To: Florida Polytechnic University Board of Trustees and Florida SUS Board of Governors
Stand with the faculty and students at Florida Polytechnic University
As students, parents, alumna, and supporters of Florida Polytechnic University and public higher education, we believe that recent decisions by top administrators undermine FPU’s potential to achieve its vision* of becoming a world-renowned “University of Innovation.” They further contradicts the FPU mission** to:
prepare 21st century learners in advanced fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to become innovative problem-solvers and high-tech professionals through interdisciplinary teaching, leading-edge research and collaborative local, regional and global partnerships.
No institution of higher learning can thrive without meaningful input from students, faculty and the community. Silencing the voices of students, staff and faculty through intimidation and unjust firings by top administrators will not be tolerated by the broader FPU family or the public.
We, the other FPU stakeholders, have serious concerns about the following actions by the administration and feel they are hampering the university’s great potential. Our concerns include, but are not limited to the following:
•The lack of corrective action regarding the substantiated claims in the anonymous letter regarding the “toxic” environment***
•The repeated dismissive reactions to staff, faculty, and student concerns
•abrupt terminations of several staff who supported students and spoken up about mismanagement (these staff were not let go “for cause”)
•The abrupt termination of the only on-campus counselor and the outsourcing of student mental health counseling services without a sufficient transition plan to ensure continuity of care***** (the Wellness Counselor was not let go “for cause”)
•The abrupt termination of the Assistant Librarian (the only librarian was not let go “for cause”), and the
•The non-renewal of outspoken United Faculty of Florida leaders****** who have called for accountability and fair processes on campus (the non-renewed Engineering faculty are award winning teaching faculty and top grant earners; they were not let go “for cause”).
With all of this in mind, we ask you to:
1)Reverse the terminations of the on-site counseling position and the assistant librarian, the non-renewals of Engineering faculty, and a host of support staff who were terminated for arbitrary and/or retaliatory reasons.
2)Reverse the outsourcing of full time on-campus mental health services and utilize the expertise of SUS mental health experts to return to a model that has both on-campus full-time counselors and supplemental care.
Concerned students, parents, and supporters of Florida Polytechnic University.
Petition started by Joanne McCall, President of the Florida Education Association
& Karen Morian, President of the United Faculty of Florida
****http://www.theledger.com/news/20180506/anonymous-employee-letter-asserts-toxic-environment-at-florida-poly and http://www.theledger.com/news/20180522/florida-poly-audit-committee-to-review-investigative-report-after-employee-letter-asserts-toxic-environment
*****https://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/At-Florida-Poly-a-student-suicide-and-a-question-Could-it-have-been-prevented-_170583324 and https://neatoday.org/2018/08/16/campus-suicide-cutting-mental-health-staff/
******See two Unfair Labor Practice charges and public comments here: http://www.uff-floridapoly.org/news.shtml
Why is this important?
As you may have seen in the news, Florida Polytechnic University’s administration has recently opted to eliminate the positions of Librarian and Wellness Counselor. Consequently, they laid off the only employee on campus with intimate knowledge of the digital library’s day-to-day operations, as well as the sole licensed mental health counselor on a remote campus. Part of a larger trend, these were the seventh and eighth in a series of lay-offs and terminations since the end of the spring semester that appears aimed at staff who have spoken about safety problems, legal and ethical issues, and other problems plaguing the university.
These and other actions have created a toxic atmosphere in which faculty and staff do not feel it is safe to speak up on pertinent issues related to their job. While the union has tried time and time again to work with the administration, it has become increasingly clear that improving the work environment is not in their best interests.
Given that Florida Polytechnic University is a public institution with the mission of serving the students and public in the state of Florida, these actions raise questions about the true priorities of the administration: Is it truly their mission to provide the best possible learning and research environment? Or is their goal to silence critics?