I was honored to join with TAU members Jaafar Hachem and Kristie Bailey in addressing the board of trustees meeting today. As we prepare to bargain with the administration in a collaborative manner, we thought it best to introduce the Board to the TAU. While Jaafar and Kristie spoke of their individual experiences as members of the Teaching Assistants Union, I provided a macro view of TA importance. Below are my remarks.
My name is Eric Denby and I am proud to be the president of the Teaching Assistants Union. I am proud to represent the 497 teaching assistants on campus. In the next few weeks, we will begin negotiating our contract with the administration. I am excited for this opportunity.
By investing in teaching assistants we have the unique opportunity to not only improve our graduate programs but also to invest in undergraduate students, whose success is critical to the academic and financial health of this university. Every dollar you spend in graduate assistantships has an exponential impact on our core mission.
TAU IS Learner Centered
We teach more than 25% of all undergraduate students, more than 23% of undergraduate courses, and are responsible for more than 18% of all undergraduate credit hours. Just last spring, our TAs had 25,914 students in their classrooms and taught a total of 871 courses.
TAU IS Discovery Driven
Our world class faculty is benefiting humanity in ways yet unknown with their research - We empower them to do this important work by helping to teach our many undergraduate students.
TAU IS Globally Engaged
More than 25% of teaching assistants are international students bringing diverse cultural experiences into our classrooms. International students add unique perspective to our campus, yet they also experience unique challenges which we hope we can work together to address.
However, I am concerned, as we have 25 fewer teaching assistants this year compared to last. This divestment in our graduate program is disheartening and needs to be reversed. If we are to truly be learner centered, discovery driven, and globally engaged, then the training of future academics and advanced professionals must be made a budget priority.
Although labor negotiations are often seen as adversarial in nature, I pledge to you that TAU will approach this process with a collaborative attitude as we hope to create a stronger institution for the future.