Feb 2018 minutes

Minutes AAUP Meeting 2/13/2018


In attendance:  Jon Jonakin; Megan Atkinson; Ada Haynes; Josie McQuail; Julia Gruber; Kim Godwin; Ahsan Languri

Guest: Cassie Watters

Treasurer’s Report – Allen Driggers, via report: Balance in our account was $6,023.01.  Deposit today of $485.30 was not reflected in that.  Quarterly dues to AAUP national were just paid.  A check was written to cover a Red Book given to Dr. Mark Stephens.

The Treasury is healthy and stable.  The checking account address needs to be changed to Dr. Diggers.  Requests for reimbursements need to be made to the treasurer if there are any pending.

Membership report:  Kim Godwin: We have 37 members + 1 or 2.  The AAUP national membership list is problematic. There was some discussion about recruitment opportunities in the current climate.

Committee W – the gender equity study was given before the Faculty Senate by Ada Haynes and Troy Smith.  Some people first questioned it and then came around and seemed to accept it.  It has been on the Faculty Senate agenda but keeps getting tabled because of all of the other things going on on campus.  When it was given at the open forum there was a diverse group including students, faculty and administrators.  There were good comments and questions. Drs. Haynes and Smith are hoping to write up the information and statistics for a publication.  The editor of The Oracle called President Oldham and asked about Oldham being over paid and faculty underpaid.  President Oldham said he did not believe the study and said there are a lot of bad universities out there.  It seems the solution to the problem is now to find a different comparison for faculty – not to compare them to the national norm.  Dr. Haynes said that we hire nationally for faculty positions and this needs to be kept in mind.  Dr. Gruber asked if salary data is being sent to national AAUP.  This is important.  For the staff side Drs.  Smith and Haynes did their own comparison which showed they are NOT overpaid, but the only comparable group is community colleges.  Dr. Haynes said that if the administration starts picking and choosing comparison groups then the numbers lose validity.  Right now there are 3000 institutions in the comparison.  Dr. Haynes said she has never been told which CUPA figures are being applied or what exactly is being used by TTU in their salary comparisons.  Dr. Gruber reported that Acting Provost Mark Stephens had come to the same conclusions as Drs. Smith and Haynes’s study.  She noted that Dr. Stephens worked to get AAUP data and came to the presentations.  Dr. Jonakin asked if on the new committee set up by the university to study salaries there were any women?  Dr. Haynes said yes, and Dr. Jonakin asked if they were aware of the study?  Dr. Haynes said she was not sure.  Cassie Watters said students always seem to be uninformed about what goes on campus and suggested that the study be presented to the SGA (Student Government Association).

New Business – we need to change the bylaws to reflect meeting day changes voted on by AAUP.

Dr. Gruber said she wanted to conduct a new satisfactory survey regarding the TTU administration after the Fitzgerald Glider Engine controversy.  She pointed out that we never hear the results of the Administrators’ evaluations.  Dr. Gruber has asked for assistance on putting together a survey from faculty in Sociology and Political Science in order to establish objective and non-leading questions.  There was some debate about what type of survey instrument to use.  Dr. Haynes suggested Qualtrix.  Survey monkey was also discussed. There was concern expressed about privacy issues.  It was noted that staff is more nervous about stating opinions.  Cassie Watters and Kim Godwin both noted that the atmosphere on TTU campus is very fearful.

On the Fitzgerald Glider Engine controversy Dr. Jonakin pointed out that there seems to be a tendency to act with impunity on the part of administration, but in choosing an Inquiry Committee President Oldham and Dr. Soni recused themselves.  He asserted it depends on how rigorous this committee is what the results would be.  Dr. Sharon Huo is chairing it and Faculty Senate President Christy Killman met with her to discuss it. Dr. Joy was supposed to have some say on the formation of the committee.  Dr. Gruber stated that what was in question was the ethics behind the research – there seemed to be a conflict of interest and fraud in manipulation of data.  The letter that went to the EPA showed lack of instruments to even measure the things supposedly being measured.  With the firm of Fitzgerald financing the research and the promise of a center for TTU on their property there seemed a conflict of interest.  Benjamin Mohr was removed as Primary Investigator without being told.  The ethics of doing research and guidelines for the PI according to Dr. Haynes are very strictly regulated.  President Oldham’s signature.  Cassie Watters pointed out that the ethics in outsourcing is a problem, as with custodial outsourcing.  The lawyer from UT asked about ethics laws, and they seem to be weak- it’s only when the issues is exposed to the public that the public sees it for what it is: unethical.  Public exposure is important.

Next social:  The Lazy Cow, March 21.  There was a social also on Feb. 28 at the Red Silo.

Jon Jonakin, letter to the editor (H-C), April 6

Letter to the editor:

Tom Jones’ letter to the editor on April 3rd exemplifies the willful ignorance and even thuggish attitude of those who seek to protect the TTU administration in the wake of the TTU/Fitzgerald Glider Kit (FGK) research scandal and the ensuing investigation.  Jones, the Chairman of TTU’s governing Board of Trustees, singles out for condemnation and threats those TTU faculty who have ‘passed judgment’ on the widely criticized research report, suggesting that their opinions are flawed since they have ‘no access’ to the full report.  In this regard, Jones walks in lock step with TTU President Phil Oldham who has used the fact that Fitzgerald owns the research and has thus far failed to disclose the entire ‘report’ as a tiny, insufficient fig leaf to attempt to hide what is clearly administrative indiscretion.  Moreover, Jones walks in lock step with FGK’s thuggish legal maneuvers when Jones asserts that faculty may have ‘violated policy’ by critiquing the research.

Whatever critiques of the TTU/Fitzgerald research that TTU faculty and others such as myself have made are based entirely on what IS KNOWN and is part of an expanding public record; a record that was developed by experts in environmental testing and law and based on the existing report and follow up interviews with the non-credentialed TTU administrator—Associate Vice President Tom Brewer–who carried out the research and wrote the now infamous report.   The public record cited by faculty is clear, unambiguous, and uniformly scathing in its account of the failings of the TTU research.  In addition, the two TTU administrators who are directly involved in this mess—Brewer and Vice President Bharat Soni–have already incriminated themselves in public statements made before the TTU Faculty Senate wherein they appeared to implicate themselves in a scheme of procedural malfeasance.

Both Jones and Oldham need to ask: if FGK ‘owns’ additional, non-disclosed data that would refute the current criticism of the existing report, why have they not released it?  The fact that FGK has not released further data speaks volumes and tells us with near certainty that there is nothing more to learn that will reverse the conclusions already drawn.   Considering all this, Jones’ dismissals of, and threats toward, those speaking up about this scandal smack of, again, willful ignorance and thuggishness and suggest that the leadership of TTU’s governing Board is failing miserably in its oversight role.


Jon Jonakin, Emeritus Professor of Economics, TTU

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