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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Academics & Research

Teaching fellows’ voices heard


The English department’s teaching fellows have made their voices heard by the administration, requesting a re-consideration of a wages, and President Renu Khator has responded, saying she will take the necessary actions to make their requests a reality in a statement to the UH community.

A chalked statement outside of Ezekiel W. Cullen building advertises the English teaching fellows’ campaign to attain a raise. |  Nichole Taylor/The Daily Cougar

A chalked statement outside of Ezekiel W. Cullen building advertises the English teaching fellows’ campaign to attain a raise. | Nichole Taylor/The Daily Cougar

Khator said she was away celebrating the birth of her granddaughter for the last ten days, but was immediately briefed on the goings-on in her absence. She said the budget restrictions make it difficult for any immediate salary adjustment.

“While decisions related to TF and TA salaries are entirely under the domain of the colleges and departments based upon their priorities,” Khator said, “I understand that colleges’ decisions may be shaped by budgetary allocations from the University.”

While the president’s office does not directly control individual salaries, Khator said she will allocate funds to the deans, along with the provost, who will decide how the money is distributed.

“Funding will come from monies designated to support our broad commitment to student success,” Khator said. “This pool of money will provide assistance to TFs and TAs, whose salaries are most compressed and who teach undergraduate CORE classes.”

Secondarily, Khator said she will create a “university-wide task force on Graduate Assistant Success.”

The TFs sent an email to members of the press acknowledging Khator’s statement. They said they appreciate the promise to take action and now wait on College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dean John Roberts to find out more details.

“We are waiting on a concrete wage adjustment figure from Dean Roberts, who has been working closely with us throughout this process,” the TFs said in the email.

While they wait to hear more details, the sit-ins have been suspended, according to the email.

“We are incredibly hopeful and experiencing a great deal of support from the administration,” the TFs said in the email. “We have contacted Dean Roberts in order to find out when he will be able to allocate the funds given to him by President Khator.”

At the end of her letter to the UH community, Khator said the provost asked for an external review of the English Department—the last one was nine years ago.

“The review will help the dean and provost evaluate competitive information, learn best practices, get advice from aspirational peers, show accountability to the public, and help rectify not just the wage issue, but all issues related to the learning and working environment of the teaching fellows and teaching assistants,” Khator said.

Additional reporting by Zachary Burton.

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