Letter Regarding Non-Senate Faculty Voting

Barbara Horwitz, Vice Provost Academic Personnel

June 23, 2004

Dear Vice Provost Horwitz

We appreciate the June 16th meeting that you arranged with representatives from the Academic Senate, Academic Federation and Administration. It was an opportunity for further discussion of the issue of Academic Federation members having full participation at the department level for non-Senate faculty personnel actions. The Academic Federation representatives at that discussion feel that it is important to clarify some concerns resulting from the meeting.

I wish to underscore a central point to the Federation's presentation at the June 16, 2004 meeting which was that the Federation objects to the stated Senate CERJ opinion that the Senate has sole, exclusive right to vote on personnel actions involving teaching, even for non-Senate faculty. The Academic Federation is not claiming the right to vote on Academic Senate personnel actions nor seeking to exclude Senate members from voting on Federation personnel actions that involve teaching. We believe that a separate vote from non-Senate faculty should be taken and reported separately in the Chair's letter. A brief overview of our rationale for Academic Federation participation in the review of non-Senate faculty is presented here. The full documentation supporting our position is included as an attachment.

The Federation asserts that the designation of authority for personnel actions clearly resides with the Chancellor as stated in the Academic Personnel Manual (APM 100.6.a). APM 245 further delineates the position of Department Chair as an Administrative position that serves at the discretion of the Chancellor. The Chair is not elected by the Senate faculty in each department and it is not required that Chairs be members of the Academic Senate. APM 245 Appendix A states that the Chair is responsible for the evaluation of faculty in the department. Furthermore, the Chair's recommendation is based on consultation with "colleagues." At no time does the requirement for Senate membership enter the description of this process. The Chair's letter makes a recommendation regarding the personnel action and the letter is addressed to the Chancellor, not to CAP or another Senate committee. Clearly the Chair is functioning as a part of Administration, not as a representative of the Academic Senate. In these actions, the Senate members of a department express their opinion, usually in the form of a vote. Because the Chair is an Administrative officer, the Academic Federation members of a department should also be able to express their opinions about the personnel actions of other non-Senate faculty in the form of a vote. Senate by-laws require that whenever the Senate is advising administration, only Senate members can vote. Therefore, the tabulated opinions of Federation members should be reported separately to the Chair and should be recorded separately in the Chair's letter.

In our meeting on June 16, 2004 when discussing whether the Senate by-laws and the APM point in different directions regarding personnel actions for non-Senate faculty, Professor Kevin Hoover responded with the statement "Senate by-laws trump the APMs." We are very concerned about the implications of such a statement. The APMs have served as the basis for numerous grievances and lawsuits and the protocols by which the University carries out its academic personnel review function. The APMs have been vetted by the Senate as well as Administration and other campus members and each modification receives wide campus and university review. In contrast, Senate by-laws are not reviewed by Administration or any other constituent group on campus. The use of Senate by-laws to defend personnel review practices could have serious legal implications. Perhaps even more important is the social implications of such an opinion. If the Senate by-laws trump the APMs, then thousands of members of the campus are disenfranchised. If true, this statement will have devastating effects on the Principles of Community.

At the end of the June 16 th meeting, it seemed that some Senate members were intent on asking the University CERJ for a ruling on this issue. The Federation wants to clarify our position on this action. We believe the Senate has a right to ask for rulings on issues that relate to their own membership, but we are not members of the Senate. The participation of Academic Federation members in advising Administration on the personnel actions of non-Senate faculty is not under the purview of the Academic Senate. It is the responsibility of Administration to consult with colleagues and obtain the best, most informed peer review possible for each personnel action.

Our most serious concern is that if Administration endorses seeking an opinion from and awaits a ruling from the University CERJ on this topic, it implies that the Senate by-laws will determine personnel policy for everyone on campus. Depending on what questions are asked, the University CERJ is likely to highly restrict the participation of non-Senate members in departments. If such rulings are issued and then implemented by Administration, one of the major functions of the Academic Federation, that of personnel review, could be decimated. Years of work to develop consistent campus-wide practices of inclusive peer review at the department level would be undone.

The directions that you have sent to Deans and Department Chairs regarding non-Senate instructional faculty constitutes a significant change in personnel policy in the middle of a review cycle. Furthermore, the Senate CERJ was consulted on this policy change, but no other group, particularly the groups affected, were consulted prior to implementation. These changes are not supported by the existing APM policies.

In view of the evidence presented, we urge you to implement the existing APM and recognize Administration's obligation to request consultation, review and recorded advisory votes from non-Senate faculty in addition to the input from Senate faculty when considering the personnel actions of non-Senate faculty on this campus.


Catherine VandeVoort, Chair
Academic Federation