Members of the Faculty Senate fired question after question about Marco Rubio’s teaching position to University Provost Ken Furton.
Furton, former dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said he appointed Marco Rubio in 2011 as a senior fellow and co-instructor. He said Michael Heithaus, dean of CAS, and John Stack, professor and SIPA director, renewed Rubio’s contract in 2014.
Rubio, a presidential candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination, taught Florida Politics.
David Park, associate professor in Advertising and Public Relations, asked about the hiring process and whether it included a search committee or was an appointment.
Furton said the idea to appoint Rubio came from faculty within the School of International and Public Affairs.
Rubio took the part-time $69,000 teaching job, which was unadvertised, as he left the Florida Legislature because of term limits. After he became a U.S. Senator and started traveling the country as a star of the Republican party and potential presidential candidate, he continued teaching two days a week until April 2015, earning $23,448 last year in addition to his $174,000 salary as a U.S. Senator.
The University agreed to pay Rubio $69,000 for 2009, but as his U.S. Senate campaign against Charlie Crist consumed more of his time, that was reduced to $40,000.
“How do we justify paying him as much as we do to teach one course?” asked Amy Paul-Ward, associate professor in the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “I know there are qualified adjuncts in our school who we have trouble paying $3,000 to teach a course.”
“It’s a title that’s more than just teaching.” Furton said.
Neil Reisner, associate professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication, brought up that Rubio missed 23 of the Senate’s 29 votes since the first Republican debate of the 2016 election cycle and asked if the University is getting its money’s worth.
Furton said Rubio teaches the class he’s assigned to teach and meets with students as part of the senior fellow appointment.
“We evaluate all of that,” Furton said. “And his teacher evaluations are good, for what it’s worth.”
Reisner also wondered if the University was “on a slippery slope” because he said Rubio’s position could be seen as an endorsement.
Furton said he doesn’t think it’s an endorsement and “we just have to be careful there’s a separation.”
FIU hired Rubio with the understanding that he would privately raise most of the money for his salary but declined to The Miami Herald to identify donors in that effort. But The New York Times in June 2015 revealed that Norman Braman, a Miami billionaire who is helping bankroll Rubio’s presidential campaign and also employs his wife, Jeanette Rubio, gave $100,000 to FIU to cover Rubio’s position.
However, Furton said he believes Norman Braman’s contribution is factually incorrect.
“It was never made aware to me.”
He added that Rubio has been helpful in getting students internships and students never complained about his availability.
Rubio’s course has been a part of the college and was not created for him, Furton said in response to Osama Mohammed, professor in the College of Computing and Engineering.
The Senate Ethics Committee approved Rubio’s job.
More updates from the provost
The search and screen committee to find a permanent dean for the College of Business will host a forum on Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. in the College of Business Complex.
At the Oct. 27 Faculty Senate meeting, Furton said Diversified Search is the company the University is using to find permanent deans for the College of Business and Computing and Engineering.
The committee will interview potential dean candidates from faculty and senior administrators in the college. And the committee will be back on campus Dec. 17 to interview potential candidates again.
Faculty survey of administrators Certain questions will be eliminated for their potential to interfere with anonymity of surveys.
With academic mergers, the integration feasibility committees are considering the creation of new colleges.
Furton said the University might have an advantage over other colleges depending on the structure they create.” He also said money saved will be put back into colleges, not adding more to “administrative bloat on the fifth floor of PC.”
The messaging has to emphasize that new academic units are being created not simply larger colleges absorbing smaller ones, Furton said.
The University’s Governmental Relations office FIU has a new 3,500-square foot building in Washington, D.C.
Funding from the National Science Foundation, after a three-year decline, is now at its lowest point since 1972.
Governmental liaison’s report
Teresa Lucas, a senior instructor in the College of Education, said the Florida Legislature will introduce a bill that, if passed, will close down for-profit colleges whose loan default rates are over 40 percent.
Lucas also highlighted a news story from The Tallahassee Democrat which reports that Solix, Inc., the company hired to oversee the Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign in 2013 kept more than half the money collected last year and could end up with an even bigger share of the take this year.
State employees can contribute to charitable organizations, including the United Way, through payroll deductions or one-time gifts.
But Solix took 47 percent of the contributions in 2013 and 51 percent last year, according to documents from the Florida Department of Management Services. Of the $990,815 raised in 2013, Solix got $470,470. And of the $881,764 raised last year, Solix got $453,599.
United Faculty of Florida report
Benjamin Baez, president of UFF’s chapter at FIU, gave an update on current collective bargaining negotiations with University administrators.
He said faculty are asking for a merit bonus of 1.5 percent and benefits including parental leave, external review letters, summer compensation and domestic partnership benefits.
He said they have not reached an agreement on salaries. Administrators, Baez said, are concerned about money they will not receive again from the Legislature, as per the performance-based funding model. The union will ask for fixed increase for administrator salaries so that faculty can also receive an increase.
Motions approved unanimously:
- The Faculty Senate approves the inclusion of Professional and Technical Writing for Computing in the University Core Curriculum and on the University Core Curriculum Undergraduate Education Advising form, under the Important Notes section, under Communication and under Transfer Students with more than 30 transfer credits.
- The Faculty Senate approves the new B.S. in Biochemistry.
- The Faculty Senate approves the new Physics Education Track.
- The Faculty Senate approves the new Juris Master.
- The Faculty Senate approves the new Graduate Track, which requires 30 credits, in Operations Management of Orthotics and Prosthetics.
- The Faculty Senate approves Curriculum Bulletin 1.
- The Faculty Senate approves the following Global Learning proposals from Curriculum Bulletin 1: ARH 4520 African Arts and ITA 3500 Italian Culture and Society.