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Friday, April 24, 2009

Self-serving complaints?

I fully understand the sentiment that goes something like this "Meert is just trying to preserve his own program and fails to recognize that in saving his, someone else must lose". Guilty as charged to the first part of that statement. I am interested in saving Geology, but I was interested last year in trying to save the philosophy Ph.D. program at UF when that was cut. In fact, believe it or not, I'm interested in saving the religion department here, the geology department at Florida State, the anthropology department at FLorida State and most of higher education in Florida. I blog about Geology because it's what I know best and I understand the implications of those cuts to the state better than the others.

Higher education has been underfunded in Florida for a long time. Our tuition rate is the lowest among AAU member schools (and most other universities) and we have seen our budgets trimmed even before the present economic downturn. The more interesting thing about these particular cuts is that there are ways to save money and not have layoffs or departmental closures, but they require the administration to be clever and to think outside of the box. The UF plan was hastily put together without input from the faculty. For example, I believe that the faculty would be willing to collectively accept a temporary pay cut to preserve the academic integrity of the University. Shared pain for the better good. I know I would accept such a cut.

I am an unabashed supporter of education whether it's K-12 or higher education and see education as the key to economic recovery. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'll continue to defend science and education as long as I can.

Lastly, I'll note that in the current plan for cuts, my job is safe so I could just as easily sit back and do nothing, but it's simply too hard to watch as education takes a hit without fighting back.


Joe Meert


At 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Although your job is safe, I wish I could say I am that sure about mine.

I am a staff employee of UF, in a unit which just announced the potential of 74 cuts.

There are quite a few people working in this unit, and everyone one of us is walking on pins and needles right now. No one is saying who the potential targets are, probably because the administrators don't want to hear the sob stories.

I cannot wait until the legislature finally comes through with a budget decision. Although I have no ambition to be laid off, the stress of the ongoing process is getting to be a heavy weight on all of us.

Keep up the good work with the blog. I follow it every day.

At 9:22 PM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

Hey thanks. I'm safe in that I'll have a job for one or two more years and I can deal with that. Some of my colleagues are not so lucky and so I think it's important to fight for higher education in general and all the support staff that contribute. The notion of cuts to higher ed in a time when the economy demands an educated populace is absurd in the highest degree. Hopefully, there are legislators in positions of power who get it.


Joe Meert

At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe said: "For example, I believe that the faculty would be willing to collectively accept a temporary pay cut to preserve the academic integrity of the University. Shared pain for the better good. I know I would accept such a cut."I wouldn't -- not even to preserve my own line. The pathetic annual pay "increases" at UF are de facto pay cuts. There is never enough "merit" pay to go around, and even for those who get it, it barely exceeds annual inflation. Adjusted for inflation, I have absorbed a 6% pay cut over the last three years. Enough is enough.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

Fair enough. You would not take a pay cut. I'm not claiming we're paid what we deserve, but I still would accept the cut if it went from administration on down in a graded form. That's just me.


Joe Meert

At 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too would take a pay cut just to preserve jobs.

I've been through a layoff at UF already, and luckily I found another position before it was time to pack it up. The whole process was an example of the longest drawn out stress you could ever not hope to experience.

I would not want anyone else to be in the same predicament.

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way I see it: When you put "temporary" pay cuts on top of inflation-induced pay cuts, you end up with the proverbial "death by 1000 cuts". ( What a convenient metaphor! :))

Whether you remove a person's livelihood in a single stroke or slowly by increments, the end result is that sooner or later they are forced back into the job market by economic necessity.

Another convenient metaphor is that of the frog, who, being put in a slowly heated pot of water, boils to death without realizing it. Boil quickly or slowly, either way you're cooked. I'd rather not be a frog, either way.

I also suspect those "temporary" pay cuts would not be so "temporary". (Well, maybe according to geologic time.)

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

I understand and respect your viewpoint (death by 1000 cuts). Perhaps I am the optimistic frog, but I don't feel that a pay cut of a few percent would spell the end of me (even on top of the cuts I've taken via inflation). I'd still much prefer the small paycut to losing the University. I guess part of my bias comes from the fact that I am also an alum of Florida.

At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This budget crisis is the perfect opportunity for Bernie Machen to institute his "New University Order".

One hint is Machen not willing to use any of the stimulus money to save jobs. He knows if he uses the funds, the positions and departments he so dearly wants to eliminate will be around a bit longer. They will be a thorn in his plans.

At 8:06 PM, Blogger Joe Meert said...

Bernie's plans are rather nebulous things. If you mention 'medicine' then bernie needs no viagra. Other than that, he might as well be a zombie. The problem is there is not really room for a University of Medicine-Gainesville without the real educational system to support it no matter what Bernie thinks.


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