The administration bargaining team proposed that tenured faculty could have their FTE reduced to 0.6, 0.4, or 0.2 FTE after an unsuccessful third-year post-tenure review. They also proposed to define the “review period” for promotion reviews be the last six years only.
The United Academics bargaining team proposed a new “Teaching Professor” position. Senior II Instructors and Lecturers can ask for an intensive teaching review that would assess teaching skill and pedagogical philosophy. Successful candidates would have an indefinite appointment. We also proposed that Career faculty FTE could only be lowered by a maximum of 0.2 FTE (based on the prior year) upon renewal and that FTE had to be the same through all years of a contract.
On Thursday, the administration bargaining team and our team met for our fourth bargaining session. Their team brought three proposals, and we also made three proposals. Conversation was friendly, but as we discussed the difference between our proposals and ideas, we found there were some areas of strong disagreement.
Tenure and Promotion for Tenure Track Faculty
The administration team proposed keeping things pretty much like they are, with one big exception.As we relayed in our January 16 update, we had proposed a comprehensive Performance Improvement Plan that would provide faculty who were unsuccessful on a performance review a defined process, with specific, reasonable goals and documentation, and university resources to get back on track by their next major review. We proposed consequences for a second failed review.
In contrast, the administration proposed that tenured faculty who have an unsuccessful sixth-year post-tenure review would be given a performance improvement plan by the Provost and they had to be successful by the next third-year review or they could lose whatever part of their FTE the Provost chose.
We pointed out to them that the third-year review is a perfunctory review that is only a meeting of the faculty member and department head, with no criteria for determining what is “successful” or “unsuccessful.” Essentially, a department head could effectively end a tenured faculty member’s career by taking away large portions of their FTE. The admin team did not share our concerns, arguing that the Provost would not let this happen.
We plan to counter their proposal at our next session.
Tenure and Promotion Denial Appeals
Last week, we proposed improvements to the Tenure and Promotion appeals process. Unfortunately, the administration team rejected all of our changes. They explained that they had already been working on a proposal, so they were not able to engage with our ideas, but they also affirmed their proposal is their position on tenure and promotion appeals. In particular, they rejected our call to make “inconsistent application of criteria” a grounds of appealing a denial. We had explained that we believed it was unfair to have criteria applied differently from year-to-year. They explained that they did not see this as a problem.
We engaged in a long discussion of the most appropriate time for the Provost to provide a rationale for a tenure or promotion denial. We proposed that the Provost be required to provide a full explanation before the faculty member writes an appeal. The admin team proposed that the Provost instead be allowed to justify their decision after an appeal is filed. We explained the difficulty of writing an appeal based on no specific knowledge of the Provost’s rationale, and our concern that the Provost could write a post hoc justification of a decision that provided rationales different from those highlighted in the appeal. The admin team professed to see no difference if the Provost wrote before or after an appeal was filed. Both teams recognized that further discussion on this point would be needed.
We proposed to create a new job category – Teaching Professor. Teaching Professors would be Senior II Instructors or Lecturers who undergo an intensive, three-term review of their teaching, engagement with curriculum development, and pedagogical philosophy. A successful review would result in the awarding of an indefinite appointment.
The sharpest exchange we had at the table was over the administration’s abuse of their “flexibility” when assigning FTE for Career faculty when their contracts are renewed.
When we first bargained the Agreement, both parties agreed that Career faculty should be able to earn long-term contracts. We also agreed that once a contract was issued, FTE could not be lowered. We recognized that this commitment might place a burden on some units who experience fluctuations in enrollment that made it difficult to predict the exact needs of the units three years in the future. To accommodate this need, we allowed that units could offer contracts with variable FTE based on projections.
Unfortunately, some units have taken advantage of this flexibility and are offering Career faculty, even Senior II Instructors, contracts with FTEs of 1.0, 0.1, 0.1 (or worse) with non-binding promises that FTE will (probably) go up in the second and third years. These are not really the three-year contracts that administration agreed to provide faculty who have been promoted. This is no way to treat (or retain) faculty.
Our proposal would allow the administration to lower the FTE they are offering a renewed Career faculty member only by 0.2 FTE over the actual amount worked in the previous academic year. It would also require the administration to offer contracts with the same FTE in each year. So, if a Senior I Career faculty member worked at 1.0 FTE this year, and they were up for renewal, the least FTE they could be offered would be 0.8, 0.8, 0.8.
The administration team, of course, responded with concerns about what such a proposal would do to their flexibility. They also objected to the notion that they had “abused” the system. They offered, instead, that deans are very stressed about budgets, so their only option is to offer excellent faculty very poor contracts.
Our team responded strongly that this system, which has allowed deans to solve their budget problems by putting excellent faculty into precarious financial situations, is not reasonable. It is our intent to take this option away.
Bargaining ended there. We resume on conversations on Thursday, February 6 at noon in Chiles 125. All are welcome to attend.