University Senate                                                                                  November 16, 2006

 

 

 

 

REPORT FROM THE FACULTY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

 

The Faculty Affairs committee considers grievances from faculty on a host of procedures, including but not limited to matters of appointment, promotion, salary, funding and space.  Though each case is confidential, the Committee does periodically uncover a matter of general interest, usually one in which a procedure is either poorly laid out or poorly complied with, or both.  In all cases we attempt to resolve the matter by consultation with interested administrative parties; the Provost is the senior of those colleagues and we do consult with him when necessary.

Here are the cases of this sort we have found so far in the last two Senate sessions.  We hope the Senate as a whole will consider whether any of these matters deserves any Senate action.

 

We report that the Committee encountered a grievance in which the grievant had made a secret tape of a conversation with an administrator.  After much debate the FAC resolved not to listen to that tape unless no other evidence was determinative.  We found that other evidence was determinative, and never used the tape.   A minority of the FAC urged the committee to agree in advance not to use such information under any circumstances, and at that time the FAC agreed to ask the Senate as a whole to discuss this issue.

 

We wish to report the practice, not supported by University written procedures, of changing a 12-month appointment of a tenure-track faculty member at an Uptown School to a 9-month appointment.  The Provost has agreed with the Committee that such procedures are ill-defined and subject to abusive outcomes, and has agreed to solicit the Committee’s input as his office develops guidelines. 

 

We wish to report the practice, also found in some Uptown Schools, of compensating faculty by a “pass-through” funding arrangement, in which faculty provide money for their salary by submitting payments for outside consulting or research directly to their school or department, bypassing the University’s grant administration procedures (RASCAL).  We found no dissent from our position that this practice is inappropriate, and we have been assured by the Provost that it has been discontinued. We expect that this information will be communicated to the University Community.

 

We wish to report that the Provost’s office has concluded that the Committee is not cleared to see any of the relevant information about salaries, that would allow us to understand and conclude our recommendations on any of a number of grievances concerning salary levels. Dr. Rittenberg has agreed instead, to clearly define the path a faculty member should follow if he or she has a salary grievance.  We hope that the University Community will receive this information soon.  The Committee disagrees with the provost about its role in salary grievances, and it has investigated and made recommendations on some of these in recent years.

 

Finally, we wish to report that in one case we were unable to reach agreement with the Provost’s office on whether or not the wishes of a donor had been met by a particular appointment to a named Chair.  The provost maintains that the terms of the formal gift agreement are the only legally binding language. We identify an ethical obligation in some cases to make an extra effort to determine a donor’s wishes by consulting other documents and relevant sources related to a particular gift in addition to the gift agreement.

 

In closing, we wish to stress that the Committee takes seriously its obligations to protect the confidence of faculty who submit grievances, and so we must demur from providing any further details.  With this exception, we welcome questions and discussion.

 

For the committee,

Robert Pollack (Ten., A&S/NS) and Penelope Boyden (Ten., P&S), co-chairs