McDavis’ SB 5 stance prompts faculty action

President Roderick McDavis listens as a faculty member asks a question in 235 Walter Hall Oct. 19, 2009. McDavis attended Faculty Senate’s meeting to answer questions concerning the budget. (John Nero | FILE)

Prompted by President Roderick McDavis’ saying he “is not opposed” to Senate Bill 5, Ohio University’s Faculty Senate will discuss a resolution regarding the bill at its meeting Monday.

“By supporting or not opposing Senate Bill 5, I believe President McDavis has made it harder for Ohio University to recruit and attain top-quality faculty, and that will certainly have an impact on academic quality in the future,” said Joe McLaughlin, chair of Faculty Senate, who called the bill “a bad deal for universities.”

The bill, which prevents university faculty from unionizing, passed the Ohio Senate on March 2.

McDavis supports “increased flexibility and deregulation,” said Becky Watts, his chief of staff.

“(The bill) would maintain the current structure of shared governance,” she said, adding that faculty union involvement has “fundamentally changed” some universities.

Senate Bill 5 classifies faculty as management level employees because they are involved in personnel, budget and curriculum decisions.

“Even though we don’t have a union here at Ohio University, the unionized campuses in the state have been very good at protecting faculty compensation,” McLaughlin said. “Faculty compensation has slipped in the rankings in the last couple years at Ohio University, which it probably would not have happened if we had a union.”

Prior to SB 5, the Inter-University Council of Ohio, a group of higher education committees, sent a letter to Gov. John Kasich in December asking for fewer regulations.

“There are several issues that would be worthy of an initial discussion with a new governor, however we want to emphasize only one: relief from the volumes of unnecessary state regulation that hamper the effective management of our state universities. We are requesting additional flexibility in order to unleash the creative potential on each of our campuses,” the letter stated.

The letter, which was signed by the IUC’s executive committee, specifically mentioned charter universities as one way to reform regulations. The committee includes McDavis; IUC President Bruce Johnson; Miami University President David Hodge; Shawnee State University President Rita Morris; and Wright State University President David Hopkins.

McDavis is interested in learning more about charter schools, Watts said.
“He would sure like to learn more about it and learn what the benefits might be,” Watts said, adding that McDavis has already looked into how charter schools in other states work.

Johnson also authored the bill amendment that prohibits faculty from unionizing.
The amendment allows flexibility and reduces the likelihood of tuition increases due to increased cost associated with collective bargaining, Johnson said
McDavis has not yet heard any feedback about his stand on the bill, Watts said in an interview yesterday morning.

Norma Pecora, president of OU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, did not return calls seeking comment.

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