LCSN: NMSU faculty band together for stronger voice

March 8, 2010. Retrieved online: March 9, 2010 from Amanda L. Husson, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – Professor David Boje says he and other NMSU faculty members have become concerned about what they view as an erosion of their benefits and – more importantly – a reduction in the quality of teaching they can provide in the face of swelling class sizes and shrinking faculty numbers.

To create a stronger voice in their dealings with the school’s administration they have created a local chapter of the American Association of University Professors, a national organization aimed at protecting academic freedom and strengthening faculty governance.

“We educate a lot of the New Mexico students, and we want to do a good job of that,” Boje said. “We feel we can do a better job of that with this collective bargaining structure in place.”

The chapter is not in a position yet to provide collective bargaining, but Boje said that’s the goal, once membership grows beyond the handful of charter members.

Chris Erickson, an economics professor and chair of the Faculty Senate, said he’s skeptical about the effectiveness of a faculty union, when he said the senate already provides a strong voice for faculty with the administration.

“The administration is turning to the Faculty Senate for guidance on issues,” he said, noting that President Barbara Couture has sought input directly from the senate.

Erickson said he’s afraid that a union could freeze the relationship between the faculty and the administration, instead of opening channels of communication.

On the other hand, Erickson said the organization could be an effective lobbying group for the faculty, since the interests of the professors and those of the university, while they often overlap, are not always identical.

Read the article.

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