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The Point: Meet the ExCom!


Greetings, Colleagues!

So, first things very much first: I hope you and your loved ones are all well, in body and mind.  It has sure been a time.  I also truly hope you managed to do something restorative, inspiring, and just plain fun this summer.

I write to introduce myself—I’m the Communications Director for the FSU Executive Committee. For some time now I have been sending out regular Monday weekly blasts: sometimes they are very particular action-item type missives, sometimes they are more broad investigations about issues in Higher Ed, labor politics, and related matters.

This week I am going to keep my own comments very brief (which, for anybody who knows me IRL, knows is a pretty big deal) so that I can get to my real task of the week—introducing you to the rest of the Executive Committee and a few other people as well.  We are all elected to our terms and all represent a particular cohort of members—librarians, non-tenure track faculty, pre-tenure faculty, and tenured faculty.  We work together remarkably well, I think, to do the work we have been elected to do. And our main task this year, as always, is to make sure that the FSU feels like your union: advocating for your collectively-bargained rights, protecting and advancing the urban mission of UMB, and trying to serve what we understand as the “common good.” 

You probably already know our leaders, a bit.  You’ve been hearing regularly over the summer and in the past week from our President Steve Striffler, who is also the Director of the Labor Resource Center. Our Vice-President, Caroline Coscia, works as a Senior Lecturer II in the Political Science Department and wears so many hats for the union that she should open a hat store.

Here’s the rest of the ExCom. While we all have particular roles given the communities we represent, you should feel to contact any of us if you have questions about the union or need support.

Lynne Benson is an NTT representative who teaches in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department.  Lynne describes her priorities for this year as wanting to work to increase transparency between the administration and the campus community and build deeper and broader solidarity among faculty and staff.

Linda Liu is an NTT representative who teaches in the Sociology Department. Linda is especially interested in contributing to the work of transforming UMB into a truly health-promoting and anti-racist university.  As part of this mission she hopes to focus on achieving greater equity and inclusion for NTT faculty and building solidarity among university workers.

Tim Sieber is a tenured representative who teaches in the Anthropology Department. Tim’s fondest hope as we begin this momentous academic year is that we work to create a better kind of  “normal” together with students and staff at UMB. In this process of rebuilding, he hopes the administration will recognize the constructive democratic voice that campus unions can offer in this revisioning.

Meghan Kallman is a pre-tenured representative who teaches in the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development. Among other things, Meghan wants to see the FSU achieve a good, fair contract, and expand the ways the ExCom interacts with our membership—especially pre-tenure faculty.

Travis Johnston is a pre-tenured representative who teaches in the Political Science Department.  This year he hopes to continue working as a member of ExCom to identify and address inequities on campus, particularly those impacting our non-tenure stream colleagues.

Dana Commesso is an NTT representative who teaches in Exercise and Health Sciences.  Her hope for this year is to expand opportunities for, and the voice of, NTT faculty at a university which prides itself on preparing students from Boston and beyond to serve our community as leaders and innovators.  Her central FSU commitment for this year will be to advocate for smaller class sizes and to try to represent the concerns of international faculty.

Jessica Holden is our sole librarian representative. As such, she is committed to advocating for the rights and equity of all our members, collaborating with the other unions on campus, and creating an anti-racist university.

José Martinez-Reyes is a tenured representative who teaches in the Anthropology Department. José plans to continue working to defend the rights and protect the well-being of all our membership, but most especially NTT colleagues. He also plans to raise awareness about Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Monique Fuquet is an NTT representative who teaches in the math department. Among other things Monique wants to bring her unique skills to bear to help the FSU develop a more sustainable financial model as we move forward.

Jeff Melnick is a tenured representative who teaches in the American Studies Department.  Along with serving as Communications Director, Jeff plans to use his position on ExCom to help encourage all of us to remain on (the) Point: part of a larger community that we at once draw so much from and owe so much to.

In addition to our ExCom members we also have four other key people I wanted to introduce you to right away. One is Christopher Fung who will work as the FSU organizer this year and aims to deepen solidarity across campus and create a better and more just work environment for all.

Katie D’Urso is the MTA Field Representative who works with the FSU on all matters, including bargaining, grievances, strategy, and organizing.

Robert Slack is the administrative assistant in the FSU office who keeps so much of our work moving forward.

And finally, not technically a member of the ExCom, there is our Senior Staff Member, Lorenzo Nencioli. Literally everything we do relies on his expertise, wisdom, and hard work.

That’s it for now. I hope this second week of classes is smooth, uneventful, and healthy.

Talk to you soon.


Jeff Melnick

American Studies Department

Communications Director, Faculty Staff Union Executive Committee

For information on the FSU, links to our contract and bargaining updates, and a calendar of events, see the FSU webpage