Dec. 9, 2010

Senate debates NTE teaching limits, faculty misconduct policy

by Erin Rosacker

Several items were cleared from the docket at the Dec. 8 Faculty Senate meeting, but two motions received the most attention. Lengthy discussion preceded a decision on non-tenure eligible teaching recommendations, but the debate will continue next month about changes to the faculty misconduct policy.

NTE teaching recommendations

Senators voted to approve a set of recommendations (PDF) for non-tenure eligible (NTE) teaching percentages. The senate's faculty development and administrative relations (FDAR) council created assessment and reporting tools for departments and colleges to use in defining and justifying "optimal" NTE teaching loads.

An amendment to add a headcount of NTE vs. tenure-track faculty to the metrics for measuring percentages was narrowly defeated (38-21). As is, the approved motion gives departments and colleges three ways to gauge NTE teaching -- section credits, student credit hours or course sections.

"The goal is to initiate more dialogue, to work on tracking this, to make things more transparent, and to be more explicit in the needs of NTE," said FDAR chair Ann Smiley-Oyen. "What we are stating here is a recommendation. We are not in any way making this a punitive statement. In fact, for better or for worse, we don't have any real teeth with this -- it's a recommendation to the provost."

The ISU chapter of the American Association of University Professors responded to the recommendations after they were introduced at last month's senate meeting. In a statement issued via e-mail, the AAUP chapter opposed the motion, arguing that the recommendations would allow departments and colleges to exceed the NTE teaching percentage limits (25 percent in any department, 15 percent as a university) suggested by the national AAUP and adopted by the Faculty Senate in 2001.

Citing an "undue burden on the tenure-track faculty to provide service and maintain active faculty governance," the chapter's statement proposed a different recommendation: Make teaching faculty tenure-eligible.

"Teaching-only faculty would gain stature as full members of the community with the benefits inherent in tenure, and their presence would relieve some of the service commitment of the tenure-eligible faculty," the statement read.

Misconduct policy

Changes to the conduct policy section (7.2) of the Faculty Handbook were introduced, filling in a "gap" which omits procedures for handling cases in which faculty are not fulfilling their responsibilities.

"This provides us with a guideline to address those issues where there is chronic unacceptable performance," said senate president Micheal Owen.

Three ways to determine unacceptable performance of duty are part of the proposed changes, including:

  • Failure to meet duties defined in the faculty member's position responsibility statement "for a significant period of time"
  • "Substantial and manifest neglect" of duties or "unwillingness to perform" duties defined in the faculty member's position responsibility statement
  • Continued performance concerns despite "reasonable efforts" by department, college and university officers to resolve them through university policy guidelines

As proposed, a complaint of unacceptable performance of duty would move forward from the college dean only after it's been vetted through the department chair and faculty colleagues. If a formal complaint is warranted, it moves forward to the provost and faculty senate president for evaluation. Only then would it be sent through the complaint review and resolution procedures already outlined in the handbook -- an intricate process that includes a thorough investigation by an unbiased faculty review board and an appeals process.

Lengthy discussion about the motion included concerns about its lack of specificity and its correlation to upcoming post-tenure review policy changes. More discussion is expected at next month's meeting, when the item is eligible for a vote.

Other business

Senators unanimously approved:

  • Faculty Handbook revisions (section 2.8), which spell out the approval process for renaming academic units
  • Three new minors in the kinesiology department (health promotion, exercise science and kinesiology)
  • Updated catalog copy
  • The fall graduation list