Faculty Affairs Committee final report, 2010-2011

At the beginning of the year, we had planned to consider several carryover and new items. Prior to initiating any specific action on these items however, we had wanted to review data in some relevant areas. Accordingly, we requested some information from the MU provost and the chancellor. We also met with the MU provost to discuss the P&T issues. I had distributed a note to the Council earlier (4/7/2011) that contained most of the information we had received, and I am attaching that note and the data to this report again. Taking this information into account, and reviewing our tasks, we note the following:

  1. Promotion and & Tenure issues: There has been interest in appointment of one or two task forces to review issues relating to promotion and tenure guidelines and the review processes. The generally favorable decisions for faculty during the last 5 years make it clear that MU does not currently have a practice of denying tenure or promotion to those already on the tenure or promotion track based on a pre‐existing limit on number of tenured or professor slots. We discussed the P&T issues with the MU Provost in a meeting, and there are views (the Provost shares this view) that the current review process is cumbersome; the tenure and promotion dossiers sometimes do not sufficiently focus on qualitative external evaluations; service, teaching or cross‐disciplinary contributions do not get enough recognitions, etc. There are also views that the process is working well (given the record), and no adjustments are needed.
  2. Monitor NTT promotion and related issues, Emeritus status: CRR310.035.H states that:

    "NTT faculty appointments shall begin at a specified date and terminate at a specified date. Such appointments are usually for a period of one academic year but may be for a longer or shorter period, except no single term appointment shall be for a period longer than three years. Such three‐year appointments should be reserved for the highest qualified, highest performing NTT faculty members."

    In our view, while the one year appointments are often needed for those on grant funds and must be retained in circumstances where only one year funds are available, the general practice should be three year appointments.

  3. Undergraduate issues: It was suggested that an FA member be appointed to a task force for UG participation in research, which may also work towards getting faculty credit for such work with UGs. This topic did not elicit much interest in FA.
  4. Diversity/Partner benefits: We understand from the FC chair that the discussions on this issue are apparently stalled at the system (curators) level because of some competing considerations.
  5. CRR300.010L (Faculty Irresponsibility): This CRR is unique to MU among the four campuses, and if followed in letter and spirit, it can serve a very useful purpose in both protecting the MU faculty and also the University, but otherwise it can also lead to abuse of faculty. We have not looked at any individual case (nor could we), but it does seem from the data that in the last five years there was not a single case requiring even a meeting of the Faculty Irresponsibility Committee at the campus level, and prosecution of any charges at that level. This situation has changed recently, and it will be important to follow such developments.
  6. CRR20.110 (Chair Appointments): The situation is as described in the attached correspondence with the Chancellor, and further clarity is awaited. We note that some departmental policies may be at variance with this CRR, and a closer examination of the implementation is certainly needed.
  7. FC role in defining Program Review guidelines (as issued by the Provost's office): With the mandated MDHE reviews, and emergence of some new criteria from the state, there was ample activity with the reviews, and there was FC (Exec. Committee) participation in the process. FC should remain engaged in the review processes and definition of criteria as these evolve further in the future.
  8. CRR300.010, Faculty Bylaws (and other CRR) that relate to faculty, where there is some lack of guidance/policy on how faculty get to exercise their authority: We were not able to address this topic, but we are hopeful that with the information we obtained, the council will be able to address this topic fully in the next year. There is a particular need to develop guidelines for appropriate exercise of the advisory authority of the faculty.

We are recommending that both FA and FC remain engaged in most of these issues in the coming year. The MU Provost has indicated his strong interest in making progress on Promotion and Tenure issues, and his understanding of all other issues, and his desire and willingness to work equally on all of these with FA and FC.