President’s model

Questioner: Dr. Robert Slater

Question from the floor posed to David Fenner, FA President

your assessment of the president basing this model on a business school, is that your personal assessment? Because from what I’ve seen he’s micromanaged even down two tenure candidates he’s got now doing lit reviews and citations analysis, which is not a business school model. The business school model is the dean respects the recommendations of the committees and the people below him while he’s out fundraising. It would seem that this president is actually micromanaging the parts of the administration that he wants to and more or less ignoring parts that he doesn’t. That could explain why he’s not here.

Answer from the floor by David Fenner, FA President

What I said is my personal opinion and also that of an outsider.

UNF FA and President’s attendance to meetings

Questioner: Anonymous

Question Posed to David Fenner, FA president

Under the UNF Constitution and as stated on the FA’s website, the UNF Faculty Association is the core of UNF’s shared governance structure. Thus, it was extraordinary to hear on from the FA president on May 9, 2019, that the UNF President will no longer be presenting a President’s Report to the Faculty Association and that in general terms neither will the UNF Vice Presidents. In both instances the UNF President and VPs will not attend meetings of the FA and only the Provost will attend and answer questions. Given this extraordinary change, can the Faculty Association President comment on his agreement with this change and describe the impact that this change will have on the Faculty Association as the core of UNF’s shared governance structure. Can the FA president also share his view on whether he believes the President hosting so-called “jam sessions” in colleges is a comparable substitute for the President’s attendance, Report, and responses to questions brought forth by the Faculty Association.

Answer from the floor by David Fenner, FA President

I want to say two things. The first thing I want to say is about the lunches:  I’ve always taken the lunches—as I think most of you have, too—as a gift. John Delaney started this six years ago. It’s been a blessing not only because we’ve had the opportunity for camaraderie and the opportunity to be fed, but also it allowed us to make certain we had a quorum to get faculty association business done. We had five years of lunches under John, and we have had a year’s worth of lunches under President Szymanski. I take those to have been a gift. What money Shari is going to continue to give us for lunches, I also take that to be a gift. The only concern I have is to make certain we have enough faculty who are participating on a regular basis to make sure that we can do the shared governance part of our work, that we can handle the curriculum and the legislative calendar and ensure that faculty voice is heard.

The second thing to say is that when I was in the graduate school, I had an opportunity to interact with Coggin in a serious way for the first time. I realized then that Coggin has a different kind of administrative structure that many of the other colleges. For a number of years under at least two deans, there was a relationship where the dean was very outward facing; the dean was interested in connecting with the community, was interested in fundraising, was really looking outside, was looking at the horizon—if we could use the captain of a ship metaphor. And the Associate Dean was responsible for running the day-to-day matters of the college.  That was certainly the case with Bobby Waldrup. I think it might’ve been the case with Jay Coleman and Jeff Steagall when they were there. That was a model that I was not used to. You know that our president comes out of a business school background and so I believe he is giving us a new model and that new model is more like a business school model where he is going to be outward facing. He’s going to be looking at the legislature, he’s going to be looking at fundraising and it’s really going to be the provost who takes on the duties of being sort of master of the ship, to extend the metaphor, who is really going to be responsible for the day-to-day operations. So an awful lot of what I’m saying is resting on the hope and expectation that Simon Rhodes will be brilliant and will connect with us in very close, intimate ways.

Regalia at Commencement

Questioner: Jose Franco (Mathematics & Statistics)

When we were preparing for the commencement, we were told that there is a possible interest of doing uniform regalia for the marshals for the commencement. I would like to know if you could conduct a survey among faculty, because many of us are very proud of our colors, of our regalia, and we would want that not to be taken away from us. Me, in particular, I’ll say that. So could you conduct a survey just to in that way inform the people organizing the commencement ceremonies on the sentiment of faculty.

Answered by David Fenner, FA President and Pamela Chally, Interim Provost and VP of Academic Affairs

Dr. Fenner:  So let me say two things. First thing to say is I will pass it on to the Executive Committee, and we we will pick that up as a discussion of the Executive Committee, which is going to happen in two weeks or around there.  And so YES, we’ll definitely take up the issue, and if we could do a survey the committee will do a survey.


But may I say something else, which is kind of just purely anecdotal. So when we had the inauguration not too long ago, Sharon Ashton and I had a big fight about this and the fight was about me being in one of the uniform gowns, so what I expressed was that my primary role in the inauguration is a representative of the faculty, and not a member of the Board of Trustees.  She allowed me to wear my own gown and so forth, but I did not sit with the Board of Trustees. I actually ended up sitting on the row with the deans. Now all of the Board of Trustees members were in the uniform gown, which is blue with gray bands here. And so with the vice presidents, so for somebody like Vice President Shuman being in that kind of gown is not—I mean, it’s actually a little bit nicer than what she was wearing before. She was just wearing a standard black master’s gown. I don’t know how Dr. Chally feels about this, but I felt slightly bad for Dr. Chally, that she was wearing a gown that did not have doctoral bars on it, all that stuff. I believe that the president is interested in having a kind of uniform look to some degree, but I don’t know how far it’s going to go.


Dr. Chally, responding to Dr. Fenner asking if she’d like to add anything: added: I’ll just speak for Dr. Rhodes down the road.  If I had stayed in this position, I would have ordered a gown that had stripes, but it was just in the UNF colors.  Since I’m interim, we didn’t do that.  I’m sure Dr. Rhodes will do that. I can’t really add anything more than what you said.

Faculty Salaries

Questioner: Anonymous

Question posed to David Fenner, FA President

According to the National Education Association, faculty salaries at UNF are the lowest (or near lowest) in the Florida State University System which makes up 11 schools. Moreover, UNF salaries have been the lowest in the state for the past decade. What has the Faculty Association done to raise faculty salaries at UNF during this time? What is the Faculty Association doing to address the fact that UNF has the lowest faculty salaries in the state?

Answer from the Floor by David Fenner, FA President

Let me say a couple things about that. The first thing to say is that I am very, very clear on the dividing line between the Faculty Association and the Union, and the Union really takes care of matters of employment. So I’m careful not to sort of wade into those waters. To the degree to which Kally wants to talk to me about anything, I’m delighted. The second thing to say is that you probably know that the President of the Faculty Association is a member of the Board of Trustees, so I’m privy to information that’s coming to the BOT with regard to bargaining, and that kind of moves me on to, not exactly the management side, but I’m sitting there with the management side when I’m being briefed by the  attorney, so it would really be a conflict of interest for me to get into anything to do with salaries.  Having said all of that, I will say that last year we passed a resolution calling for a certain percentage of funds that might be realized from a performance funding model for the metrics to go to faculty bonuses.   And this summer I worked out—and I’m delighted to share this information with Kally or with anybody who would ask—numbers with regard to how that might look in terms of how much money we were talking about in general for faculty and staff bonuses, so forth and so on. Those numbers didn’t go anywhere but I’m keen to do whatever—I will follow Kally’s lead with regard to support for enhancing the salaries of the faculty.

FA meeting

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed To: David Fenner, FA President 

Faculty Association meetings now include too many sermons. At our last meeting we listened to a sermon from the Police Chief, from the Union President, and, most sad of all, from the Provost. Can we please get back to the business of shared governance?


Answer from the floor by David Fenner, FA president

Your Faculty Association President has gotten lax about enforcing the time that people stand up here giving schedule reports. So it’s my responsibility. And so your FA President’s going to get tighter about that. The special reports are only supposed to take, cumulatively, 10 minutes, and I will work with the parliamentarian and with the vice-president to find ways for us to expedite those updates.

FA Agenda Packets

Questioner: Anonymous

Posed To: David Fenner, FA President 

Questions 1 and 2

FA President – (Part One)
The last few meetings, new “questions and comments” to the Faculty Association have not been included in the agenda packet — as they have in the past. This was a valuable service to the faculty who cannot attend Faculty Association meetings but wish to be informed. Written inclusion of the questions was also helpful to those attending the meeting. Inclusion of the questions provided context to the discussion and encouraged accountability on the part of those questioned.

(Part Two)

I was pleased to receive the FA president’s email speaking against “pushback” and defending the long standing tradition of anonymous questions to administrators and others at FA meetings. All the reasons offered by the FA president to justify the questions, and the option of anonymity by the author, are absolutely correct. However, contrary to the FA president’s defense, the pushback appears to be working. Whether by design or fiat, the FA’s recent decision to stop publishing the text of new questions in the agenda packet means that faculty can no longer easily read the questions. If the FA is serious about defending the right of faculty to ask questions (anonymous or otherwise), please bring back the long-standing tradition of publishing the questions in the FA packet.


Response from the floor by David Fenner, FA President:

At the beginning of this year, when Dan Richard created his index for the questions, we decided that we would only publish in the agenda packet information that faculty didn’t have otherwise, So, instead of publishing all of the questions that were unanswered, instead of publishing the questions that were answered from the floor, we decided on a practice of publishing only those questions and answers where the answers were provided to us in writing. I’m going to go back to the—and we’ve already started the conversation—I’m going to go back to the leadership and ask if we want to go back to the practice of publishing all of the questions that were answered from the floor and in writing. We’ve not had any written responses to any questions in the last three or four months; they’ve all been answered from the floor. We will go back to that practice. What we will probably not do however, is publish all of the unanswered questions that just sort of sit for a while. We’re trying to get on top of that. We are on top of that right now. Last, I checked, we had zero unanswered questions. We’ve gotten it all the way down to zero. There’s a few there now because we are waiting for the minutes to come back, but we [FA leadership] are going to talk about this.

Regarding Anonymous Questions

Comment from FA Vice President Dr. Gordon Rakita regarding the anonymous questions:

There are faculty members and administrators at UNF that will attest to my support for the tradition of the anonymous question here at UNF. Our Past President John Delaney and I have debated their merit multiple times. I do not believe I have convinced him of my position; I know he has not convinced me of his.

In the face of administration intransigence or poor judgment – as a recourse to administrative inaction or the administration ignoring legitimate faculty grievance – the anonymous question has its place. However, of late, I fear too many faculty resort to the anonymous question to vilify administration – and I fear that some do so precisely because they know that they can remain anonymous.

If they have sought answer or recompense from multiple venues and the anonymous question is still the last place to plead their case – then I bid them welcome to it. However, if their intention is not to seek resolution, if they have not sought explanation or mutual understanding through other means – then I ask them to consider carefully. I especially appeal to that full, tenured faculty – if your grievance is valid you will find support for your position.

Further, for untenured colleagues, I offer this suggestion – select a trusted member of the Union or the Faculty Association and raise your issue with them confidentially. We who have agreed to serve here are to do just that. We can offer counsel, we can advocate for your point of view, and we can protect your identity if you fear reprisal. Allow us to do our join and act as your representative. Our voice as your representative is stronger if you place your trust in us. And to my administrative colleagues – I urge you to take the anonymous questions seriously. My experience has been that the number of questions and the level of thinly veiled antipathy within that are a fairly reasonable proxy for the ire of the faculty. It is a foolish leader who ignores the opinions and voices of those they lead. I appreciate your indulgence.

Data Analytics Recent Announcement

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David Fenner, Faculty Association President

The recent announcement of an internal search for a Vice President of Data Analytics made me look up the definition of Analytics on the web. It says that it is “the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. It relies on the simultaneous application of statistics, computer programming and operations research to quantify performance”. In that definition, the word statistics comes first because statisticians are professionally trained to interpret and communicate data.  The previous administration had enlisted statistics professors to help precisely because the data analytics people came short in that. This year BOG Performance Metrics indicate that effort paid off with 10 points increase in the score over the year before. Why doesn’t the position announcement underscore the importance of a PhD statistician?

President Szymanski’s response copied from his report. 

The Vice President for Analytics search is ongoing. Finalists will be interviewed during the second week of October. The President addressed an anonymous question about whether or not candidates could or should have a PhD in statistics. The President stated that while that was one acceptable degree, there were finalists with other backgrounds as well.

Live Streaming for Faculty Association Meetings

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David Fenner, Faculty Association President

Will the Faculty Association be live streaming their meetings? Many faculty cannot attend meetings due to class and other obligations. With newer technology, it doesn’t require much effort and it is not costly. The faculty union live streamed all of their negotiation sessions this past year. Doing so enabled faculty who could not attend sessions to watch. The sessions are also archived on the faculty union website for later viewing by faculty and others. This is common practice at other institutions.

Response from the Floor by FA President Fenner

The FA will explore live-streaming meetings. The Association is working towards identifying a means to vote anonymously. There was hope to preview electronic voting earlier, but a more cost effective system is being explored.

Ordering of Faculty Association Agenda Items

Question from the Floor by Judy Rodriguez, Professor, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Is it possible to reorder the Faculty Association agenda such that the Question and Answer portion is moved to the end, and the legislative calendar is moved forward in the agenda order? In most meetings such as this one, questions and answers are typically held at the end of the meeting.

Response from the floor by FA President David Fenner
The order of agenda items for the Faculty Association meeting are set by the FA Bylaws. At an upcoming retreat of the Executive Committee of the FA, we will discuss whether there could be more flexibility in the order of agenda items.