University Committee Meeting Minutes 2015-11-25

approved November 30, 2015

November 25, 2015

UC members present: Broman, Edwards, Litovsky, Meyerand (chair), Wanner, Wendt

Others present: S. Smith, Knutson, Vanness

1. Meeting called to order: 9:00 AM.

2. The UC reviewed a draft letter to UWS tenure task force. Multiple modifications were made and the following final version below was approved unanimously.
3. Meeting adjourned: 9:44 AM.

Date: 25 November 2015
To: Regent John R. Behling, Chair, UWS Tenure Policy Task Force
Cc: Regent Regina Millner, UWS Board of Regents President and task force member
Sarah Mangelsdorf, UW-Madison Vice Chancellor and Provost and task force member
Patricia McManus, UW-Madison Professor of Plant Pathology and task force member
Rebecca Blank, UW-Madison Chancellor
Steven K. Smith, UW-Madison Secretary of the Faculty
Heather McFadden, Chair, UW-Madison Academic Staff Executive Committee
Russell Kutz, Chair, UW-Madison University Staff Executive Committee
Madison Laning, Chair, Associated Students of Madison
From: Beth Meyerand, Chair, UW-Madison University Committee
Tom Broman, UW-Madison University Committee
Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, UW-Madison University Committee
Ruth Litovsky, UW-Madison University Committee
Anja Wanner, UW-Madison University Committee
Amy Wendt, UW-Madison University Committee

The UW-Madison University Committee has studied the draft proposals for the UW System’s “Layoff Policy Recommendations” and the “Post-Tenure Review Recommendations.” We thank you for your attention to these important matters. We are contacting you to express our concern with four points in those documents.
The first concern relates to the section of the layoff policy labeled “Layoff Due to Budget or Program Decision Requiring Program Discontinuance, Curtailment, Modification, or Redirection.” In the policy on layoff and termination approved by the UW-Madison Faculty Senate on November 2, 2015, academic program discontinuance was separated from curtailment, modification, and redirection. Discontinuance of a program is a significant step that deserves full review, in part because it may result in faculty layoff or termination, while curtailment, redirection, and modification of academic programs occur routinely in the normal course of university business. (At UW-Madison this process, in which college and campus administrators have a substantial role, is described in our Faculty Policies and Procedures, Chapters 5 and 10.) Therefore, we urge that program discontinuance be handled separately.
Our second concern relates to items 1-4 of the draft of the layoff policy recommendations. Item 1 recommends a program change can be “brought forward” by members of the faculty in the affected department or college, the dean, provost, or chancellor. The meaning of “brought forward” requires clarification. We do not object to a definition whereby various parties can initiate a process of program review leading to possible faculty layoff for educational reasons or for a declared financial emergency. However, if “brought forward” is interpreted to mean “enact” or “implement,” then such changes need to be resolved through the shared governance that has served our campus well for so many years. In fact, item #4 of the same section of the draft policy on layoff and termination appears to implicitly acknowledge the need for a substantial shared governance role in this process, so the clarification in item 1 should cause no difficulty. Along the same lines, items 1-4 of the draft policy on layoff and termination can be clarified and improved if the distinction expressed in items 1 and 2 between program changes that happen with/without faculty layoff or termination is removed. All instances of program discontinuance, however initiated, must be made subject to the mechanisms of shared governance that are established at the individual campuses. 
Our third concern relates to items 8 and 9 in the post-tenure review recommendations in the section labeled “Elements of the Review” and what happens immediately after a faculty member receives an unfavorable review. According to the principles of academic freedom and shared governance, every faculty member who disagrees with a review has the right to request another extra-departmental peer review. This step would precede, but not substitute for, the steps described in the subsequent remediation and appeal processes.
Finally, we want to point out a problem with item 9:
“the dean shall forward to the provost a recommendation to implement performance remediation to assist the faculty member to improve his or her performance. The provost (or designee) shall make the decision on whether to implement performance remediation for a tenured faculty member under this policy. This decision shall be final and not subject to institutional grievance processes.”
This phrasing appears to leave it to the provost’s discretion whether to accept the dean’s recommendation for remedial steps or to proceed directly to dismissal. This sequence of potential consequences is far too harsh, allowing a faculty member no opportunity whatsoever to improve upon an unfavorable review. It may well be that this was not the intention of the draft, for the subsequent and careful description of the process for remediation and development appears to express the expectation that this would be the normal outcome of an unsatisfactory review.  If so, then all that is needed is to clarify what the provost’s role would be in this process.  

We thank you for this opportunity to share our concerns and suggestions about the draft policies.