PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS TO THE FACULTY
DID YOU NOTICE? IT’S MOSTLY ABOUT CONSTRUCTING BUILDINGS
President Dooley’s Faculty Address presented on Thursday, September 17, 2014 at 3:00pm was carried on LIVESTREAM. If you saw the presentation DID YOU NOTICE what President Dooley didn’t highlight in his remarks?
To sum up: Following the usual salutations and thank you comments, President Dooley spent a great deal of time talking about what he regards as the major achievements and aspirational goals reached by URI over his 6-year term as President of URI.
His early and main observation focused on the significant number of buildings across the campus that have been completely renovated and others that were build from scratch. And, he spent as much time discussing the significant number of buildings that will be renovated or built across the campus in the near future (Engineering building and Fine Arts Building). As the President emphasized, the university’s physical campus is in great shape!
President Dooley then discussed the next URI Capital Campaign which will be conducted in recognition of URI’s 125th anniversary in 2017. The President reminded the faculty that they will be expected to contribute their services in support of the Capital Campaign.
The President briefly acknowledged the contributions made by the faculty and talked about the administration’s plan to hire a number of full-time faculty and non-tenure-track lecturers over the next five years.
More importantly, DID YOU NOTICE that President Dooley MADE NO MENTION AT ALL of the substantial contributions, made by URI’s part-time faculty (PTF), semester after semester; year after year. Indeed, there is a crisis looming here that the President obviously refuses to acknowledge, much less correct. It is commonly known that URI’s part-time faculty are greatly exploited: they receive no benefits at all – no medical coverage benefits, no dental benefits, no vision benefits, no insurance benefits,and no retirement benefits. All of these benefits are provided for all other employees at URI. Shamefully, URI’s part-time faculty are also paid below poverty level wages.
The President knows that the URI Part-Time Faculty United union (URI/PTFU) has been in contract negotiations now for almost 4 years. He also knows that the latest contract offer from the University (made on August 6, 2015) proposed a 6-year contract with salary increases that leave part-time faculty income below poverty level wages in each year of the contract.
President Dooley knows, or at least should know, that: 1) URI is an equal opportunity employer; 2) that Federal Law prohibits URI from creating and maintaining a hostile work environment for any group of its employees; and 3) that the University cannot pay any group of its employees below poverty level wages. To do so, is to run the risk of losing all federal funding the University receives, including research grants for faculty across the curriculum as well as government financial aid packages provided by the federal government for URI’s undergraduate and graduate students.
It is a fact that from the time David Dooley took on the position of URI’s President 6 years ago he has done nothing to change the general hostile environment, overall negative working conditions, and poverty level wages paid URI’s 500 part-time faculty.
There is a crisis looming at URI that needs to be addressed. Once again, we challenge President Dooley to make things right by fulfilling his leadership responsibilities by taking immediate action to ensure that a fair and equitable contract is offered to URI’s dedicated and committed part-time faculty — a contract which, in its details, recognizes and acknowledges the value and importance of almost 40% of the University’s entire teaching faculty.
The overall employment conditions and below poverty level wages of URI’s part-time faculty need to be fixed and if President Dooley continues to refuse to fix the situation then the matter should be taken up by Governor Raimondo’s newly established Workplace Fraud Unit, a unit “established to protect employees against employers who violate labor laws, including underpaying wages.”
URI can and should do better by recognizing and rewarding its part-time faculty for their substantial contributions to the university. It should not require an appeal to Governor Raimondo to resolve this prolonged abusive treatment of faculty who are central to the fulfillment of the mission and goals of the University of Rhode Island.
Dr. Dorothy F. Donnelly, PhD
Professor Emeritus, Department of English at URI
Senior Representative, URI Part-Time Faculty United (URI/PTFU)