MINUTES OF THE FACULTY HANDBOOK REVISION COMMITTEE

Wednesday, July 18, 2007; Mason Hall, D5 – 12:00 – 1:30 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; Dave Harr, Senior Associate Dean, School of Management; Suzanne Slayden, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science.

 

Absent: Martin Ford, Senior Associate Dean, College of Education and Human Development; David Rossell, Associate Provost for Personnel and Budget, ex-officio.

 

Fall 2007 Meeting Schedule:  After some discussion, it was decided to meet every other Monday morning from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. beginning September 10, 2007.

 

Discussion (continued): Should the Faculty Handbook cover adjunct faculty?

As discussed at last week’s meeting, the Provost’s opinion was solicited on whether adjunct faculty should be included in the Faculty Handbook, or whether a separate Handbook should be developed for their use.  The Provost responded: “I suggest very desirable to refer to a separate handbook to be developed, but not in this book.”  Some members of the committee disagree with his opinion; that process must be respected; that fewer segments need to be clarified.  The Virginia Tech Faculty Handbook covers all faculty – including instructional, administrative/professional, extension, and research – tenured, tenure-eligible, or non-tenurable - organized into sections for each type of faculty; which may serve as a model for us.  Concern expressed that adjunct faculty would not be covered at all if left out of this Handbook. They are explicitly discussed in some sections (2.1.4 Part Time Appointment).   “Adjunct” not a universal term; part-time and adjunct faculty are often intermingled; there are also part-time term faculty. Evidence of great differences and variations of practices throughout the university are not a new problem.   Some sections of Chapter Two “Faculty Personnel Matters” would need further clarification.  Should more references to offer letter text be included? Main theme of AAUP re part-time faculty is that they are paid so poorly.  If we include adjunct faculty, we must be very careful.

 

Also a section on rights of administrative faculty with instructional rank is needed.  There are complications in classification in Banner for administrative faculty who hold faculty rank, including those who have tenure but no instructional responsibilities.  In the late 1980’s titles developed in order to get more funding for positions from the State of Virginia, a problem later resolved.   The system is more flexible and perhaps more complicated today.

 

Nine-month instructional faculty may ask Human Resources about policies and receive wrong answers as geared to staff/12 month employees.  With the departure of David Rossell as Associate Provost for Personnel and Budget, after thirty years’ service, this is a huge issue for the Provost’s Office to resolve.  Faculty need to know to whom such questions as 15 days sick leave may be addressed.  Another big issue involves green cards; after trial and error, administrators in one school learned that the Commonwealth of Virginia retained attorneys in Richmond whom faculty should contact – a whole zoo beyond the Faculty Handbook.  Newly created schools may have greater issues in development of institutional knowledge.  The Peer Process (for green cards) was revised in March, 2005, creating huge changes.  If you need a primary work authorization to work in the US, the clock begins the day the person signs offer letter; which could be six months prior to beginning work here. Realistically, there needs to be someone in Human Resources as the guru on instructional faculty issues.  Questions extend also into retirement where faculty are not told (by Human Resources) about traditional semester sabbatical prior to retirement.  Some faculty may not wish to have it, but others may be ignorant of process and do not know this is an option.  Not sure whether a Handbook issue, but concern that instructional faculty have someone as resource for retirement, immigration, and  whole life cycle issues important. 

 

Recent note from Provost describing restructuring of his office – information needs to be included in the  Faculty Information Guide, if not the Faculty Handbook.

 

Ombudsman as half-time person, continued:  Could such a position become full-time in which person would have responsibility as clearinghouse for information for instructional faculty?  Would skill set match?  They are two separate functions; to combine both would give ombudsman a set of responsibilities someone may want to complain against; could not be a holder of policy.  Would the quality of part-time ombudsman suffer if hired only on a part-time basis; limited the number of applicants?   Ombudsman should not report to administration, or be financed by them.  To set up like university counsel here who are employed directly by State of Virginia.   This may be a useful goal to pursue in the next year.  We need to know functions of ombudsman to make a better case.  It may not be as important to be financially separate, but important that ombudsman reports to the highest officer (President).  The President must be educated not to delegate this; to be socialized how to work with an ombudsman.  Temptation for CEO to delegate reports very strong. 

 

If the Faculty Handbook creates a contract between some group and the university, what to do if (one party) is not honoring the contract?  Rick will meet with the new Rector, Ernst Volgenau, to get his views on this. 

Also important to discuss with the new Rector how important David Rossell was; how he made the system work in humane ways for the faculty. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate