Minutes of the University Faculty Meeting
October 18, 2005
Broun Hall Auditorium
Submitted by Patricia Duffy
Conner Bailey called the meeting to order at 3 p.m.
Approval of Minutes:
A motion was made by Rik Blumenthal and seconded by Larry Teeter to approve the minutes of the March 15, 2005, faculty meeting. The motion passed by voice vote without opposition.
Conner Bailey welcomed Furman Smith, President of the Faculty Senate at AUM, and Judd Katz, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at AUM.
Conner Bailey also mentioned, John Aho, a faculty leader from AUM who has been involved with the Auburn University Steering Committee in discussions of post-tenure review, who was not at the meeting.
Conner Bailey said that in the seven months since the last
University Faculty Meeting, a large number of initiatives had been brought
forward, including academic program review and post-tenure review, which were
both topics for the day's meeting. He
also mentioned the Initiative for
Conner Bailey said that the faculty leadership has addressed a number of concerns. He noted that the Senate Non-Tenure Track Instructors committee has been working on issues of interest to diverse groups of non-tenure track faculty on campus. He also noted that the Senate leadership and Senate Rules Committee is appointing an ad hoc Committee to look into long-standing concerns from different parts of campus related to patents, inventions, and technology transfer.
Conner Bailey said that some faculty members have expressed concerns about adequate availability of textbooks. He said that Sharon Gaber, in the Provost's office, has met with Rusty Hogan of the University Bookstore, who is here today.
He also said that the faculty leadership has maintained close working relationship with the alumni leadership. He said that he himself has met twice with the alumni board and has discussed the issue of the length of terms of certain trustees.
On the state of shared governance, he said that these are
the "best of times, the worst of times." He said that the faculty
leadership has worked closely and effectively with the Provost's office and
that he believes Dr. Heilman is committed to shared
governance and openness on matters related to the faculty. He said that the Provost has opened up
processes for faculty input on the Initiative for
He said that the worst of times also exist. He noted that the last year and a half have underscored the importance of having in the President's office someone with a clear understanding of what it means to be a faculty member.
There were no questions.
Report from the President's Office by John Heilman, Provost
John Heilman began by thanking Conner Bailey for his previous remarks about the Provost's Office. He noted that he had been a full-time faculty member for nineteen years and that he has found it highly rewarding to work with the faculty leadership.
He said that President Richardson asked him to express sincere regret that he could not be present at the faculty meeting, because a situation required his continued presence out of town.
He noted that Art Chappelka and the Academic Program Review Committee have been hard at work developing background and proposals for academic program review. He noted that fifteen to twenty years ago we had an active system of academic program review and it seemed productive and worthwhile. He said that the Steering Committee is hard at work on proposals on post-tenure review. He said that the Tenure and Promotion process was underway and that there would be 72 cases to review this year.
He said that the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment is participating in a study of probationary, tenure-track faculty. He said that there are 175 AU faculty members in this category who are invited to submit confidential surveys and he hoped that they would all participate.
He said that the videos of the presentations of the four candidates for Associate Provost for Diversity will be available by tomorrow (October 19) on the web. He asked people to provide anonymous input via the web. He said that he is the only one who will read submitted comments and that he will do so carefully.
On the Strategic Plan, he said that he believes President Richardson fully intends that the broad-based input we (faculty and others) have provided will play a vital and substantive role in the process.
He concluded with an acknowledgement of the AU system
faculty. He recognized the presence of Judd
Katz, Interim Vice Chancellor at AUM.
He said the AU system holds great promise as a way to provide greater
service to the people o f
He said the role of the faculty is central to the advancement of the institution. He said that AU is alive and that we continue to attract and admit record numbers of increasingly well qualified students. He noted that we have the largest ever freshman class. He noted other accomplishments of the faculty, including our recent ranking in the US News and World Report number. He expressed his sincere appreciation for all that faculty do for students and for the university.
There were no questions.
Information Items, Conner Bailey, Faculty Chair
1) Nominating Committee: Conner Bailey announced the 2005-06 Nominating Committee for faculty officers. Jim Bradley was the convening chair, and Howard Thomas is the chair of the nominating committee. He noted that this is an important committee, which will come up with a slate of two candidates for chair-elect and secretary-elect. He noted that there are some resources available to officers, including salary benefits and a sabbatical leave. He said officers also have an office for an assistant and he introduced Lakeeta White, the administrative assistant to the Senate. He asked people to nominate themselves or colleagues,
2) Academic Program Review: Art Chappelka was called forward to give a report on Academic Program Review.
Cindy Brunner said she was concerned about using standardized metrics that would apply to all units across campus. She asked why we would need to compare two very different units.
Art Chappelka replied that some metrics are similar across campus, such as FTE's. He said these metrics can give a sense of where everyone is in that frame. He noted that there are also unique characteristics of each department or school. He said he does not believe there will be a direct comparison of different units, but that there are some common metrics that could be applied.
John Heilman said that having comparative information across departments enables one to ask questions and make decisions. He said it is a matter of good management to be able to compare units to understand which programs are very productive on certain measures, such as student credit hours or research activity or extramural funding. He said that we are in a world in which data are widely available on what universities and departments do and that having access to this information would allows the provost to formulate answers to questions that may occur to others.
Holly Stadler asked about issue related to some programs having national accrediting bodies. She said that some of these bodies accredit programs as being different from units, and that a unit may have one or two accredited programs out of a higher total number of programs.
Art Chappelka said that the
Cindy Brunner asked whether the draft proposal for the process would be presented to the Board of Trustees on November 17th.
Art Chappelka said that the draft proposal would not be given to the Board at that time, but that a presentation similar to the one given at this meeting will be made to the Board of Trustees.
Cindy Brunner asked that the proposal come to the faculty before it goes to the Board.
Art Chappelka indicated that this was his intent.
Richard Penaskovic asked about the purpose of Academic Program Review and questioned why we are doing it at this time when SACS gave us high marks on the academic side.
Art Chappelka said we have had academic reviews on this campus. He said we had an established program 15 to 20 years ago, which lasted only a few years. He said that since then there have been some haphazard program reviews, such as the one in the mid-1990s chaired by Drew Clark, that dealt primarily with viability. He said that the purpose of academic program review was that it was good to take a look at yourself continuously. He said the Committee has looked at other university models throughout the country. He said one of the fears is that if we don't develop academic program review, someone else will do it for us. He said that AU is one of the only schools in the southern US that does not have continuous, systematic academic program review.
Virginia O'leary expressed concern about the rapidity with which we are proceeding on academic program review. She said she believes it is serious and important, but there is something frightening about a trial run in the spring when there is nothing before us yet to examine. She said there are issues that are complex and it will take some thoughtful consideration, not just from the Committee but from others. She said that if we wanted to have something ready to go by spring, we needed criteria established some time ago.
Art Chappelka said that the spring timeline is a goal, and it may not be a goal that is achieved. He said that nothing will be done without a document being approved by the Senate and without careful consideration. He said that Beta testing would involve a unit that wanted to participate.
John Heilman said that models can be tested both deductively and inductively. He said that field testing is intended to see how the process works without the units having significant exposure. He said that the early evaluations would be intended as formative, to see how the process works.
Sadik Tuzun questioned the number and timing of initiatives, saying that academic program review should occur after the strategic plan is developed.
Art Chappelka said that a process can be developed that can be adapted with respect to the strategic plan. He said that the committee feels very strongly that if a unit gets reviewed, that recommendations should involve a time frame for the unit to improve.
Post-Tenure Review: Discussion of Two Basic Models
Larry Gerber expressed sympathy for the task of the Steering Committee. He said that many faculty members believe that post-tenure review is not necessary and may be counterproductive, but that given the situation, he commends the Steering Committee for their efforts. He said that summative evaluations on a 5 to 7 year basis would be good in theory, but expressed concerns about the time that would be involved and the possibility of misuse. He said he believed that it was unlikely that the procedure would be used as intended. Of the two models, he said he leaned toward the triggered method. He said that the sanctions short of dismissal for a faculty manner are understandable and that reassignment of duties or restriction of travel funds could make sense. He expressed concern about reduction in salary, as opposed to salary freeze, as a possible sanction. He expressed strong disagreement with the use of reduction in rank as a possible sanction because a reduction in rank raises questions about the tenure and promotion process. He urged Steering to reconsider these possible sanctions.
Larry Gerber also discussed the importance of the selection of the review committee for post-tenure review under the trigger system. He said that serious consideration should be given to how potential reviewers are nominated.
Conner Bailey said that the two models are discussion models at this point. Before moving much further forward, he said that he wanted to get a sense of the thinking of the faculty, which is the intent of this meeting.
Cindy Brunner asked about whether sanctions would be imposed during the remedial period. She said that imposing sanctions during the remedial period raises the question as to whether the intention is remediation or punishment and that she would argue that imposing sanctions during the remedial period makes the point of the process punitive. She said the Steering Committee and faculty as a whole need to decide whether the process is remedial or designed to get rid of faculty.
Conner Bailey said that, for example, during the professional improvement period, removing travel funds may be the wrong approach. He said that maybe salary would be frozen in that period, but that details need to be worked out. He said that there are forces that see post-tenure review as connected to non-performing faculty.
Cindy Brunner said that a previous academic leader encouraged departments to have a point system for ranking faculty. She said she does not think that this is a good strategy for evaluations.
Rik Blumenthal said that his annual
merit raise is based on a point system.
He said that he opposes post-tenure review. He said faculty is the only group that gets
raises only on merit, with no cost of living raises. He said we can be punished every year by
having no pay raise, which with inflation is a pay cut. He asked that faculty be allowed to vote
first whether or not to have post-tenure review. He said w got outstanding reviews from SACS,
Holly Stadler said that the annual evaluations and merit raises give department heads a great deal of power, especially in small departments that do not have a departmental Steering Committee. She said these situations open up opportunities for private deals between chair and certain faculty. She said that universal post-tenure review allows for reviews by peers, and that the locus of decision making by peers can be helpful. She said she hopes that the faculty would think of post-tenure review as providing a broad career perspective. She cautioned against a triggered approach because it would give the department head in many departments another opportunity for a private deal.
Mark Barnett said he agreed with Rik Blumenthal, that we should have a vote on whether or not to proceed. If we do adopt post-tenure review, he said he would like to do it only after a new president is hired.
Conner Bailey suggested adoption on a two-year trial basis, which would probably go past Ed Richardson's term in office.
noted that there are extenuating circumstances in some cases and that looking
at two to three years of functioning is not sufficient to evaluate the full contribution. He said that if there is a decrease in
performance, reasons should be investigated, rather than punishing the
person. He said that the more you try to
punish people, the more the morale diminishes.
He said that academic freedom gives us the opportunity to do what we
like as long as it fits into the academic principals, and that once you are a
professor, you should have the flexibility to explore new ideas. He said he has looked at websites for other
universities, such as
Conner Bailey said he has heard comments as to whether or not we should proceed. He said we will discuss this issue at the November Senate meeting and it may be that we should have a special called meeting of the university faculty to return to this issue. He said that at this specially called faculty meeting, there would be a resolution to vote on a model. A substitute resolution could be brought forward (dealing with not proceeding)
The meeting adjourned at 4:50.