Skip to Main Content

Informed Choice

Updated January 26, 2023

We are aware that the Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM) has filed a Request for Recognition with the Ohio State Employment Relations Board (SERB) for Miami to recognize a faculty union under the American Association of University Professors (AAUP)/FAM leadership. We respect the right of Miami University faculty to unionize and affirm that the decision to do so is in the hands of faculty. 

On June 24, and in response to FAM’s Request for Recognition, the University filed a petition with SERB that details what Miami University believes to be the proper bargaining unit eligible to vote for representation by AAUP/FAM and requests a secret ballot election on this matter. The University believes that an election is the fairest and most accurate way to determine whether a majority of the bargaining unit wishes to be represented by a union. An election ensures that every impacted faculty member’s voice is heard and respected, and we will fight for faculty to have that right.

The question of whether Miami faculty choose to unionize is perhaps the most consequential decision our faculty will ever make. Forming a collective bargaining unit will fundamentally change how we all work together to achieve our mission and serve our students. The operational, financial, and cultural implications are substantial.

Faculty are encouraged to lead and engage in these discussions, examine the facts, and make the best decision for themselves regarding this matter. More importantly, when the decision comes to a vote, we encourage all members of the bargaining unit to exercise their right to vote, as the election will be decided by a simple majority.

This site will be updated regularly with the latest information and FAQs as this effort progresses. If you have any questions, please email InformedChoice@MiamiOH.edu.


Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is happening?

The Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM), a chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), has launched a campaign to organize all full-time faculty under the AAUP.

What is the University administration’s position on faculty unionization?

We believe an independent faculty – a model that has worked well for more than 200 years and has allowed us to be ranked as one of the top institutions in the country for undergraduate teaching – remains the best path forward and that collective bargaining would negatively impact both the student experience and the University’s reputation for excellence and academic rigor. That reputation has made Miami a university where faculty can build and sustain careers that allow them, and the students they teach, to thrive in our increasingly complex world. The University administration does not believe faculty unionization is the best path forward for Miami University. The operational, financial, and cultural implications of a faculty union are substantial.

A faculty union could jeopardize the unique relationship between our faculty and students. Currently, faculty can independently determine how best and how often to engage, advise, and mentor students; unionization can change this freedom of choice. Unionizing would reshape the relationship between faculty and University administration from one of peers and colleagues to “management” and “employees.” Rather than hearing diverse perspectives from a broad range of faculty, university leadership would hear a sole voice: that of the union. Even independent faculty opinions or suggestions voiced through the University Senate would still likely be required to be implemented following union contract stipulations. Our academic divisions and departments have wide latitude in administering policies and procedures; this will change dramatically if a union contract is in place.

A faculty union would also introduce structural constraints to how we work together and how we recruit and retain faculty. Challenges unique to higher education require institutions to move and pivot quickly. A faculty union would inhibit our ability to be agile and responsive to the fast-changing higher education landscape. This agility has allowed us to thrive despite the unexpected challenges we’ve faced in recent years.

As a university, we continue to work diligently to support our faculty to serve our students and achieve our mission. The success of our faculty is the success of our mission, which is the transparent goal for Miami. To that end, it is also worth noting that the AAUP is a business and that its model relies on dues-paying faculty members to support its administration – to the tune of millions of dollars annually.

Though the Miami administration does not support faculty unionization, we recognize that faculty members have a right to organize and that the decision rests solely in the hands of voting faculty. We encourage all faculty to engage in our shared governance process and to thoughtfully consider this important decision. It is one of the most important decisions Miami faculty will ever make.

Has the University hired legal counsel to provide advice during this process?

Yes. Legal advice is necessary to ensure the University is in full compliance with the law around union organizing, which allows our faculty to engage in an open, free, and robust discussion of the merits of unionization.

What is the general timeline for the FAM unionization effort?

Below is a general timeline of the unionization efforts currently underway at Miami.

  • In early February 2022, the Faculty Alliance of Miami (FAM), a chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), announced its unionization effort at Miami University.
  • In the spring of 2022, FAM began soliciting signatures from faculty to gather a “showing of interest” by having at least 30% of full-time faculty sign authorization cards.
  • On June 3, 2022, FAM filed a Request for Recognition with the Ohio State Employment Relations Board (SERB), indicating that they have obtained signed authorization cards from 50% or more of the proposed bargaining unit. 
    • This request asks Miami University to recognize FAM/AAUP as the exclusive collective bargaining representative for the following proposed unit:
      • All full-time faculty at all campuses of Miami University, including tenured and tenure-track faculty; teaching, clinical professors, and lecturers (TCPL faculty); visiting faculty; instructors; librarians; museum and collections directors and curators; and program, center, or institute directors and assistant directors.
  • In response to FAM’s Request for Recognition, and in conjunction with applicable law, the University posted an official Notice to Employees of FAM’s request and shared the names and addresses of all faculty members included in FAM’s proposed bargaining unit with SERB.
    • Subsequently, SERB conducted an independent investigation of FAM’s filing to ensure it complied with all applicable legal requirements.
  • On June 24, and in response to FAM’s Request for Recognition, the University filed objections with SERB that detailed what Miami University believes to be the proper bargaining unit eligible to vote for representation by AAUP/FAM and requested a secret ballot election on this matter. Miami has determined that a secret ballot election is the fairest and most accurate way to determine whether a majority of the eligible voters wish to be represented by a union.
    • Based on input from University leadership, Academic Affairs, and relevant faculty data and existing feedback, Miami believes full-time, tenured and tenure-track faculty at all campuses of Miami University represent the proper bargaining unit eligible to vote for representation by AAUP/FAM.
  • In Fall of 2022, FAM and Miami were given the opportunity to discuss whether they could agree on which faculty members should be included in the proposed bargaining unit. FAM and Miami were unable to reach an agreement on the proposed bargaining unit and thus, a hearing date will be set with SERB to determine whether FAM's proposed bargaining unit is appropriate.
  • On December 12 and 13, FAM and Miami will participate in a hearing during which both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence in support of their respective positions regarding the appropriate bargaining unit. After the hearing officer issues a determination on the unit, SERB will issue a notice for election, including the date it begins and what positions are included within the proposed bargaining unit (and, thus, are eligible voters). We expect the election process to take place via mail-in ballot and that voters will have 14 days to mail in their ballot once the polling period is open.
  • The election will be decided by a majority of those who vote. Therefore, it is very important that you vote. Failing to cast a vote would mean this very important decision will be made without your input. 
  • After the close of the election period, SERB will tally the ballots.

Where are we now in the process?

In response to FAM’s Request for Recognition filed on June 3, the University has submitted objections to the Ohio State Employment Relations Board (SERB) outlining why we believe FAM’s proposed unit is inappropriate under applicable law, and what we believe to be the proper bargaining unit, one comprised of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty at all campuses of Miami University. Now that Miami has submitted its objections, SERB will bring FAM and Miami together to see if both parties can reach an agreement on the proposed bargaining unit. If FAM and Miami cannot agree, SERB will hold a hearing, and a hearing officer will decide whether the bargaining unit is appropriate. After all unit disputes have been resolved, SERB will schedule an election.

Unionization Process and Implications

What does AAUP have to do to get the right to represent the faculty?

  • The AAUP must prove their right to represent full-time faculty. The organization must obtain a “showing of interest” from at least 30% of our full-time faculty members in the form of signed authorization cards. On June 3, FAM/AAUP petitioned SERB for a Request for Recognition, indicating they obtained signed authorization cards from at least 50% of full-time faculty.
  • Before an election on unionization can take place, FAM and Miami University will need to agree upon the proposed unit, or a SERB hearing officer will determine whether the bargaining unit is appropriate and which faculty members will be eligible to vote.
  • A secret ballot election is held, and results are decided by a simple majority of the full-time faculty who vote. That means that if only 100 of our 1,000+ full-time faculty members vote, just 51 affirmative votes would determine that all full-time faculty members would be represented by the union.

What determines the outcome of the election?

The election would be decided by a simple majority of the faculty who vote. That means that if only 100 of our 1,000+ faculty members vote, just 51 votes for the union could determine the outcome, but all of the faculty would be in the unit represented by the union.

Can individual faculty opt out of union representation if one is put in place?

No. If a majority of full-time faculty who vote in the secret ballot election vote in favor of representation, everyone in the targeted group of faculty will automatically be included.

If Miami unionized, which faculty would it include?

FAM has submitted a Request for Recognition with SERB that has asked the University to recognize a proposed bargaining unit comprised of all full-time faculty at all campuses of Miami University, including tenured and tenure-track faculty; teaching, clinical professors, and lecturers (TCPL faculty); visiting faculty; instructors; librarians; museum and collections directors and curators; and program, center, or institute directors and assistant directors. 

Miami University believes FAM’s proposed bargaining unit is inappropriate given the significant differences in terms and conditions of employment among the many different positions included in FAM’s Request.

Why has Miami submitted a counter petition to FAM's proposed bargaining unit and why aren't all faculty members included?

Miami University’s objections filed with SERB assert that FAM’s proposed bargaining unit is inappropriate given the differences in responsibilities, expectations, and needs of the many different roles included within it. Based on input from university leadership, Academic Affairs, and relevant faculty data and existing feedback, Miami believes full-time, tenured and tenure-track faculty at all campuses of Miami University represent the proper bargaining unit eligible to vote for representation by AAIP/FAM.

Miami also petitioned SERB for a secret ballot election which it believes to be the fairest and most accurate way to determine whether a majority of the eligible voters wish to be represented by a union. 

With FAM’s Request for Recognition, they assert the goal to establish shared terms of employment for all members of their proposed bargaining unit: all full-time faculty at all campuses of Miami University, including:

  • Tenured and tenure-track faculty
  • Teaching, clinical professors, and lecturers (TCPLs)
  • Visiting faculty (VAPs)
  • Instructors 
  • Librarians
  • Museum and collections directors and curators
  • Program, center, or institute directors and assistant directors

Miami does not believe the roles and positions listed here share a common set of interests and / or concerns regarding their roles in the Miami University community, and because of this, cannot agree to FAM’s proposed bargaining unit. While each of these roles plays a critical part in furthering our mission and delivering academic excellence to our students, Miami believes the experiences across these various groups vary drastically and would not allow for an effective collective bargaining agreement to be reached if a faculty union was established.

Why does Miami believe certain roles should not be included in the bargaining units?

The unit that FAM proposed includes a broad range of positions, including faculty in vastly different roles and some positions held by unclassified staff, not faculty appointments.  

For a collective bargaining unit to be established and deemed appropriate, a group of roles or positions must share a “community of interest” under applicable laws. A shared community of interest would include similarities across various roles and positions, like salaries, job duties and responsibilities, expectations for renewed appointments, and other terms and conditions of employment. 

A shared community of interest is important in collective bargaining because when bargaining units consist of roles or positions that are dissimilar in job duties, salaries, and key terms or conditions of employment, the contract negotiation process could possibly limit one or more roles or positions within the group and cause undue administrative burden on all parties. 

After thoroughly analyzing the roles included in FAM’s proposed bargaining unit, Miami petitioned SERB with the unit we believe has the greatest shared community of interest and is proper based on legal requirements: full-time, tenured and tenure-track faculty at all Miami campuses.

If the AAUP wins the election, who would speak for the group?

It is likely that only a few faculty members in the represented group will be directly involved in bargaining, grievances, or resolving other issues with the University. Consider whether you want a few people to speak for you or whether you are better off speaking directly for yourself.

Could there be a strike?

A strike is a union’s ultimate leverage to try to gain advantage in bargaining. We cannot say whether or not a strike would happen as a result of bargaining with the AAUP, and we are not saying that it will. If the AAUP gains the right to represent faculty, the University would bargain in good faith – and we presume the AAUP would as well. But, strikes do happen. We certainly hope nothing like that would ever happen at the University. But, when you are considering all of the factors related to unionization, the potential for a strike (and its consequences) should not be ignored. While on strike, faculty members would not be entitled to compensation, nor are they entitled to medical insurance unless they pay for the entire coverage themselves. And, under Ohio law, employees who strike for contract are not entitled to unemployment benefits. Striking employees can be replaced by temporary employees during the strike.

If the union gets representation rights, can the faculty revert to non-union status later?

If a union wins representation rights it can be a difficult and long process to reverse course. First, if a collective bargaining agreement is signed by the union and the University, nothing can be done to disrupt the union’s representation rights during the life of the contract. Most labor contracts have a three-year term.

Once a contract expires, faculty would have to get support of their coworkers and initiate their own petition to the State Employment Relations Board (SERB), supported by at least a 30 percent showing of interest among the faculty, to get a secret ballot election to “decertify” the union. At least 51 percent of voting faculty would need to vote in favor of no longer being unionized. In most cases, this reversal never happens. That’s why it’s critical that all faculty become certain of the facts and how unionization will affect their independence in the Miami community.

How will the bargaining unit be identified and approved?

Now that Miami has submitted objections to SERB outlining what we believe to be the proper bargaining unit, SERB will set a meeting for Miami and FAM to discuss their positions and determine if both parties can agree upon the proposed bargaining unit. If an agreement cannot be met, SERB will set a hearing for both parties to present their cases to a SERB hearing officer, and SERB will make the final determination as to whether the proposed bargaining unit is appropriate and who is eligible to vote in the election. Only after the proposed bargaining unit is determined will SERB issue a notice of election.

When and where will the election take place?

SERB will announce details of the election after the parties agree upon or a SERB hearing officer issues a decision on whether the proposed bargaining unit is appropriate. The notice will include when the election begins and who is eligible to vote for union representation. Recently, SERB has conducted elections via mail-in ballot, and we expect this would also occur for Miami faculty members.

As a faculty member, is there anything I need to do right now?

It’s important that all faculty pay close attention to what’s happening related to this effort. In the meantime, we encourage all faculty to continue to be engaged and informed of the potential impacts of unionization at Miami. This topic deserves extensive discussion: examine the facts, ask questions, engage in conversations with your colleagues, and stay tuned in to relevant updates from the University.

As a faculty member, what do I need to do when there is an election?

It’s critical that all eligible faculty members voice their opinion by voting. An election for representation will be decided by a majority of those who cast a vote. If you don’t vote, you will have no input on this important decision that will have a large impact across Miami.

How Unionization Affects the Faculty Experience

Will a faculty union improve our efforts to hire and retain diverse faculty?

At Miami, each department’s current faculty are responsible for searching for and hiring incoming faculty. The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion also supports each department in recruiting diverse candidates. There is no data to suggest union representation would positively impact the faculty’s ability to recruit or hire diverse faculty, and there are no guarantees in bargaining. Right now, faculty can independently determine how best to attract and hire colleagues. Unionization can change the freedom and flexibility departmental faculty members currently have in the hiring process. 

How does Miami approach attracting and retaining diverse faculty today?

Miami University is committed to and fully embraces the philosophy that a diverse academic community is among an institution’s greatest strengths. We aspire to attract and retain a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students because we firmly believe everyone stands to benefit from a diverse environment. When people from various backgrounds come together, we are more likely to learn from one another, share ideas, and work collaboratively to solve problems.

Miami has taken clear steps to attract and retain a diverse and inclusive faculty. Because current faculty are responsible for hiring faculty within their department, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion provides our faculty with the resources, tools, and skills necessary to bring forward more excellent, diverse candidates. Since September 2021, Miami has provided departmental faculty with guidance on how to express our diversity commitment in their searches and held search committee training sessions that focus on strategies for addressing bias in faculty hiring for nearly 300 committee members on campus. We’ve also partnered with diverse hiring platforms, Insight into Diversity and the National Registry for Minoritized and Strategic Faculty, and made these resources available across the university to ensure faculty positions are posted in places where they reach more diverse candidates. 

These efforts align with our commitment to actively recruit, admit, hire, and retain the widest array of talented students, faculty, and staff, nationally and internationally. According to data from the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness (OIRE), between 2021 and 2022, the university increased the percentages of African American / Black, Hispanic / Latinx, Asian American, and Multiracial full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty. 

According to the same data, our administrative leadership roles have seen a 1.6% increase of African American / Black leaders and 3.3% increase of female leaders from 2021 to 2022. This is in addition to an Executive Cabinet that is 22% African American / Black and 5.5% Hispanic/Latinx -- a significant increase in diversity from past years.

What will AAUP representation cost, and will I be required to pay union dues?

AAUP alone will determine faculty dues. The AAUP website indicates that union dues typically amount to one percent of a faculty member’s annual income. Notably, union dues typically increase each year.

Like all unions, AAUP is a business. If the union wins the election, it will be determined to convince all faculty members in the bargaining unit to become members and pay dues. By law, public sector employees cannot be required to pay union dues. However, if AAUP is successful in gaining representation rights at Miami University, all faculty in the bargaining unit will be represented by the union whether they voted in support of the union or not and whether they choose to pay union dues or not.

Will union representation give faculty more job protection?

Union representation is not needed for job security for faculty. In fact, no tenured or continuing faculty member at Miami has been terminated in recent history. Current policies related to tenure and continuing contracts already provide extensive security and due process to our faculty. Union organizers highlight the perceived lack of job security for Miami’s temporary faculty (or VAPs), but this is a false premise. Temporary faculty are, by their very nature, not intended to hold secure, long-term positions. Again, there are no guarantees in bargaining. Union organizers may be promising increased “job protection,” but any future agreement between the AAUP and the University may – or may not – includes terms related to job security.

Will a union improve my current wages, hours, and working conditions?

There are no guarantees that collective bargaining will result in higher wages or benefits. In bargaining, the represented unit can end up with the same level of wages and benefits, with more in some areas or less in some areas. Unionization may also limit the ability of a faculty member to advocate for themselves to their department chair or dean, as all faculty will be subject to the conditions of any collective bargaining agreement negotiated on their behalf by the union representatives. 

Miami already compares favorably to national averages in faculty salary, and we strive every year to remain competitive. This record shows the University’s commitment to fair and competitive wages and benefits without the need for union representation.

I have heard some union supporters state that union representation will secure better compensation and other benefits for faculty. Is that true?

No. Union representation does not guarantee any specific changes, including changes to compensation or benefits. Union representation gives a union the right to make proposals in the bargaining process. The University would not be required to agree to any specific proposal. The University would bargain in good faith but faces the same constraints in bargaining that it does in making decisions today for all University employees, regardless of their union status, including limitations on funding sources, operational considerations, fiduciary responsibility as a public university, etc.   

The University would go to the bargaining table with those things in mind, as well as the commitment that we have now, and always have had, to fundamental fairness. The Union cannot force the University to agree to proposals it considers unreasonable or not feasible.  If anyone tries to influence your decision regarding union representation with promises of compensation increases, keep in mind there are no guarantees in bargaining.  

Organizers claim that union representation will lead to better salaries and benefits. How have salaries for faculty at Miami compared to those for faculty at other Ohio universities?

Miami University ranks third among all public universities in Ohio in terms of professor salaries from 2020-2021. For the same period, Miami ranks second and first in associate and assistant professor salaries, respectively. Across these three categories, Miami falls behind only one unionized faculty university in pay—$255 less for average professor salaries. 

Ohio State and Miami are the only two public universities in Ohio ranked in the U.S. News and World Report Top 50 public institutions in the country, and both currently have non-unionized faculty. By way of further illustration, take a look at the tables below.

Chronicle of Higher Education from 2020-2021 IPEDS Data (Main Campuses Only)
Professor Salaries
IUC Member Salary
Ohio State University $143,617
University of Cincinnati $129,206
Miami University $128,951
NEOMED $118,108
University of Akron $114,640
Kent State University $111,665
Wright State University $109,753
Cleveland State University $108,327
University of Toledo $107,192
Bowling Green State University $103,848
Ohio University $102,171
Associate Professor Salaries
IUC Member Salary
Ohio State University $99,380
Miami University $97,805
University of Cincinnati $93,246
University of Akron $93,154
University of Toledo $91,339
NEOMED $88,022
Cleveland State University $86,751
Kent State University $86,750
Wright State University $86,544
Bowling Green State University $84,919
Ohio University $82,965
Assistant Professor Salaries
IUC Member Salary
Miami University $91,889
Ohio State University $91,788
NEOMED $84,093
University of Toledo $83,665
University of Akron $82,521
Cleveland State University $81,965
Wright State University $78,294
Ohio University $77,651
University of Cincinnati $74,960
Kent State University $71,644
Bowling Green State University $65,758

Union representation does not guarantee any particular result with respect to salary and/or benefits. As a university, we strive for fairness in wages, benefits, and all working conditions, and the above data illustrates what we have been able to accomplish without union representation. Clearly, union representation has never been needed for Miami to maintain its place as one of the best Ohio universities to work based on many key metrics. Like any public university, we wrestle with certain constraints, including available funding sources and budget. Those are constraints that all universities face, whether their faculty belong to a union or not. If the AAUP were to represent faculty, the University would bargain in good faith. However, we would have to bring those same constraints into consideration in bargaining.

How have raises for faculty at Miami compared to those for unionized faculty in Ohio?

On average, annual raises for faculty members at Miami rank near the top in average salaries among Ohio’s higher education institutions. For example, for the 2018-2019 academic year (the most recent available), among the 165 higher education institutions and campuses in Ohio, Miami ranks third in average salaries, only behind Case Western and Ohio State, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. 

In the last three years, Miami has been named to the Forbes Best-in-State Employers list, which is based on recommendations from employees, who were asked to give their opinions on working conditions, salary, potential for development, and company image regarding their current employer. Miami is the top educational institution on this list for Ohio. No other unionized universities in Ohio made the Forbes list. 

Union representation does not guarantee any particular result on wages.  At Miami, we strive for fairness in compensation, benefits, and all working conditions.  Union representation has never been needed for that. We do have to wrestle with certain constraints, including available funding sources and budget.  Those are constraints for all Universities, whether the faculty belong to a union or not.  If AAUP were to represent the faculty members at Miami, the University would bargain in good faith.  However, we would bring those same fiscal constraints into bargaining consideration. 

What salary increases has Miami University offered faculty over the last 10 years?

There have been assertions that being represented by a union will lead to more frequent or more robust salary increases. At Miami, we have a long history of routine, significant salary improvements. In nine of the past ten years, for example, we have provided salary improvements (the first year of the COVID pandemic being the exception):

  Base Special Merit Total
2012-13 2.0% 0.5% 2.5%
2013-14 2.5% 0.5% 3.0%
2014-15 2.0% 0.5% 2.5%
2015-16 2.5% 0.5% 3.0%
2016-17 3.0% 0.0% 3.0%
2017-18 2.0% 0.0% 2.0%
2018-19 2.0% 0.0% 2.0%
2019-20 2.0% 0.0% 2.0%
2020-21 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
2021-22 2.0% 0.0% 2.0%
Total: 24.3% cumulative salary increment

We also provided almost $4 million in additional salary improvements to align with market trends based on College and University Professionals Association (CUPA) national data, and during the first year of the COVID pandemic when no salary increment was possible, we provided one-time bonuses and professional development funds. If you were a faculty member at Miami over the past ten years, the cumulative salary improvement has been up to 24.3%.

Faculty Rights and Rules of Engagement with Organizers

Are outside union organizers allowed to talk to faculty on campus?

Outside union organizers have the same rights and limitations as any other non-employees to be on campus and communicate; however, they cannot disrupt your teaching, research, or other work activities. Just as you can with any non-employee visitor, you may choose to talk to or not talk to union organizers on your non-work time.

How can I make sure my voice is heard in this decision?

Stay informed and engaged in the discussion with your colleagues. Speak up. All faculty have the right to discuss this important issue with their colleagues as long as all existing rules regarding work time are adhered to. University officials will inform all full-time faculty of the progress of this campaign and ensure everyone is notified if a secret ballot election will be held.

Do faculty have the right to speak about their opinions on unionization?

Yes. Faculty may express their opinions as faculty members as freely as they choose with no concern about discrimination, retaliation, or other adverse actions. We support the right of all faculty to have a robust, open, free, and fair discussion about this important issue.

As a faculty member, are there any rules for how union organizers can engage me on the topic of unionization?

Union organizers are not permitted to interrupt you during your work time. That includes time spent in the classroom or lab teaching, during office hours, or when you are otherwise performing your job duties as a faculty member. If a union organizer has engaged with you, or is trying to engage with you, regarding the organizing effort during work time, please inform your dean and/or department chair.  

During non-working time, union organizers have the right to attempt to engage you about the organizing effort. However, you have the absolute right to tell the organizer you do not wish to discuss this matter, or you may choose to listen, based on your preference.  

What if union organizers are pestering me, or worse, and I’ve already told them to leave me alone—what should I do?

You can and should stand firm in your wishes to engage or not engage with union organizers. It is a shame if your wishes are not respected in that regard, no matter your reasons for not wanting to discuss the organizing effort.

University Budget Process

How does Miami approach budgeting and allocating funds across the university, specifically to departmental budgets and raises for faculty and staff?

Like all higher education institutions, Miami manages multiple, discrete budgets that reflect the various sources of funding and categories of spending made across the university. As part of this process, Miami regularly looks ahead at projections for revenue and costs to inform our investment and spending decisions based on what is needed to deliver on our mission and ensure the long-term financial stability of the institution. Miami follows the financial accounting standards set forth by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) to categorize costs and distinguish funds on hand as either restricted, designated, or unrestricted. This is standard practice within higher education and means that surpluses in our budget do not necessarily equate to having unrestricted funds for use in any cost or investment category. 

Overall responsibility for the development and administration of the Miami University budget rests with the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Services, in collaboration with the President, Provost, vice presidents, and academic deans, with final budget approval ultimately residing with the University Board of Trustees. In this shared responsibility, Miami implements a budgeting methodology known as “responsibility centered management” (RCM). In the RCM environment, all unrestricted revenues are allocated to the academic colleges and schools (including the regional campuses). In consultation with these colleges and schools, the Office of the Provost will make decisions about their specific budgets. With revenue generation and cost management decentralized into the colleges and schools, the economics of the institution are more transparent, and accountability is diffused across numerous decision makers.  

Regarding salary increases, Miami aims to provide salary increases whenever our budget responsibly supports this action. Every spring, the university evaluates changes in the new year’s revenue and costs to determine what salary adjustments are feasible, if any, and communicates the proposed salary adjustments in the spring with the understanding that they must be adopted by the Board of Trustees as part of the annual budget process.

Why isn’t the entire 2021 budget surplus shared back with faculty and staff in the form of salary / merit increases or increased departmental budget?

As part of our budgetary process, Miami regularly looks ahead at projected revenue and costs to inform our investment and spending decisions based on what is needed to ensure the university’s long-term financial stability. This process helps ensure we manage our budgets in alignment with the university’s long-term plans by placing guidelines around using funds earned or received in one category to address needs or investments in another category. 

This provides the opportunity for sustainable growth, while ensuring we have the resources necessary to cover existing costs and protect funds planned for other important initiatives critical to the university’s academic mission. Using this approach, a 4% salary increase is planned for July 2022.

It is important to keep in mind that almost 70% of the defined surplus is individually held by the provost, deans, vice presidents, department heads, and individual faculty of the university to help cover the costs of our operations and provide the funds necessary for future academic investments. Salary increases require recurring funds. Using centrally held, one-time funds (like income through investments) for a recurring cost (such as permanent salary increases) is not a prudent financial decision.

How does Miami University approach faculty salary increases today?

Miami University continually monitors wage trends and pays highly competitive wages benchmarked on College and University Professional Association (CUPA) data. We provide salary increases when our budget supports this action as a responsible move without damaging the future of the University. To improve salaries and benefits, we need $6 million of permanent new revenue every time we award a 2% salary increase. Every spring, the university evaluates these factors to determine what salary adjustments are feasible, if any, and communicates any changes in the April – June timeframe. Additionally, we already compare faculty wages to national data by discipline, and attempt to match wages in disciplines at similar elite institutions. Our benefits are superior to most public institutions (and many private institutions). The University must ensure compensation is sustainably managed and balanced against actual resources. If you compare faculty compensation at Miami with unionized universities in Ohio, such as Wright State, Kent State, and others, you will see Miami already compares favorably in salary, benefits, and many other metrics.

Other Questions

What happened with the Visiting Assistant Professor (VAP) positions in February 2020?

Positions categorized as Visiting Assistant Professors all operate on nine-month contracts that begin in August and expire at the end of our academic fiscal year in May, with very rare exceptions. Each summer, prior to the beginning of the academic school year, Miami evaluates the number of temporary instructional staff we will need to accommodate student needs and demand for the upcoming academic year. We look at a multitude of factors, including enrollment and tenure or tenure-track faculty research leave status. In 2020, there was a dip in enrollment, caused by students deferring or pausing their college journey because of the pandemic, leading to a decreased demand for this support. Due to travel restrictions, we also deferred 60 tenure or tenure-track research leaves planned for the academic year. All departments received the visiting faculty they requested. Typically about half of VAP faculty find other positions and do not seek to return the next fiscal year.

In 2019, there were 252 full-time VAPs, all with one-year or nine-month contracts. In 2020, we hired 107 (or 145 fewer). In 2021, we hired 151. During the same time period, TCPL faculty increased from 158 to 182 despite the smaller incoming class. Based on approved hires for Fall 2022, we expect this number to increase to 196. This is a 24.1% increase.

Throughout this time, no tenured or tenure-track faculty positions were eliminated, and Miami University honored the full contract for all other instructors.