Ypsilanti, Michigan--Faculty and lecturers at Eastern Michigan University have come forward with plans for an advertisement campaign and actions targeting an outside education firm, Academic Partnerships (AP), from Texas. The purpose of the campaign, spearheaded by union leaders, is to fight against the University’s decision to partner in a 5-year agreement with AP and begin offering fully online Bachelor’s Degree programs through the firm.
By switching to entirely online degree programs, EMU hopes to increase educational opportunities for students along with generating revenue for the University.
Union President Judy Kullberg stated that this decision, which would allow AP to design and regulate its own online EMU courses, comes without any consultation with campus lecturers. Kulberg has been Union President since January of 2017, and was elected as part of a 5 panel committee that ran on “a platform of faculty strength and impact.”
Kulberg has received degrees in Political Science from both Saginaw Valley University and University of Michigan. She has also Has taught at Marshall State University and Ohio State University.
“According to the agreement, EMU would fork over 50 percent of revenue gained from these programs to Academic Partnerships in exchange for 14 online courses in nursing and education leadership. These courses require no pre-requisite classes and have much lower admission requirements,” said Kullberg.
While this agreement is news to most people, this isn’t the first time Academic Partnerships has tried to force their way into EMU’s programs. University President James Smith had previously denied AP’s requests for cooperation, along with the College of Business and several faculty groups.
Faculties have decided not to partner with AP for various reasons. Many Professors feel like this is an attack on traditional education at Universities, along with a “selling out” of Eastern classes to a firm that wouldn’t represent education first.
Kullberg called the move a “Walmartization of higher education” by the firm. According to Kullberg, these online courses could shrink class sizes in other programs, along with decreasing physical enrollment overall. Campus lecturers feel AP’s model of education, which involves hundreds of students and only a few lecturers or “coaches”, will be inefficient and damaging. It could dilute the teaching power of online lecturers and force students to have to rely on the coaches that AP hires.
Kulberg said at least 500 people have signed the online petition against the online classes and the Union plans to hand out leaflets on campus and set up info tables in the Student Center and Porter Hall.
While this agreement won’t become active until the Summer of 2018, faculties are already mobilizing against it with posters, flyers and news ads that can be seen around campus. The Teachers Union is also hard at work filing grievances and unfair labor complaints to the University. EMU Staff will keep fighting until AP
negotiates and cooperates with them.