OSU Energy Privatization Survey

On April 7th, 2017 (following a Senate vote three days earlier), the OSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a 50-year energy agreement with ENGIE-Axiom consortium that effectively privatizes OSU’s energy infrastructure.

Concerns regarding both the substance of the agreement as well as the procedure by which it was arrived at have been documented elsewhere, including the Columbus Dispatch and the AboutOSU news and commentary website.  The goal of this survey was to record OSU faculty opinion on issues surrounding the agreement.

The survey ran from April 21 to May 14, 2017. 2,039 faculty of the ASC, ENG, BUS, and LAW colleges were invited to participate, and we received 480 completed responses.

The summary appears below. As with our previous surveys, a PowerPoint presentation as well as a compilation of the complete set of responses is available for previewing or download in our document repository (linked here).

In the interests of further illuminating the data associated with these surveys, we have added graphical cross-tabulations associated to all three. For convenient reference we list them here, with links to the page in which they appear:

*) ASC Academic Wellness Survey results by rank (linked here)

*) ASC Financial Wellness Survey results by rank (linked here)

*) OSU Energy Privatization Survey results by rank (linked here)

*) OSU Energy Privatization Survey results by college (linked here)

 

For those interested in evaluating and analyzing the data for themselves, the spreadsheets for all three surveys are available for download (for the first two surveys, you will want to go to the subfolder labeled “Spreadsheets”, then open or download the zipped folders for either the summary or complete responses data).

ASC Financial Wellness Survey document folder (linked here)

ASC Financial Wellness Survey document folder (linked here)

OSU Energy Privatization Survey document folder (linked here)

 

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OSU Energy Privatization Survey summary

1. Given that the (partially redacted) Full Concession Agreement was released a day after the Senate vote, following legal action to force its disclosure, do you believe the University Senate was given adequate information to make an informed decision regarding CEMP?

Emphatically NoEmphatically Yes
0%100%
59.5%​31.9%​

2. Faculty Senators may not have had time to seek the opinion of the faculty members in their departments, in which case they expressed their own opinions. Did your faculty Senator(s) seek your opinion?

NoYes
0%100%
89.4%​

3. In general, do you want your Senate representative(s) to solicit your opinion before voting on matters of importance to the faculty and OSU community more generally?

Emphatically NoEmphatically Yes
0%100%
42.4%​47.0%​

4. Do you think the university administration should have sought the opinion of the entire faculty before committing OSU to such enormous long-term debt, as it has with the CEMP agreement?

Emphatically NoEmphatically Yes
0%100%
29.0%​57.8%​

5. How would you rate the financial wisdom of OSU privatizing its assets?

Extremely foolishExtremely wise
0%100%
36.0%​

6. Based on your current understanding of the CEMP agreement, do you believe the Comprehensive Energy Management Plan will benefit Ohio State University financially?

Emphatically NoEmphatically Yes
0%100%
26.6%​43.6%​

7. Based on your current understanding of the CEMP agreement, do you believe the Comprehensive Energy Management Plan will benefit Ohio State University academically?

Emphatically NoEmphatically Yes
0%100%
37.2%​35.9%​

8. How confident are you that the OSU administration will use the upfront money of over $1B provided by this agreement to effectively advance the academic mission of the university?

Not at all confidentCompletely confident
0%100%
32.6%​

10. The CEMP Proposal as Adopted by the University Senate on April 4, 2017 can be found here. Had you been asked to approve this proposal, how would you have voted?

AgainstFor
0%100%
89.1%​

New website cites FaST Survey results

A new website offering alternative analysis and commentary to the OSU community has published a lengthy article on the problem of administrative growth at OSU. It cites the results of the Academic Wellness Survey; specifically the responses to Questions 4 and 6.

It seems that much of the faculty opinion expressed in that first survey has been factually corroborated by a recent University Senate report on the administrative growth at OSU (in comparison to other peer institutions). The Senate report is also discussed in the article.

Financial Wellness Survey Summary

  • Q1

    ASC’s purposes, revenues and costs are aligned

  • Q2

    Culpability for the ASC budget crisis

  • Q3

    ASC’s budget transparency

  • Q4

    OSU’s budget transparency

  • Q5

    Faculty participate in ASC’s financial decisions

  • Q6

    OSU/ASC admins funding for instruction within ASC

  • Q7

    OSU/ASC admins commitment to academic and research excellence in ASC

  • Q8

    OSU admin preserves the financial integrity of ASC

  • Q9

    OSU/ASC admins vision of ASC’s financial future

Download complete responses

An Open Letter from FaST

The Faculty Survey Team (FaST) is an anonymous group of faculty members based in the Arts and Sciences College (ASC) of The Ohio State University. The ASC is the largest college in one of the largest public research universities in the USA. Anonymity protects our ability to pursue the FaST agenda (as detailed in our previous letters to the ASC faculty) without undue pressure from what many faculty view (see faculty comments in response to Q.4 of the Academic Wellness Survey) as an increasingly autocratic and coercive administration. Given the limited faculty participation in OSU governance – by which we mean real rather than nominal participation in academic decision-making – FaST surveys provide an alternative mechanism for determining and communicating faculty opinion on the crucial issues facing our university.

We believe that what FaST has produced is of considerable value because it establishes a clear and sometimes overwhelming faculty consensus on most of the issues raised to date, and that the actual membership of the team is immaterial. The voice that comes through in the Academic Wellness Survey is not that of the Survey Team members, but of the entire ASC Faculty body. It is worth noting that no ASC faculty member has questioned the authenticity of either the statistical results or the written comments collected by FaST following their release from our SurveyMonkey homepage. And for good reason. A cursory inspection of the complete document set associated with this survey (a document set that was downloaded and placed in the public domain immediately following the survey’s completion) makes it eminently clear that any sort of undetectable tampering with the final results would have been a nearly impossible undertaking.

The released documents were those internally generated by SurveyMonkey for an invitation-only survey. Moreover, respondents were encouraged to take a screenshot of their final response for submission, and most respondents included comments uniquely identifying their response from others in the complete set of responses.

In the interests of transparency (while still maintaining the anonymity of the participants), the following link will provide anyone so interested complete access to the internal survey documents associated with the survey, and residing on the SurveyMonkey website.

It seems that the only people inclined to question either the value or validity of this survey are a small minority of OSU administrators and faculty with a vested interest in the status quo. Given the results, we can understand their motivation for doing so. However, such a posture, if it persists, would suggest that the senior administration of OSU has no intention of responding in a meaningful or substantive way to the criticisms and concerns of the ASC faculty. We believe that this would be a grave error. The collective experience and wisdom of the ASC faculty is deserving of respect, and is a resource that ought to be valued and utilized by the OSU administration and the Board of Trustees, particularly when faculty input is characterized by very strong consensus.

We can contrast the openness of the FaST survey with those of the OSU administration. The entire OSU faculty are now required to complete a health and wellness survey annually if they do not wish to lose their health care coverage. The Faculty Culture Survey of two years ago asked many general ‘wellness’ questions about whether or not the faculty felt valued, well served by their supervisors and the senior administration, about their overall job satisfaction, etc. We note that the administration has never released the results of their compulsory faculty health surveys or (more to the point) the 2014 Faculty Culture Survey, even in terms of a statistical report that would preserve the anonymity of the respondents. In light of the results of the recent FaST survey, it is not hard to imagine why.

To those administrators and faculty focused on FaST membership rather than its survey results, we reiterate the obvious: that our identities have no bearing on the many serious issues facing both ASC and OSU, and that our anonymity is no impediment to community-wide discussion of those issues.

We believe a more productive response to our Academic Wellness Survey would be for several faculty groups, together with members of the administration, to analyze the large numbers of written comments and identify the main rationales provided for the responses to each survey question. This would further illuminate ASC faculty opinion, and possibly explain why the numerical results concerning the trajectory of OSU and the OSU administration were so overwhelmingly negative. We believe that the faculty responses to the Academic Wellness Survey, and in particular the comments included with those responses, constitute not just opinion but expert opinion, and in cases where the responses were overwhelmingly negative they reflect prevailing realities at OSU of which negative ‘faculty morale’ is but a symptom. Emphasizing the symptoms while ignoring their underlying causes is tantamount to denying those realities, and a recipe for the further deepening of OSU’s problems.

The FaST team stands ready to do its modest part in finding a path out of our difficulties, by inquiring of and then publishing faculty opinion. But such an effort, in order to be successful, requires an honest acknowledgement of the realities motivating that journey. We hope that OSU’s Board of Trustees and its senior administration will return to the formula of shared and collaborative governance that existed at OSU in the past, a formula that at one time made America’s public research universities the envy of the world. Should that happen at OSU – should the administration genuinely engage in such a partnership rather than simply pay lip service to the concept – then our organization would no longer be necessary.

Sincerely,
The Faculty Survey Team (FaST)

Academic Wellness Survey Summary

  • Q1

    The teaching environment in ASC has been improving over the last five years.

  • Q2

    Research and scholarship have been improving over the last five years.

  • Q3

    OSU’s budget model has served ASC well.

  • Q4

    OSU’s senior leadership has served ASC well.

  • Q5

    The concept that OSU is a business and should be run using corporate strategies and practices is a useful one.

  • Q6

    Over the last five years, the bureaucracy at OSU has…

  • Q7

    During your time here at OSU, faculty participation in the governance of academic affairs and initiatives, faculty hiring, etc., has…

  • Q8

    The idea of ‘monetizing’ OSU’s assets (e.g., the recent 50-year lease of the parking facilities, and the planned sale of OSU’s power plants and power grid) is a good one

  • Q9

    OSU’s major investments in the Discovery Themes is academically sound, and will serve the University well in the long run.

PowerPoint Presentation summarizing the survey results

Website statistics

Dear colleague,

Following the conclusion of the (first) Academic Wellness Survey conducted during the last two weeks of November, the complete results were posted on our document page and placed in the public domain. The link to these documents (along with a brief description of their contents) was contained in our email of 12/2/2015.

The purpose of this 12/2/2015 posting was to make the opinions of the ASC Faculty on these issues heard by as large an audience as possible. Not quite two months later (1/29/2015), we can report the following statistics:

  • Number of times the main survey documents folder has been accessed: 1,533
  • Number of different states (US) from which previews and downloads have occurred: 20
  • Number of different countries (including US) from which previews and downloads have occurred: 6

Major metropolitan areas (US) from which previews and downloads have occurred:

  • Boston, MA
  • Washington, DC
  • New York City (Manhattan), NY
  • Dallas, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Fransisco, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Cupertino, CA
  • Redmond, WA
  • Arlington, VA
  • Detroit, MI
  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Cleveland, OH

Major metropolitan areas (outside US) from which previews and downloads have occurred:

  • London, UK
  • Paris, FR
  • Berlin, DE
  • Lisbon, PT
  • Montreal, CA

Companies and Institutions of note (besides OSU) from which previews and downloads have occurred:

  • Apple Computer
  • Microsoft
  • U.S. Dept. of Energy

Unfortunately, this mode of publicization does not offer a platform for discussion. For that reason, we have created a public blog site ascfacultysurvey.wordpress.com open to all, where the results of the survey have been posted, and which is set up to allow comments to both the survey as well as individual questons. As in the case of the survey itself, our blog site is hosted by a company with no connections to OSU. Moreover, commenters are not required to provide any identification, and can post anonymously if they so wish.

For the purposes of promoting an open and honest discussion of topics affecting the OSU community, we have dedicated part of this site to the issues surrounding ARP (the Alternate Retirement Plan, to which a number of OSU faculty members subscribe). The information posted is based on the three fact sheets created by the faculty organization FAARPP (Faculty Association of ARP Participants) founded by a group of faculty in 2015 to study this issue. As with the survey, visitors can comment either on the main ARP page, or on one of the fact sheets appearing in the pull-down menu.

Sincerely,
The Faculty Survey Team (FaST)