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New College Faculty Union Files Grievance Over Online Program

Written by on Thursday, March 21, 2024

The president of NCUFF elaborates.

By Arianna Lockman

Original Air Date: Mar. 20, 2024

Host: Friction between New College professors and administrators continues, as President Richard Corcoran is beginning to make big changes to the small campus in Sarasota. One major point of contention is the lack of involvement of faculty in the process. On Feb. 20, the faculty union filed a grievance with the administration, contending it has not been consulted in the creation of a distance learning program that is using content by a billionaire-led foundation. Arianna Lockman reports.

Arianna Lockman: New College’s plans to implement an online curriculum has raised concerns from the faculty of the university. The faculty union has since filed a grievance regarding the online courses, citing a lack of faculty involvement in the creation of curriculum . This comes after a meeting in January of  faculty members that resulted in a 25-1 vote against the plan.

The college administration has a 30-day window to respond to the grievance filed on Feb. 20, which is tomorrow. In its response, the administration will state whether they agree with the faculty union’s interpretation of a contract violation. If the administration disagrees, the case should go before a neutral arbitrator.

Katherine Walstrom is the president of the faculty union. She gave her thoughts on the subject:

Katherine Walstrom: Well, in our collective bargaining agreement it says that if the college is going to make changes to the academic program, they’re supposed to consult with the faculty, and the faculty are supposed to discuss it at a faculty meeting and vote on it. Our grievance is that the online program is a change to the academic program and the faculty weren’t consulted on it.

Katherine Walstrom

AL: When asked what the faculty union’s desired outcome was, Walstrom responded,

KW: Well, ideally we’d like them to stop the online program and do the consultation like they’re supposed to. 

AL: Walstrom explains that most changes typically go through an additional committee before being implemented.

KW: At one meeting, we had suggested that they consult with the Educational Policy Committee. Because normally if there are changes to academics at New College it should go through the Educational Policy Committee because that committee has faculty from all divisions.

AL: Walstrom emphasizes the wishes of the faculty union.

KW: Ideally, we just want to be able to give more feedback on it—I mean, there’s a limit to what we can demand with our collective bargaining agreement.

AL: Walstrom concluded the interview by stating,

KW: I don’t think they’re going to do what we asked them to do because they haven’t done it in the past but you know, who knows?

AL: This is the second grievance ever filed by the New College faculty union. Another disagreement over tenure for five professors is now a lawsuit winding its way through the legal system. A judge recently rejected the college’s motion to dismiss. If the union wins that case, New College would have to take the tenure of the five professors before an arbitrator.

As of today, there has been no response from New College regarding the most recent  grievance.

A call to New College spokesman Nathan March was not returned before deadline.

This has been Arianna Lockman reporting for WSLR News.

Related story: New College Professor Explains the Controversial Online Project He Leads


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