December 08, 2007


With more students, fewer professors —

College group seeks more full-time faculty


Bob Ellis/staff photographer   
SUNY Cortland professor Bill Buxton, chair of the college’s Literacy Department, teaches a class Wednesday afternoon. Buxton and about 25 other professors are requesting the college make hiring more full-time professors its top priority. A recent study found that from 1981 to 2005 the number of tenured faculty at SUNYCortland decreased by 14 percent, from 270 to 233, and the number of students increased by 16 percent, from 6,070 to 7,224.

Staff Reporter

SUNY Cortland economics professor Howard Botwinick thinks there are three things a college teacher should do: teach, research and serve.
But with more students and fewer tenured teachers, it is becoming harder to accomplish, he said.
“You can’t do the same job as you did before,” Botwinick said.
And it’s not just at SUNY _Cortland.
There is a national trend and it is a concern in all public universities in New York.
The state is taking action by proposing that any tuition increase go toward hiring 1,000 full-time faculty statewide, Botwinick said.
At the Cortland campus, the SUNY Cortland Concerned Teaching Faculty, a group of 74 members, formed to address this and other issues among tenure-track faculty about two years ago.
The group presented a nonbinding resolution to the Faculty Senate Nov. 27, which the senate approved.
It requests that hiring full-time faculty be the college’s top priority and that no new nonteaching positions be created until 65 percent of courses are taught by full-time tenure-track faculty by 2010. In comparison, about 50 percent of classes have tenure-track faculty.
The resolution cited a study that Larry Ashley, president of the Cortland Chapter of United University Professions and a member of the faculty group, did for the January-February issue of the chapter’s newsletter. 
It showed that from 1981 to 2005 the number of tenured faculty decreased by 14 percent from 270 to 233 and the number of students increased by 16 percent from 6,070 to 7,224.
The student-to-tenured-teacher ratio in 1981 was 22.5 to 1 and by 2005 the ratio was 33 to 1. It would be necessary to add 88 tenured faculty members to return to the same ratio, the study pointed out.
The beginning salary for a tenured associate professor is from $44,000 to $45,000.
Botwinick is part of the concerned faculty group and one of the 25 or so tenured faculty members who started the group. William Buxton, Literacy Department chair, said there is no formal organization with officers, but some members are more active than others and there is a steering committee.
“It was formed because of the perception that faculty were losing their traditional role at the college,” said Mel King, another member and an associate professor of psychology.
“A lot of us feel we can’t deliver the current programs that we have,” said Botwinick.
He said before new initiatives are undertaken the current programs have to be adequately funded.
The economics professor said although a typical load for teaching is three classes a week, on top of that are office hours and two to three hours of preparation daily, including keeping current in one’s field. This required teaching time quickly adds up to almost 30 hours and does not include grading, another component of teaching.
Botwinick said he spends eight to 10 days grading essay tests for about 100 students. He said he usually gives three essay tests each semester.
Advising students also is included in the tenured position — sometimes 50 a semester, compared with around 25 when the college was better staffed, Botwinick said.
“It’s rare to have two or three weekends off (a semester),” said Botwinick, adding at least one weekend day he spends reading to make a class interesting or staying current.
“If we can’t do an adequate job teaching, then everything else suffers,” Botwinick said.
On top of everything else is the pressure to publish, he said.
“That’s where the breaks and vacations come in,” said Botwinick.
Once faculty members receive tenure, after seven years they are given the opportunity to catch up on research during a sabbatical.
Service also suffers. Botwinick said educators want to have time to get involved in governance, such as joining an important committee meeting. Instead, administrators often step in and do the job, but they have different priorities. College faculty should have major control of curriculum and educational programming, he said.
King said it’s tempting for administrators to hire adjunct professors who are paid less. Ashley said adjuncts or part-time lecturers — with or without a doctorate — are paid $2,500 a course.
He said SUNY Cortland has created full-time lecturer positions that currently pay $33,180, and allows part-timers who have stayed with the college for several years a chance to advance.
He said all the positions were filled soon after this was done in the 1999-2000 academic year. The positions equal 20 percent of faculty members within each of the three schools (Arts & Sciences, Education and Professional Studies) on campus.
“This is a major battle. It’s not that the administration is unsympathetic to this,” Botwinick said.
Ashley noted that SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum has identified the need for more tenure-track faculty as the first priority with state budgeting. “It has to happen at the state level,” Ashley said.
“There is not a department on campus that could not use a position,” Bitterbaum said. “They definitely need assistance,” he said of the tenured faculty.
Bitterbaum said some departments that have many majors, such as childhood/early childhood education could use up to 10 new tenured teachers.
“I am hopeful the new budget will have dollars to hire new faculty,” Bitterbaum said.
He said state funds, a tuition increase or a large endowed gift would be needed to hire additional faculty.
“Sitting on the Faculty Senate I realize this is what the campus needs, but it may not be a priority because of the budget,” said junior Aaron Marsh, Student Government Association president.




Teamsters win BorgWarner union vote

Staff Reporter

More than 1,000 BorgWarner Morse TEC employees at the company’s Cortlandville and Ithaca plants will soon be represented by a new union, unless their current union files objections in the next seven days.
A majority of workers voted Friday to switch from the International Association of Machinists Local 2001 to the Teamsters Local 317.
According to Chris Roach, the National Labor Relations Board agent in charge of Friday’s vote, 993 out of 1,038 eligible voters voted Friday. The vote was 534 for the Teamsters to 459 for the Machinists.
BorgWarner workers have been represented by the Machinists for about the last 65 years. They are starting the fifth year of a five-year contract with the union.
After the third year of a contract another union is able to try to get workers to join its union, which the Teamsters had done.
BorgWarner employees recently interviewed cited frustration with the Machinists. They said the union charges too much money in dues without pushing for the best benefits and looking into workers’ concerns.
An initial vote took place Nov. 16, at which workers had three choices: switch over to the Teamsters, stay with the Machinists or go non-union, which BorgWarner executives were pushing.
No majority winner resulted, forcing Friday’s vote between the top two vote-getters. At the Nov. 16 vote, 397 workers voted for the Teamsters, 393 the Machinists and 215 no union.
If the Machinists file no objection to Friday’s vote within the next week, the National Labor Relations Board will certify the Teamsters as the workers’ new union, said Paul Murphy, assistant director for the board’s Buffalo office.
Bargaining will then begin between the Teamsters and BorgWarner. Murphy said he is not sure how long that will take — bargaining can take as little as a couple of days or as much as a couple of years, he said.
Once a contract is drawn up it will replace the Machinists contract, he said.
Murphy said while bargaining takes place union workers will keep their Machinists benefits.



Local company on move to Ithaca

WetStone Technologies’ growth results in shift to new office space

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — A technology company that has operated from a Main Street building since 2001 is headed to the town of Ithaca.
WetStone Technologies is moving from 17 Main St. to an office at the Cornell Business & Technology Park on Warren Road north of Route 13.
The company, which researches, develops and sells products to target cyber crime, had crews move furniture and equipment out of the building Friday.
A few of the company’s 21 employees will spend the rest of the year finalizing operations at the Cortland office, while the rest of the company’s employees will start working in Ithaca on Monday.
All 21 employees will be working in Ithaca as of Jan. 1.
Chet Hosmer, vice president of WetStone Technologies, which opened in Cortland seven years ago, said the company had been looking for a new location for about a year.
It has outgrown its 4,000-square-foot office on the second floor of the McNeil Building, Hosmer said, with plans to add nine to 14 more employees by the end of this year.
The Ithaca office space, which the company is leasing, totals 6,000 square feet, while 4,000 square feet of adjacent space is expected to open up within the next year for the company to lease as well.
Hosmer said the company was also looking for a location close to a commercial airport because many of its staff regularly fly for business. “Primarily we used the Syracuse airport to go out,” Hosmer said, noting it is out of the way.
The Cornell Business & Technology Park is right next to the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport.
Hosmer said the company looked at many locations within 30 to 40 miles of Cortland, including in Cortland, before deciding on the location in Ithaca.
He said it was unfortunate Cortland did not work out, since it has been a nice place to do business.
The company wanted to stay in Central New York to be close to universities and the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, which provides the company with contracts, Hosmer said.
Increasing sales and expected growth is driving the need for nine to14 new employees who will work as engineers, salespeople and marketers, Hosmer said.




County awards $605,500 in courthouse bids

Project’s second phase will renovate law library space on the building’s third floor

Staff Reporter

The county Legislature awarded the bids for Phase II of the County Courthouse renovation project Thursday, and the total price should be about $605,000.
The Legislature also approved a supplemental space needs study for the County Office Building, not to exceed a price of $20,000.
Both measures had been passed by a joint meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee and General Services Committee preceding the special legislative session Thursday night.
The bid for general construction was awarded to Bellows Construction Specialties of Syracuse for $367,500; heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems were awarded to Petcosky and Sons of Binghamton for $112,895; and the bid for electrical was awarded to Ithacor Management of Cortland for $110,300.
The final bid for the plumbing has not been awarded to a specific firm, but rather to the “lowest bidder licensed to do business within the city of Cortland at the time work is to be performed.”
County Administrator Scott Schrader said plumbers are required to be licensed to perform work in the city and that the $8,000 lowest bidder, Daniel J. D’Amico Plumbing and Heating of Geneva, was not licensed and was not interested in becoming licensed in Cortland.
The next lowest bidder, Petcosky and Sons at $14,600, is in the process of becoming licensed in the city.
The county has $957,000 budgeted for the work, but Schrader told the legislators that only about $350,000 would fall to the county, the rest being picked up by the state Office of Court Administration.
Phase II would have to be substantially completed in March, at the end of the state’s fiscal year, in order to qualify for the state funding.
Russ Oechsle, district executive for the Sixth Judicial District Administrative Office, told the Legislature that after 10 years of discussion and five years of design work, the state was expecting these renovations to last for the expected 15 years. The last substantial renovations were completed in the 1980s and Oechsle characterized them as “extremely successful.”
“We tend to try to do long-term planning on the facilities,” Oechsle told the legislators.




Public hearing set on C’ville zoning

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — The Town Board has scheduled public hearings later this month for the town’s revised zoning ordinance and changes to the fire protection code.
Both will be held at 5 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Raymond G. Thorpe Municipal Building on Terrace Road, and Town Supervisor Dick Tupper said the hearings would likely be followed by a board vote.
A revised town zoning ordinance has been in development for more than five years and was approved in 2005, only to be struck down in February 2006 on a technicality in a civil suit brought by a local environmental group.
A Supreme Court justice ruled that the town did not hold a required public hearing before passing the ordinance.
Following the ruling, the town Planning Board and the environmental group, Citizens for Aquifer Protection and Employment, began revising the proposed ordinance.
Tupper contends that a public hearing could have been held and the zoning ordinance passed immediately after the ruling in the court case and that the further revisions were unnecessary.
“We kept going back and forth, over a year back and forth, adding stuff, taking stuff out, and it just got to the point that we decided it was the town’s zoning ordinance and the Town Board should decide what would be in it,” Tupper said Thursday morning.
The latest version was drawn up in May by the town’s engineering firm, Clough Harbour & Associates.
The Town Board is the lead agency for the revisions, and the recommendations of the county Planning Department and the town Planning Board have been received and no further action is required by those bodies.
The changes in the document include revising the zoning map — for example, a stretch of residential zoning along Route 281, across from the Country Inn & Suites — as well as an expansion of the types of zoning classifications in the town.
Instead of just a business designation, the proposed ordinance now provides for B-1, B-2 and B-3 districts; the industrial classification has been expanded to I-1 and I-2, for light and heavy industrial operations, respectively; and expansion from two residential designations to three.
There would be two wellhead protection districts added to the town, which base the amount of allowable impervious surface on the distance of a property from the town’s municipal drinking water wells.