Kent State Trustees Ratify Faculty Contract
3-year agreement includes 2 percent raises each contract year
Full-time, tenure track faculty at Kent State University have a new contract today following more than a year of negotiations with university administrators.
The Kent State Board of Trustees held a special meeting this morning at the new College of Podiatric Medicine in Independence, OH, to approve the new contract, which members of the American Association of University Professors Kent State chapter ratified in July.
The three-year contract starts Aug. 23 and expires in August 2015.
Under the terms, faculty will get an across the board 2 percent increase applied retroactively to the start of the 2011-2012 academic year. Faculty are guaranteed a 2 percent raise each remaining year of the contract.
The trustees voted unanimously to approve the contract following a closed-door meeting that lasted about 20 minutes this morning.
Jacqueline Woods, chair of the trustees board, said she didn't want people to think the brief meeting was indicative of the board's attention to the overall negotiations.
"This group of trustees has been involved with this contract since May 2011," Woods said.
The contract negotiations proved tense at times. In May, faculty members started to circulate a petition that would have led to a no confidence vote in Kent State President Lester Lefton. The petitions calling for the no-confidence vote were never actually presented to the university's faculty senate for action.
Members of Kent State's AAUP chapter voted 414-31 to approve this new three-year contract on July 19 — that's 93 percent of its members.
One university official said that margin of approval indicates only a small minority were frustrated with the lengthy negotiations process.
Eric Mintz, an associate professor of biological sciences and the chief negotiatior for the faculty union, said the AAUP members were pleased to have the contract in place.
"With the fall semester upon us, the faculty members are looking forward to working with the administration to provide the best possible education for our students and enhancing the visibility of Kent State as an internationally recognized research university," Mintz said in a statement released by the university.
At this morning's meeting, Lefton also briefly addressed the lengthy negotiations by saying such a time period is common place.
"It takes some times a year, a year and-a-half to do these things," he said.
The contract also includes annual merit increases for faculty members to be determined via reviews at the department level. The agreement calls for a 1.4 percent poll for merit awards in the first year and a 1.3 percent merit pool in the last two years.
Other highlights of the contract changes include:
- Medical premiums will increase from 14 percent to 16 percent in 2013 for employees at the median university salary. Premiums will rise to 17 percent for 2014 and 2015.
- Lefon's office will convene a commission to make a recommendation on a paid parental leave policy. Faculty will be allowed to use three weeks of sick leave as paid parental leave in the interim.
- A new university-level handbook will be created by a committee with broad representation, including faculty.
Todd Diacon, Kent State's new provost, said he enjoyed working through the contract negotiation process with faculty.
"To me it's a fair and positive recognition of our faculty," he said of the new contract.