MINUTES OF THE FACULTY HANDBOOK REVISION COMMITTEE

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2008

Mason Hall, room D1; 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

 

Present: Kevin Avruch, Associate Director and Professor of Conflict Resolution, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution; Lorraine Brown, Professor of English, College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Rick Coffinberger, Associate Professor of Business and Legal Studies, School of Management, Chair; Martin Ford, Senior Associate Dean, College of Education and Human Development; Dave Harr, Senior Associate Dean, School of Management; Suzanne Slayden, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science.

 

Discussion:  Post-Tenure Review Policy

·        Present policy dates from 1996 as approved by the Faculty Senate and posted on the Provost Office website at http://www.gmu.edu/departments/provost/documents/PostTenure.doc

·        "Post-Tenure Review: An AAUP Response" (AAUP Policy Documents and Reports, 10th edition, Washington, DC:  AAUP, 2006) pp. 60-66 distributed by Lorraine Brown, president of the AAUP Chapter of George Mason University for review

·        Both documents also to be sent to the Faculty Matters Committee of the Faculty Senate for their input.

·        Provost regards current Post-Tenure Review policy as problematic. If you accumulate a bunch of unsatisfactory evaluations, current language ambivalent.  Lacks procedure on how decision would be made if dismissal (recommended).  To develop process of peer review similar to second level review in Promotion and Tenure Process, in which a decision made whether to continue or not to continue appointment. 

·        AAUP position that Post-Tenure Review cannot be grounds for dismissal (alone), there must also be a procedure.  AAUP policy assumes you may not have been reviewed at all. 

·        Every tenured faculty member is in Post-Tenure Review – evaluated annually. 

·        From AAUP Post-Tenure Review: Minimum Standards for Good Practice If a Formal System of Post-Tenure Review Is Established”   9.  In the event that recurring evaluations reveal continuing and persistent problems with a faculty member’s performance that do not lend themselves to improvement after several efforts, and that call into question his or her ability to function in that position, then other possibilities, such as a mutually agreeable reassignment to other duties or separation, should be explored.  If these are not practicable, or if no other solution acceptable to the parties can be found, then the administration should invoke peer consideration regarding any contemplated sanctions.”

·        AAUP documents very well written, suggestion made to reference them for spirit, to incorporate references in tenure and post-tenure review sections of Handbook. Other references, such as AAUP Statement on Plagiarism, already contained as Appendices in current Handbook.

·        Standards of good faith on both sides make all the difference in how this is used.  Unknown how many faculty have been dismissed as a result of Post-Tenure Review.  To have a policy which says you have to pay attention to improvement is a good idea.

·        Are salaries used as a carrot or a stick?  By rule, you cannot give a raise to someone with an unsatisfactory evaluation.  If no evaluation materials (provided), there is no raise, both for instructional and administrative faculty. 

·        Issue of how service is counted…when in agreement with balance between teaching and research, service is counted less and less. 

·        Evolution of culture of GMU as a research institution – credits Provost that evidence on teaching has not fallen dramatically; young PhDs who came from strong research universities (observed) their professors did not receive tenure because of service.  Custom of many departments/professors – if you are an untenured assistant professor, to load with service activities is damaging.  Benefit of having tenure allows faculty to be able to build up the institution; marginally another paper matters less.  To have a definition of tenured professor which notes increased obligation to institution which just gave you a job for life. 

·        Lack of recognition of publications such as refereed journal articles or articles in a university press if they do not also produce research grants, funding.  Move towards a research university has the effect of marginalizing not just service but kinds of scholarship, such as Classics, which do not produce research money.  Noted that Jack Censer, Dean of CHSS, does speak strongly in support of non-funded research in support of CHSS faculty. 

·        Post-Tenure Review applies to an infinitesimal number of faculty with multiple unsatisfactory evaluations.  But to have a tenure system, must also have a procedure for Post-Tenure Review.

·        To adapt from Promotion and Tenure procedures – a familiar schema, driven by peers, diligent, multiple reviews.  May also ask AAUP for advice.  Promotion and Tenure Committees are generally peer-elected. Post-Tenure Review as a rare event – not a lot of extra work. 

·        Once revised, to place Post-Tenure Review as new Section 2.6.2; old Section 2.6.2 Faculty Review of Academic Administrators renumbered as Section 2.6.3.

 

Incorporation of Section 2.7 entitled “Policies on Tenure” into other parts of Handbook, for the present, not to renumber following 2.7.

 

2.1.1 Tenured Appointment

 

Although the word "tenure" does not appear in the Code of Virginia, the University grants "election without term." This status is the contractual equivalent of tenure. The University defines tenure as the right to continued employment unless separated from the University under conditions outlined in Section 2.10 of this document. For the University, tenure is a major safeguard of academic freedom, of the quality of education offered here, and of the continuity and stability of the institution. For the faculty member on whom tenure is conferred, it is a privilege granted by the University to those who have consistently demonstrated their value to the institution over an extended period of time. (old 2.7.1)

 

The appointment issued successively each year to persons elected without term to the faculty of the University by the Board of Visitors. Faculty on tenured appointments normally hold the rank of Associate Professor or Professor. (1994 Handbook  text 2.1.1)

 

(next two paragraphs old 2.7.3)

Tenure, once conferred, resides in the University, and is not affected by the reorganization of academic units. In the event of program discontinuation or financial exigency, the institution will make a good faith effort to protect and retain its tenured faculty members and to provide them with opportunities for professional development and training for other roles in the University. This, however, does not imply that the faculty member is automatically entitled to retain tenure even if such an alternate position is found (see Sections 2.10.2.2 and 2.10.2.3).

 

Although the appointment of most faculty is to primary affiliation within a single academic unit, the University may appoint faculty to more than one unit. In such cases of joint primary affiliation, recommendations for promotion and/or tenure may be initiated by either/any of the units in which the faculty member is or is to be appointed to primary affiliation. Separate evaluations leading to separate recommendations and decisions will be made with respect to the multiple primary affiliations held by the candidate. A favorable action by one local academic unit does not obligate the other local academic units to act favorably. It is required, however, that in each/all of the evaluation processes the committee(s) involved must solicit and consider evaluations from the other units in which the candidate has been employed. All evaluations become part of the candidate's dossier (see Sections 2.8.2 and 2.8.4).

 

2.1.2 Tenure-Track Appointment

 

An instructional faculty appointment for a fixed term in which service is applied to consideration for tenure. These appointments are issued for terms of up to three years. The University can, but is not required to, renew such appointments of additional terms up to a total of seven years of service. An instructional faculty member in the final term of a tenure-track appointment cannot subsequently be given another tenure-track appointment but can subsequently be considered for another type of fixed term appointment. Faculty on tenure-track appointments may hold the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor. (1994 Handbook text revised)

 

Candidates in their sixth year of service at George Mason University on tenure-track appointment stand for tenure at that time if they wish to retain their position beyond the seventh year (see Section 2.8.3 for policy on notification to faculty terminated for failure to receive tenure). Earlier consideration is possible. Faculty hired on tenure-track appointments from other institutions will not normally be expected to serve a six-year tenure-track period. Credit toward tenure may be given for prior faculty service at other institutions.

(old Section 2.7.2 as revised)

 

Revisions:    2.10.2.4 Dismissal of Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Members for Cause –P age 1 of 4

 

Dismissal for cause is the involuntary termination of the employment of faculty members for reasons directly and substantially related to their fitness in their professional conduct capacities. Dismissals will not be used to restrain faculty members in their exercise of academic freedom or of their Constitutional rights.

 

Tenured faculty have important professional responsibilities. Tenure does not protect an individual from removal for cause. Legal precedent has shown that adequate cause can include, but is not restricted to: (i) flagrant violations of professional ethics; (ii) sustained unsatisfactory performance (including incompetence and lack of appropriate expertise); (ii) inability to perform assigned duties satisfactorily because of incarceration resulting from a felony conviction; (iii) exploitation of the power a faculty member may have over other members of the academic community (e.g., improper sexual advances, financial reward or punishment); (iv) documented failure to carry out professional obligations or assigned responsibilities; (v) falsification of information relating to professional qualifications; (vi) serious personal deficiencies if they prevent satisfactory performance of responsibilities (e.g., dependencies on drugs or alcohol); (vii) violation of institutional rules regarding outside employment; (viii) flagrantly abusive conduct toward colleagues; (ix) and impermissible retaliation for exercise of free speech and/or association.

 

The following procedures are designed to assure due process in dismissal proceedings occasioned by the alleged unfitness of a faculty member:

  1. If the conduct fitness of a faculty member comes into question, the President or the Provost will discuss the matter with the faculty member personally.
  2. If the matter is not resolved in this conference, it will be referred by the President to the university-level (?) Grievance Committee. .an ad hoc committee of five full-time faculty members, tenured and of equivalent or higher rank than the accused, elected by and from the faculty of the local academic unit(s) in which the accused holds primary affiliation. This committee is charged to initiate conduct an informal inquiry into the matter and to recommend attempt a reconciliation. If no satisfactory solution is reached, the committee is to decide whether or not the situation requires that formal proceedings for dismissal be instituted. This recommendation decision is confidential and advisory advice to the President of the University. The Grievance Committee must complete its work and report to the President within fourteen calendar twenty-eight days of receipt of the President's letter referring the matter to the committee.
  3. The President must decide if formal dismissal proceedings are to begin. If so, the statement of particulars will be drawn up by the President within fourteen days from receipt of the committee's report. If the committee concurs in this decision it should join in the formulation of the statement.

Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate