The members consist of UTB and TSC faculty.
“We engage with faculty if there is a problem with administration, for example,” Terence Garrett, a UTB government professor and president of the Texas Brownsville United Faculty local chapter, said about the chapter. “There’s a lot of uncertainty with what is going to happen with UT-RGV. There’s no guarantee that the faculty will even have tenure.”
Garrett said that with the UTB and TSC split last year, more than 250 faculty and staff lost their jobs.
“People with tenure thought they were safe before the split and they weren’t, and tenure wasn’t the most important consideration,” he said.
About 30 of the 40 members of the local chapter are UTB faculty, and the rest are TSC faculty.
Asked why not all professors at UTB are members of the association, Garrett replied: “I have done everything I can to try to get the word out for them to join. Tell them how it’s in their best interest, how we can work better as a group if they join the association because there is power in numbers.”
The Texas Faculty Association is a “nonprofit organization that formed in 1985 to protect the rights of higher education faculty and support staff,” according to its website. “It is dedicated to academic freedom, collegiality across all faculty ranks, faculty participation in governance, and continued improvement of teaching, scholarship and creativity in every college, university and postsecondary institution in Texas.”
Garrett said that in joining the organization, members get legal protection when an event like the separation of UTB and TSC happens.
Marvin Lovett, a business administration senior lecturer and interim vice president of the chapter, was laid off as a result of the split.
“There were quite of number of reasons, it was quite inconsistent,” Lovett said he was given for being laid off. “Of course, the original reasoning was because of the reduction in force … just because they felt there were just not as much people needed. Unfortunately, that was one of the decisions that was questionable. They didn’t really put a lot of emphasis on traditional variables that we usually use when we make these decisions, such as rank and tenure and teaching and research and service. They were just kind of ignored.”
He was out of work from June to November 2013.
Lovett appealed his termination and during a hearing on campus last fall, a TFA attorney presented his case in front of faculty members.
Lovett said he could not divulge the specifics of the settlement reached with the university but he was reinstated in Fall 2013.
Lovett currently teaches principles of marketing, principles of management and consumer behavior courses.
TFA Executive Director Mary Aldridge Dean attended the March 22 meeting and said that UTB faculty members are looking forward to the UT System Symposium to be held April 24 in the Rio Grande Valley.
A February newsletter from Julio León, the special adviser hired by the UT System to help plan the new university and medical school in the Valley, states the symposium “will be a major event where the recommendations of working groups, external consultants and others will be presented to UT System leaders. … The April Symposium will present the first glimpse of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.”
“The UT System is supposed to give the faculty an outline of what the new University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley is going to look like,” Dean said. “A lot of people at UTB are concerned with what happened when the split with Texas Southmost [College] because I think, basically, they don’t trust the university system.”
Dean said UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa grabbed people’s attention when he spoke to UTB faculty about tenure on Feb. 26.
“When the UTB folks talked to Cigarroa and they asked him flat out: ‘Is our tenure going to carry over?’ he said, ‘Well, legally we won’t have to recognize tenure,’” Dean said.
She also referred to Section Four of Senate Bill 24, which authorized the University of Texas System board of regents to abolish UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American and create UT-RGV, which states: “In recognition of the abolition of The University of Texas--Pan American and The University of Texas at Brownsville as authorized by this Act, the board of regents shall facilitate the employment at the university created by this Act of as many faculty and staff of the abolished universities as is prudent and practical.”
Dean said, “So you start adding the little pieces of we will keep whoever is ‘practical and … prudent’ to we don’t have to recognize tenure, and people are upset.”
Garrett said university administration does not recognize the Texas Brownsville United Faculty as a faculty organization.
“They don’t recognize our group, they don’t recognize any faculty group on this campus,” he said. “We have lobbied, we have tried to get them to recognize and they refuse to do so. … It’s very discriminatory.”
He said that UTB and UTPA chapters of TFA might join once the universities are merged.
“We are probably going to merge with the Pan American United Faculty because we are going to be one faculty and they have a large chapter. … They have over 200 members, so they have a powerful voice on campus,” Garrett said.
The association’s UTB chapter will meet at 1 p.m. April 25 at Kaero’s Restaurant, 3090 Pablo Kisel Blvd.
Faculty can join the TFA by visiting its website at tfaonline.net.