An Overview of the Entire Controversy
Background: before Sept. 11
The First Year, 2001 - 2002
The Second Year, 2002 - 2003
Recent News: 8/28/02 -
USF in Florida
Al-Arian at USF
The Jewel in Tampa's Crown:
How did USF find itself in a mess like this?
The University of South Florida is probably the single greatest
human resource in the Tampa Bay area.
But Florida is a young place, populated by many immigrants (young
and old) with few roots and little sense of history.
When looking at the dispute between the USF Administration and
Sami Al-Arian, it is important to remember that this is taking
place in Florida, and that it is very much influenced by Florida's
culture and Florida's academic politics.
This is a sketch of Florida, the universities of Florida, and USF.
We glance at the state itself (semi-official state motto, at least
on the seal: In God We Trust), and then at the history of the
universities of Florida (and their governance), and then at the
history of USF (its governance, its faculty, and its past struggles
with academic freedom).
Let's look at the record
--- Al Smith
WHERE IT'S HAPPENING
This is Florida, after all
Florida is an immense block of limestone, projecting out of the more solid
North American land mass, into the Atlantic, cutting off the Gulf of Mexico.
Wet and sunny, it was a difficult land to penetrate: this was accomplished
by Indian tribes now extinct who left behind mounds, canals, and shards of
what was, at least in the Everglades, a quite sophisticated society.
The Indians in Florida now are the descendents of refugees from the lower
Mississippi Valley who were driven to the floating prairies of Florida in
the early Nineteenth Century.
They are not alone: for two centuries, white, black, and brown people have
slowly invaded along the coasts, cutting down the trees, bulldozing back
the scrub, and transforming Florida into the the paradox that it is today:
a forward-looking state with no thought of the future, a state that makes
its living off an environment it despoils, a state whose license is
punctuated by moral panics, a wealthy state that cannot bear to spend
money on anything that lasts while throwing vast sums on passing fads,
a state that aspires to the sophistication of the older states up north
while remaining wary of the culture that goes with the sophistication.
Florida is a state of immigrants: most inhabitants were born elsewhere.
It is a state of opportunity: its leading industries are agriculture
(most notably citrus, dairy, ornamental flowers, strawberries, and sugar)
tourism (originally in the sandy crescent from Fort Lauderdale to Key Largo,
but now including the immense amusement parks near Orlando), the ponzi
industry of `growth', and increasingly, high technology.
By population, Florida is the fourth-largest state in the U.S.A.
About Florida herself.
To understand Florida, the place to start is
Marjory Stoneman Douglas's
The Everglades: River of Grass.
It is mostly about southern Florida, but it captures most of the state in
its epic history beginning in the last ice age and, in the last revision,
The States of Florida.
Florida is really two states.
For more on Florida, see the website of the
Florida Internet History Center.
The old State of Florida is the agricultural state that lies along the
northern border (with Georgia and Alabama) and extends down into the
This is the land of The Yearling by
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings,
of the `Florida Cracker' pioneers who settled the northern state in
the early Nineteenth century (according to legend, the name came from
their whips --- and indeed, there are Florida Cracker breeds of cattle
The state capitol, Tallahassee, is the home of two of the three old
universities; the third old university (the University of Gainesville)
is also up north.
This is the place where, until four decades ago, most of the political
power was concentrated.
The new Florida is the glitzy array of palaces that arose around the
southern coasts, Miami and Fort Lauderdale in the east, Tampa
Bay in the west, and most recently, around Orlando in the middle.
The new Florida is a state of Cuban cigars (especially Tampa), organized
crime (especially Miami), tourism (especially, ever since the arrival
of Disney World, Orlando), retirees (especially Miami and St. Petersburg),
and ever since the arrival of the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral,
Even the old cattle and citrus and strawberries are being supplemented
by ornamental plants and fish farms.
The political power of the old Florida was broken two decades ago with
the fall of the old `pork chop gang,' but the new Florida has yet to
master the art of running a state.
This is the Florida satirized by the likes of Dave Barry, Carl Hiassen and
Academia in Florida
While there are a few private colleges and universities in Florida, the
best known institutions are public.
The public system is in two tiers:
It started with the three schools founded in the era Before Air Conditioning,
in the northern part of the state where the heat isn't too unbearable.
The ten universities and New College, which make up the old State University
The 28 public Community Colleges, which are, like all community colleges,
post-World War II phenomena.
Since then, six more universities were founded:
Florida Atlantic University at Boca Raton,
Florida Gulf Coast University at Fort Myers,
Florida International University in Miami,
University of Central Florida in Orlando,
University of North Florida in Jacksonville,
University of West Florida in Pensacola.
In 1905, a governance system for all the universities was set up.
The system was breaking down by the 1960s, and it was replaced by a State
University System in 1969, with a Board of Regents, selected for staggered
terms, insulating the universities from the Legislature (and vice versa),
and centralizing much of the power.
(This was different from the governance of the Community Colleges, which was
and is more fragmented.)
In 1853, the East Florida Seminary opens in Ocala, and in 1884, the Florida
Agricultural College opens in Lake City.
The two are finally fused as the University of the State of Florida (now the
University of Florida) in Gainesville in 1905.
In 1857, the West Florida Seminary opens in Tallahassee, and is reorganized
as Florida State College (now
Florida State University) in 1904.
The two seminaries were created by the Florida Legislature to teach
``art of teaching. . . in the mechanic arts, in husbandry and agricultural
chemistry" and also "arts which ennoble man and make him truly independent.''
In 1887, the Legislature creates a Normal School for black students in
This will become
Florida Agricultural and Mechanics University.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the SUS was carefully organized, and
resources provided to the universities to make them competitive.
By 1988, when the Board of Regents adapted the State University System of
Florida Master Plan, the State University System appeared to have a very
Unfortunately, resources were not provided during the 1990s, and the
universities only managed to maintain faculty competitiveness because
of the glut of Ph.D.s on the market and the dedication of the faculty
(Florida university professors are remarkably productive: see
UFF's 2002 report
to the Florida
Council for Education Policy Research and Improvement.)
But by 2000, the universities were showing serious signs of starvation.
In fact, the entire educational system was suffering from large classes in
portable classrooms (this in a state with severe storms) with inadequate
air conditioning; and many classes had to be led by teachers teaching out of
their subject because of critical lack of math, science, special needs, and
Indeed, in some districts, there were too few texts to permit students
to take their own books home.
The entire situation was summed up by SUS Chancellor Charles Reed, who said
that ``Florida is cheap and proud of it.''
Florida had had a constitutional directive that education was a ``paramount
duty'' of the state, but that language was removed in 1885, in part because
of fears that freed slaves might try to get an education.
The language since then was that ``adequate provision shall be made by law for a
uniform system of free public schools . . ..''
In 1998, two referenda changed the
(see the page maintained by the
Florida Constitution Revision Commission).
During 1998 and 1999, while plans for the reorganization of the Department of
Education were being worked out, there were a number of squabbles between the
Board of Regents and the Legislature:
In response to complaints about Florida's ``weak governor'' system of
executive government, in which the cabinet was elected and was essentially
independent of the governor, a Revision # 8 reforming the cabinet was passed.
Article 4 was changed, eliminating the ``Commissioner of Education'' as an
Section 9.2 was changed so that the State Board of
Education was no longer the Governor and elected members of the cabinet
(in what had been Florida's ``weak governor'' system of governance):
instead, a new 7-member body corporate (whose members were given staggered terms)
would select the Commissioner of Education.
See the Oct. 23, 1998 St. Petersburg Times analysis
Revision would eliminate three Cabinet positions.
In response to complaints about inadequate support for education, a Revision # 6
modified Article 9 so that it:
Declares the education of children to be a fundamental value of the people of
Florida; establishes adequate provision for education as a paramount duty of the
state; expands constitutional mandate requiring the state to make adequate provision
for a uniform system of free public schools by also requiring the state to make
adequate provision for an efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system;
this also passed.
See the Oct. 13, 1998 St. Petersburg Times analysis
Item on Nov. 3 ballot could move education up priority list.
In 1999, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida House Speaker John Thrasher started
working on a change in university governance (see the
2/4/01 AP story
*Bush's idea to revamp education system began in 1999).
Against this background, an Education Governance Reorganization Transition Task
Force charged with proposing an implementation of the reforms required by the
two Amendments turned to the universities, and proposed
abolishing the Board of Regents,
and replacing them with semi-independent Boards of Trustees, all reporting to
the central Board of Education.
This proposal became part of the ``seamless K-20'' reorganization of the
Department of Education.
On Nov. 20, 1998, the Board of Regents approved a
three-tier reorganization of the State University System, with
UF, FSU, and USF in the top; this reorganization irritated advocates of those
universities that wound up on the second or third tiers.
(Incidentally, USF was delighted to be in the top tier, since it had long been
treated, especially when it came to research and library funding, as a poor
third to the much better connected UF and FSU.
Indeed, by some measures, USF's funding was among the lowest in the system.)
Senate President John Thrasher wanted a new medical school for Florida State
University (which the
Board of Regents did not approve),
and Florida International University and Florida A & M University each wanted a
new law school (which
wound up in Orlando, theoretically under FAMU jurisdiction).
These were merely the more extravagant examples of spoils fights between the
Board of Regents and the Legislature during that year.
This change in university governance was opposed by almost all `establishment'
figures outside of Tallahassee -- newspapers, academics, etc. (see, e.g., the
The university system on the edge in the 2/18/2001 St. Petersburg Times):
indeed, one vehement opponent was former Governor (and then and now Senator)
Bob Graham, who subsequently launched a
referendum to reform the reform.
The reorganization's primary public supporters were the university presidents.
Defenders of the reorganization sometimes said that it was mandated by the two
amendments; opponents disparaged this.
The issue divided closely to party lines in the Republican-dominated Legislature,
reorganization passed into law.
This was happening while education was a very controversial issue in
Florida, with the new Governor and a Legislative majority arguing that
problems in Florida education arose from poor organization, mismanagement,
and incompetence, while educators argued that the problems arose from
underfunding, the demoralization that follows official and public
hostility, and weak leadership.
In May, 2000, the Florida affiliates of the
National Education Association
American Federation of Teachers
decided, as a defensive measure, to merge and form the
Florida Education Association.
Anti-union rhetoric merely increased, and in fact even before
the merger was finalized, there was a Legislative attempt to cripple it
by trying to pass a law interfering with the union's ability to collect
dues from its members
(see the 4/30/01 AP story
*House defeats bill to limit use of teachers union dues).
(An outline of the events can be found on the Spring 2001 Crosstalk page
by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education on
Florida's new "K-20" Model:
An intensely political battle is waged over controversial kindergarten-through
graduate-school governance structure.)
Because the Regents had served staggered terms, the Governor could only replace a
few at a time.
But the reorganization permitted the Governor to appoint the Board of Education and
the Boards of Trustees all at once.
The Boards of Trustees were ethnically but not politically or culturally
diverse, and few seemed to have much to do with education.
Almost immediately, academic freedom
became an issue,
as the State leadership defended academic freedom in theory but not
The United Faculty of Florida is Local 7463 of the Florida Education
Association, and the proposed reorganization of the universities will also
have a noticeable effect on UFF.
In particular, the reorganization will cause problems with the
contract negotiated between UFF and the representatives of the State of
Florida ... whomever those representatives might be:
The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is negotiated between the Board
of Regents, as the representative of
the State of Florida, and the United Faculty of Florida, as the representative
of the faculty of the Florida State University System.
If the BOR and the SUS both cease to exist, does the new representative of
the State have to recognize UFF as the bargaining agent for the faculties
of the several state universities and college?
The continued existence of the CBA, and the relevance of UFF, is at stake.
On the one hand, the precedent is that no unionized employer may disband a
union simply by reorganizing: typically, the union then represents those
same employees in the new organizational units.
On the other hand, the state leadership had made its unhappiness with unions
known, and the Boards of Trustees consisted largely of businessmen, not
educators, labor leaders, local activists, etc.
On Jan. 19, 2001 FBOE Chairman Phil Handy told FIU Faculty Senate President
Howard Rock that
``recertification'' may be necessary (the only way that they would be
necessary is if the local Board of Trustees refused to recognized UFF as
the designated bargaining agent for the faculty).
The reaction of UFF has been one of
a resolution to fight.
One very ominous event centered on a production of the play
Corpus Christi by Terrence McNally, about a Christ-like gay young man
Originally scheduled to play in the Manhattan Theatre Club, in New York, it was
cancelled amidst protests and death threats, inspiring counter-protests
and a May 28, 1998 New York Times editorial, after which the Club decided
to show it after all amidst tight security in Fall.
The reviewers were not enthusiastic:
``more pontifical than personal'' --- AP, 10/13/1998;
``The play has a tricky and ultimately clumsy design'' -- Record, 10/14/1998;
``a beautifully staged, disarmingly performed, often witty, sometimes merely
jokey, but ultimately earnest and predictable play'' -- NewsDay, 10/14/1998;
``Nice Young Man and Disciples Appeal for Tolerance'' -- New York Times,
``like so many didactic religious tracts, of whatever persuasion, it really
is rather dull'' -- New York Post, 10/14/1998;
``the only thing McNally has to apologize for is a lame second act'' --
Boston Herald, 10/14/1998;
you get the idea.
Florida Atlantic University put up $ 600 towards producing the play on campus
in March, 2001.
Florida Education Commissioner Charlie Crist (who had been nick-named
``Chain-Gang'' Charlie for his efforts to institute ersatz chain gangs
during his tenure in the Florida Legislature) wrote a
letter to the editor
comparing the production of the play to the Taliban's destruction of the
two colossal Buddhas of Bamiyan.
Crist went on to criticize FAU for citing academic freedom in defending the
performance, and concluded by suggesting that the Legislature might retaliate
against universities that made such productions.
This letter led to a thread which concluded with
Bush Lecturing University Leaders on July 25 that ``We should have diverse
views on our campus, and they should be protected.''
But then-UFF President Rosie Joels noted that Bush's support of academic
freedom was both rather recent and rather abstract, and that it was contradicted
during a session with the
American Council of Trustees and Alumni,
which was running a workshop for the new Trustees.
The CBA is the contract that assures tenure and protects academic freedom at
the state universities.
In particular, UFF's defense of Professor Al-Arian's rights are based on
the terms of the CBA.
The current contract covers 2001-2003, although estimates vary as to when
the contract runs out (apparently January 8, 7, or 6, 2003 according to the
successive estimates by the State of Florida).
Before it runs out, a new contract would have to be negotiated between UFF
and the legal representatives of the State of Florida, and who they
will be is not yet clear; in fact, none of the probable legal representatives
have shown any interest in negotiating the next contract, and some are
announcing that contrary to labor law precedent, they will not
recognize UFF as the bargaining agent for faculty.
So the Al-Arian issue arose at an interesting moment in the life of the
THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA
The Accidental University
University of South Florida
is one of the twenty largest public universities (counting students) in the USA,
spanning campuses in Tampa, Saint Petersburg, Manatee/Sarasota, and Lakeland.
It is a major center of research, scholarship, and the arts, and is
particularly noted for the
College of Marine Science,
Moffitt Cancer & Research Center,
Institute for Research in Art.
USF was the personal project of then State Senator Sam Gibbons, who
pushed it through the legislature and across Governor LeRoy Collins' desk.
Despite all this, USF has the distinction of being the Florida university
that only the people want: to the elite, it was originally in the shadow of
University of Tampa,
and later, as it developed a statewide reputation, in the twin shadows of
Florida State University, and the
University of Florida.
So it has always been unusually starved for funding, even for a
Florida university, and there are periodic attempts by power brokers to
dismantle, dismember, or transmogrify it.
Here is a brief chronology for USF:
See also the
USF History page.
USF is an urban university: it is growing very rapidly and has many
``non-traditional'' students, i.e., students who are the first generation
to go to college, students who are older than usual, students who are
going to college part-time.
Like the other Florida universities, it has been doing very well for the
resources it receives, but like other Florida universities, its funding
declined during the 1990s (in 1992, the library had to stop buying new
books for most of the year).
One consequence of the budget problems effected the USF-WISE relationship:
like many universities, USF is increasingly dependent on adjunct
In 1955, Governor Leroy Collins signed House Bill 1007 authorizing the
State Board of Education to establish a State University in Hillsborough
County; in 1956, the Board of Control decided to build the university
on Henderson Air Field, north of Tampa; in 1959, the Board of Control
approved `Truth and Wisdom' as the new university's motto, along with
green and gold as its colors.
USF, decreed by the Board of Control as the first fully air-conditioned
university in Florida (much to the irritation of UF and FSU students)
opened its doors in 1960, saw the formation of the Student Government
in 1961, graduated its first students in 1963, and was
accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1965.
Also in 1965, USF opened its Bayboro campus in St. Petersburg, now the
second largest campus in the system.
In 1966, the student newspaper The Oracle was launched.
In 1968, the Graphicstudio is founded in the College of Fine Arts.
USF offered the nation's first program in gerontology in 1967, was admitted
to the NCAA in 1968, and hosted the first UNESCO conference held in the USA
In 1974, the small liberal arts college New College, was brought under USF's
umbrella: in 1993, Money Magazine called New College the ``Best Buy in
Also, USF began to offer courses in Fort Myers.
USF's first doctoral program was in astronomy, launched jointly with the
University of Florida in 1975, and several doctoral programs later, the
Graduate School was created in 1980; and the SunDome basketball stadium
(home court of the USF Bulls) opened in 1980.
The Center for Writers established in 1977 (the first Florida Suncoast
Writer's Conference was held in 1972).
In 1982 two of USF's strengths were recognized when the state granted USF
Florida's 2nd and 3rd Eminent Scholars endowed chairs, in marine science
and cancer research.
In 1986, construction began on a Polk (County) Community College / USF
Center in Lakeland; this would become a major exercise in distance
The United States Geological Survey opens shop on the USF Bayboro campus
at St. Petersburg in 1988: expanding from its old facility in Woods Hole
Massachusetts, the Bayboro center will gradually expand into one of the
leading oceanographic laboratories in the nation.
USF co-hosts the Vice-Presidential debate between Messrs. Al Gore and
Jack Kemp at St. Petersburg in 1996.
The first USF President, John Allen, had opposed creating a football team
at USF; but football arrived nonetheless in 1997.
Meanwhile, also in 1997, the USF Fort Myers campus is spun off into an
independent Florida Gulf Coast University; as an ``experiment,'' new
faculty hired by FGCU will be on ``multi-year contracts'' rather than
In 2002, New College becomes independent again.
The last few years were rather tumultuous for USF.
USF grew considerably under its previous president,
former Commissioner of Education Betty Castor.
During the 1990s especially, USF worked very hard to build its research
reputation, with considerable success in the academic community;
however, the Legislature did not respond with appropriate funding.
Castor left in 1999, and while USF had an acting and an interim president,
and while the Legislature toyed with the idea of
breaking USF up,
a search committee searched for candidates for the USF presidency, many
of whom ultimately announced their uninterest in the job.
Judy Genshaft, Professor of Psychology and Provost at SUNY-Albany had
been one of the seven finalists selected by the search committee, but
not one of the three finalists (see the March 11, 2000 AP story
*USF's selection had its ups, downs); nevertheless, convinced by
her goals, Florida SUS Chancellor Adam Herbert announced her
appointment on March 10, 2000.
On January, 2001, having lost the fight against reorganization, and his
position no longer relevant, Herbert resigned.
And now USF has its own
Board of Trustees,
chaired by commercial developer, civics booster, and Republican party
There are two kinds of adjuncts.
One is a teacher with some special expertise or distinction, who is invited
to teach for a few semesters.
These adjunct positions are well-paid, and it is generally regarded as an
honor to hold one.
The other kind is a temporary position, in which a teacher not on the regular
staff is assigned individual classes, and paid to teach those classes on a
The attraction of piecework adjuncts is that they are cheap.
The calculation works as follows.
In the State of Florida, a full-time work load for a professor is (by law)
12 classroom hours per week (usually, 4 courses each meeting for 3 hours
(Considering out-of-class grading, preparation, course design, etc., this
load is equivalent to a total of 35 - 50 hours of work per week, depending
on the courses.)
(Of course, many professors do not teach 4 courses at a time: for example,
a professor may teach half time (i.e., 6 hours in class a week) and do
research half-time (i.e., for 15 - 25 or even more hours a week).
At a university on the semester system, a professor might teach
4 courses a semester, or 8 courses a year.
If the professor was getting, say, $ 40,000 a year, he would be getting
$ 5,000 per course (not counting benefits).
But if the university paid $ 2,000 for an adjunct to teach that same course
(and save money on the benefits, too), the university would save $ 3,000
(and then some) for each course taught by a piecework adjunct.
The use of piecework adjuncts became increasingly controversial during the
1990s (see, e.g, the 12/16/1992 Chronicle of Higher Education article
Budget Woes Bring Tough Job Market in Academe:
But nearly half the colleges in one survey say
they're actually expanding their faculties.
Piecework adjuncts became especially popular for lower division (and remedial)
classes that had huge sections: Mathematics and English were especially
But no area was immune.
As adjuncts have no reason to have long-term commitments to institutions
that have no commitments to them, they tend not to be as useful as faculty
in long-term responsibilities; in addition, piecework adjuncts to a lot
For these reasons, most research institutions try to minimize the use of
The May, 1996
Report ... in re USF/WISE Relationship and Related Matters
would find it relevant that ``adjuncts compose nearly 40 % of the faculty
in the College of Arts and Sciences'' (p. 78) --- nearly all of them piecework
Arts and Sciences tend to be unusually hard hit: suppose we look at USF
as a whole (i.e., Arts & Science, Business, Education, Engineering,
and Fine Arts, etc., but excluding Medicine, which has lots of expertise
In 1998, as a result of a UFF initiative to study the adjunct situation,
UFF obtained from USF information about the use of adjuncts, measured in
``Full-Time Equivalent'' (FTE) (e.g., 1/2 of a position for someone working
half-time) and in ``Student Credit Hours'' (SCH) (e.g., ten students signing
up for a 3-hour course generate 30 SCHs) (SCHs tend to drive funding).
At USF, we found:
(Many of the ``other regular staff'' are non-tenurable instructors:
these positions are within the faculty bargaining unit, but they are
controversial because of the lack of tenure makes them more vulnerable
to administrative pressures to lower standards in teaching, to lower
expectations in salaries, etc.)
52 % of the FTEs were tenured & tenure-track; 9 % were adjuncts;
25 % were graduate student teaching assistants; the rest were
``other regular staff.''
51 % of the SCHs were generated by tenured & tenure-track faculty;
21 % were generated by adjuncts; 14 % were generated by teaching
assistants, and the rest by other regular staff.
The Faculty of the University
Europe's academic governance is ``collegial,'' i.e., the administration is
supposed to serve the institution, and so are selected from faculty by
In the less collegial United States, most universities have executives
appointed by overseeing boards (which are either self-perpetuating or
appointed by the government).
The result is a tendency of faculty-administration relations to degenerate
into something approximating employee-employer relations.
One can see the potential for such problems in the 1965 statement by
the Dean of Liberal Arts that USF did not have any ``publish or
perish'' policy --- a claim that was questioned by faculty.
Productivity was not the only contentious issue: there was also academic
Here are four pre-Al-Arian episodes.
The most notorious involved the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee,
created at the insistence of State Senator Charley Johns in 1956, in
reaction to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of
Education of Topeka.
While the original purpose of the FLIC was to dismantle the Florida NAACP
and hunt for Communists (mostly in FSU and FAMU), the FLIC soon started
pursuing homosexuals at UF and elsewhere.
In 1962, after USF instructor Thomas Wenner criticized the John Birch
Society in class, there was a flurry of press noises leading to the
arrival of the FLIC at a hotel room off campus.
Soon afterwards, Wenner (who had joined a movement to ban liberal speakers
from campus) was suspended, and retired Vanderbilt Professor Denna Frank
Fleming, whose appointment at USF was on the verge of approval, was
not appointed following agitation from Wenner's group.
Then USF Assistant Professor of English Sheldon Grebstein was suspended
(and later censured by USF President John Allen) for using an allegedly
tasteless essay by Norman Podhoretz in class - and Grebstein left USF for
Harpur College in New York.
This last act angered faculty and academic groups across the state, leading
to a prolonged ruckus culminating in the American Association of University
Professors censuring USF in 1964 for its treatment of Fleming.
Meanwhile, the FLIC published its report on homosexuality, which was widely
condemned by moralists as obscene (and snapped up by New York book stores).
USF got off the AAUP's censured list in 1968.
For more on this odd tale, see the UF video
Behind Closed Doors,
and James Schnur's
Cold Warriors in the Hot Sunshine: USF and the Johns Committee.
In 1966, Robert Stevenson started teaching in the American Ideas Department,
and in 1969 he helped organize a demonstration on April 26 against Defense
Secretary Melvin Laird, the Commencement Speaker at nearby
Saint Leo College (as it was known then).
The Tampa Tribune and the Board of Regents were upset.
Stevenson was untenured, and USF President John Allen sent him a letter of
There was a huge ruckus, in which Stevenson was supported by students,
staff, colleagues, his department, his dean, the NEA, the AAUP, and,
most decisively, by the court.
Stevenson was reinstated, awarded $ 7,500 in damages (a lot of money in
1970), and granted two year's leave.
See Kathleen Ochshorn's article ``Cautionary tale of past USF censure'' in
the May 5, 2002 St. Petersburg Times, accessible on-campus via
In September, 1999, in a class on controversial art taught by Dianne
Elmeer, a photograph by Teaching Assistant Derek Washington entitled
`N----- Lover' was shown to a class that had been warned in advance
that offensive material would be shown that day.
The photograph was of Washington, who is black, making love to a white
woman; the photograph is taken from behind Washington, and and
only his back and buttocks, and her arms and legs, are visible.
A female student sued for sexual harrassment, and in July, 2001, the
university settled for $ 25,000.
The settlement was construed by faculty as a setback for academic freedom,
especially as Washington had briefly been suspended; the Administration
presented it as a resolution to an irritating problem.
See the July 4, 2001 story by the St. Petersburg Times, on
Art or porn? USF opts not to fight,
and the July 13, 2001 story by the St. Petersburg Times that
USF reassures faculty after settlement.
See also the July 16, 2001 article in the Oracle that
Sexual harassment suit still pending.
Notice that these cases tend to involve administrators panicking in response
to outside pressure.
In early 2000, Mary Brennan, a non-tenured hourly employee of the Louis de
la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI), decided to run for
the State House in Fall, 2000, for a seat she once held, a seat then held by
Republican Leslie Waters.
On Mar. 21, Ms Brennan was told by FMHI Dean David Shem that she would be
fired; Shem made the phone call after a conversation with then
President-select Judy Genshaft, who was in Tallahassee and had heard
concerns from ``several people'' about Brennan running for the seat while
being on the USF payroll.
On Mar. 25, the St. Petersburg Times reported that
USF president denies a role in candidate's firing,
and that Shem said that he had decided to dismiss Ms Brennan before Genshaft
FMHI has long been a target by the Legislature, and the entire episode
provided the St. Petersburg Times an opportunity to complain
in a March 27 editorial
about the how ``Lawmakers not content to mismanage their own affairs are
sticking their noses more deeply into the university system ...''
Faculty soon wearied of this sort of thing, and formed organizations to
protect USF's academic values and USF's academic people.
The Charter USF President John Allen had started a University Senate (with
Senators appointed by Allen) when USF was founded; faculty representatives
formed an informal Faculty Caucus by the late 1960s.
In 1972, members of the Caucus, and other faculty, prevailed on
USF President Cecil Mackey to create a Faculty Senate, with Senators
elected by faculty to represent individual colleges.
Most of the governance was developed during the 1970s, along with its
tradition of independence and concern for faculty issues.
The current governance and concerns of the Faculty Senate can be
reviewed on its
USF Faculty Senate Archives.
Faculty were not the only ones who organized for in the face of adversity.
While there had been an
American Association of University Professors
chapter for the area during the Johns Committee, work to organize
a faculty union in the Florida State University System began only in
1971 - 72.
The United Faculty of Florida won the first certification election to
represent SUS faculty in 1976, and has won subsequent elections as
UFF has been affiliated with both the
National Education Association
American Teachers Federation,
and is now affiliated to both, via the merged
Florida Education Association.
The primary purpose UFF is to negotiate and enforce the contracts that
represented faculty have with their respective administrations.
UFF currently represents Florida State University faculty, many Florida
Community College faculty (in both public and private institutions),
and Graduate Assistants at UF and USF.
For more information, see the
United Faculty of Florida website.
An Overview of the Entire Controversy
Background: before Sept. 11
The First Year, 2001 - 2002
The Second Year, 2002 - 2003
Recent News: 8/28/02 -
USF in Florida
Al-Arian at USF