Faculty & Frontline Workers Demand An Inclusive Chancellor Search
October 17, 2023
Montpelier, VT. The unions representing the faculty and the frontline workers, represented by the AFT and the VSEA are jointly calling on the Board of Trustees of Vermont State Colleges System to eliminate the Office of Chancellor. If that is not feasible, then to include their members on the search committee for the new chancellor as well as the Board of Trustees.
“VTSU needs to cut the massive $13 million dollars in bloated management salaries and invest more funding closer to the students by retaining faculty and increasing the pay of frontline staff.” Said Billie Neathawk, President of the VSEA VTSU Staff Federation and a 25-year employee on the VTSU Castleton Campus.
The unions say that the Chancellor is now unnecessary given the consolidation of the 4 state college campuses into a single university and they say the nearly $300,000 in salary and benefits would be better spent by retaining faculty members and increasing facilities and administrative staff wages some of whom are paid just over $14.00 an hour. A wage they say that is not a livable wage and is leading to massive staff vacancies in positions that have direct and daily contact with students on campus.
“Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. We need to offer our employees competitive and fair wages to attract new employees and retain those already on campuses. We also need to preserve all student-facing programs and services.” Said Linda Olson, AFT VT Co-President for Higher Education and a professor on the Castleton Campus.
The unions have also called on the Board of Trustees to open the search process for choosing the next chancellor and to expand the University’s Board of Trustees to include faculty and staff representatives of their unions, saying that the current search committee and the Board of Trustees includes too many people who are not on campus working directly with students.
“We got into this mess at VTSU because of not so-well thought out decisions by management and trustees who are rarely on campus and who honestly have no idea how things work at the campus level. If we want to make the best decisions, we should include the voices of frontline staff and faculty,” Neathawk concluded. VTSU United Professionals Co-President Beth Walsh from the Johnson Campus agrees and adds, “If the state of Vermont wishes to maintain public higher education in the state our leaders will need to provide increased funding that will allow us to invest in our institutions to make them stronger and help us serve our students, communities and state.”
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