MINUTES OF THE FACULTY HANDBOOK REVISION COMMITTEE

FEBRUARY 21, 2007 - 8:30 - 10:00 a.m., Mason Hall, room D5

 

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; Marilyn Mobley, Associate Provost for Education Programs and Associate Professor of English.

 

Absent:  Dave Harr, Senior Associate Dean, School of Management; David Rossell, Associate Provost for Personnel and Budget, ex-officio; Suzanne Slayden, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science.

 

Report to the BOV Faculty and Academic Standards Committee postponed to March 21, 2007:  Due to insufficient time, Rick did not have an opportunity to discuss the Faculty Handbook revision at the January 31st BOV meeting.  The committee concurred with his recommendation to discuss process issues; to educate Visitors (some new to the Board) about the Faculty Handbook; why it is important; and why we need to update it.  Additional topics include how the committee was selected; the impact of growth in the number of students, faculty, and campuses; and progress made.

 

Forums:  As suggested by President Merten, the committee discussed scheduling more forums during the first and second weeks of April at the Fairfax, Arlington, and Prince William campuses; to schedule in a concise period. 

 

Draft of Noncompetitive (Waived Search) Hire Policy:  The policy was developed by the Faculty Matters Committee (a standing committee of the Faculty Senate) and will be discussed at the Senate meeting later today.

 

Policy.  In keeping with Section 1.3 of the Faculty Handbook that states, “In accordance with the best traditions of American universities, the faculty plays a primary role in…faculty personnel actions,” the faculty role in noncompetitive hires is equal to that in competitive searches and hires.  This policy concerns all noncompetitive hires of instructional term, tenured, and tenure-line faculty.

 

Noncompetitive or direct hires are hires in which the search process is waived.  When hiring term, tenured and tenure-line faculty, competitive searches should be used except in very special circumstances.  These circumstances are normally limited to situations (a) when the candidate has already established a national/international reputation, the program has a unique opportunity to hire the targeted candidate, and the area of specialization complements those of faculty already in the program; (b) when the candidate is a close family member (spouse, parent, child, or sibling) of a candidate being hired through formal search procedures and the university is attempting to accommodate the family member; and (c) when an administrator is hired and is considered for acceptance in a specific local academic unit (LAU).  While an administrator is normally hired using a competitive process at the administrative level, this policy applies because s/he is not part of a competitive process at the level of the LAU.  Instructional term faculty may also be hired without a search when classes must be staffed immediately due to an unexpected resignation, death, or illness of a member of the teaching faculty.  Waiver of a search in this situation is usually only valid for up to one year.

 

Procedures.  Faculty in the LAU review the credentials of any individual who is a candidate for noncompetitive hire using the same procedures as review of competitive hire candidates.  These include at a minimum the opportunity to examine a curriculum vitae, meet with the candidate, attend a job seminar or formal presentation by the candidate, and review letters of reference.  The LAU faculty then vote to accept or reject the candidate.  The hiring process moves forward only when a majority of the LAU faculty who are eligible to vote accept the candidate.

 

If a candidate for noncompetitive hire is to be tenured upon hiring, s/he must be reviewed by both the LAU faculty and the college- or school-level promotion and tenure committee.  The LAU review requires a majority positive vote by eligible faculty for tenure in addition to the vote to accept the candidate into the program.  If the LAU faculty vote is positive and the chair approves of the candidate, the dossier is then sent to the college or school promotion and tenure committee.  As with all tenure reviews, independent external letters from recognized experts in the candidate’s field must be obtained in a manner consistent with other tenure reviews, and candidates are held to the same standards as other candidates in that LAU.  Since noncompetitive hires may be made outside the normal annual promotion and tenure cycle, college and school promotion and tenure committees must develop procedures for reviewing candidates out of cycle.

 

·        If the draft policy is adopted, it will become effective immediately; expectation that it would become part of the Faculty Handbook.

·        Suggestion made to include in Handbook as a new section; 2.3.4 Noncompetitive (Waived Search) Hire. 

·        Consensus to change “tenure-line” to “tenure-track”.  Tenure-line seen as a budget item (including both tenure and tenure-track).  Should Senate not change wording, could change later for consistency in Handbook text.  Positive response to draft document among committee members.

 

Draft Policy:  Employment of Family Members/Personal Relationship Policy:  also in development by the Faculty Matters Committee; it will be presented at a future Senate meeting.

 

Favoritism or the appearance of it can undermine the trust that members of the university community place in personnel decisions as well as the public interest which the university serves.  Thus, a personnel decision involving a family member of a faculty member or administrator or an individual with whom a family member or administrator has a personal relationship requires unique scrutiny and special safeguards.  In no case should a faculty member or administrator who might have a “personal interest” participate in the hiring, supervision, evaluation, or other personnel actions that involve a close family member (spouse, parent, child or sibling) or other individual with whom s/he has a personal relationship.

 

If a faculty member or administrator might exercise or appear to exercise control over the employment or other personnel actions of a close family member or person with whom s/he has a personal relationship, the supervisor of the faculty member or administrator must, at a minimum, designate a disinterested person to substitute for the individual who might have a personal interest.  Additional steps may also have to be taken if colleagues or subordinates of the individual with a personal interest are involved in the employment activities.  “Appearance of exercising control” includes but is not limited to assigning responsibility for personnel action involving a faculty member or administrator in a local academic unit, the faculty in that unit and all other interested parties must be fully apprised of both the family/personal relationship and the steps that have been taken to ensure that the individual with a personal interest is not involved in the personnel decision.

 

At least ten days prior to consideration of a personnel action involving a close family member of a faculty member or administrator or other person with whom s/he has a personal relationship by the Board of Visitors, the Board will be fully apprised of the relationship and the steps taken to ensure that the individual with a personal interest was not involved in the action.  Only after the Board is satisfied that the present policy was implemented and that safeguards were adequate should the personnel action be approved.

 

·        Some committee members question the wisdom of bringing BOV into these kinds of decisions.  Presume a very strong family member/relationship policy should be reviewed by the Provost and President. 

·        While intent not to involve BOV, there are certain personnel actions the BOV has to approve, such as tenure decisions. For those actions requiring BOV approval, the BOV should be fully apprised of  relationship.

·        Should we include term faculty or not?  Consideration that some number of term faculty stay for many years.  If (situation) tainted by “special treatment” whether apparent or actual? 

·        If you are hiring term faculty, go through the approval process, why does BOV need to approve?  Some term hires are done without searches.

 

2.3 Recruitment and Appointment of Faculty - continuation of revisions suggested by Martin Ford and Dave Harr discussed at FHC meeting December 8, 2006; deletions highlighted in yellow; revised/new text appears in Red.

 

2.3.1 Policies on Recruitment and Appointment of Faculty

The Board of Visitors has full authority over faculty personnel matters, including the responsibility to approve including faculty appointments. To carry out this function effectively, the Board selects a President, who appoints other academic officers. Academic administrators share responsibility with the faculty for ensuring that appropriate qualitative standards are fostered; that equity and due process are the rule; that judgments in the selection, retention, and promotion of faculty are in the best long-term interests of the University; and that affirmative action, equal opportunity, and fair employment practices are followed (see Appendix A).

 

Initial review and evaluation of qualifications are carried out by peers in the local academic unit to which the candidate is to be appointed. Faculty recommendations for appointment are forwarded to the dean or director of the academic unit in which the appointment is to be made. If concurring with the faculty recommendations, the dean or director will forward them to the Provost and the President.

 

·        Removed phrase “including the responsibility to approve ”and replaced with  “including” faculty appointments in first sentence of first paragraph.

·        Recognize need to explain to BOV above change of wording made, should they inquire.

 

2.3.2 Procedures for Recruitment and Appointment of Tenured and Probationary Tenure-Track Faculty

Requests for new faculty appointments to allocated positions normally originate with the local unit administrator, acting upon the recommendation of the unit's faculty. In particular, the administrator seeks the assistance of the faculty in defining the requirements of the position to be filled and the qualifications to be sought in the appointee. Authorization from the appropriate dean and the Provost is necessary before a search is initiated to fill a vacancy or a new position. In unusual cases a waiver of the search process may be requested by the local unit administrator. Hires without term require special review as appropriate to local unit in conformance with Section 2.8.4 Procedures for Promotion and Tenure.

 

The local academic unit establishes, usually by election, a faculty committee possibly a committee of the whole to advise and assist the local unit administrator in carrying out a search. After receiving appropriate training from the Office of Equity and Diversity Services, these committees handle correspondence; review the dossiers of applicants and review applicant credentials and make recommendations concerning them; establish the schedule and make other arrangements for the on-campus interview of finalists; and perform other search-related duties as necessary regarding potential finalists for the position. All full-time faculty of the local academic unit will have should be provided with an opportunity to meet with the finalists and offer input to the selection process. The unit's faculty search committee then evaluates the finalists and formulates a recommendation. The local unit administrator transmits the faculty recommendation, together with her or his own, to the collegiate dean, director, or to the Provost. The faculty shall be apprised in writing the local academic unit administrator’s recommendation at the time of its transmittal.   A copy of the local unit administrator's recommendation is furnished to the unit's faculty. Faculty appointments to any local academic unit require the concurrence of that unit's faculty.

 

Before extending an offer of appointment, the local unit administrator or the chair of the faculty search committee must secure affirmative action clearance and the concurrence of the unit’s faculty, relevant Dean or Director, and the Provost, and the Office of Equity and Diversity Services. All written offers of appointment at rank above assistant professor must include the statement "conditional upon approval by the President of the University and upon election by the University's Board of Visitors." Offers of employment in any rank must include the statement "Contingent upon availability of funding for the position" and must be made and accepted in writing. must include the elements specified in the appropriate offer letter template located on the Mason Office of the Provost website. 

 

Tenured and probationary tenure-track faculty receive initial letters of appointment specifying terms of employment and seeking the faculty member’s consent to be governed by the administrative policies and regulations of the University (currently in force and as amended in the future); Acceptance in writing of these terms and conditions letters constitutes a contract between the University and individual faculty members. Letters of initial appointment to probationary tenure-track faculty also indicate the expiration date of terms of appointment. Tenured and probationary faculty also receive annual letters indicating salary.

 

·        Change back of wording from “should be” to “will be” in paragraph two: All full time faculty of the local academic unit will be provided with opportunity for faculty to meet with the finalists and offer input to the selection process, followed by subsequent sentence:  Faculty appointments to any local academic unit require the concurrence of that unit's faculty. How do you gain concurrence if you don’t know what (LAU administrator’s) recommendation is?  Use of template hiring letters specifying salary and other information. 

·        Procedurally the search committee formulates a recommendation; in some departments the whole faculty may meet with the search committee.

·        Equity/Diversity Office receives recommendation from the search committee.  Composition of the search committee is determined by the LAU.

·        Why delete “a copy of the LAU administrator’s recommendation?”  Empirically, normally almost does not happen.  If we think it should happen - as a way to promote transparency.  Purpose not to legislate behaviors, but outcomes.

·        Some hiring officers may not wish to let other faculty know terms of offer letter.  There is no requirement for hiring officer to write a memo about search committee’s recommendation.  What if LAU administrator disagrees?  Formal Dean/Director recommendation or if a department chair, s/he would write recommendation.    And if Dean decides to overrule faculty?  Provost and Equity Office would have no idea if faculty disagreed with Dean/department chair.  The faculty should be apprised of the LAU administrator’s recommendation.  To have pragmatic value, needs to be added prior to the transmittal of the LAU administrator’s recommendation.

·        Need to cut out full faculty recommendation before search committee recommendations; common for search committees to collect recommendations.  Responsible governance, open process - can hear talk, can meet candidate (before) search committee vote. Means full faculty has to vote - to prioritize candidates - responsible governance.  When specify concurrence in last line, do you mean a plurality?  2/3?  Majority?  Some faculty may support another candidate.  Feels that this over-regulates, demands we go to Provost.  Need sentence where faculty informed who will be hired, can use it to say that we do not concur, do something about it.  “Require” a strong word.  What does it mean?  How to enforce it?  Support to retain last sentence.

·        New sentence proposed:  The faculty shall be apprised in writing of the local unit administrator’s recommendation at the time of its transmittal.  To be consequential, must be “now”, at time of its transmittal.

·        Since this talks about tenured/tenure-track faculty, if dealing with tenured vs. non-tenured, do we need an additional paragraph?  Second-level review with tenure?  Nothing in current text specifies any faculty involvement with tenured faculty.  Needs to be in there – appears in Draft Non-Competitive (Waived Search) Hire document discussed above.  Only tenured faculty vote on tenure appointments at local level; promotion and tenure committee members are all tenured. Hires to tenure will require special review as appropriate to the LAU.  Reference to Section 2.8.4 Procedures for Promotion and Tenure a: “In all cases of promotion and/or tenure, there are two levels of faculty review. At both levels evaluations are carried out by tenured faculty in accordance with Sections 2.4 and 2.5. In addition to considering the dossier prepared by the candidate, faculty committees on promotion and tenure examine all evidence and receive all testimony offered to them by members of the academic community and others with direct knowledge of the candidate's professional qualifications and achievements.

·        Hires without term require special review as appropriate to local unit in conformance with Section 2.8.4 Procedures for Promotion and Tenure – add to end of first paragraph.

·        Hiring officers concerned about timeliness; we don’t mandate how to do two levels of review.  In some units hiring process involves vote of all full time faculty, if promotion and tenure committee part of larger group, could be done very fast.  Chair needs to manage process.  Spirit of two separate reviews.  Concerned about possibility of railroading by a strong, powerful person, not good for unit or candidate; may lead to resentment, non-collegial atmosphere.

·        Another possibility for hiring tenure decision - one level of review at college/school level.  Should scrutiny be the same for internal and outside hires?  Candidates may be competitive with other offers; more laborious to get credentials, teaching, research narratives.  Why not request them in advance?  Two levels of review as too much process - need to compress process. Also issue of Dean/Director wanting to hire buddy.  To address case where administrator pushing through someone unqualified.  Transition between academia like a guild - if you have tenure somewhere else, when you come to new institution, trust colleagues at previous institution who did this.  Sometimes situations occur where candidate taught at good school but was not granted tenure, but wants to be hired here with tenure.  Due diligence needs to be exercised.  Focus on research, awards, may not focus on teaching.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate