IFO President '18-'19 End of Year Update

The IFO’s work for the 2018-2019 academic year has wrapped up and we have switched gears to begin planning for the 2019-2020 academic year. While attending my 30th commencement ceremony in May, I was reminded of the transformational work faculty are achieving every day with our students and the central role our universities play in the regions we serve. The biggest surprise for my first year as your president is how often I am compelled to underscore the teaching and learning process and how faculty work in our five criteria of Article 22 promotes the vitality of our institutions. The work of faculty, the success stories of our students, and the positive impact of the state universities need to be told and advocated for.

We began this academic year with the uncertainty of a post-Janus environment and a lawsuit filed against the IFO that challenges our first amendment right to assemble and also threatens our ability to collectively bargain for better working conditions. This uncertainty and the existential threats to unions has served to unify our members and reaffirm the powerful advantage of a collective voice. I am proud to announce our membership is up and our collective voice is strong. We still have work to do but I would like to thank all the Faculty Association Presidents and Action Committee for their hard work and one on one conversations about the IFO and the work we do on behalf of all faculty.

The MinnState Board of Trustees’ initiative, Reimagining MinnState and the future of higher education, is reaching the conclusion of phase one. Any deliberation of what is best for higher education, students, and our institutions should have at its core, consideration from faculty, the experts on teaching and learning. Thank you to all the faculty that participated and provided essential feedback about the emerging trends being experienced on our campuses and we all owe our gratitude to IFO Academic Affairs Coordinator, Becky Omdahl, for her work and report that reflects the faculty interests. As the next phase evolves, the IFO is committed to protecting the things faculty value most, academic freedom, control of the curriculum, tenure, and what is best for our institutions.

Following the 2018 Delegate Assembly, the IFO adopted a caucus structure that has effectively begun to engage more of our members and empower them in ways that we previously did not. A heartfelt thank you to all the faculty on the campuses that organized and attended caucus meetings. A special thanks to IFO Caucus Coordinator, Kim Park Nelson, for her tireless work, her invaluable consultation to our organization, and her friendship. This transition has had a very successful first year, but our shared work isn’t complete, we must commit to continue this work and expand our efforts. The IFO will be better for it.

Finally, I would like to thank you for the invitations to your campuses and I greatly appreciate the warm welcome I received during my visits. It has been extremely gratifying for me to meet so many faculty and I have been inspired by our unity and the valuable work being done.

Take care and enjoy your summer, I look forward to seeing you in August.