Faculty Senate discuss updating handbook

By Lindsey Blakely
On February 24, 2014

The faculty handbook was once again an issue of debate among faculty senators Friday as they expressed concern over guidelines surrounding their performance and review procedures.

In their previous meeting, the senators questioned the wording of the handbook regarding their post tenure review. According to the current handbook, a departmental chair’s rating of unsatisfactory performance can lead to the firing of a faculty member with no option for appeal or reversal of that decision. Senator Andy Mooneyhan explained at the Jan. 31 meeting that a remediation plan, or a plan to fix the situation, would begin once an unsatisfactory report was filed.

This modification was discussed again at last Friday’s meeting as faculty members questioned the amount of protection they have under the current plan.

“There are absolutely no guidelines,” Senator John Pratte said. “Appendix C (of the proposed resolution) allows an administrator to fire a faculty member within one semester. There are no appeals or anything.”

Pratte said this handbook guideline affects multiple levels, including faculty, deans and chairs.

“If we don’t fix the handbook right now, then it’s a ticking time bomb,” Pratte said.

Senator Bill Rowe agreed and said he believed the faculty should make their own handbook.

Although the faculty handbook is defined as a living and evolving document, some senators argued it is outdated.

“The language shows how dated it is,” Pratte said. “It was revised in 2005, but language from the ‘80s is still lurking in there.”

Some faculty members said the old handbook, which had been created by previous faculty, should be updated and used as it was designed for protecting the faculty in critical times.

“Isn’t it time to revise the handbook?” Senator Amany Saleh asked.

Senator Hans Hacker motioned for the senate to endorse the executive council’s recommendation to move the matter to the University Promotion Retention and Tenure Committee and for the senate to spend their time creating a committee solely focused on looking over the handbook.

The motion was unanimously passed.

The senate also discussed evaluation of administrative duties. The majority of the senate was against the current wording in the documents governing their administrative duties.

Senator Warren Johnson spoke against the current wording and said it had been discussed in detail online by the faculty members.

“The changes seem to be adding requirements to the tenure-track faculty,” Johnson said. “There is an expectation for those faculty but the wording sounds as if these expectations are now required for the faculty instead of being presented as an option.”

The senate agreed the issue should continue to be discussed before the resolution is ready for vote.

The Promotion, Retention and Tenure (PRT) process revision was also discussed, and Vice Chair John Hall recommended written resolutions be given to faculty members.

“Some pre-tenure faculty never receive the recommendations,” Hall said. “We want them to receive a copy in-hand. The language right now doesn’t make it seem necessary, but we see it as good practice. We want them to see their feedback.”

Hacker addressed the Craighead County Election Commission’s attempt at the closure of campus polling sites.

“In February, the commission said they would no longer have voting booths on this campus,” Hacker said. “We approached our administration with this and they jumped on the issue.”

Hacker said the administration greatly helped ASU by addressing the commission and showing the desire to continue the use of the university as a polling site.

“There was a significant requirement (necessary for) ASU to maintain the site, but the administration got on that and decided that they didn’t want to disenfranchise students,” Hacker said. “The commission wanted to move the polling site to the fairgrounds, which is 6 miles away. I think we should commend the administration on their efforts for doing this and give them thanks.”

In other business, the issue of gun control was brought up again in an effort to allow faculty members with concealed carry licenses to be able to carry weapons on campus. The issue is scheduled to be on the agenda for the March 7 Faculty Senate meeting.

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