Faculty Letter Against Shared Services at UT Austin

Dear President Powers,

We are deeply concerned about the Business Productivity Initiative and its impact on the university community and on our ability to teach and engage in meaningful research. We are dismayed that the Initiative has already invested more than $4 million paid to Accenture Corporation in order to “sell” the University on the Plan — money that could have been used to meet our core missions and enhance staff services and staff support. We question the Plan’s potential for cost saving; we have been given inaccurate statistics and graphs throughout the campus discussion period.

Implementation of the proposed shared services plan, whether touted as a series of “pilot” experiments or done wholesale, will inevitably endanger one of the foundations of this university’s greatness—the sense of community that joins together faculty, staff, and students. Our multitalented, abundantly generous, highly skilled, deeply committed and invested staff is an essential element of our community.

People choose to work at The University of Texas at Austin because they believe in its educational and social missions. Adoption of a shared services model will weaken departments’ commitment to those missions by devaluing bonds between faculty and staff that develop from working toward common goals. We oppose any plan that removes dedicated staff from departments and consolidates the specialized services offered both students and faculty at the departmental level. The stability and coherence of staff at the departmental level ensures effective and productive intradepartmental communications, and ideally facilitates relations between faculty, staff, and our students. We are already short staffed and should hire more departmental support, not less. We oppose the use of attrition and forced retirement as money saving ventures.

We who work at the university know our staff as generous and deeply committed professionals, as parents and caretakers, community volunteers, as fellow citizens of Austin, Travis County, and the state of Texas. These are people who help make our campus the compassionate, intelligent, diverse, vibrant, and enviable place that attracts visitors to the Forty Acres; their support of faculty and students forge the lifelong bonds of attachment to and affection for the university that are its very lifeblood. We should choose to invest in our campus community as a whole because that investment strengthens our city, its families, and our common spirit.

For many of us, it is very difficult not to see the university’s embrace of the Business Productivity Initiative as part of the overly zealous, profit-motivated corporatist mandate, which is likely to erode public institutions and public services across this country. The greatest tragedy of these privatization schemes is that they destroy the democratic spirit by calculatedly de-valuing our common wealth and the very notions of collective endeavor, mutual support, and the common good.

These are inestimable values; they matter to us, greatly. We implore you to withdraw your support of the Shared Services Plan.

Letter authored by,

Mia Carter, Associate Professor of English, University Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor; University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teacher; 2014 Alcalde “Texas Ten”; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Julius G. Getman, Earl E. Sheffield Regents Chair; Professor, School of Law; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Anne Lewis, Sr. Lecturer Radio-Television-Film; 2010 University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teacher; Executive Board Member TSEU-CWA 6186

Faculty Signatories:

Michael Adams, Interim Director, James A. Michener Center for Writers; Director, Dobie Paisano Fellowship Program; Associate Professor, Department of English

Kamran Asdar Ali, Fellow of Marlene and Morton Meyerson Centennial Chair; Associate Professor, Director, Academic Program, Department of Anthropology, Department of Asian Studies, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, South Asia Institute

Lynn A. Baker, Frederick M. Baron Chair in Law

Samuel Baker, Associate Professor of English

Phillip Barrish, Associate Professor; Director, Lower-Division Literature Program, Department of English

Mary Beltrán, Associate Professor, Dept. of Radio-Television-Film; Affiliate, Women’s & Gender Studies, Center for Mexican American Studies

Daniela Bini, Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature; recipient of President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award; Harry H. Ransom Teaching Award; Liberal Arts Council Teaching Award; Cavaliere (Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana) conferred by the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano.

Daniel Birkholz, Director, English Department Honors Program; Associate Professor of English; Recipient, President’s Associates Teaching Award

Lynn E. Blais, Leroy G. Denman, Jr. Regents Professor in Real Property Law

Hans C. Boas, Raymond Dickson, Alton C. Allen, and Dillon Anderson Centennial Professor; Director, Linguistics Research Center, Department of Linguistics; Department of Germanic Studies

 Brian A. Bremen, Associate Professor of English; Provost’s Teaching Fellow

 Barry Brummett, Charles Sapp Centennial Professor in Communication; Department of Communication Studies Chair

Erika Bsumek, Associate Professor of History

 Thomas Buckley, Specialist, Rhetoric and Writing; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Ben Carrington, Associate Professor of Sociology and African and African Diaspora Studies; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

 Evan Carton, Joan Negley Kelleher Centennial Professor in Rhetoric and Composition; Professor, Dept. of English

Oscar Cásares
, Fellow of Susan Taylor McDaniel Regents Associate Professorship in Creative Writing; Associate Professor of English

Dana Cloud, Associate Professor; Director of Graduate Studies; Fellow to Everett Collier Chair in Communication Studies

 Cary Cordova, Assistant Professor, Department of American Studies; Faculty Affiliate, Center for Mexican American Studies

Ann Cvetkovich, Ellen Clayton Garwood Centennial Professor of English; Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies

 Diane Davis, Director, Digital Writing and Research Lab; Professor of Rhetoric & Writing

Janet M. Davis, Associate Professor; American Studies, History, Women’s and Gender Studies

Lesley Dean-Jones, Associate Professor of Classics

 Noah De Lissovoy, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction

James Denbow, Professor of Anthropology

Rasha Diab, Assistant Professor, Department of Rhetoric and Writing. Affiliate: Departments of English and Middle Eastern Studies

 Brian Doherty, Senior Lecturer, English; Member TSEU-CWA 6186

Ariel Dulitzky, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Human Rights Clinic; Director, KBH Center for Latin American Law, University of Texas School of Law

 Tarek El-Ariss, Associate Professor of Arabic Studies and Comparative Literature, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Susan B. Empson, Professor, STEM Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Karen Engle, Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law, Co-Director and Founder Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice

 Lester Faigley, Robert Adger Law and Thos. H. Law Professor in Humanities, English/Rhetoric and Writing

Toyin Falola, Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities; Distinguished Teaching Professor; Professor, Department of History

Linda Ferreira-Buckley, Lillian and Tom B. Rhodes Centennial Teaching Fellow; Associate Professor of English, Rhetoric & Writing

William E. Forbath, Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair in Law

Steve Friesen, Professor, Department of Religious Studies; President¹s Associates Teaching Excellence Award (2011)

Karl Galinsky, Floyd A. Cailloux Centennial Professor of Classics; University Distinguished Teaching Professor; Max-Planck International Research Award 2009

Joshua Gunn, Associate Professor, Communication Studies

 Frank A. Guridy, Associate Professor of History

Barbara Harlow, Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professor of English Literature with courtesy appointments in Comparative Literature, Middle Eastern Studies, and affiliations with Women’s and Gender Studies, South Asia Institute, and the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice (UT Law School); Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Jim Hankinson, Professor of Philosophy and Classics

John Hartigan, Director, Américo Paredes Center for Cultural Studies; Professor, Department of Anthropology

Edeltraud Harzer, Senior Lecturer, Asian Studies

Kurt Heinzelman, Professor of Poetry and Poetics, Department of English; Editor-in-Chief, TSLL; Editor-at-Large, Bat City Review

 Susan Heinzelman, Director, Center for Women and Gender Studies; Associate Professor of English

 Lars Hinrichs, Fellow of J. R. Millikan Centennial Associate Professorship in English Literature; Associate Professor of English Language and Linguistics

 John Hoberman, Professor of Germanic Studies; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

 Neville Hoad, Associate Professor of English

 Juliet Hooker, Associate Director for Scholarly Programs, Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies; Associate Professor of Government and African and African Diaspora Studies

Heather Houser, Katherine Ross Richards Centennial Teaching Fellow in English; Assistant Professor of English; Member TSEU-CWA 6186

 Don Howard, Associate Professor, Radio-Television-Film, UT3D Director

Madeline Hsu, Associate Professor, History

 Thomas K. Hubbard, Professor of Classics; Fellow of the Mary Helen Thompson Centennial Professorship in the Humanities

John Huehnergard, Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Robert Jensen, Professor of Journalism

Martin Kevorkian, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, English

Terri LeClercq, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, retired and Norman Black Professorship in Ethical Communication in Law School of Law

 Richard M Lewis, Associate Professor and Area Head for Screenwriting, Radio Television and Film

 Tatjana Lichtenstein, Assistant Professor, Department of History

 Allen MacDuffie, Fellow of Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Assistant Professorship in English; Assistant Professor of English

Geoff Marslett, Senior Lecturer, Radio Television Film; Board of Regents’ Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Alberto A. Martínez, Associate Professor, Department of History

Anne M. Martinez, Assistant Professor, Department of History

Tracie Matysik, Associate Professor, Raymond S. Dickson Teaching Awardee, Department of History

 Mona Mehdy, Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences

 Jeffrey L. Meikle, Stiles Professor in American Studies, Professor of Art and Art History

Sofian Merabet, Assistant Professor of Anthropology; Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Mark Metzler, Associate Professor of History

Karl Hagstrom Miller, Fellow of George W. Littlefield Associate Professorship in American History; Associate Professor, American Studies and History

Julie Avril Minich, Leslie Waggener, Sr. Centennial Teaching Fellow; Assistant Professor, Department of English

Michelle Monk, Department Administrator, Radio-Television-Film; Member of CWA-TSEU 6168

Lisa L. Moore, Interim Director, The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies; Professor of English

Steven A. Moore, PhD, RA, Bartlett Cocke Regents Professor of Architecture and Planning; Director, Graduate Program in Sustainable Design, School of Architecture

Monica Muñoz Martinez, PhD, Carlos E. Castañeda Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Mexican American Studies

 Patrick Olivelle, Professor, Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair Emeritus in the Humanities

Antonella D. Olson, Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Italian, 2012 University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teacher, 2009 Texas Exes Teaching Award, 2001 Harry H. Ransom Award

 Angela Naomi Paik, Fellow of Mary Helen Thompson Centennial; Assistant Professorship in the Humanities, Department of American Studies, Center for Asian American Studies, Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, Department of African and African American Studies, Rapoport Center for Law and Human Rights; Member TSEU-CWA

 Tom Palaima, Robert M. Armstrong Centennial Professor; Director PASP Classics; UT Alumni/ae Association’s Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching 2003-4; Plan II Chad Oliver Teaching Award 2004-5; MacArthur fellow 1985-90; Member of CWA-TSEU 6168

Deborah Palmer, Associate Professor, Bilingual/Bicultural Education Department of Curriculum and Instruction; faculty affiliate Center for Mexican American Studies; Member TSEU-CWA

 Deborah Paredez, Katherine Ross Richards Centennial Teaching Fellow in English, Associate Professor of English

Carla Petievich, Visiting Professor, South Asia Institute

Lucas A. Powe Jr., Anne Green Regents Chair in Law; Professor of Government

Megan Raby, Assistant Professor, Department of History

 Guy P. Raffa, Associate Professor of Italian; Member of CWA-TSEU 6186

PJ Raval, Assistant Professor, Department of Radio-Television-Film

 Ann Reynolds, Associate Professor, Art History

 Matt Richardson, Fellow of Chair in African and African Diaspora Studies; Associate Professor African and African Diaspora Studies and English

Sharmila Rudrappa, Associate Professor, (Future) Director Academic Program, Department of Sociology

John Rumrich, Arthur J. Thaman and Wilhelmina Dore’ Thaman Endowed Professor in English

Elizabeth Scala, Associate Professor of English

Nancy Schiesari, Professor, Radio-Television-Film

 Megan Seaholm, Senior Lecturer, Department of History

Martha Ann Selby, Professor of South Asian Studies; Member of CWA-TSEU 6186

Dina Sherzer, Professor Emeritus, Department of French and Italian

Joel Sherzer, Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology

 Snehal Shingavi, Fellow of Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Assistant Professorship in English; Assistant Professor, Department of English

Christen Smith, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology; Department of African and African Diaspora Studies

Shannon Speed, Associate Professor of Anthropology; Director, Native American and Indigenous Studies

 James Spindler, The Sylvan Lang Professor; Professor, UT McCombs School of Business

Ellen Spiro, Professor, Department of Radio Television Film

Janet Staiger, William P. Hobby Centennial Professor Emeritus in Communication and Professor Emeritus of Women’s and Gender Studies; Chair of Faculty Council, 2009-10

Kathleen Stewart, Professor, Anthropology

Pauline Strong, Professor of Anthropology; Director, Humanities Institute

Circe Sturm, Fellow of Dallas TACA Centennial Associate Professorship in the Liberal Arts; Associate Professor of Anthropology; Native American and Indigenous Studies Faculty

Cynthia Talbot, Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies; Member TSEU-CWA 6186

 Kim TallBear, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

Eric Tang, Assistant Professor, African & African Diaspora Studies; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Rabun Taylor, Associate Professor of Classics

Shirley Thompson, Fellow of Stiles Associate Professorship in American Studies; Fellow of Chair in African and African Diaspora Studies; Associate Professor of American Studies and African and African Diaspora Studies; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Luis Urrieta, Jr., Associate Professor; Curriculum & Instruction, Mexican American Studies;
Native American & Indigenous Studies; Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

Angela Valenzuela, Professor, Department of Educational Administration; Center for Mexican American Studies; Department of Curriculum and Instruction; Director of TCEP and Associate Vice President for School Partnerships

Kamala Visweswaran, Associate Professor of Anthropology, South Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies; Member of TSEU-CWA 6186

Jennifer Wilks, Associate Professor of English & African and African Diaspora Studies; 2011 Alcalde “Texas Ten”

Hannah C. Wojciehowski, Professor of English

Helena Woodard, Associate Professor, Department of English; Faculty Affiliate, J. Warfield Center for African and African Diaspora Studies

Jo Worthy, Professor, Language and Literacy Studies, Curriculum and Instruction

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Faculty Letter Against Shared Services at UT Austin

  1. Wow, Snehal; thanks. Faculty are still sending signatures from all over campus and we are accepting them; we are marking post 4/8 signatories with an asterisk to denote the post-Presidential submission. Thanks for getting the word out. The response has been pretty heartening. Many small programs and Centers have already been “optimized”: Here is what I sent to a reporter today, who asked me why I co-wrote, why I feel the issue is important, was I afraid.
    Response to The Horn:
    I helped co-write the letter because I, like many other faculty, have lots of questions about the university’s embrace of Accenture Company’s business and profit-oriented vision for the 21st century public university. As we are seeing all across the country, with primary and secondary public education and public college and university-level education, budgetary and austerity concerns are being seized upon as opportunities for corporations to milk profits from public institutions.
    Our university’s best, most precious resources are our human resources: the committed, talented, generous people who make this university run. Everything that I do, every success that I have achieved here as a teacher and scholar has been dependent upon the labor and support of our department’s, college’s, and administration’s staff. They are not mere cogs in a machine; the staff is not comprised of exchangeable and disposable parts. They are people with specific skills and expertise; colleagues who have a wealth of institutional knowledge and memory; they are the life-blood, as we say in the letter, of our university’s strength and its present and future. They enable the faculty’s research, travel, coursework, day-to-day instructive duties; they help us to sustain our households by processing our payment and benefits. The list of my professional dependency on staff energy, knowledge and resources could go on and on.
    Our staff lives in an increasingly expensive city, in a country with grotesque income inequality. They give their all to the university and are now being looked at through the de-humanizing lens of Accenture corporation’s “business process outsourcing,” “pension transformation,” “generation of new efficiencies,” “transformation of legacy infrastructure,” “process optimizing”–in other words as mere expenditures. I think that is pretty horrible. Small departments, centers and programs on campus have already been affected by these policies–staff reductions and reassignments, forced retirements, consolidation of specialized services (like the IT services; the film production technicians in RTF). My fear or feeling is that the profit-oriented privatization schemes radically re-envision the public university and de-value the common endeavors between faculty, staff and students. I think we should all be asking, who’s next? what’s next? What makes a public university great? What sustains its values, its various missions? Who and what is worth paying for and investing in? The letter expresses the hope that we will collectively ask these questions, for they concern us all and are inseparable from discussions about the quality of public education. I co-authored in the hope that The University of Texas does not erode the strength and uniqueness of its human foundations and just zoom into “pilot programs” and “optimization” modes.
    Am I afraid of backlash? No, I believe that our letter is very thoughtful and judicious, that’s its concerns are sincere and well- and carefully articulated. I have always known university culture to be a place in which we argue and debate with reason, ethical integrity, self-analysis and restraint, and one in which we also stand for what we believe in–and attempt to speak truth to power. That is my responsibility as a Humanities professor, a fellow citizen, colleague, and human being.

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