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Feb 27, 2008 Minutes

Members present:

Senators Stone, Bond, Feakes, Furney, Hazlewood, Hindson, Hurt, McGee, McKinney, Meek, Melzer, Ogletree, Shah, Wilson, Winek


Guests: The Council of Academic Deans and their representatives; Rebecca Swindal, Staff Council Representative; and Selina Saucedo, University Star



Meeting called to order at 4:00.


Joint Meeting with CAD:  Several topics were discussed:

Annual Senate Survey of Deans and Administrators:  There was some discussion about the past survey conducted by the Senate, in which at least one dean received very low marks accompanied by scathing comments.  The Provost indicated that he would prefer that comments were not posted on a University website, due to the profane nature of some the comments.  He also worried about the possible lack of anonymity of the authors of the survey’s comments.  The Provost did mention that having a good evaluation system was necessary so that the University has good leaders who can keep the University moving forward. Discussions will continue.

Annual Evaluation of Chairs: PPS 1.10, Section 6, states that annually college deans are responsible for “Providing evaluation results along with recommendations for the improvement of job performance to the department’s chair/director, faculty and staff.”  The Senate questioned whether the current policy was actually being followed.  Dean Cheatham, Fine Arts & Comm., indicated the review was shared with some departments and schools in his college and not in others.  Assoc. Dean Sanders, Health Professions, said she shared a one-page summary to all departments in her college.  Of the other deans or their representatives, comments ranged from “I don’t know” for the College of Science to “it hasn’t been done yet, but it will be done” for the College of Education.

Policy for Appointing Interim Chairs:  The Senate questioned whether there was a policy concerning the appointment for interim or acting chairs.  Assoc. Provost Bourgeois indicated that there was no official policy and that the process varies across campus.  He said he would draft a policy statement and saw no reason not to discuss such appointments with a department’s personnel committee and indicated that a section requiring discussion with a department’s personnel committee prior to appointing an interim chair or director could be added to university policy.  Provost Moore also favored discussions with personnel committees prior to interim appointments.

Academic Governance Policies Within Departments:  All departments are required to have some specific departmental policies, specifically a promotion/tenure policy, an annual review of faculty performance policy and a merit policy.  Some departments in some colleges have model policies, but a number of departments have no written policies or have policies that are extremely out of date.  A recent attempt by a Senate committee produced minimal results because of a lack of responsiveness, even after a plea for cooperation from the Dean of Fine Arts & Comm.  The Deans were asked how they monitor required department policies within their areas of responsibility.  Assoc. Provost Bourgeois indicated that he has a folder with an evaluation policy from every department, although it might not be completely current. Dean Cheatham indicated that his departments had policy statements, but they were not all in digital format.  Dean Barrera indicated that several departments in her college use college policy in lieu of a departmental policy, but that all departments were currently doing a methodical review.  It was noted that most departments were reviewing their departmental policy statements due to the coming SACS review.  Assoc. Provost Bourgeois circulated a document:  Compliance Certification of Departmental Policy for Annual Faculty Evaluations.  The document requires certification of a checklist on annual evaluation requiring signatures of a personnel committee representative, the department chair, the college dean, the provost and the university attorney.  He indicated that similar checklists were being developed for the other required departmental policies.  The Provost offered his astonishment that faculty in some departments seemed to be uninterested in making sure that their required departmental policies exist and were up to date.  “Tenured faculty in a department have the responsibility to take part in departmental governance.”  It was clear from the Provost’s statement that if departmental policy statement did not exist or were not up to date, that the blame rests not only with the department’s chair or college dean, but also with the department’s tenured faculty, and indicated that faculty members should ask to see their department’s documents.  When asked what happens when a faculty of a department did not want fulfill these duties --meaning they did not want to help develop, revise or up-date departmental policy since the service role of faculty seems to have little value -- the Provost indicated, “these things will happen!”  He offered no suggestion regarding the motivation.

Developmental Leave Policy:  There was discussion about possible changes in the current developmental leave policy.  The most significant change would be a move to a once-per-year application cycle: i.e., applications would be accepted only during the fall semester for leaves beginning the next fall and the following spring.  Also included might be a provision for leaves for departmental chairs, but such leaves would not be competitive with faculty leaves.  When asked, the Provost indicated that it was possible for the University to fund as many as sixty or seventy leaves per year.  The current number of funded leaves is between thirty and forty per year.