THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AT CHATTANOOGA
FACULTY COUNCIL MINUTES
April 2, 1998
Signal Mountain Room
Elected Members Present: Tatiana Allen, Ralph Anderson, Jim Avery, Boris Belinsky, Mike Biderman, Martha Butterfield, Karen Casey, Prakash Damshala, Joe Dumas, Fritz Efaw, Gene Ezell, Phil Giffin, Diane Halstead, Jim Hiestand, Renée Lorraine, Deborah McAllister, Jonathan Mies, Laurie Prather, Verbie Prevost, Farhad Raiszadeh, Marea Rankin, Rebecca Rochat, Mac Smotherman, Vicki Steinberg, Jim Stroud, John Trimpey, Margaret Trimpey, Bruce Wallace
Elected Members Absent: Valerie Copeland-Rutledge, Marvin Ernst, Judy Miler, Greg O'Dea, Ann Stapleton, Felicia Sturzer, Larry Tillman, Randy Whitson
Ex-Officio Members Present: Jane Harbaugh, George Ross, Bill Stacy, Tim Summerlin
Among the Guests Present: Deborah Arfken, Herb Burhenn, Pedro Campa, Susan Cardwell, Roland Carter, Neal Coulter, Betsy Darken, Robert Fulton, Dick Gruetzemacher, Judy Fry, Lanny Janeksela, Tom Jones, Tom Kozubowski, Marcia Noe, Deborah Parker, Oralia Prebel-Niemi, Cindee Pulliam, Richard Rice, Jocelyn Sanders, Mary Tanner, Barbara Wofford
Important Action and Announcements
*The Council passed a resolution to recommend to the Board Of Trustees that they delay any decisions on post-tenure review until their meeting in February, 1999. President Ezell, Professor Butterfield, Dean Tanner and Chancellor Stacy will communicate concerns that have been expressed about post-tenure review, and President Ezell will continue to consult with other UT campuses about the matter. Professor Campa presented a petition on the proposed policy that he hopes will be signed by tenured faculty (see addendum).
*The Council approved a faculty General Education Implementation Committee. All administrative members will serve ex-officio.
*Chancellor Bill Stacy will forward concerns about parking fee increases to the Parking Authority.
Call to Order
President Gene Ezell called the meeting to order at 3:15 PM.
Approval of Minutes of March 5, 1998
Professor Lorraine indicated that on the first page under "Important Action," the last statement should read that the current five year plan will end in 1998-9. She added that the penultimate sentence on page two, paragraph two, should read "Mr. Dickson stressed that such cases would include commissions of egregious or criminal acts, such as fraud."
Assistant Dean Deborah Arfken noted that "Dixon" should be spelled "Dickson." (Apologies to Trustee Dickson, wherever you are.) The minutes were approved unanimously as corrected.
Professor Phil Giffin moved to place "post-tenure review" at the top of the agenda. The motion was seconded, and passed by voice vote with one nay. Professor Verbie Prevost, who had to leave early, briefly interrupted the proceedings in order to encourage faculty members to send in their campus committee forms.
President Ezell opened the discussion on post-tenure review by explaining that while he had invited UT officials to report to the Council on post-tenure review last January, he did not learn until two days prior to the March 5 meeting that the officials were planning to attend that meeting. He is sorry that he had to be out of town for that meeting, and that there was not enough time to distribute information about the visit before the meeting. Because of the June deadline for Board action on post-tenure review, he felt it best not to delay the visit, however. There was no snookering, surreptitious plots, or sneakiness on the part of the Executive Committee. (At least on this particular matter.)
He then listed concerns about post-tenure review he had collected from Raven and elsewhere: a) Proposed policy statements are being drafted by UT officials without consulting the Faculty Tenure Advisory Committee; b) documents granting tenure are implied contracts; c) peer review of tenured faculty could result in divisiveness; d) UTC already has a review process in place that serves the desired purpose; e) unlike at some UT campuses, all UTC professors are reviewed annually. Individual campuses should be able to develop their own policies that best met their needs; f) while the post-tenure review proposal was presented as a means to reward faculty at the March 5 meeting, there was little emphasis placed on its darker side; g) it seems to some that the proposed policy is a "done deal," and will be instituted regardless of faculty reaction; h) some faculty have little say over their load assignments, assignments that can strongly influence how they are evaluated; i) the proposed policy would be an undue burden for department heads, especially in large departments; j) opposition to the policy should not be construed as opposition to accountability.
Professor Stroud remarked that our tenure contracts were explicit, not implied, and President Ezell agreed. He also noted that although rewards were promised for post-tenure review, we have a rewards system in place at present that isn't working. He has his doubts that cumulative post-tenure rewards would be forthcoming. Professor Jim Hiestand suggested that if the proposed policy is in response to misunderstandings about the 12-hour work week of professors, we should address that problem in particular rather than revising tenure policies. Saying we work only 12 hours a week is like saying football players work 3 hours a week because that's the amount of time that their work is televised. Professor Pedro Campa suggested that anything we present as a body will be sanitized by the UT administration when presented to the Board. There agenda is not so hidden here, he proposed; what the System wants is to replace expensive professors with cheaper ones--nontenured, one- or three-year appointees, adjuncts. Recently UT official Eli Fly visited UTC and uttered untruths to the campus about cashability of retirement funds. We must be skeptical of Systemic intentions and move swiftly to counter the current post-tenure review policy. Professor Campa presented a petition intended for the Board that had been developed or supported by 15-20 UTC professors (see addendum). He asked Council members to circulate the petition and collect signatures of tenured faculty members at UTC. He remarked that recently there had been attempts to compromise tenure at the University of Minnesota, but that these attempts had been thwarted by, among other things, a petition including 1002 signatures. An acceptable compromise was effected in which post-tenure review was not linked to tenure. Professor Fritz Efaw asked if signed petitions at UTC should be returned to Professor Campa, and the Professor Campa indicated he would be willing to collect them.
Professor Richard Rice suggested that whatever we send to the Board should be endorsed by the Council; the Council should not be out of the loop. Professor Butterfield remarked that there is one Board of Trustees member who is strongly opposed to tenure. The proposed policy, she suggested, is a compromise in response to attempts to abolish tenure. She also noted that it is the Board that grants tenure, and is responsible for tenure policies. (The Board giveth. . .) She has shared some concerns with Trustee Dickson. Professor Robert Fulton asked at what point the Council would make its position known on this matter. President Ezell answered that it could be anytime, but recommended that it be soon. The Board plans to act on the proposal in June. Professor Fulton noted that there is a lack of conformity about evaluation at UT campuses. There is reason for concern if other campuses do not evaluate their professors regularly. We already have a rigorous annual evaluation process, and are taking care of business. Any inadequate faculty performance is an administrative problem; it should not be the problem of faculty members who are doing their jobs. We should make clear what a 12 hour load entails. He asked if we need to sit down with President Johnson and his staff and sort these problems out. Presidents Ezell indicated that he and others will be communicating our concerns to UT officials. He suggested that we should communicate with Board members as well.
Professor Ralph Anderson asked if the System had the legal authority to do what is being proposed. Tenure letters are contracts. Professor Butterfield reiterated that the Board awards tenure and is responsible for the tenure language in the Handbook. It is not individual campuses that have the prerogative to determine tenure policies. (There was some disagreement about whether the proposed policy would violate tenure contracts.) Professor Butterfield had a concern, however, about Heads not having the time to do all the evaluating they would be required to do, and about the lack of information about what criteria for evaluation would be used in post tenure review. We need more time to consider such issues. We also should make a case for being able to handle post-tenure review in our own way.
Professor Stroud asked how other campuses were responding to the proposed policy. Were State Board of Regents campuses involved? President Ezell indicated he had heard from Knoxville and Martin, but not from Board of Regents campuses. Chancellor Bill Stacy stated emphatically that UT President Johnson does not want to do away with tenure. The President is trying to find some common ground that will preserve tenure. The Chancellor also noted that there is anti-tenure sentiment nation-wide. People sometimes hear one disparaging anecdote about a professor from a student and then extend it to academe in general. He agreed that the development of the post-tenure review process is proceeding too quickly. If this is an issue of great importance to us, we need to have sufficient time to consider it. He relayed that he had suggested a compromise at a President's staff meeting recently in which cumulative reviews would not occur automatically every five years but would be triggered only by a series of inadequate reviews. This compromise was not received unfavorably by UT officials. Professor Stroud remarked on the importance of administrators being advocates for the faculty.
Professor Oralia Prebel-Niemi suggested that while tenure may be broken in some places, it is not at UTC. The UTC administration should make this known to the System, perhaps through statistics (such as how many receive merit ratings, below expected, etc.) or a study of some kind. Professor Rice asked if Chancellor Stacy supported post-tenure review. Chancellor Stacy answered that he did, but that he felt we already have a post-tenure review system at UTC. He did not envision that any post-tenure review policy developed would result in the termination of say, 10% or even 1% of our faculty. Professor Betsy Darken noted that we already have post-tenure review. She wondered, however, if any tenured faculty members have actually been let go at UTC. Chancellor Stacy answered that he just got here. President Ezell suggested that regardless of how many tenured professors have been let go, we should stress that our system that is working; we should take a look at the productivity of full professors. Professor Stroud stated that although our present system is sometimes annoying, it is not threatening; the proposed policy has the appearance of giving us a gun they can shoot us with. Professor Prebel-Niemi opposed identifying and communicating the number of tenured professors who have been terminated at UTC. We should concentrate on how we are meeting the needs of and benefiting professors through resources such as the Grayson Walker Center. Professor Darken felt we should be ready with data if our evaluation practices are questioned. We could also make the point that we are already identifying inadequate performance and addressing it.
Professor Campa indicated that if the proposed policy had been in operation in the past, past administrators would not have hesitated to terminate some tenured faculty. The problem here is having evaluation tied to termination of tenured faculty. We must guard against not only loss of academic freedom but whimsical firing. We are being presented with a Trojan horse. The Greeks are bearing gifts that will keep on giving forever.
At this point, Professor Fulton remarked that he had a solution to the problem of post-tenure review. The Council awaited his remarks with anticipation. He then suggested that we put the names of all full professors in a big hat, and draw one name. This person will serve as a scapegoat and be terminated, and we will then have sufficient evidence that the evaluation process is working at UTC. Since this suggestion was not presented as a motion, the discussion continued.
Professor Rice stated that the proposed policy would be a significant departure from present practice, in which tenure is lost only if a professor is bonkers, commits a felony, or doesn't show up. [Surely it's acceptable for professors to be a little bit "bonkers."] He pointed out as well that it would be difficult to keep good faculty here if there were less job security. Could he be sued for advertising a position as tenure-track? Professor Stroud added that it would be difficult to fill open positions if the status of tenure at UTC were ambiguous.
Professor Darken suggested again that we need to do research in order to make a case for the position we take on this issue. She asked who would be an advocate for UTC at Board meetings. Professor Butterfield replied that she would be an advocate on the Board, and that President Ezell may have an opportunity to serve as an advocate on the Faculty Affairs Committee. She pointed out that just as the System was gradually convinced that using one faculty handbook would not work for all UT campuses, we should convince the System that different campuses should be able to handle tenure and evaluation policy as best meets particular their needs. Professor Mike Biderman stated that it is precisely because our system is working well that UTC should be fully funded. Not rewarding "exceptional merits" defeats the purpose of our evaluation system.
Professor Stroud stated that we need more time to convey our concerns about the policy, and to provide information about the history of tenure and its relation to academic freedom. Professors Stroud and Biderman moved and seconded that the Council forward a resolution recommending that the Board delay their planned June vote on this issue. Professor Giffin suggested that since the following Board meeting is next October, we should recommend delaying the decision to the Board meeting of February, 1999. This was accepted as a friendly amendment. Professor Prakash Damshala agreed that we need to consider this issue in more depth. He pointed out that many professors sacrifice larger salaries in the private sector in order to have the job security of tenure in academe, and that we needed to consider of what an "adequate" cumulative performance would consist. He added that the tenure system has been a time-honored tradition in academe, and if there is a problem with it, it should be made clear what that problem is. Professor Campa believes strongly and would bet money that the Board will meet in June regardless of what we recommend about delays. Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Professor Darken agreed that the time to move on this issue is now. Professor Avery added that if we don't do something about this now, tenure will soon be gone; he fears wool is being pulled over our eyes. Professors Efaw and Dumas pointed out that multiple responses to this problem are needed, including a recommendation to delay, the communication of concerns to the Board and administration, and sending the signed petition distributed by Professor Campa. President Ezell indicated that the petition would come not from the Council but from a group of concerned tenured faculty. Professor Dumas suggested that we also forward a recommendation from a full faculty meeting.
Professor Diane Halstead suggested it would be inconsistent to say both that our system is working (which would imply that tenured professors could be terminated for cause) and that we do not want to link evaluation to termination. President Ezell said that one his primary concerns was the what seemed to be the imposition of the policy on faculty. Professor Rice pointed out that while we presently evaluate tenured faculty, the proposed review policy outlines a specific process that could lead to the termination of tenured faculty. Professor Trimpey suggested that normally when the System wants to make a change, a deficiency is identified and then addressed. This has not happened with the current process. Professor Avery asked if all UT campuses were represented on the System's Faculty Tenure Advisory Committee, and the answer was yes. Professor Prebel-Niemi suggested we contact other such faculty representatives and send a resolution as a group. Dean Tanner thought it significant that there is talk among UT officials about abandoning the title of "post-tenure review," and concentrating specifically on evaluation. Professor Ralph Anderson supported the earlier suggestions that we take a strongly negative position on post-tenure review at this time, rather than waiting for more revisions of the post-tenure review document. Even an implied endorsement of the revision process could imply endorsement of the basic focus of the policy.
Dean Tim Summerlin stated that the post-tenure review document distributed to us is flawed in that it suggests the opposite of what it was intended to accomplish. The UTC system, though starved financially, is basically sound. But our review process should not be idealized. We do not presently have adequate means of dealing with inappropriate behavior of faculty, for example. Tenure, he continued, is not fixed and immutable; tenure policy is constantly revised to ensure that it serves a judicious function and an appropriate purpose. He added that while some very good comments had been made that day, some very foolish things had been expressed as well. He hopes we all are able to participate in this dialogue in a rational and constructive manner.
Professor Boris Belinsky asked if it would make any difference to the Board if the motion being considered were passed unanimously by the Council. Chancellor Stacy answered that he genuinely believed that it would, especially if we stress the monumental importance of this issue and that it is important for the System to hear from academic leaders across the state before a decision is made. In response to previous dialogue, Professor Hiestand pointed out that according to the Handbook, a tenured faculty member can presently be terminated for incompetence, significant neglect of duty, not following University policies, etc. We already have the language needed to remove tenured professors for cause, and there is no need to go beyond this. Professor Prebel-Niemi stated that it sticks in her craw that the current revision of the policy is a patchwork; much of the language on evaluation is from pre-tenure Handbook policies that is now being applied to tenured professors. Professor Rice pointed out that if the proposed policy passes, many faculty members will be inclined to publish like crazy in order to receive adequate reviews. This would compromise the desired goal of improving instruction. He noted that parents seldom hear complaints from students that their professors haven't published anything lately.
At the end of the discussion, the motion to send a resolution to the Board of Trustees that action on post-tenure review be delayed until February of 1999 passed unanimously by voice vote. President Ezell , Trustee Butterfield and others will also communicate concerns expressed at meetings, on Raven, etc. to the UT administration and to the Board, and President Ezell will continue to consult with other campuses. (The petition for tenured professors from Professor Campa is attached to this document.)
Parking Fee Increase
Since Vice Chancellor Ross had sat patiently through two Council meetings waiting to talk about parking, President Ezell evoked executive privilege and placed "Parking" next on the agenda. Vice Chancellor Ross said he would be doing a "Martin and Lewis" routine on this topic with the Chancellor. Professor Anderson asked who Lewis would be.
Chancellor Stacy stated that the Parking Authority is one of 22 administrative committees on campus, and includes 3 faculty members and 6 students. This Committee sets parking rates and fines, oversees maintenance, construction and security, etc. It was this Committee that recommended the parking fee increases. Vice Chancellor Ross indicated his own concern about the increase; general parking will rise 87%, and custodial staff (for example) make only $5.40 an hour. Still, the increase was recommended by the Committee because UTC does not have the funds for maintenance, repair, and payment of debts in the area of parking. The biggest problems are the condition of lots and debts on the Parking Garage. The new Parking Garage was approved at the State level in 1992 for visitor parking, and was not originally intended be to part of the UTC system. When it opened and went largely unused, however, some members of the UTC community wished to take more advantage of the garage. We have another parking garage adjacent to the Library, and there is a $200,000 difference between this year's maintenance costs ($250,000) and funds the garage has generated this year ($50,000). Director Judy Fry asked if alternatives other than a parking fee hike were considered by the Parking Authority, and who had been consulted outside the Parking Authority. Chancellor Stacy answered that the Committee had made the best decision they could in view of the circumstances. He added in passing that the entire administrative committee structure may be re-examined in coming months. Vice Chancellor Ross said the possibility of monitoring parking at night had been considered, but we haven't the personnel to manage that at this time. Professor Hiestand suggested that parking fees could be included in tuition and General Parking could be free of charge; this way night-time parkers would be footing some of the bill. Professor Marea Rankin suggested that more money would be generated if parking was supervised until 6:00 PM. Vice Chancellor Ross replied that this was being considered. Also being considered is car registration for everyone at $26 a year. Professor Dumas asked what terrible things would happen if parking fees were not raised. The Vice Chancellor responded, in so many words, that the consequences would be serious. Professor Trimpey remarked that we have been spending against reserves for some time, and that it is draconian to try to correct the situation in only one year. Why not raise parking fees 20% a year? We could look at the most immediate repair needs this year, and others later. Further, is it possible that parking fine increases will result in a surplus? Professor Dumas stated that it would mean a lot to students if the parking fees could be ameliorated, especially in view of their technology fee increase. Chancellor Stacy indicated that he would take concerns about the parking fee hike back to the Parking Authority, and that the issue would be reconsidered. The results of the special meeting on Parking held earlier that day will also be forwarded to the Committee. Professor Biderman indicated an interest in reducing the need for parking on campus. (President Ezell noted lightly that Professor Biderman had ameliorated this problem by moving to Fortwood.)
President Ezell moved on behalf of the Executive Committee that the Council approve the faculty membership of the General Education Implementation Committee and authorize that faculty membership to appoint subcommittees necessary to implement curricular changes. After some discussion on whether administrators should serve as regular or ex-officio on this committee, the motion was defeated and Professor John Trimpey moved that the General Education Committee be a faculty committee, with one faculty chair, and that all administrators serve ex-officio. (Subcommittees would still be appointed at the Committee's discretion.) Professor Giffin seconded the motion, which passed with one abstention. Professor Darken pointed out that a chair for the Implementation Committee was needed immediately. Due to the lateness of the hour, a motion was passed to charge the Executive Committee with appointing a chair. (After careful deliberation and extensive argument, Executive Committee members decided to appoint Professor Darken as chair.)
More Old Business
Professor Efaw pointed out that moving departments had been mentioned at the last three Faculty Council meetings, but had never been discussed. The Economics faculty have been using library carrels for offices for four years now, and they are not happy about it. He added that other departments had been moved without being consulted. President Ezell indicated that this topic would be placed higher on the agenda at the next meeting. Due to the lack of a quorum, General Education recommendations will also be discusssed at the next meeting.
New Business, Announcements, Adjournment
President Ezell adjourned the meeting at 5:21 PM.
Renée Cox Lorraine
Cartoons courtesy of a UTC professor who wishes to be known as "Anonymous"