Faculty Senate clarifies promotion procedures

Media Credit: File photo by Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

Jeffrey Gutman, the chair of the professional ethics and academic freedom committee, proposed two resolutions Friday to clarify language about faculty promotion processes.

Updated: Feb. 16, 2019 at 3:23 p.m.

The Faculty Senate passed two resolutions Friday clarifying language about faculty promotion processes.

The senate was initially set to discuss the measures last month, but members voted to table the debate until last week’s meeting after some said they did not have enough time to review the proposed updates.

Jeffrey Gutman, the chair of the professional ethics and academic freedom committee, proposed the resolutions, which prompted more than two hours of debate. The measures now await approval from the Board of Trustees at the group’s annual May meeting.

Promotion processes
The code was updated to clarify the appointment and reappointment processes for specialized faculty – short-term professors who are hired to participate in specific research, teaching or service projects.

The criteria for the promotion of specialized faculty was not specifically outlined in the resolution but instead deferred the specific processes to individual schools and departments, sparking a debate among some members who argued that the process should be standardized to match promotion procedures for other faculty positions.

Senate members also agreed to clarify the way the University considers faculty who are eligible for tenure, outlining that tenured status is reserved for faculty who compare with “successful” candidates at similar stages of their careers at higher education institutions that have “nationally recognized” programs in the particular candidate’s field.

“We wanted to make sure the statement is utilized to make sure that it emphasized our commitment to excellence,” Provost Forrest Maltzman said at the meeting Friday.

The resolution would also require the dean of each school to respond to recommendations that faculty committees provided to them on the allocation of tenure-track appointments.

Maintaining confidentiality
The second resolution involved the confidentiality of the promotion process. Faculty approved a measure amending the code to ensure that evaluative materials, like recommendations and other documents, are not given to a candidate while they are considered for a position.

The resolution stipulates that the “substance” of evaluative reviews can only be shared with candidates “in appropriate circumstances” as long as the identity of the reviewer has been concealed.

The legislation also clarified the reasons for filing a grievance, including discrimination, violations of the faculty code or faculty handbook, “arbitrary” administrative actions and retaliation.

During the Faculty Senate meeting earlier this month, the senate also struck down a clause in that resolution that would have allowed faculty in each school to create a committee to advise the provost during dean reviews.

This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported, based on an earlier version of the senate legislation, that the second resolution allowed promotion candidates to review redacted evaluative materials in the case of a grievance filing. An amended version of the legislation stipulates that evaluative materials should not be given to candidates, and only the “substance” can be provided “in appropriate circumstances.” The Hatchet also incorrectly reported that the senate approved a measure allowing faculty to create a committee advising the provost during decanal reviews. That language was removed from the amended legislation. We regret these errors.

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