FORUM ON REVISION OF THE FACULTY HANDBOOK – FAIRFAX

APRIL 18, 2007 – Mason Hall D3, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

 

Committee Members Present:  Lorraine Brown, Professor of English, College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Rick Coffinberger, Associate Professor of Business and Legal Studies, School of Management, Chair; Marilyn Mobley, Associate Provost for Educational Programs and Associate Professor of English; Suzanne Slayden, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science.

 

Introductory Slide Presentation by Rick Coffinberger, Chair.

The goal of today’s forum is to provide the Faculty an update on the progress of the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee and to receive feedback on a few of its proposed revisions.  The Committee is comprised of four members elected by the Faculty Senate and three members appointed by the Provost plus one ex-officio member.  The Committee has been meeting regularly since January, 2006.  The minutes of the Committee’s meetings are available on the web at http://www.gmu.edu/facstaff/senate/FHCPage.htm.  Committee members are Kevin Avruch, Professor of Conflict Resolution and Anthropology, ICAR; Lorraine Brown, Professor of English, CHSS and President AAUP Chapter, GMU; Martin Ford, Senior Associate Dean, CEHD; David Harr, Senior Associate Dean, SOM; Marilyn Mobley, Associate Provost for Educational Programs; David Rossell, Associate Provost for Personnel and Budget, ex-officio; Suzanne Slayden, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, COS; and Richard Coffinberger, Associate Professor of Business and Legal Studies SOM, (Chair). 

 

The current Faculty Handbook became effective on July 1, 1994.  The Handbook defines and describes the:

1.      Conditions of faculty employment;

2.      Structures and processes through which the faculty participates in institutional decision-making and governance; and

3.      Academic policies of the University as established by its Board of Visitors.

 

The Handbook is a contractual document, binding both on the University and on individual faculty members.  Insofar as applicable, its provisions are incorporated by reference in all faculty employment contracts.  Faculty are expected to read the Handbook and to be familiar with its provisions.

 

The Committee has now completed an initial review of Handbook Chapters 1 and 3 as well as the Faculty Information Guide.  Significant progress has been made on the review of Chapter 2.  The Committee will continue to meet over the summer and hopes to complete a package of proposed revisions by October, 2007. 

 

A handout has been distributed containing a few examples of the Committee’s proposed revisions as well as several examples of proposals for new policies for incorporation in the Handbook.  The floor is now open for your questions, comments, and suggestions. 

 

Process Questions and Comments:  A faculty member recalled meetings attended by the Faculty Senate chair and two members of the Executive Committee during AY 2005-06 about retirement policy.  Their recommendations were rejected by Provost Stearns; the faculty member expressed concern about the great deal of effort put into the Handbook revision.  Chair Rick Coffinberger responded that the Provost has appointed three members of the committee.  If we think either the Provost (or the President) may have concerns about something, the appointees present it to him (them).  The Provost has also given us written feedback on occasion. 

 

A Senior Associate Dean reported that the Senior Associate Deans requested representation on the Handbook Committee.  Two members of the committee who are Senior Associate Deans were appointed by the Provost.  Do they represent faculty or administration interests?  The chair responded they do not only represent the Provost’s interests (within the committee). 

 

Will the Preamble be updated?  In statements of procedures to appoint tenure-track faculty (member) agrees to be bound by policies of the University.  Where to find them?  The Chair responded that Legal Affairs is not represented on the committee.  The (late) Jeff Brandwine (University Counsel) did not want to be involved in strategic discussion, better to review instead.

 

Do 9 month instructional faculty members on the committee receive compensation – equivalent of a course for their committee work over the summer? Administrative faculty are highly paid in terms of peers and other contributions.   The Chair responded that they did not receive anything last summer, not likely this summer, thanking the questioner for his support.

 

Will the draft be submitted to the Faculty Senate for approval?  The chair responded he was not sure the committee has resolved this yet.  The BOV has the final say; power to approve - clearly best the faculty and administration (both) support what goes to BOV.  Possible dissemination may involve more forums presenting complete sets of recommendations in order to gather more input before sending to BOV.  Should the Senate vote ad seriatum or as a whole document? Administration has representatives on the committee – procedurally an agreement between the faculty and the BOV.  Legal counsel would review it; wrong to send to administration, sends the wrong message.

 

General Suggestions: 

·        Removal of “wiggle room” words.

·         Need for section to define what happens when one party violates Handbook. Enforcement of a contractual document.

·        Incorporation of new policies such as Research Misconduct and Copyright Policy; need for more faculty input early on, some committees have FS representatives. 

·        Transparency very important, to use web to solicit faculty input.

·        Need for faculty notification in development of new programs, campuses early on – to stipulate procedure in Handbook?

·        Voting Procedures – took 6 months to get list of tenured, tenure-track faculty, clause in older Handbook edition in which deans required to post this; important for tenure review.   How to handle electronic voting?  Minimum length of time?  People on leave can vote.  Supreme Court case at U of WA in which professor on leave voting without participating in department discussion – can they vote on tenure? Not sure you can deny faculty member a vote on an issue on which faculty members have the right to vote.  By-laws of each college (specify voting procedures). 

·        Issues of shared governance, “business model” vs. “academic model”.

 

COMMENTS ON SAMPLE TEMPLATES DISTRIBUTED FOR REVIEW:

 

2.11.10 Temporary or Short-Term Relief of Faculty from Duties and Responsibilities (Non Medical):  Faculty has no right (to challenge), new language does not demonstrate probable cause, documentation, due process.  Committee takes place after the fact.  Faculty needs to have documentation, recourse.  Report goes to Provost – self-representative.   

 

2.11.11 Temporary or Short-Term Relief of Faculty from Duties and Responsibilities (Medical): 

·        You cannot arbitrarily remove someone for medical reasons.  Need to (document) medical reason with physician release; worries about rush.

·        Section written in direct response to concerns regarding faculty who may be mentally disturbed; as well as the safety of students.

·        Individual needs to be able to challenge this.   Case where person was arbitrarily removed by dean– no real documentation, faculty member produced documentation from MD in which had a severe reaction to medication prescribed.  No attempt to restore person’s reputation.

·        Concern:  if to remove someone from classroom (and beyond) need to make certain: 1) University protected legally; 2) Individual protected legally; 3) Person receiving report from committee cannot make decision.

 

2.11.5 Faculty Availability

·        Reference to sick leave not specific – Human Resources will propose edits with some changes.

·        A committee member was told in past that faculty could not leave-share; Human Resources says you can do so.

·        One department faculty 100% opposed to policy as illegal “stretch out” – if you work two extra weeks, you should be paid two extra weeks.

·        Family Leave not addressed in the Faculty Handbook.  Maternity leave –100% for mother, 30% family member – not discriminatory.

·        Stop Tenure Clock motion to be presented at 5/2/07 FS Meeting.  If approved will be reviewed for inclusion in Faculty Handbook.  Irrespective of state of VA, institution can formulate its own maternal leave policies.  Creatively interpreted – impacts recruitment of younger faculty members.  AAUP 2002 document available “importance of climate, very enlightened”, U of Mary Washington also has good policy. Human Resources has a staff member also researching this. 

 

2.12.2.1 Policies Concerning Grievances

·        Link suggested to Administrative Faculty Handbook – how to grieve against a dean.  Instructional faculty not subject to Administrative Faculty Handbook.

·        Differences in procedures – conflict in language – needs legal interpretation, clarification.

 

New Policies approved by Faculty Senate, such as Waived Search (Hire) and Second Level Review: - administrative question whether policy promulgated and adopted by BOV, need to consult legal affairs.  Cannot cover every contingency – sometimes less detail is better.

 

3.3. Summer Salary: 

·        Fix .3333% to 33%.

·        Percentage based on salary as of May 24th

 

1.3.4.2. Institutes: 

·        Krasnow will soon contain two academic departments.

·        Should institutes be organized with or without departments?

·        BOV approved reorganization of Krasnow; reads as if there can only be full-time faculty in it.  Are any folks 100% in Krasnow?  Tenure lines to go into Krasnow.  Now that BOV has signed off on Krasnow, gap which should not have occurred.  Proposal presented to Faculty Senate as information item, not a vote, “not to cost anything”.  

·        SPP 1999-2000 went from an institute to a school:  required to consult with all sorts of units etc.  A very big deal, astonished that with wave of hand and publication of BOV agenda that a new academic unit was created; doesn’t merit definition of institute in current Handbook.

 

“Affiliate” and “courtesy appointment”   

·        If unpaid, affiliate faculty.  Need to have practice in place for (LAU/school) faculty approval.

·        “Affiliate” term exists in Human Resources system. 

·        Some affiliates outside department – request from Deans, Provost’s Office.

·         Committee looked at titles early on, now to look at process.

 

2.12.2.2. Grievance Procedures

·        #3 – how to make it clearer?  Issues usually confidential.  How to get a formal vote?

·        Two types of grievances –1- academic freedom (addressed) in this process  -2- other types – more confidential.  Need to separate this out into two broad categories. 

·        Grievances an incredibly important issue to faculty members; to make certain deal with cases in good faith. 

·        Research Misconduct will supercede Grievance Policy in the Handbook.  (Appears to be in conflict with grievance policy).  All policies incorporated by reference in Handbook.  Faculty as a whole to be invited to review this – because there is no greater harm to faculty than accusations of misconduct. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk Faculty Senate