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UW-River Falls union seeks dialog with chancellor

United Falcons, the UW-River Falls chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, presented to the administration a set of proposals to address long-term pay issues and resulting lowered morale, according to Kurt Leichtle, president of the union.

Signed by more than 120 of the campus's faculty and academic staff, the petition addresses ways to improve the campus climate in the face of budget cuts that have resulted in the lowering of faculty salaries and made it more difficult to recruit new faculty. If qualified faculty are not willing to teach and positions are unfilled, classes must be cut, or class size increased, both of which have a negative impact on students, Leichtle said.

Several items on the list of proposals to be discussed have low to no cost, such as allowing faculty to cover each other's courses when one is ill, rather than cancelling the class, and providing reduced tuition to the children of faculty and academic staff, a benefit at many colleges and universities nationwide. "We look forward to discussing these important issues with our administration and working together for the benefit of the entire UWRF campus community," Leichtle said.

The petition also proposes offering multi-year contracts to academic staff instructors to ensure consistent and high quality instruction for students, according to Math lecturer Coni Gehler. "Students deserve to be taught by experienced instructors with a commitment to UWRF and the local community, but the university's current policy discourages our best and brightest from staying," Gehler said.

United Falcons, formed in 2011, recently nominated its first slate of candidates to hold two-year officer positions. They are Coni Gehler, president; Kate Maude, vice president; Dr. Kurt Leichtle, treasurer; Dr. Glenn Spiczak, recording secretary; and Dr. John Heppen, secretary. Ballots will be counted at the end of the month.