News Coverage

Florida Politics (01/27/22): ‘A recipe for corruption’: Professors slam presidential search exemption bill at final Senate committee “These positions are some of the most powerful unelected positions in the state that control billions of dollars in public funds,” Gothard [president of United Faculty of Florida] said. “This law is a recipe for corruption, where Florida students are left paying the ultimate price.”

The Daytona Beach News-Journal (01/27/22): Florida Senate panel advances public-records exemption for higher-ed presidential searches “Why does an applicant, a mysterious, unnamed applicant, have more of a right to privacy than the public has a right to an open and honest and transparent hiring process?” Gothard [President of United Faculty of Florida said.

Tampa Bay Times (01/25/22): Faculty groups blast Florida bill to make presidential searches more secret “‘We see this as nothing less than an attempt to streamline corruption,’ United Faculty of Florida president Andrew Gothard said, referring to the bill.”

AAUP (01/25/22): AAUP President Cautions Against Lack of Transparency as University of Florida Seeks New President Such an open and thorough process of selection is fundamental to determining which candidate has the academic leadership and administrative skills needed to successfully lead the university. 

CBS 4 News (01/21/22): Federal judge blocks UF from requiring approval for faculty to testify against state “He’s saying you know, China doesn’t have to pass a law, people began to anticipate. Our German colleagues here called it anticipatory obedience.” said Paul Ortiz [President of UFF-UF Chapter].

News 4 Jax (01/19/22): University presidential searches could be behind closed doors It came after Matthew Lata, president of United Faculty of Florida’s Florida State University chapter, told lawmakers the current process works well.

UNF Spinnaker (01/13/22): Faculty raise concerns over COVID-19 in open letter to UNF Interim President Chally Amid students’ return to campus last week, UFF-UNF detailed a slew of requests ranging from COVID-19 policies to faculty support.

USF Oracle (01/12/22): UFF disagrees with USF’s approach to variant concerns Arthur Shapiro, president of the USF chapter of UFF, wrote an open letter Jan. 5 addressed to Law in which he requested the university hold the first three weeks of classes online. 

WFSU News (01/12/22): Should public university presidential searches be shielded from the public? Sen. Jeff Brandes says yes. Long opposed to a closed search process are organizations like the Florida Education Association—the state’s largest teachers union as well as its partner group, the United Faculty of Florida, which represents faculty.

WESH 2 News (Orlando) (01/10/22): Students return to University of Central Florida classrooms as omicron spread continues “There’s no way that the provost or anyone making a decision about COVID policy or masking mandates will do anything to upset the governor or upset the Legislature,” Robert Cassanello, the union president, said.

WUSF Public Media (01/05/22): USF President Rhea Law urges masks and vaccinations as faculty calls for ‘aggressive’ COVID approach Arthur Shapiro, an education professor and president of the United Faculty of Florida USF chapter, made those recommendations in a Tuesday letter to Law. “Both the immediate and long-term severity of omicron infections are uncertain, and projections for our region and for our state in general are rather grim,” Shapiro wrote.

Tampa Bay Times (01/05/22): UF president Kent Fuchs announces he will step down soon University of Florida president W. Kent Fuchs… recently drew a firestorm of criticism over academic freedom issues, announced Wednesday he will step down soon to take a faculty position.

Florida Phoenix (01/04/22): Private colleges pivot to remote learning but FL public universities won’t go virtual despite COVID “We are severely disappointed with the overall response to COVID at higher education institutions,” said Andrew Gothard, president of the United Faculty of Florida.

Flagler Lice (01/04/22): Private Universities Switch to Remote Learning as Covid Surges, But Florida’s Public Universities Will Not “We don’t think that politics should be involved in local safety decisions,” Andrew Gothard, president of the United Faculty of Florida said.

The College Fix (01/04/22): ‘Baseless conspiracy’: DeSantis says no truth to donation for university appointment allegation “Our current boards of trustees across the state were required to give a campaign contribution to Ron DeSantis in the amount of $100,000,” Fried said at a town hall sponsored by the United Faculty of Florida professors’ union.

WPTV 5 (01/01/22): Taking a step back: US colleges returning to online classes Paul Ortiz, president of the campus chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, said older faculty members will be at higher risk, especially with no mask or vaccine mandates, which have been outlawed by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis. “We do not want our campus to become a super-spreader,” Ortiz said.

Tallahassee Democrat (12/30/21): COVID: Florida public university system officials urge masks, vaccinations amid omicron Saying it is “clear the pandemic is not over,” top Florida public university system officials are asking students and employees to wear masks on campus and get booster shots to protect against COVID-19 as the spring semester prepares to start.

ABC 7 (12/29/21): State university system officials urge masks, vaccinations The spring semester starts next week amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations driven, at least in part, by the highly-contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus.

WCJB 20 (12/28/21): United Faculty of Florida asking for online classes to start spring, State University System not budging “We really feel we can make the campus a much safer environment and do much to prevent the spread of COVID even with these external political pressure that are being placed upon us by Tallahassee,” said Ortiz.

WCJB 20 (12/28/21) Administrators are being asked by the Faculty Union at the University of Florida to start the spring semester online due to the rise in COVID cases In order to mitigate the spread of COVID, UFF asks that our campus begin the spring semester in a remote, online posture in terms of classroom delivery and work assignments for the first three weeks of the term in order to assess the proper next steps to take–as it appears that the omicron variant may escalate later in January. – Said UF Union President Paul Ortiz IN a letter to UF President Kent Fuchs.

88.5 WMNF (12/17/21): USF faculty want a statement on academic freedom from president and provost “There is no doubt that the first step of authoritarianism is always to silence the academics,” Gothard said. “But there’s also no doubt that the clearest and easiest way for authoritarianism to succeed is  for the silent majority to stand by and do nothing. At UFF we’re not going to do that. We’re going to fight, we’re going to push back.” 

Orlando Weekly (12/17/21): Florida Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried accuses Ron DeSantis of extorting campaign donations out of university trustees At a town hall on education organized by the United Faculty of Florida union, speakers railed against reports that the state has stifled testimony from professors in ongoing cases and pressured researchers to destroy COVID-19 data.

The Palm Beach Post (12/17/21): DeSantis hits naughty or nice list while in campaign mode The three leading Democratic contenders for the party’s nomination for governor — Charlie Crist, Nikki Fried, and Annette Taddeo — ripped DeSantis for politicizing a pandemic, threatening academic freedom, and being focused more on presidential ambitions than governing Florida at a United Faculty of Florida for a virtual town hall this week.

The Gainesville Sun (12/16/21): Accreditation authority notifies UF of plans to dig deeper into academic freedom concerns  “This is very much in the interest of students and parents in the state of Florida. External organizations like SACSCOC … play an important role as checks and balances against  actions that are unduly politically influenced.” Meera Sitharam, VP of University of Florida- UFF.

AlterNet (12/16/21): DeSantis accused of leveraging University of Florida trustees for $100K donations: report …a virtual town hall hosted by the United Faculty of Florida Union. During the event, Fried shared details about the allegations. “I don’t know if this is as public. You all should know,” Fried said.

Business Insider India (12/16/21): Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wanted $100k donations from University of Florida trustees or they’d lose their appointments, Democratic Florida commissioner alleges At least nine current members on boards of trustees across Florida’s university system have made donations to the DeSantis 2022 campaign or the state GOP, either in their own name, through their company, or via a spouse, according to state campaign finance records, which are available in a public database.

Tampa Bay Times (12/16/21): Accrediting group plans campus visit to examine allegations at UF Letter says there “may be” evidence of breaches affecting the school’s accreditation.

Florida Politics (12/15/21): Nikki Fried stands by charge that university trustees were required to donate $100K to Gov. DeSantis Her campaign on Wednesday was responding to an inquiry about Fried’s statement at a gubernatorial candidate forum Tuesday night hosted by the United Faculty of Florida professors’ union.

Politico (12/15/21): Democrats sound off against DeSantis, GOP in town hall …the Republican-controlled Legislature, including over the passage of HB 233, the contentious measure that requires an intellectual diversity survey on college campuses. They said Republicans want to suppress academic freedom and the First Amendment rights of professors.

Tampa Bay Times (12/15/21): Nikki Fried accuses DeSantis of pay-for-play appointments, but offers no proof “Our current board of trustees across our state were required to give a campaign contribution to Ron DeSantis, the amount of $100,000,” Fried said.

Florida Politics (12/15/21): Democratic gubernatorial candidates accuse Ron DeSantis of suppressing academic freedom, free speech Nikki Fried claimed DeSantis required trustees to donate $100,000 to keep their appointments.

WCJB 20 (12/14/21): Candidates for governor discuss academic freedom for professors at UFF debate “What republicans are trying to do here in Florida is what happens in places with no freedom. Big government overseeing what we learn and what we speak about. Freedom of education is essential so we don’t become like Venezuela, Cuba or China and as Governor you can’t count on me to stop that from happening.” Sen. Taddeo said these acts resemble communist countries.

Tallahassee Democrat (12/14/21): Democrats portray Gov. DeSantis as foe to academic freedom at faculty union forum The labor union representing university and college professors and instructors had also invited Gov. Ron DeSantis. He declined to attend alongside Congressman Charlie Crist of Pinellas County, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and state Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami.

Miami Herald (12/13/21): UF trustee chairman was back channel to DeSantis office over pandemic and remote classes Fuchs, who has said previously in interviews that he does not have the authority to challenge decisions from the DeSantis administration, sent Hosseini a draft email he was preparing for faculty announcing there would be no move to online classes. “Could you let me know if you have any changes?” Fuchs asked.

Pensacola News Journal (12/13/21): Pensacola State College teachers’ union, administration at impasse in salary negotiations ..representatives of the teachers’ union, the PSC Faculty Association, said they don’t want the college to raise salaries for select instructors without also raising pay for existing teachers. 

The Gainesville Sun (12/13/21): Making the case for a vaccine mandate at the University of Florida Two employee-organized bodies at the University of Florida (the United Faculty of Florida and UF Graduate Assistants United) staged a protest on Aug. 20 at Tigert Hall to voice their demands for COVID vaccine requirements and other relevant COVID safety protocols for the UF campus.

WCJB20 (12/13/21) : The Week Ahead: Your stories to look out for in North Central Florida The United Faculty of Florida is hosting a 2022 Gubernatorial Town Hall with the Democratic candidates featuring US representative Charlie Christ, Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, and State Senator Annette Taddeo.

CBS 4 News (12/10/21): UF teachers union demands an apology from UF Board of Trustees “The board of trustees had the gall to deny that there is a crisis of academic freedom at the University of Florida,” said Paul Ortiz president of UF’s chapter of UFF

Tampa Bay Times (12/09/21): UF president, faculty agree on changes to safeguard free speech “The broad perception now is that UF is less a public university and more a tool of a few highly placed Tallahassee politicians,” he said. “There’s no committee you can form to change that. That requires much broader commitment and recommitment to intellectual freedom.”

The Independent Florida Alligator (12/06/21): Academic freedom coalition steps forward as UF denies critical race theory concentration Congress and UF’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, both opened investigations to evaluate the school’s recent actions. UFF and UF’s faculty senate are calling for separate additional independent investigations.

The Independent Florida Alligator (12/06/21): UF Board of Trustees takes aim at faculty, unions over academic freedom scandal “If it was just faculty who’s upset about this, it would be one thing,” he said. “But in reality, it’s the whole community that’s appalled. It’s colleagues all across the country. If it was just a minority of faculty, it wouldn’t have received the kind of sustained attention that it is receiving.”

The College Fix (12/05/21): Complaint: U. Florida education profs not allowed to use ‘critical’ and ‘race’ in courses The latter essentially prohibits critical race theory in public institutions; for example, it bans mandatory trainings “which espouse certain concepts” such as “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race” and “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist.”

WCJB 20 ABC (12/03/21): United Faculty of Florida professors request injuction against UF’s new conflict of policy In a statement, the professors who filled the motion say “it is high time for a court of law to stop the university from violating the first amendment rights of its faculty and abridging academic freedom.”

Gainesville Sun (12/03/21): UF board chairman defends administration in academic freedom controversy “This statement is an insult to the faculty who, under great duress, have guided the institution through the most challenging crisis in its history during the global pandemic. We expect an immediate apology,” [Paul] Ortiz [President of UFF-UCF Chapter] said.

Diverse Education (12/03/21): Professor Alleges Academic Freedom Violation After U of Florida Bars Critical Race Curriculum According to the grievance, university leaders rejected the title because they were worried anything pertaining to critical race theory would jeopardize the College of Education’s relationship with the state whose governor Ron DeSantis is vocally against the academic discipline.

Orlando Weekly (12/03/21): Faculty accuse UCF of hoarding millions in pandemic relief funds “After two years of arduous work, they are being told by administrators across Florida, in the same manner as at UCF, that despite millions of dollars in federal funding that came in throughout the pandemic, there isn’t enough money to pay these faculty a fair wage,” Gothard said during the news conference.

CLTampa (12/03/21): UCF faculty accuses school of hoarding $112 million in pandemic relief funds “They are sitting on over $112 million in unspent dollars. Some of that funding is set aside to provide relief for employees during the pandemic,” said Robert Cassanello, president of the UCF faculty union and an associate professor of history.

WFTV 9 ABC (12/02/21): UCF faculty members pushing university to use federal assistance to boost pay University of Central Florida faculty members say the university refuses to pay them a fair wage, despite sitting on more than $100 million in federal assistance it received during the pandemic.

Newsweek (12/02/21): Univ. of Florida Accused of Renaming ‘Critical Race’ Study Over Fear of Offending Lawmakers The tension between College of Education faculty and university administrators had been brewing for months, with administrators from the Provost’s Office having discussions with the professors about two recent bills from the Florida Legislature, the complaint said.

NPR 90.7 WMFE (12/02/21): University of Central Florida faculty call on school to release millions in CARES Act funding for raises, bonuses “What UCF employees need is direct relief as we are exiting the second year of the pandemic. The president and provost of UCF has showered UCF faculty and employees with praise and we have heard how proud they are of us. But talk is cheap.” said UFF-UCF President Robert Cassanello.

Ceng News (12/02/21): University of California, Berkeley Fearing offending legislators, the University of Florida is accused of renaming a study on critical race Hаss told the fаculty members thаt the college wаs viewed fаvorаbly by the stаte, аnd thаt аdministrаtors were recommending “аvoiding аny issue thаt might jeopаrdize the relаtionship.

The Washington Newsday (12/02/21): The University of Florida has been accused of renaming a study on critical race in order to avoid offending legislators. Conservatives, on the other hand, have accused this framework of being deliberately divisive and “anti-white.”

Associated Press / Washington Post / Kenosha News and KOB4 (12/02/21): Complaint: UF wants to ax ‘critical race’ from study title The grievance is seeking to stop the university’s attempt “to eliminate and/or whitewash” critical race theory from the curriculum.

WTSP 10 Tampa Bay (12/01/21): Union says UF wanted professors to remove words like ‘critical’ and ‘race’ from syllabi “Faculty members in the College of Education were informed by the associate provost and college administrators that they would not approve a concentration of study because it includes the words ‘critical’ and ‘race’ and advised changing syllabi and course descriptions to appease the Governor,” the United Faculty of Florida chapter wrote.

CBS 4 News (12/01/21): UF teachers union says UF has a new violation of academic freedom “We were a jim crow university this is what makes what happens in the college of education more disturbing,” said [Paul] Ortiz.

WCJB 20 (12/02/21): University of Florida professor files academic freedom grievance after critical race curriculum was barred According to the grievance, UF Associate Professor Chris Busey was asked to change the title of his curriculum, which is on “Critical Studies in Race, Ethnicity, and Culture”. Specifically, Busey said leadership in the College of Education would not approve anything with “critical” and “race” in the title.

Miami Herald (12/01/21): Critical race theory becomes flash point for GOP, UF heading into legislative session “What’s next? Are we going to be telling the people in biology, you can teach evolution but don’t call it that?” UF College of Journalism and Communications professor Churchill Robert, the faculty union’s chief grievance officer, said in an interview Wednesday.

CBS 4 News (12/01/21) : Academic freedom grievance filed against UF over critical race curriculum “These intrusions into curricular matters represent an egregious and unprecedented violation of academic freedom,” the grievance says these actions, “Threaten to undermine faculty autonomy and tarnish the reputation of the University of Florida.”

Tampa Bay Times (12/01/21): At UF, someone used ‘critical’ and ‘race’ in a sentence. Trouble ensued. The reason: fear on the part of top UF administrators that the words “critical” and “race” in proximity might offend the Florida Legislature.

The Independent Florida Alligator (12/01/21): UF professor files grievance over school’s denial of critical race theory concentration title Busey and the United Faculty of Florida are requesting the university stop requiring faculty to eliminate an accepted area of study in relation to critical race theory from the curriculum.

The Chronicle of Higher Education (11/30/21): ‘It Just Felt Wrong’: U. of Florida Faculty Say Political Fears Stalled an Initiative on Race Chris Busey, who filed the grievance, told The Chronicle that the episode has been destabilizing and demoralizing. “I’ve never hid my identity as a race scholar. It was in my job talk. It was in my cover letter. It’s who I am as a scholar.” In other words, “You knew who I was when you hired me,” Busey said. “Don’t expect for me to change because Ron DeSantis said so.”

WCJB 20 (11/30/21): ‘I think we’re in a good spot now’: President Fuchs addresses controversy after UF professors barred from testifying against state Earlier the United Faculty of Florida at UF called for an independent body to make recommendations.

Tampa Bay Times (11/24/21): Amid free speech concerns, UF declares it is ‘free from undue influence’ Paul Ortiz, president of UF’s United Faculty of Florida chapter, said the scope of the task force was too narrow.

CBS 4 News (11/24/21): UF union leader says that the President’s Task Force’s final report is “inconclusive” “We’re disappointed, we’re looking for the independent review of violations of academic freedom at the University of Florida,” said Ortiz.

Inside Higher ED (11/24/21): U of Florida Denies Outside Influence, Adopts New Conflict Policy The university also said it “preserves and protects academic freedom and its concomitant responsibilities in regulation, operationalizes it in its bargaining agreement with the United Faculty of Florida, and its UFolio process for the approval of outside activities.”

UF News (11/23/21): UF affirms no external influence in faculty expert testimony decisions The full report can be found here

WCJB 20 (11/23/21): University of Florida releases results of task force and response to inquiry on conflict of interest policy Requests will only be denied “when clear and convincing evidence establishes that such testimony would conflict with an important and particularized interest of the university…” or if there is a conflicting time commitment.

The Crows Nest at USF St. Petersburg (11/22/21): Campus comeback: Recapping this fall’s biggest news

LSU Reveille (11/18/21): Faculty across Southeast say academic freedom being threatened by university administrations and state governments Professors across the region have raised alarms about actions from upper administrations or state governments that threaten faculty free speech and autonomy.

National Education Association [NEA] (11/18/21) : Florida Faculty Stand Up For Academic Freedom Hours after a United Faculty of Florida (UFF) press conference earlier this month that detailed the University of Florida (UF)’s recent attacks on academic freedom and free speech, university administrators reversed course.

Tampa Bay Times (11/18/21): Congressional committee to investigate UF as academic freedom flap widens The House Committee on Oversight and Reform cites concerns that “UF is censoring its faculty based on viewpoint.”

The Gainesville Sun (11/16/21): UF must take a stand against political pressure On Nov. 5, under immense pressure from faculty, alumni, the media, current students and more, UF President Kent Fuchs reversed the school’s decision, allowing the three professors to testify. 

The Independent Florida Alligator (11/15/21): Alachua County Commission postpones vote on UF’s Campus Development Agreement due to affordable graduate housing Rent-burdened graduate students may be put in even more dangerous situations if the villages are closed, Rachel Hartnett, GAU co-president and a doctoral student in the Department of English, said. “We know that there are students living in unsafe or hazardous conditions because of this,” Hartnett said.

The Independent Florida Alligator (11/15/21): Students, faculty unite to protest amid academic freedom controversy “We don’t care that they reversed their decision,” said Rachel Wolfrey, UF College Democrats spokesperson. “We don’t think that that’s enough by any means.”

WUFT NPR (11/15/21): UF students and faculty protest First Amendment concerns Sean Trainor, a lecturer of writing and public speech and UFF-UF member, spoke during the protest and said that the support from students was more than welcome. “When students want to participate, when they are concerned for situations faculty are facing, that’s great,” Trainor said before his speech. 

The Gainesville Sun (11/15/21): Faculty must have freedom to work without political interference The Retired Faculty of the University of Florida board of directors… We recommend that, as a first step, the task force be expanded to include designees of the UF Senate president and the United Faculty of Florida president.

WCJB Gainesville (11/12/21): ‘UF works because we do’: Faculty, students protest conflict of interest policy and task force “For me the question of the task force isn’t a question of the composition,” [Sean] Trainor said. “It’s a question of principle. An institution that has engaged in wrongdoing shouldn’t be investigating its own mistakes. Trainor said the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) and UF Faculty Senate will meet on Wednesday to discuss an independent investigation. [Video 00:00-01:56]

The Gainesville Sun (11/12/21): Protest on the street and in writing show continued concern at UF over academic freedom “The present moment provides the university with an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to academic freedom,” the professors wrote in the letter to Fuchs.

CBS Channel 4 News (Gainesville) (11/12/21): Faculty, students, and staff hold a protest on university ave “The union plans to file a chapter grievance talking about various violations of the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement,” said Meera Sitharam vice president’s at UF’S chapter of United Faculty of Florida (UFF). . [Video 00:00 – 01:48]

WCJB Gainesville (11/11/21): United Faculty of Florida protest UF’s conflict of interest policy The United Faculty of Florida are expressing their dissatisfaction with the University of Florida’s response to professors being blocked from testifying against the state. [Video 00:00 – 00:32]

Tampa Bay Times (11/10/21): Faculty union calls on academic groups to investigate UF “We consider this a victory for our members, our union, and all faculty and students at the University of Florida, but our fight for academic freedom and free speech is far from over,” [Elizabeth Dale, a member of UF’s faculty union] said in the union’s news release.

The Independent Florida Alligator (11/10/21): Giving Gators boycott donations to UF following academic freedom controversy UF alumni expressed their disagreement with UF in tweets that announced their decision to halt donations until the university was back on the “right side of academic freedom,” said Paul Ortiz, United Faculty of Florida president. 

The Miami Herald (11/08/21): Professors sue over conflict of interest policy despite UF’s reversing its decision Faculty members, it says, were not employed “to be mouthpieces for a particular administration’s — or any administration’s — point of view.”

The Independent Florida Alligator (11/08/21): UF barring professor testimony raises political questions “They don’t really represent the people of Florida,” Ortiz said. “They represent their own corporate interests.”

CBS Channel 4 News (11/08/21) : Teachers union leader says UF hasn’t met all demands “Why were these faculty singled out, that’s what we still need to understand,” said Ortiz.

Jacksonville Business Journal (11/08/21): UF reverses course on professors’ testimony The original decision had riled faculty members and put school administrators under scrutiny.

The Oracle (11/07/21) : USF faculty union decries UF’s suppression of academic freedom rights The United Faculty of Florida (UFF) USF chapter expressed its disappointment with UF preventing three of its faculty members from testifying in a lawsuit, citing the decision as a violation of community rights.

Orlando Weekly (11/07/21) : University of Florida backs off from attempt to control professors’ freedom to testify In response to the growing scrutiny earlier this week, University President Kent Fuchs said the professors could testify if they didn’t get paid or use school resources.

Flagler Live (11/07/21): UF Backs Off Gag Order on 3 Professors Testifying in Challenge to Restrictive Voting Law “Professors Smith, McDonald and Austin are renowned experts in the field of voting rights. They are also members of our faculty union. Since Oct. 13, leaders of our grievances team, as well as our executive committee, have met around the clock with these three courageous faculty members,…

Local 10 News [South FL] (11/07/21): This Week in South Florida Full Episode: November 7, 2021 | University of Florida faculty union VP Meera Sitharam “Things began to change at UF since March 2020, with administration trying to police educators.. its ethically corrupt…” [11:30- 20:55]

Miami Herald (11/05/21): UF controversy is latest chapter in long conflict between politics, academic freedom Those concerns grew late last month when it was learned that the University of Florida fast-tracked the hiring of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ divisive surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, into a tenured position at the medical school.

The Gainesville Sun (11/05/21): UF faculty union sticks by its list of demands on academic freedom “This impacts all Floridians and all Americans,” Ortiz said. “As advocates of civil liberties and as union members, we feel that the University of Florida — its denial of intellectual freedom — is an outrageous blow to academic freedom that gravely threatens our democracy.”

Tampa Bay Times (11/05/21); UF faculty union calls for boycotts over academic freedom Faculty union leaders at the University of Florida called on donors Friday to withhold their contributions until the school takes steps to assert its independence from state politicians.

WUSF Public Media (11/05/21): The UF faculty union urges a halt to donations as support mounts for professors over free speech The United Faculty of Florida made the demand on Friday in response to university leaders prohibiting three professors from being paid as expert witnesses in a lawsuit challenging a new Florida elections law that critics say harms voting rights.

The Miami Times (11/05/21): UF professors can now testify in voting law case University president reverses course under pressure | After the announcement, Ortiz commended the administration for reversing its earlier decision but called for an increased commitment to academic freedom.

The Washington Post (11/05/21): Professors sue University of Florida, claiming free speech restraints The complaint by the professors contends the university is discriminating against them based on viewpoints they wish to express, and by trying to prevent them from offering expert testimony on issues of overwhelming public importance, UF violated their First Amendment rights.

AP News (11/05/21): University changes course; professors may testify in lawsuit Not allowing them to testify would be “an attack on all of us,” said Paul Ortiz, a history professor who is president of the union chapter at the university.

Bradenton Herald (11/05/21): UF reversing decision that barred professors from testifying in case against state That change was not enough for faculty union leaders, who on Friday called on donors to withhold contributions until the school takes steps to affirm its support for academic freedom and assert its independence from political influence.

Miami Herald (11/05/21): Is tussle over tenure looming for Florida universities? Proposal is being debated Some faculty leaders contend the proposal sends a chilling message at a time when Florida’s commitment to academic freedom is under question.

WFSU News (11/05/21): UF’s evolving policies on professors testifying in state cases are drawing conservative and liberal concerns about academic freedom “Academic freedom and free speech allows students and scholars to challenge ideas and to use our discoveries and expertise for the public good without fear of reprisal,” said Andrew Gothard, president of the United Faculty of Florida and a professor at Florida Atlantic University.

CNN Newsource (11/05/21) : University of Florida reverses decision, will allow professors to testify as paid experts in voting rights case The union representing faculty on campus, United Faculty of Florida-University of Florida, called today’s announcement a positive step forward. “However, UFF-UF is looking for a clear and unambiguous commitment to academic freedom going forward,” said Paul Ortiz, UFF-UF president.

The Gainesville Sun (11/05/21) : University of Florida President Fuchs reverses decision blocking professors’ testimony against state It is an abrupt change of course following blistering criticism across the university community, from noted academics across the nation and amid a probe by the accreditation authority essential for student aid.

Politico (11/05/21): University of Florida reverses on professors testifying against DeSantis-backed voting bill Before Fuchs’ about-face, University of Florida faculty members called for drastic steps against the state’s flagship school, including asking donors to stop sending their cash to the university and to allow professors to be able to testify without strings attached.

The New York Times (11/05/21): University of Florida Reverses Course to Allow Professors to Testify Against State Facing a storm of protest, the university said three professors could testify as expert witnesses in a voting-rights lawsuit against the state.

WESH 2 Channel (11/05/21): After UF blocks testimony, professors across Florida worry about freedom of speech A spokesperson for the University said, “Regarding the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges: like SACS, the University of Florida places the highest importance on freedom of speech and academic freedom. We welcome the opportunity to address all questions.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education (11/05/21) : After Scathing Criticism, U. of Florida Will Let Professors Testify Against the State The reversal follows a week of turmoil on the campus spurred by administrators’ decisions to bar faculty members from serving as expert witnesses.

The Washington Post (11/04/21): Opinion: The scandal involving Ron DeSantis and the silenced professors just got worse Mr. DeSantis’s spokeswoman echoed that argument in her statement, saying the Constitution “guarantees the right to free speech, but there is no right to profit from speech.”

Tampa Bay Times (11/04/21): Proposal would weaken protections for tenured faculty at Florida universities “I could be an extremely high-performing employee, but if I say or do something that displeases the powers that be, if I didn’t have academic freedom, I could be let go,” said Meera Sitharam, vice president of the United Faculty of Florida chapter at UF.

The Washington Post (11/04/21): Opinion: The University of Florida’s decision to silence its professors is an assault on academic freedom The American Association of University Professors, condemning the decision “in the strongest possible terms,” noted that among the stated missions of the university is its obligation “to share the benefits of its research and knowledge for the public good.”

The Miami Herald (11/03/21): UF restricted five other professors’ participation in legal cases against the state These actions show how the University of Florida has gradually moved toward suppressing the voices of its scholars who want to offer legal or subject-matter expertise in cases that challenge the policies advanced by the governor or Legislature.

The Washington Post (11/03/21): Opinion: We work for the people of Florida. That’s why we can’t let the University of Florida silence us on a voting rights law Our job as public university professors and researchers is not to be mouthpieces for a particular administration’s — or any administration’s — point of view.

The Independent Alligator (11/03/21): Five additional professors say UF tried silencing them from testifying against state “We gave the university numerous opportunities before the story hit the media to change course and do the right thing and support academic freedom and the university decided not to do that,” said Paul Ortiz, the president of UF’s chapter of the United Faculty of Florida. 

NPR (11/03/21): Some Florida professors are blocked from testifying in suits against the state “I don’t see how the voting rights law is a matter of against the interest of the University of Florida or frankly against the interest of the Governor. We should all be ensuring free and fair elections and access to the polls.” said Candi Churchill, Executive Director of United Faculty of Florida. [Audio 2:00 -2:14]

The Chronicle of Higher Education (11/02/21) : ‘I’m Speechless’ What prompted the U. of Florida to tell professors not to testify? “To Meera Sitharam, a vice president of UF’s faculty union and a chief negotiator… It seemed like a way for the university to “police” faculty members’ outside activities..”

WESH 2 News Orlando (11/02/21): After UF blocks testimony, professors across Florida worry about freedom of speech “The professors and educators need to be able to teach the truth based on science and facts not on a political party or ideology of whoever is in charge at the moment.” said Candi Churchill, Executive Director of United Faculty of Florida.

Florida Politics (11/02/21): UF in political firestorm over decision to block professors’ testimony on voting lawsuit The union representing 25,000 higher education employees, United Faculty of Florida, urged administrators to “get out of the way and allow faculty to tell the truth based on their expertise and research.” 

WGFL 4 News (11/01/21): Three UF professors were denied permission from UF officials to testify in a state case “None of us want to embarrass the University of Florida, the faculty here the students we love the university but we understood that right away the university was putting faculty and students in jeopardy,” said Ortiz.

Tampa Bay Times (11/01/21): UF’s big mistake on academic freedom | Editorial It’s not hard to guess what’s going on, a combination of political pressure and some state funding hanging in the balance.

The Washington Post (11/01/21): Opinion: Why did Florida ban state professors from challenging Ron DeSantis’s voting law? Wasserman Schultz noted that such activity by professors was routinely approved in the past, adding that the only difference now is “who is governor.”

Orlando Sentinel (11/01/21) : A choice for the University of Florida: Academic freedom or government stooge Rest in peace, academic freedom, because the University of Florida has decided faculty members may speak their minds only when it’s in the best interests of the Gators and the governor.

WMFE 90.7 (NPR) (11/01/21) : University of Florida prohibits professors from testifying Organizations speaking out in support of the professors include the United Faculty of Florida, a Union representing more than 25-thousand faculty members at Florida’s public universities, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). 

Inside Higher ED (11/01/21) : U of Florida Bars Professors From Helping Lawsuit Against the State The University of Florida banned three professors from helping the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state opposing Florida’s new restrictions on voting rights.

UK Today News (10/31/21): University of Florida bars professors from testifying against DeSantis-backed voting law Meanwhile, the United Faculty of Florida, a union representing the state’s faculty staff, said that the school’s claim that the professors’ testimony would pose conflict is “outrageous.” “UF does not exist to protect DeSantis or any party,” it said on Twitter on Friday.

The Gainesville Sun (10/31/21) : UF professors could testify in voting rights case if they are unpaid, spokeswoman says “They undermine the university’s adherence to principles of academic freedom and the constitutional rights of UF’s faculty, staff, and students,” wrote UFF President Andrew Gothard and Executive Director Candi Churchill in a Friday email to Fuchs.

The Washington Post (10/30/21): University of Florida bars faculty members from testifying in voting rights lawsuit against DeSantis administration The University of Florida barred three faculty members from testifying for plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging a voting-restrictions law enthusiastically embraced by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), which activists say makes it harder for racial minorities to vote. 

The New York Times (10/29/21): Florida Bars State Professors From Testifying in Voting Rights Case Three University of Florida professors have been barred from assisting plaintiffs in a lawsuit to overturn the state’s new law restricting voting rights… The ban is an extraordinary limit on speech that raises questions of academic freedom and First Amendment rights.

Florida Phoenix (10/27/21): ‘A massive blow to 8 million students’: Biden’s free community college plan on the chopping block? “Our sense is that, as with most major projects of this type, the provision may fail due to it’s overall cost,” Gothard told the Phoenix.

National Education Association (10/21/21): Paid Family Leave for Educators: Now, Please! Thanks to the faculty union at the University of Florida (UF), for example, all UF employees now have eight weeks of paid parenting leave, which can be used by mothers and fathers, after birth or adoption. The new provision is both big and insufficient, says Hélène Huet, a member of the United Faculty of Florida-UF bargaining team. 

National Education Association (10/21/21): NEA higher ed members find supporter in U.S. Rep. Katie Porter

Tallahassee Democrat (10/06/21): Free speech survey of Florida college students continues to rile critics, even ‘Doonesbury’ An “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity assessment” in the works to investigate political speech on Florida’s public university and college campuses continues to cause controversy. 

Inside Higher ED (10/04/21) : St. Petersburg College Faculty Unionize Leaders of the union campaign said faculty rights at the community college have eroded.

Tampa Bay Times (10/01/21): St. Petersburg College faculty vote to unionize Faculty members at St. Petersburg College have voted 193-56 to establish a union, forming the 34th chapter of the United Faculty of Florida.

Telemundo 49 (30/9/21): Exigen más medidas contra el COVID-19 en USF Un grupo de estudiantes y empleados de la universidad dicen que es tiempo que líderes de la universidad deben exigir el uso de máscaras o vacunación. [hable en español – 0:00-2:10]

Bay News 9 – Spectrum News (9/29/21): Faculty, students demand more COVID safety protocols at USF Upgraded ventilation and air conditioning improvements in all buildings is one of the things United Faculty of Florida and Graduate Assistants United at USF are pushing for.

WTSP Channel 10 Tampa Bay (9/29/21): University of South Florida faculty and students demand stricter COVID-19 protocols Thursday, some students and faculty members at the University of South Florida will participate in a rally demanding more be done to keep them safe on campus. The event is being organized by graduate assistants Krystle Lemonias and Marlon Wilson, who are also organizers of the USF chapter of the union, Graduate Assistants United.

Florida Phoenix (9/24/21): New college survey for “intellectual freedom” has already spawned a lawsuit “Any law that relies on the good will of legislators and politicians over the protections of the Constitution is not a good law,” said Andrew Gothard, the UFF president. 

AFT (9/23/21): Florida humanities faculty fear for the profession “If they can dismiss someone with Dr. Walton’s credentials without a reason, then nobody is comfortable about their jobs going forward,” said former chapter president and biology professor Debra Hicks, in an interview with the Orlando Weekly.

WMFE 90.7 (NPR) (9/09/21): Interview: Professor And Union Negotiator On Lake-Sumter State College’s Decision To Fire Him Lake-Sumter State College has fired one of the faculty’s chief negotiators working on their first union contract with the college this summer.

MyCBS4 News (Gainesville) (9/09/21): Alachua County pushes UF and Santa Fe College to require masks Cornell pointed out County Commissioners received testimony from UF experts recommending masking as an effective tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

WGFL CBS 4 (Gainesville) (9/08/21): United Faculty of Florida seeking public records regarding COVID safety The UFF said in an effort to safeguard the health of Florida public universities and state college students and staff, they sent a request for public records to Governor DeSantis’ office, the State Board of Education, the Board of Governors, and to more than 24 university and college administrators.

Orlando Sentinel (9/07/21): Reinstate Lake-Sumter State College professor, whose dismissal stinks of union-busting | Editorial No wonder Lake-Sumter’s faculty voted overwhelmingly in 2018 to form a union, over the opposition from college administration.

The Florida Channel (9/02/21): News Briefing [Video] A circuit court judge issued a written ruling in the school mask case, barring the DeSantis administration from banning mask mandates or seeking to punish local school boards that adopt such mandates [Video 0:00- 1:03].

Orlando Weekly (8/31/21): Florida university leaders say their ‘hands are tied’ and they cannot mandate masks A day earlier, Graduate Assistants United, a union of Florida State University graduate assistants, led a small march through campus to demand more-stringent measures.

Spectrum News 1 (8/30/21): Florida State University president shoots down calls for campus mask mandate “I will not be able to live with myself if I have to bury one of my students or colleagues this year or, God forbid, they have to bury one of their children,” GAU member Roxie Brookshire told the board.

Sun-Sentinel (8/30/21): Florida universities face constraints amid COVID surge Robert Cassanello, president of the United Faculty of Florida union at the University of Central Florida… “We would like to follow the brave school boards of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties who have defied mask policies in the state and defied the governor,” Cassanello said.

Spectrum News 13 (8/27/21): UCF faculty union concerned about COVID-19 pandemic safety measures United Faculty of Florida at UCF president Robert Cassanello points to UCF’s COVID decision triggers list. This list outlines what would cause the university to increase restrictions, such as virtual learning. Last year’s list also included case numbers.

Public News Service (8/27/21): FL Supporters Amplify Need for Biden’s Free Community College Plan During a Thursday virtual news conference by the labor union United Faculty of Florida, Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., said the change would make drastic improvements in students’ lives, who are often saddled with debt.

Florida Politics (8/26/21): ‘A game changer’: Florida Dems, faculty union back Joe Biden free college plan Soto spoke Thursday with Florida Sen. Janet Cruz of Tampa and Rep. Tracie Davis of Jacksonville, who joined United Faculty of Florida President Andrew Gothard and UFF organizer Adela Ghadimi to discuss the plan.

The Independent Florida Alligator (8/25/21): UF disappoints students and faculty: then and now Frankly, many faculty and graduate assistants have felt frustrated and disrespected during these times. Article written By Steven Kirn, Co-chair of combined UFF-UF/GAU COVID Task Force.

WPTV 5 – West Palm Beach (8/23/21): Florida Atlantic University faculty hold rally, petition administration to take action against COVID-19 “We are very unhappy with the lack of a mask mandate. We are unhappy with the lack of vaccinations sites on campus, and we are unhappy with not having the option of putting our classes fully online,” said Deandre Poole, United Faculty of Florida-FAU president.

The Independent Florida Alligator (8/23/21): ACPS returns to an uncertain Fall, P.K. Yonge remains mask-optional as youth COVID-19 cases surge “All students have a right to safe spaces for education,” according to the United Faculty of Florida at UF letter. “Local schools and campuses need to be empowered to make decisions that protect their students, faculty and staff.”

University Press (8/23/21): UFF-FAU holds protest against university administration’s response to COVID-19 safety protocols The FAU chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, better known as UFF-FAU, organized the protest to demand changes in the university’s COVID-19 safety policy.

Miami New Times (8/23/21): FIU Professors Sign Letter Demanding Vaccine and Mask Mandates Martha Meyer, a professor and president of FIU’s chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, says instructors are especially concerned that state universities are returning to normal amid Florida’s record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases and reports that the Delta variant is linked to more severe cases in younger people.

WCJB 20 – Gainesville, FL (8/21/21): University of Florida faculty want to join Alachua County Public Schools in mandating masks for students and staff Officials with the United Faculty of Florida at UF are pushing university leaders to follow suit by requiring masks on campus. “I’m asking the University of Florida, don’t take a leap of faith do the right thing,” said UFF-UF Co-President Paul Ortiz.

University Press (8/21/21) : FAU’s United Faculty of Florida chapter to hold on-campus protest The FAU chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF), a faculty union, will protest against the universities’ lack of action in response to Covid-19 on the first full-day back on campus.

redefinED (8/12/21): BROWARD GIVEN UNTIL FRIDAY TO REVERSE MASK MANDATE, PINELLAS SCHOOL BOOSTS GRADE FROM F TO A, AND MORE The United Faculty of Florida is calling on Gov. DeSantis to require face masks on all state college and university campuses. Tallahassee Democrat.

Tampa Bay Times (8/20/21) : Florida universities need more power to protect against COVID, faculty say “I’m sorry, but you don’t play with people’s safety and lives,” Manning said. “I think it’s fantastically irresponsible, given the extraordinary virulence of the delta variant.”

NEA Today (8/18/21) : Florida Faculty Fighting for Free Speech and Ideas  “The goal is to intimidate faculty and students into holding one political viewpoint, and that would be the viewpoint of the political party in power,” says Andrew Gothard, president of the United Faculty of Florida, the statewide NEA-affiliated faculty union.

Tallahassee Democrat (8/12/21): FAMU President Larry Robinson: Masks ‘expected’ in buildings on campus The president of the United Faculty of Florida sent a letter to DeSantis Wednesday, urging him to mandate indoor use of masks, to require all students…

WJXT News4Jax (8/12/21): UNF faculty members call for teaching flexibility as delta variant spreads News4Jax asked Elizabeth Brown, vice president of United Faculty of Florida, about the rally’s objective. “The goal today is to allow faculty some…

UNF Spinnaker (8/11/21): UNF faculty responds to the announcement of Szymanski’s new role with a call to focus on the pandemic Spinnaker also reached out to the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) here at UNF to hear their thoughts on this big news, and they released the following…

The Crow’s Nest (8/11/21): Students “strongly urged” to abide COVID-19 precautions, faculty uncertain According to Business Professor Robert Welker, USF members of the United Faculty of Florida union will discuss a bargaining proposal with university 

Fox13Today Tampa Bay (8/11/21): Faculty union wants mask mandate on Florida college campuses The United Faculty of Florida is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to call for a mask mandate on all college and university campuses in the state. The federal…

WCJB.COM (8/11/21) : The United Faculty of Florida is asking the Governor and Universities to set more COVID-19 protocols The United Faculty of Florida is calling on the Governor and State Universities to institute more COVID-19 protocols. The union wants all…

Tallahassee Democrat (8/11/21): Statewide faculty union urging masks, vaccines, online classes on Florida campuses “No one should have to choose between their lives and their education or paycheck,” union’s leader says.”

News Service of Florida (08/05/21) : ‘Intellectual Freedom’ Law Faces Constitutional Challenge

WLRN 91.3FM (8/05/21): The United Faculty of Florida on Wednesday joined the lawsuit, which was filed last month in federal court in Tallahassee. 

WTSP (Ch​.10) Tampa-St​. Petersburg (8/04/21): Florida university union joins lawsuit against state’s ‘intellectual diversity’ law …challenging a recent law that calls for a survey of beliefs of university and college professors. United Faculty of Florida announced it would join other students and faculty members in challenging the ‘intellectual..

WCJB (ABC)-Gainesville (8/04/21) : United Faculty of Florida joins lawsuit filed by public colleges …representing staff at UF and other universities is joining a lawsuit challenging a new state law. United Faculty of Florida is joining the lawsuit first filed by faculty members and students at public colleges…

Inside Higher Ed (8/03/21): Cries of Union Busting at a Florida College Lake-Sumter State College in Florida opposed the unionization of its full-time faculty. Then it refused to meet with the new union virtually for contract negotiations during the pandemic.

Orlando Weekly (7/28/21): Lake-Sumter State College faculty on edge after the sudden dismissal of a tenured professor and key union member  LSSC’s United Faculty of Florida has been recognized by the school following an election.  They see a precedent that could tear up the very foundation of higher ed employment and make union actions little more than a pipe dream.

88.5 WMNF (11/11/20) Following end of federal oversight, a Catholic University in Florida said it will no longer recognize faculty union, leaving teachers vulnerable Faculty at Saint Leo University in Pasco County are worried about job security and other protections after a surprise decision from the school’s board of trustees stripped them of union protection.

Inside Higher ED (11/10/20) Against Face-to-Face Teaching Mandates In Florida, for instance, faculty unions at three public universities… are filing grievances against their institutions regarding in-person instruction. These actions follow other forms of outreach by professors to their administrations.

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