By Alex Espinosa
Michael Soupios, professor of political science, has replaced Harvey Kushner, professor of criminal justice, as the president of the faculty union. Kushner had been president of the union for over a decade. Although Soupios had not planned to take over this position, he said that he was persuaded by a member of his department to run.
Soupios faces a host of challenges in his new position. Many faculty members were denied tenure, reappointment and promotion at the end of the spring semester, he said. On behalf of the union, he filed between 12 to 15 grievances against the university in just one month over the summer.
Willie Hiatt, associate professor of Latin American history, and a member of the union’s executive board, confirmed that only three out of nine faculty members were awarded tenure last spring. He also confirmed that 15 faculty members will be eliminated in August 2019.
Soupios stated that many of these faculty terminations have little to do with teaching reviews and were in reality administrative
decisions. “The administration has essentially declared war on the faculty members,” Soupios said, and their excuse for this is that the economy is changing.
“The university will end up losing a lot of good professors who care about the students,” Soupios said.
“What has happened at Post just since commencement underscores the importance of a unified faculty,” Hiatt added. “We’ve seen yet another attack on tenure and promotion, the elimination of almost all probationary faculty over the summer, the attempted downsizing of three additional colleges as money-saving measures, the elimination of faculty stipends, and on and on. None of this is particularly surprising considering that our incoming class was only around 570 students. Financially, this is a critical moment for the university,” Hiatt said.
Dr. Barbara Fowles, a professor and former chairperson of the department of communications & film, is happy that Soupios has taken over as the new union president. “I am very pleased that he took on the job, he is a good guy, he is very ethical and he is working very hard, especially with the people who were denied tenure,” she said.
“I’m hoping he’ll do what he is doing, which is to engage the academic vice president about these faculty decisions,” she continued. “It seems like a lot of the [promotion and tenure] decisions are being made without the faculty input and that the administration is effectively getting rid of a lot of the younger faculty members,” Fowles said. She added that the administration seems interested in providing faculty with one year contracts because it gives them more flexibility to get rid of people teaching in programs with low enrollments.