MINUTES OF THE FACULTY HANDBOOK REVISION COMMITTEE
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2006

MASON HALL, room D5, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

 

Present:  Kevin Avruch, Professor of Conflict Resolution and Anthropology, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution; Lorraine Brown, Professor of English, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and President of the AAUP Chapter of George Mason University; 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; David Rossell, Associate Provost for Personnel and Budget, ex-officio; Suzanne Slayden, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science. 

 

Absent: Dave Harr, Senior Associate Dean, School of Management.

 

Chair Rick Coffinberger summarized issues recently discussed: 1) Exclusion from the Classroom; 2) Tenure Clock – when it stops, when it doesn’t; 3) Leave policies – military and medical; and 4)  One course minimum teaching load – general consensus not to put into Faculty Handbook.

 

Discussion:  2.10.3  Exclusion from the Classroom

·        When Handbook was last written, GMU was much more a teaching institution.

·        Although titled “Exclusion from the Classroom,” there are times we must exclude a faculty member from teaching, research, and other activities; alternate title such as “Exclusion from Duties” suggested.

·        Situations develop more and more for medical reasons – need to work through situations.

·        Principle of Progressive Discipline:  Some circumstances do not require formal action; others may require a “temporary fix”, others more serious in which a series of “temporary” warnings etc. given.  If counseled by chair, then goes to dean, then if serious enough, to exclude from duties for a period of time with pay; without pay for suspension.

·        Sometimes need a waiting period to conduct investigation so no harm is done.

·        Also non-criminal infraction situations occur – repeated counseling; many complaints received from students; current policy does not work. 

·        Caveat about agreement for treatment for psychological problems:  is this regarded in the future as an admission?  Concern for faculty members; steps taken, re-absorption into department, activities.

·        Other doctorals deal with medical issues through FMLA

·        Hardest cases where faculty member does not think has a problem, but they do. 

·        Suggestion to get folks to benefit from counseling etc., if a good faith effort made, offer to expunge from file as an incentive.

·        Importance of confidentiality; yes if medical; could be extended to other matters.

·        University Policy 2221 Criminal Background Investigations  - link at http://www.gmu.edu/facstaff/policy/newpolicy/2221adm.html  Expectation if charged with a crime, faculty members are required to report it to their supervisor.   Faculty are not covered under Virginia Employment Act; to ask guidance from Attorney General’s Office – participation in peace protests, etc., clearly targeted at faculty.

 

 2.10.3 Exclusion of Faculty from the Classroom – 1994 text

 

If at any time a faculty member's continued responsibility for a course or courses is judged by the President or a designated representative to constitute a serious threat of substantial damage to the faculty member or to his or her students, the faculty member will be excluded from the classroom and replaced by a qualified substitute. The mere initiation of dismissal proceedings or of notice of non- reappointment will never constitute by themselves sufficient grounds for such exclusion.

 

To guard against abuse of this authority, a committee of five faculty members will be elected from and by those of the same academic unit as the suspended person within three days after any such exclusion, and this committee will conduct a brief but careful examination of the particulars and report within three days to the President. Should the committee's findings not support the exclusion, this committee will also report its findings to the Faculty Senate at its next regular meeting, and to the suspended person's collegiate faculty.

·        Substitute “Duties” for “from the Classroom” in title.

·        Should five faculty members be from the same unit?  Too inbred?  May need someone from another academic unit.  ICAR very small; some departments smaller than five people. 

·        Does academic unit mean LAU?  SPP and CEHD – no formal department chairs.

·        Should those who serve on this be tenured? May be a problem in small units.

·        To discourage local unit participation?  To level of college/school/institute?

·        Would committee members need to run for election?  Would the (Faculty Senate) University Grievance Committee handle this? Its members must be tenured. 

 

Under 2.10.2. Terminations, 2.10.1.2 Medical Reasons is already outdated.  1994 text:

Medically-based termination of a tenured or other appointment before the expiration of its term must derive from clear and convincing medical evidence. The administration's decision to terminate will be preceded by appropriate fact-finding and consultation. The faculty member, or his/her representative, must be informed of the basis of the proposed termination and be given an opportunity to respond. If the faculty member or the representative contests the proposed termination, the case will be referred to the grievance committee of the faculty member's school, college or institute. This committee, which is specifically enjoined not to substitute its judgment for professional medical opinion, will conduct a closed hearing for the purpose of ensuring that no procedural inequities or abuses of administrative authority have occurred. The committee will report its findings to the President, who will make final disposition of the case. These provisions do not affect the University's possible exclusion of faculty from the classroom (see Section 2.10.3).

 

·        In looking under 2.11.1 Faculty Duties and Responsibilities, 2.11.3 Faculty Absences from Class; suggestion made to move 2.10.3 Exclusion from the Classroom here – presumably a temporary situation; also supporting progressive discipline concept. 

·        To bifurcate into two sections:  -1- Short Term Exclusions, -2- Long Term Exclusions; perhaps also to insert “Temporary” Faculty Absences from Class.  Not a severance issue, but there are cases where you must have ability to get faculty out of the classroom.

·        Procedures for altering configuration of assignments as a whole area not addressed at all; and relevant to faculty assignments. Can grieve about work assignments at Grievance Committee.  Chair of Faculty Senate assembles a committee to hear grievances about reappointment and tenure issues.

·        Unclear who makes decision to exclude?  Some chairs may avoid dealing with this.

·        Need for ombudsman discussed with the Provost, who is reluctant; does not wish this to become a line-item.  Not trying to create business, but need a neutral person with a background in negotiation to explain there are procedures, there are options.  Not a full-time job; in the past one employee did this as part of her job.  Need for coordinated effort at Provost level – faculty go from door to door, do not go to dean directly.  AAUP is putting together a kit on how to do this.

·        Observation made that we have several entities; individuals who serve as ombudsperson including the  Chair of Faculty Senate; Human Resources, and the Associate Provost for Personnel/Budget.  If you had an ombudsperson, where would you place him?  Would he have credibility?  Would people come to talk with him?  Faculty members may be reluctant to go to administration.  Nor do we wish to create an adversary.

·        Differences between long-term reassignment and dismissal, need to disentangle all these

·        Refer also to Administrative/Professional Faculty Handbook. 

 

Discussion:  Tenure Clock Exceptions To Standard Procedures:

(text located at http://www.gmu.edu/departments/provost/documents/TenClock.doc )

·        Two year deadline stated, need to add federal or state statutes may pre-empt; exceptions to two year deadline only for federal policies.

·        If sick, falls under FMLA, perhaps eventually disability.

·        Need wiggle room for military status – example of tenure-track faculty member in third year of deployment.

·        Timing of FMLA does not work for faculty maternity leave – six weeks’ timing may occur in mid-semester.  In practice, try to have faculty member use sick leave to be out until end of semester. Advice from HR on FMLA more geared toward classified staff.  University would benefit greatly to have personnel person who understands uniqueness of faculty situation.  

·        Throughout 2.8. Procedures for Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure – replace ”Reappointment” with “Renewal”, and “Probationary” with “Tenure-Track”.  The Tenure Clock exceptions should be incorporated into 2.8.4 Procedures for Reappointment and Tenure.   

 

One-Course Question to Provost:  The Provost suggested statement such as “Workloads determined by the appropriate unit, dean”.  Committee discussion:  if 100% externally funded, two choices:  can teach a 1:1 load (overload) or can go on leave without pay”; another  proposed statement: “ If faculty member externally funded totally for a semester, must have approval of dean/provost”. The policy could change from provost to provost: to put in would generate a lot of questions in units.  There is language about fair and equitable workloads – general principle is well served.  People can point to it and grieve.  General consensus not to include in FH.

 

Review of Remaining Sections of Chapter Two:  A chart was distributed; committee members volunteered to review sections; to focus broadly on 2.10, 2.11 at our next meeting; to look at dismissal of tenured faculty.   An email from a faculty member and department chair was distributed for review; he is very concerned about liberal policies on faculty absence and its effect upon an upcoming accreditation visit.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate