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The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Faculty Council Minutes

April 1, 1999 Signal Mountain Room
University Center
Elected Members Present: Jim Avery, Mike Biderman, Marlene Bradshaw, Pedro Campa, Roland Carter, Valerie Copeland-Rutledge, Fritz Efaw, Gene Ezell, Phil Giffin, Jim Hiestand, Charles Knight, Deborah McAllister, Eileen Meagher, Jonathan Mies, Cliff Parten, Marea Rankin, Marsha Scheidt, Lauren Sewell, Mac Smotherman, Ann Stapleton, Vicki Steinberg, Felicia Sturzer, John Trimpey, Margaret Trimpey, Rick Turpin, Randy Whitson, Mike Whittle
Elected Members Absent: Tom Bibler, Boris Belinskiy, Diane Halstead, Lenny Krzycki, Irene Loomis, Bruce Wallace, David Wetzel
Ex-Officio Members Present: Bill Berry, Jane Harbaugh, George Ross
Among the Guests Present: Valarie Adams, Deborah Arfken, Richard Brown, Herb Burhenn, Neal Coulter, Maurice Edwards, Leroy Fanning, Tonia Heffner, Marilyn Helms, Lanny Janeksela, Richard Rice, Tim Summerlin, Mary Tanner

Actions and Announcements

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*Council discusses revised performance review implementation policy

*Council passes Graduate Council proposal

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Call to Order

President Verbie Prevost called the meeting to order at 3:06 p.m.

Approval of the Minutes of March 4, 1999

The minutes were approved as distributed.

Committee Reports

Graduate Council:

Chair Tonia Heffner moved approval of a proposal from the English Graduate Committee concerning changes in the English M.A. program. The motion passed 19-0-0.

Implementation Policy Discussion:

Recalling that Council approved an Executive Committee recommendation to have the Performance Review Committee revise the implementation policy based on comments and suggestions from the last faculty meeting, President Prevost said the Performance Review Committee wanted to solicit additional comments and suggestions from Council as they continue to work on the policy. She said the Handbook Committee would make recommendations at the April 15 Council meeting since they have not had time to review the Performance Review Committee’s most recent changes in the implementation policy.

Professor Felicia Sturzer asked about recent reports that UTK faculty had made changes in the bold print. Professor Jim Hiestand said he had looked at the document and that they had inserted some additional material but had not changed the language of the bold print. Professor Richard Rice said the insertions were significant, however, and that UTK seemed to have been more proactive on insertions. Professors Hiestand and Prevost noted the insertions did not change the bold print.

Professor Rice said resolutions are statements of principle and added that the UTK resolution seemed to have been embodied in the implementation policy. He noted the rewards structure in the resolution and its subsequent inclusion in the implementation policy and said it showed a clear relationship between the resolution and the implementation policy. President Prevost noted the UTK resolution was drafted by the Faculty Senate and submitted to the 20 senate members working on the implementation policy. President Prevost has talked extensively with UTK Faculty Senate President Mark Miller and, according to him, some elements of the resolution were incorporated into the implementation policy, but others that conflicted with the Board policy were rejected. She said the UTC Performance Review Committee solicited comments and suggestions directly from faculty rather than going through a resolutions stage.

Performance Review Committee Chair Marilyn Helms said she and the committee appreciated the opportunity to return to Council and discuss additional ideas and suggestions. The committee reviewed the concerns from the faculty meeting and the subsequent emails and communications and incorporated many of the ideas into the new draft.

Noting the Board policy mandated an annual review, Professor Helms said UTC was one of the few system campuses to have an annual review already in place in the form of the EDO. She pointed out the proposed implementation policy added rewards to the EDO process in the form of salary increments and other rewards for superior annual performance. She said Provost Berry had appointed a Rewards Committee to supplement the work of the Performance Review Committee.

In the unlikely instance that a faculty member receives two consecutive below merit ratings, the department head, as called for in the bold print, would convene a five-person committee. The process would begin in 1999-2000; the dates have been verified with the system office. The committee looked at several configurations for the review committee but settled on five based on comments from faculty about an odd number being better for committee performance. As required by the bold print, the department head or the person acting in that capacity would be a member of the committee. Two outside members would be chosen by the Provost from a list of three submitted by the faculty member and a list of three submitted by the department head. The other two committee members would be tenured faculty in the department selected according to departmental guidelines. The Performance Review Committee is recommending that one be selected by the faculty member and the other by the department head. After the committee convenes, if the consensus of the committee is that the faculty member’s performance is below merit, a remediation plan would be developed for the faculty member or in extraordinary cases the committee might recommend the Chancellor begin the termination process.

Having checked UTC records, Provost Berry confirmed that only one person received consecutive negative EDOs in the last two years. Professor Efaw asked why only two years had been checked. Wouldn’t 20 give a fuller picture? Provost Berry said research of that magnitude would tax his thin staff during a busy semester, adding some older records were in storage and not readily available.

Returning to the topic of rewards, Professor Giffin asked if anyone really expected any money for this, noting money was rarely available for anything else. Professor Helms said the Board had specified rewards in the bold print, adding she couldn’t speak for the budget.

Provost Berry said he had wrestled with the dilemma of whether rewards should be mentioned or not. If not mentioned, he was concerned faculty would think he wasn’t serious about increases. He pointed out that his two budget priorities last spring were student retention and faculty salaries, noting the $204,000 in raises this year in addition to the 2% and said it illustrated how serious he and the Chancellor were about salaries. He said it was a higher percentage of the UTC budget than the $320,000 discussed at UTK. He said he would be making his budget presentation on April 12 and that salaries would again be his top priority.

Provost Berry indicated a number of strategies exist for an institution to keep pace with a rewards structure and said he had discussed several of them with the Rewards Committee. He said he was certain UTC could provide more raises next year unless a budget cutback occurred, adding the governor is recommending a $1.352 million increase for UTC if the tax plan passes. Provost Berry said he also expects the Board of Trustees to pass a tuition and fee increase. President Prevost noted that Knoxville’s $320,000 would be for 1200 faculty.

Changing topics, Professor John Trimpey asked what "consensus" meant. A majority? Professor Helms said the committee discussed the meaning of the word at length and decided not to try and define it. Professor Herb Burhenn added that the committee felt the Board of Trustees had been ill-advised to use the word and that the committee decided to let them "dig their own hole" on that question.

Professor John Trimpey expressed concern that due process might be abrogated by the proposed review process. He said he thought an appeal of a below merit rating would take more than a month. Provost Berry suggested changing 30 days to "in a timely manner." Professor Helms suggested the Handbook Committee might review the wording.

Professor Pedro Campa asked why the department head was on the review committee. Why should the person who gave you the negative evaluation be on the committee? Professor Helms said the committee shared his concern but that the bold language called for it. She said the committee tried to give faculty more power by giving them more input into the selection of the other committee members.

In discussing the options available when the consensus of the review committee was unsatisfactory, Professor Efaw suggested inserting language stating that no recommendation for termination would go to the Chancellor until a year of remediation had taken place. Professors Helms and Fanning said that language would contravene the bold print, noting the Board language called for a recommendation to be made to the Chancellor prior to the commencement of a year of remediation. They suggested "strongly recommend a year of remediation" might be a possible addition or insertion. Professor Randy Whitson asked if the statements in the bold print could be qualified to indicate how or when a recommendation for termination would occur as opposed to a year of remediation. Could we insert the times or circumstances when we would prefer for them to take place? Professor Helms said the committee could take another look at the wording in that section.

Professor Rice suggested disregarding the bold print and removing the department head from review process. He suggested sending it forward and attaching a note giving the reasoning. Professor Helms noted an intermediate step required the department head, the dean, the provost, and the faculty council president to reach a consensus.

In response to a comment from Professor Rice, Provost Berry pointed out no categories were being attached to the UTC cumulative review and added that Knoxville had added four evaluative categories to the cumulative review.

Provost Berry said only two consecutive below merit annual reviews under the UTC policy could trigger remediation or termination whereas either the cumulative review or the annual review could trigger remediaton or termination at UTK, saying UTK faculty would face some jeopardy both places.

Professor Rice suggested again removing the department head from the review process and sending the Board of Trustees a note outlining the reasons why faculty thought the situation was unfair. "In fairness, why would you have someone who gave you a negative review on the appeals committee?" Professor Helms suggested it could be seen as four faculty members against a department head with the burden on the head to justify a negative review. Professor Efaw said administrators always influence the majority. Professor John Trimpey expressed concern about the department head being on the review committee, saying he knew of a few occasions when a department head and a faculty member had wrangled over issues unrelated to performance. He said an appropriate process needed to be in place to deal with those situations, adding it was never easy to get a poor review overturned. He said his concern was that the department head would be able to vote on the person three times. Professor Helms asked if any of the concerns were addressed by the department head’s evaluation form. She elicited several "no’s" from Council.

Professor Rice expressed concern about the current EDO process, saying goals were set in the fall only months before the evaluation in March or April. He said faculty who needed remediation would only have a few months to improve their performance. Professor Margaret Trimpey said the goals for the next year were set two weeks after the EDO process in March or April. Several Council members suggested variations exist across campus.

Professor Rice reiterated his concerns about the timing, nature, and structure of the EDO especially since it would be the trigger mechanism for removal, saying additional safeguards were needed. He said he was glad the cumulative review would not also be a trigger mechanism.

Professor John Trimpey asked Professor Helms about a phrase in one of the summary sheets that described the cumulative review as a "faculty development tool and an evaluative mechanism." Professor Helms said "evaluative" meant that the faculty member successfully completed the review. Professor Burhenn said the review, as currently described in the implementation policy, was developmental, adding that the committee had consciously tried to make the cumulative review a minimalist event within the limits of the Board policy.

In the committee discussion so far, Professor Helms said the cumulative review was being viewed as similar to promotion and would have that kind of reward tied to it.

In response to a question from Professor John Trimpey, Professor Helms said the committee had carefully avoided using meritorious language and wording in connection with the cumulative review so as not to confuse it with the EDO. Professor Burhenn said the committee wanted to avoid having the annual review be the principal item looked at during the cumulative review. The committee wanted the cumulative review to be a genuinely peer operation not one that simply assumed the adequacy of the annual review.

Professor Rice asked if a deficiency had to exist in all three areas or only one for a rating of unsatisfactory to be given. Professor Helms said the committee was not charged with reviewing the EDO process and so had not considered that question. Professor Burhenn said the committee felt it would take a considerable amount of time to fully review the current EDO process, adding the Performance Review Committee felt another committee should be charged with that task. Professor Rice noted the EDO is a critical document. Professor Helms said the committee discussed changing or modifying the EDO categories but decided that was beyond the scope of their task.

Professor John Trimpey expressed concern about the placement of handbook section 3.8.1.1 on termination procedures. Several Council members and guests indicated they were confused by having termination procedures follow the section on cumulative review. Professor Hiestand pointed out the changes in the numbering sequence as the different topics were introduced.

Professor Rice expressed concern about how an underperforming faculty member is defined. Professor Helms asked if individual departments had guidelines on how faculty were evaluated in the EDO. Professor Rice said they were waiting on the implementation plan to redefine or reaffirm them. Professor Helms said his concern might be an area for clarification in the department. Professor Burhenn pointed out that the implementation policy would not yield any guidelines related to the EDO and added that he didn’t know of any wording in the Board’s policy on annual reviews that defined a below merit rating precisely.

Professor Rice said the EDO was an important issue, and Professor Burhenn agreed the EDO needed to be reexamined. Professor Fanning pointed out a faculty member would have to accept two negative ratings before the review process would begin, saying he thought the faculty member would appeal. President Prevost pointed out the current appeal goes to the Faculty Administrative Relations Committee and does not involve the department head. Professor Rice said he had talked with a former department head who said there was little incentive to give below merit ratings since they never led to dismissal and only agitated an already underperforming faculty member.

Professor Rice said the numbers of below merit ratings from the past may not reflect the future under the new policies. Based on conversations with colleagues in other states, Professor Rice expressed concern about future quotas for dismissal. A discussion ensued about university boards abolishing tenure. President Prevost said that the UTK resolutions specifically noted that the importance of academic freedom and tenure had been affirmed by the Board policy and that it had retained safeguards for due process.

Associate Provost Jane Harbaugh pointed out that the burden was on the university to prove that a faculty member was incompetent and not just merely unsatisfactory. She said two below merit ratings only initiated a process not an automatic termination. "It’s not two years in a row and we gotcha," she said. Provost Berry agreed the test of incompetence was a far tougher one than one for unsatisfactory. Last spring the argument against the proposed Board policy was that mechanisms already existed to terminate faculty for misconduct or incompetence, he noted. He said the new Board policy makes it harder for the university to get rid of an incompetent faculty member, saying the loser in the new Board policy was the department head who had to justify the faculty member’s incompetence to more people. Noting a faculty committee only got involved near the end of the process in the past, he said a faculty committee would now be involved at the beginning.

Professor Rice suggested the terminology "faculty committee" did not apply to a review committee headed by a department head. He said the department head recommends some of the committee members and and noted that upper level administrators generally don’t overturn department heads. A discussion ensued about whether any of the policies and plans stated forcefully enough that the burden of proving incompetence rests with the university. Professor Burhenn said the statement appeared several times, and Provost Berry suggested emphasizing the statement as needed to make the point clear.

Professor John Trimpey questioned the inclusion of faculty from outside the department in the review process. He said the traditional method of establishing competence involved peers in the discipline or a related discipline. Professor Helms asked whether standard sorts of definitions for teaching, research, and service would come into play. Professor Trimpey said he didn’t consider someone in accounting, for example, to be his peer in teaching John Milton and said the accounting faculty probably didn’t consider him their peer in teaching accounting. Professor Neal Coulter asked if faculty in the same discipline at other universities could be invited to sit on the review committee.

Turning to the cumulative performance review, Professor Helms noted this review was the new part of the Board policy. The implementation policy calls for it to be completed every six years (as opposed to five in a previous draft) beginning in 1999. She said the committee has confirmed with the systems office that it would be retroactive six years. The cumulative review committee would be made up of the members of the departmental promotion and tenure committee. She said the Performance Review Committee wanted to minimize the burden of the review, so they are recommending that a document of no more than 10 typed pages be submitted to the review committee. The phase-in recommended in a previous draft has been replaced by an option that would allow departments to determine the order in which faculty are reviewed. Departments could decide whether it’s alphabetical, random, most senior, etc. The cumulative review committee provides the faculty member with the comments from the discussion, and UTC would seek to reward the faculty member for going through the cumulative review process with salary increments or other rewards. A rewards structure is currently being developed by the Rewards Committee. The rewards being considered would be in addition to the overarching goal of raising salaries to the median national level by rank. She noted that, unlike Knoxville, the committee is not recommending an evaluative mechanism be part of the cumulative review.

Professor Rice expressed concern about the review being retroactive, noting faculty often have better or worse years. Professor Helms said the faculty member could determine the content of the 10 pages. Professor Rice applauded the consideration being given to a rewards structure.

Professor Jim Avery cautioned against focusing on the rewards structure, saying that too often these promises fall prey to bad budget years. He said rewards should not influence whether the implementation plan is accepted or rejected. He said, however, he thought the campus should write its own implementation plan but reiterated he was still leery of including rewards. Professor Helms noted rewards were mentioned in the bold print.

Professor Campa agreed that rewards should not influence the vote. He said the policies were either ethical or repulsive with no middle ground. President Prevost said she was only concerned that the implementation policies work for most of the faculty, adding she had a great concern about who wrote the policy. Professor Helms said it would be better for UTC to develop a policy than for the systems office to write it. Professor Campa asked why the faculty should trust the people who perpetrated the original policy. He said it was a delusion that "we have minimal power." He said the Knoxville people did not have the faculty interests at heart and that they had proven it time and again.

Professor Efaw observed that the Board could stuff things in the handbook whenever they wanted to and added he thought they could stuff the implementation policy in as well. He said the committees and the voting were a waste of time when it could be done by fiat. President Prevost suggested he was trying to find a scapegoat to take away any faculty responsibility. Professor Efaw said she was mischaracterizing his comments.

Returning to rewards, Professor Burhenn noted the mandate for rewards was in the Board policy. Professor Rice said he was concerned that extra resources had not been made available along with the mandate, saying it put campus administrators in a tremendous bind. He said someone needed to be doing more lobbying with the legislature to improve the financial picture for higher education in Tennessee.

Professor Hiestand said he agreed with Professor Avery that the UTC faculty should write the implementation policy. He said, while he had a number of problems with the Board policy, he didn’t have a problem with the implementation. "If we’ve got to do it, then this is okay." He asked Professor Efaw what the faculty gained by voting the implementation policy down. Professor Efaw said the faculty was being asked to make themselves scapegoats, adding he had a number of problems with the implementation policy and would vote against the most recent draft.

Professor Hiestand expressed concern about the proposed statement on rewards in the implementation policy, saying it offered too much hope of financial reward. Noting monies were often beyond the control of the campus, he suggested alternative rewards language. Professor Sturzer said she thought some faculty might do more than the regular work if there were more financial incentives. President Prevost said she thought faculty were continuing to do what they had always done—being productive and seeking to do well even knowing there might not be any extra financial reward.

Professor Trimpey asked how many faculty would undergo the cumulative review each year. Provost Berry said about 16% each year under the proposed plan. Professor John Trimpey expressed concern about the pool of money for rewards, saying that funds should have been provided along with the mandate.

Provost Berry said he opposed having any reference to rewards in the policy when it was discussed last spring, fearing a lack of funds would simply reinforce some of the cynicism on campus. He described the inclusion of the rewards as a sincere and well-intentioned act by a group of lay people who had come to recognize the salary problems in higher education in Tennessee. He said he felt the Board was trying to put greater pressure on campus administrators to reallocate resources to faculty salaries and also to get something in writing about salaries which would influence the legislature and the governor. He said he was guardedly optimistic about improvements in higher education funding in the next three to five years.

Responding to a request from President Prevost to discuss implementation on other campuses, Provost Berry said most of the work was done during the summer by the administrators and with some faculty input thereafter. His counterparts suggested he was foolish and na´ve for appointing a faculty committee to develop the implementation policy. Noting deficiencies in the Board policy, he said the policy would generate more work for everyone and would not change the results. He said UTC was not dismissing anyone now and would be unlikely to do so in the future except for misconduct like embezzlement, murder, and sexual harassment. He said the new policy had unfortunately embittered faculty and engendered suspicion. He said anyone on campus could have taken the Board’s core concerns and developed a clearer, more comprehensible, and more acceptable document. He said he was not wedded to the current implementation policy and did not think the committee was either. He encouraged faculty to continue to submit their ideas and suggestions to the committee.

President Prevost said the UTK implementation policy had been written by an Executive Committee of 20 drawn from the 100 members of the Faculty Senate. The senate did pass a resolution which was then sent to the Executive Committee and the Provost. She said the Executive Committee at UTK was going to ask the Senate to endorse the policy on Monday, adding the UTK policy was not going to the full faculty. President Prevost said UTC had opted for fuller faculty participation. She said UTC faculty have had the opportunity to talk directly with the Performance Review Committee and express their ideas and concerns but pointed out that neither that committee nor the Handbook Committee had received very many responses.

Professor Rice reiterated that UTC needed to pass a resolution as a matter of principle and as a mandate to the various committees working on the implementation policy. He also proposed a new or existing committee be appointed to oversee the review process, saying he felt another level of security should be built into the plan. He spoke favorably of Knoxville’s proactive stance and said UTC had just tried to fit something into the unalterable text. He suggested including as many clarifying insertions as possible into the plan and letting the Board decide which ones were appropriate.

Professor Campa expressed concern that the Board statement on academic freedom had been watered down in the new policy. He said it was not unchanged as the Performance Review Committee’s summary sheet suggested. Associate Provost Harbaugh said she didn’t think there were any statements in the Board policy that repealed prior statements on academic freedom. Several members of the Handbook Committee said they shared Professor Campa’s concerns. Professor Burhenn said the Performance Review Committee did not make any recommendations regarding the Board’s sections on academic freedom since it was not an issue with which the committee had been charged. Discussion continued on whether the sections had been weakened or simply reaffirmed in different language.

Professor Rice reiterated his concerns about the department head being a member of the review committee and suggested modifying that passage in the Board policy before sending an implementation plan forward. Provost Berry said he would contact the systems office and suggest the change, saying he understood the concern. Professor Rice suggested using the department head issue as a test case to see how the systems office and the legal advisors would react to changes in the bold print. Saying issues should be pinpointed and dealt with now, Professor John Trimpey expressed concern about running test cases into June or July.

President Prevost said one issue was whether the review committee should include all tenured faculty members in a department. Professor Burhenn said the Performance Review Committee proposed that option in the original draft and that the idea had not been well received. Professor Helms said many faculty felt that including all tenured faculty would make the committee too large; the odd number issue also entered into it.

Professor Rice noted again the problems in using the existing EDO for this new purpose. President Prevost suggested another committee could look at that issue, noting the Board had only mandated an annual review but not the nature of the vehicle. Members of the Performance Review Committee said they felt a committee other than their own should be charged with reworking the EDO.

Professor Rice asked if the plans that went forward would be cast in stone. President Prevost said the handbook could be changed every year. Provost Berry said changes beyond those of an editorial nature required Board approval, noting the annual review could not be abolished but could be revised.

Provost Berry asked for more input on the wording of the rewards statement in the implementation policy. Different versions of the wording were discussed with some agreement that the phrase "to strive" was not too excessive. More people commented that the draft language was all right than that it wasn’t.

Professor Efaw expressed concern over the fear mongering about who would write the policy if the UTC faculty rejects it. A discussion ensued about the nature of the speculations and assumptions.

Professor Marea Rankin asked what the next step in the process would be. President Prevost said a draft from the Performance Review and Handbook Committees would come before Council at the next meeting for a vote.

Professor Rice said his resolution would be presented at the faculty meeting and added he would expect an honest effort to have been made to include the basic points in the implementation policy; otherwise he said he would vote against it. President Prevost suggested the practical thing to do would be to go ahead and offer the points of the resolution to the performance review committee for consideration.

The discussion returned to the composition of the review committee. Professor Mac Smotherman said he too had concerns about the department head being a member of the review committee and supported the idea of an oversight committee as an additional safeguard rather than trying to change the bold print.

Professor Giffin asked how a second vote would be taken if the implementation policy passed on Reading Day. President Prevost said she thought perhaps the body could decide to accept one vote or could decide to reconvene after the first meeting and consider the issue again. Parliamentarian Hiestand said he would review the details of such a situation.

Professor Rice suggested asking the systems office for more time to work on the implementation policy. Provost Berry emitted a kind of wail not easily recorded in the minutes. Professor Rice said he felt important decisions were being made too rapidly. Professor Margaret Trimpey asked Professor Rice if his resolution would come to Council for consideration, saying the Handbook Committee couldn’t include material that had not been approved by somebody. President Prevost said she thought the Performance Review Committee had worked hard to consider and include as many of the resolution’s ideas as they were aware of.

Professor Rice said issues like the implementation policy required the building of a consensus on campus. He pointed to General Education as an issue that passed as a result of consensus building. Provost Berry pointed out the implementation policy was not a recent occurrence. Noting the committee was appointed and announced to the campus in September, he said the first draft was put on raven in November and that hard copies had been sent to every department. He further noted the open meeting in the fall and the additional drafts and calls for commentary since January, saying the impression that opinions had only been solicited in the last week were wrong. President Prevost and others expressed their belief that faculty had not read the Board policy or the implementation policy in any detail. Professor Rice said the problem now was that the faculty had a nearly finalized document to deal with and added that he would have begun organizing a resolution sooner if he had been aware of the details earlier. President Prevost pointed out that Knoxville’s resolutions had gone through the Faculty Senate.

Adjournment

A quorum not being present, the meeting adjourned at 5:12 p.m.

  

Respectfully submitted,

  

Kathy Breeden

Faculty Council Secretary

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