Jan. 20, 2011

Faculty conduct policy changes on hold in senate

by Erin Rosacker

Changes to the faculty conduct policy will have to wait until next month, after continued discussion dominated the Jan. 18 Faculty Senate meeting and an expected vote was postponed.

The Faculty Handbook's current conduct policy (section 7.2) lacks a procedure for dealing with faculty who are not fulfilling their duties. The proposed change, first introduced at the Dec. 7 meeting, adds unacceptable performance of duty to the types of misconduct (such as discrimination, harassment or conflicts of interest) defined in the handbook. If a complaint is properly documented and filed, it would move forward through the established review and resolution procedures outlined in the overall conduct policy.

Senators reviewed substantial modifications to the original document and adopted one of two amendments. Senators then voted to table the discussion, allowing them time to share the modified document (PDF) with their department colleagues before voting.

"This is a crucially important document that deserves an opportunity for the faculty, as a whole within each department, to have an in-depth discussion about what is going to be voted on," said Pete Sherman, associate professor in aerospace engineering and statistics.

The conduct policy's connection to proposed post-tenure review policy changes also weighed in their decision to table the discussion.

"There has been concern about the relationship this policy has with the post-tenure review policy that's new business," said April Katz, associate professor in art and design. "Perhaps the discussions could parallel each other and before we voted on one, the discussion could happen on both."

Post-tenure review

Proposed revisions to the post-tenure review policy (PDF) were introduced at the conclusion of the meeting. The changes further define the review timeline, outcomes and the roles of administrators.

"The underlying principle of our current post-tenure review policy stays. The post-tenure review is a peer review, it is not an administrative review," said Steve Freeman, senate president-elect. "The post-tenure review policy as proposed here can never result in dismissal of faculty."

The document will be up for discussion and a possible vote at the Feb. 8 meeting.

Other business

  • Senators will vote next month on a department name change for plant pathology, which would become the department of plant pathology and microbiology.
  • Ann Marie VanDerZanden, a professor in horticulture and associate director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, was elected president-elect for 2011-12. Jonathan Sturm, associate professor in music, and Robert Wallace, associate professor in ecology, evolution and organismal biology also were on the ballot.