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University rescinds tenure plan

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A draft of the Faculty Evaluation Policy, which caused some concern among the faculty and the Faculty Senate, was withdrawn on Monday, Sept. 17. The decision to withdraw the proposed policies occurred after a meeting on Friday, Sept. 14 during which the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, the Academic Deans, the Vice Presidents and Lawrence Biondi S.J., the president of Saint Louis University, discussed the aspects of the policy which were perceived to be problematic for the faculty.

“The meeting was held in the spirit of shared governance, and there was an open and frank discussion that included Vice President for Academic Affairs Patankar’s suggestion that the four draft policy proposals could be withdrawn,” the joint committee stated in a letter released to the faculty, “The assembled leadership voted in support of his suggestion. The four draft proposals have been withdrawn.”

The letter also stated that the committee reaffirmed its support of the leadership for tenure and of the commitment to continue to improve SLU through collaborative faculty development.

The committee met after a letter sent to Patankar by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate deemed the policy in its draft form to be “irremediably flawed.” The Executive Committee requested that the policies be withdrawn from consideration.

“The sense of the faculty on these policies was reflected in the comments I received from the faculty, and those were reflected in that joint committee,” said Mark Kneupher, president of the Faculty Senate. “It was the desire of the faculty to remove the policy because of the harm it would do to the university in the long run. It was a good outcome.”

The draft outlined the proposed procedures and policies for evaluating the performance of full-time faculty.

One section that caused significant concern among faculty was the suggestion of a post-tenure review process that could result not only in a demotion to a non-tenured position for previously tenured faculty, but also the potential termination of that faculty member’s position.

Other issues the Faculty Senate named in their letter were the contradiction of the policy with the faculty manual, the inconsistent and arbitrary feel of the policy for how faculty are both rewarded and penalized and the perceived undue burden this would place on department chairs and faculty.

Senate also felt this policy would impede SLU’s ability to attract and retain faculty and that this would have an adverse effect not only on the future improvement of the University, but on the morale of the current faculty.

The Faculty Senate voted on Sept. 5 to request that the policy be withdrawn. If this option was not considered, senate said they were prepared to take further action on the matter.

The joint committee took this suggestion into account, choosing to withdraw the policy for further consideration.

No further adjustments have been made to the policy at this time.

According to Kneupher, however, the committee did decide to takesteps to ensure that communication between the faculty and administration continues.

“The joint committee voted unanimously to institute a committee to look into how we can improve communication,” Kneupher said. “This is positive, because we were too far into this before it was rejected. Poor communication never helps the university and doesn’t help our primary focus, which are the students we teach.”

On Sept. 17, the Arts and Sciences Faculty Council voted 35-2 for no confidence for Patankar, according to a long time university professor.

No further action has been taken since.

 

 

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