An open letter to Oregon Tech Senior Administration:
We, the Executive Committee of Oregon Tech – American Association of University Professors (OT-AAUP), offer this letter in support of Professor Allan Douglas, an associate professor in the Electrical Engineering and Renewable Energy (EERE) Department, who is set to have his employment terminated at the end of the day on May 15th. While we recognize it is within Oregon Tech’s legal authority to terminate Professor Douglas, this decision is unnecessary, offers no benefit to the students of Oregon Tech, and in fact directly harms the student experience.
Professor Douglas was hired 8 years ago to work at the Portland-Metro campus, which caters largely to the working adult population of Portland, and so offers many of its classes in the evening hours. Allan was hired to teach these evening hour classes while already working a full time engineering position; meaning he was in fact hired with the knowledge that Oregon Tech would be his “outside activity.” Since his hiring, he has received excellent performance reviews on his APEs, has received tenure and promotion, and even received the Faculty Achievement award from the Oregon Tech Foundation in 2018. His master’s degree has also brought to Oregon Tech a unique expertise and skill set that provides a tremendous benefit to his department and our university’s prestigious ABET-accredited status. We fear that losing Allan will jeopardize EERE’s ABET accreditation, as the department would no longer have a full time faculty member with his exact specialty. And furthermore, Allan is widely loved by his colleagues and his students, who have directly benefited from Allan’s work experience.
Article X of the inaugural CBA on Outside Activities opens with the statement that
“Oregon Tech encourages its bargaining unit members to engage in outside activities that will advance Oregon Tech’s mission.”
Plastered across the Oregon Tech website and official letterhead are the ideals of “hands-on education for real-world achievement” where students are given an “experiential education” and can “pursue their passions and professional opportunities in internships.” Allan Douglas has been directly responsible for providing all of these to Oregon Tech students for the past 8 years. His expertise and work experience allows for an education that is relevant to the needs of current employers. Furthermore, his connections to industry have created a direct pipeline to internships at his company for many of his students, with several OIT alumni receiving offers for full time employment at the company upon graduation. It is unclear who benefits by taking this away; but it certainly isn’t Oregon Tech students.
Allan has tried to do right by Oregon Tech and the CBA. He was hired with the understanding that he worked full time as an engineer. He has always been forthcoming about this on his APEs and in meetings with administration. Oregon Tech could have easily approved his Outside Activities request. They could have acknowledged that Oregon Tech was his outside activity at the time of his hiring, and so grandfathered him into an approval. Allan was even willing to work with administration and reduce his load to 0.49 FTE. Any of these options would be permitted by the CBA while allowing Oregon Tech’s students to continue benefiting from Allan’s expertise. And yet Oregon Tech’s senior administration has chosen to do none of these, and instead taken the stance that Allan must be terminated. Furthermore, they have done so in the middle of an academic year, causing a major disruption to all students enrolled in Allan’s sequence of classes.
The senior administration has repeatedly tried to publicly shame the faculty’s union, OT-AAUP, and blame our CBA for being inflexible. But the reality is that senior administration has wide authority to approve exceptions, and they have repeatedly chosen not to. Oregon Tech could have made the choice to actively demonstrate its commitment to a hands-on experience with real-world application to further student success. OT-AAUP is disappointed that Oregon Tech continually makes decisions against its own mission.
The OT-AAUP Executive Committee