Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
November 19, 1999

Letter on post-tenure review irks senators

by Linda Charles
A letter sent to faculty on post- tenure review procedures drew fire from several Faculty Senate representatives during the senate meeting Nov. 9.

Some senators said the letter, signed by Provost Rollin Richmond and Faculty Senate president Dean Ulrichson, "minimized the effort of faculty" in developing departmental post-tenure review policies.

Under the new university post-tenure review policy, faculty in each department are to prepare their own post-tenure review policies, which then are to be approved "in accordance with the collegiate governance approval process that applies to the departmental promotion and tenure document."

Faculty are in the process of preparing their policies now.

In the letter, dated Oct. 29, Richmond and Ulrichson wrote, "Clearly annual reviews by the DEO do not satisfy the intent of this policy. Each policy is to be approved by the departmental faculty, the dean and the provost."

Richmond and Ulrichson also suggested a college committee be formed by the college faculty governance body and dean "to review and suggest concerns with, perhaps iteratively, each departmental document before it is submitted for administrative approval."

"The intent of this letter," said Veronica Dark, psychology, "is to minimize effort of faculty in developing the post- tenure review policies. If we follow the suggestions outlined in this letter, not only are we going against the post-tenure review policy that we approved, but we're actually going to create more work than necessary."

Unless the college governance approval process requires the provost's approval, Dark said, "there's no need for the provost to see our post-tenure review policies from the departmental level." She also said there was "no need for colleges to set up some special review apparatus as a result of the procedures that we (the senate) passed."

"For that to be suggested," she said, "means that post-tenure review has gone from being bottom-up, controlled by the departments, to top-down, controlled by the colleges."

Dark proposed, and the senate approved this resolution: "The Faculty Senate reaffirms that the university post-tenure review policy does not require the establishment of a collegiate level committee, nor can review or approval by such a committee be required unless the collegiate governance approval process requires it."

Other senators took exception to a statement in the letter that annual reviews couldn't be used as post-tenure reviews. They said nothing in the post-tenure review policy prevents faculty from fashioning their plans along the lines of the annual review. Ulrichson agreed the statement in the letter was incorrect.

Ulrichson said the letter had been suggested by the senate's executive board following a meeting with DEOs, in which a DEO expressed concern that a sentence in a proposed post-tenure review policy could open the department and university to litigation. The DEO said there might not be adequate review of the policies to prevent litigious statements.

The letter was sent to faculty to reaffirm that post-tenure reviews are meant to be "developmental" in nature, Ulrichson said. He pointed out the letter "suggests" forming the review board, but does not mandate it. He noted that the proposed college committee could help and perhaps save some departments time by sharing what other departments had already done.

"There was no intent at all to make this top-down," Ulrichson said. "The letter was intended to be supportive."

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