

           1.) Legislators listen to their constituents. Only  legislators from Bloomington and West Lafayette, are certain to be strong supporters of funding for higher education; they are only six of 150 members of the two legislative houses.  We in higher education have a grass roots representation problem. Higher education funding is in direct competition with all other state funding, including competitors with broad grass roots organizations. K-12 education, for example, has a vocal and effective base of support throughout the state. 

           2.) Legislators need to see clearly the direct consequences of action or inaction. Legislators are immediately made aware of the “disastrous consequences” of any anticipated reduction in funding for K-12.  Welch and Kruzan stressed that we must clearly define for legislators the benefits to the state from their support and the potential “fallout” from under-funding.  Hearing this from the External Relations people at IU is important, but they also need to hear it from their constituents.  This is where IU’s eight-campus system can help.

           3.) Legislators need to hear how their constituents will benefit from our advice. Many IU programs of great potential value to the state are seen only as projects that bring international prestige to IU without direct benefit to Hoosiers. An example of a highly successful IUB interaction with the legislature was IU Cyclotron’s proton therapy initiative, where the benefit to cancer patients clearly connected the university to state needs. Examples of IU programs with similar potential impact on the state include Pervasive Technology, Genomics, and Informatics, but the connections are not yet clear to legislators. Faculty involved in innovative research and teaching are often most effective in explaining the importance of their work to legislators.  Making the connections between IU innovative programs and the people in the state is crucial.

           Mark and Peggy emphasized the appeal of the governor’s new Community College program. Legislators have in mind close collaboration among all components of the state’s higher education system and see the seamless transfer of course credits from one school to another for all Indiana students as a direct benefit to the sons and daughters of their constituents. 

           But, are these general observations useful to the AAUP here in Bloomington?  Our issues are not limited to the welfare of the university as a whole but extend to concerns for academic freedom and faculty welfare.   In the discussion of the Community College initiative, do these new CC faculty have academic freedom?  Will they have long-term contracts with fringe benefits?  Is CC pay sufficient to attract high quality colleagues into this part of the Indiana higher educational system?  How do our colleagues at the IU regional campuses fare in competition with funds for the new CC system?  How do we fare?

            It is certainly true that in Indiana AAUP chapters represent the faculty from a large number of institutions of higher education.  Kruzan and Welch suggested that we take advantage of our own grass roots reach.  Our chapters are broadly spread throughout the state and constitute an informed faculty who can speak out on issues of importance to the AAUP, especially those issues of academic freedom. Following the advice of Kruzan and Welch, the AAUP needs to use its grass roots reach to communicate with legislators throughout the state on issues that are important to us.  Their advice is good. We should use it to accomplish the exceedingly important goals of AAUP, namely the strong support of higher education faculty and their academic freedom.

Ben Brabson, Physics

Issues From the AAUP State Conference

Three members of our IUB AAUP Executive attended the fall meeting of The Indiana Conference of the AAUP, held on October 20 at the University of Indianapolis. The meeting heard a report on the IPFW defense of academic freedom, detailed by Rick Ramsey elsewhere in this AAUP Fall Report. Two other issues addressed at the conference were: 1) faculty trustees for Indiana colleges and universities, 2) the appointment of a new faculty member on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE).

          Joe Losco, president of the Conference, gave the history of and plans for legislation to establish non-voting faculty representation on college and university boards of trustees.  Last year the House bill, jointly sponsored by Representatives Adams, Kruzan, Munson, Kersey, and Bardon, passed the Indiana House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support of 80 to 11,  the leadership of both parties voting in favor.  An identical senate bill was introduced by Senator Craycraft and promptly placed in the Rules Committee by President Pro Tem, Robert Garton (R-Columbus). The Rules Committee is a repository for bills that will not be granted a hearing.  Losco has been working with Republican Senate leader, Murray Clark, who is in a position to guide next year’s bill to the senate Education Committee.  Senator Clark gave the luncheon address at this year’s AAUP Conference meeting.

          The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is a fourteen-member public body created in 1971 to define the educational missions of public colleges and universities and to plan and coordinate Indiana’s state-supported system of post-high school education.  As a coordinating agency it makes recommendations to the governor and to the legislature on addition or removal of programs. Professor Otto Doering, a public policy specialist at Purdue University and member of the AAUP has recently been appointed to the CHE as its faculty representative.  It is encouraging that the governor has looked to the AAUP for both for its two most recent faculty representatives, Doering and his predecessor, Dan Reagan, of Ball State.

Ben Brabson


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