University Committee Meeting Minutes 2016-01-29
approved February 1, 2016
UC members present: Edwards, Litovsky, Meyerand (chair), Wanner, Wendt
UC member absent: Broman
Others present: S. Smith, Bernard-Donals, Vanness, McManus, Vaughan, Radomski, McFadden, O’Meara, Savidge, Mangelsdorf, Inoway-Ronnie, Bump, Kissick, and 4-5 others who did not identify themselves
Chair Meyerand called the meeting to order at 10:07 am. Sole agenda item is discussion of the UW System Tenure Task Force draft policies and a UW-Madison response. Issues raised during the free-ranging and broad discussion included: appropriate tenor and length of the campus response, history and context of the current situation, faculty role in program discontinuance, peer institution approaches, symbolic importance of paradigm shift in tenure and also of Wisconsin’s role in the history of tenure, possible applications of these policies and legal ramifications, flexibility afforded to campuses by the policies, and specific changes and recommendations on the system policies. Consensus that the post-tenure review policy is a morale concern, but less problematic than the layoff policy, and that within the latter educational consideration is more of a concern than financial exigency policies. Specifically, the blurring of educational and financial considerations is the major concern. The final version of the UW response (which also includes edits from the 1 February UC meeting) is copied below. Meeting adjourned at 11:19 a.m.
As our campus’s representatives to the UW System Tenure Policy Task Force and members of the UW-Madison University Committee, we appreciate this opportunity to comment on the draft policies dated 1-21-2016. We recognize that they are the result of a great deal of work and balancing of differing priorities. Unfortunately, there remains one area of significant concern about Regent Policy Document 20-XX: Procedures Relating to Financial Emergency or Program Discontinuance Requiring Faculty Layoff and Termination. This concern is illustrated by the language in section II.B where program discontinuance for educational reasons is described but language is included that implies discontinuance for financial considerations. It is important that program discontinuance for financial reasons remain clearly separate from program discontinuance for educational reasons because each invokes separate processes and has different consequences.
- We recommend striking the last sentence in that paragraph, which mixes educational considerations with financial need: “
Such long-range judgments generally will involve the analysis of financial resources and the needs of the program and any related college or school.”
- In section II.D.6 there is a similar mixing of language: "Current and predicted comparative cost analysis/effectiveness of the program …”
- We recommend point #6 be eliminated.
- We note that in section II.D, the same faculty committee constituted in section I for the purpose of advising on financial exigency is expected to address program discontinuance for educational considerations. These are entirely separate issues and should be addressed by different committees.
- We recommend changing the first sentence of section II.D to: “A designated faculty committee shall review and evaluate any proposal to discontinue a program that will lead to faculty layoff.”
- Another instance of mixing considerations of educational quality with overall concerns of inadequate financial resources occurs in section II.I: “If the Board approves discontinuance of a program resulting in faculty layoffs at a UW System institution under this policy, the tenured faculty at that institution shall have responsibility for recommending which faculty will be laid off. These recommendations shall follow seniority unless a clear and convincing case is made that program needs dictate other considerations…” This language seems to come from the provisions on layoff due to financial exigency, where reducing programs in size (according to seniority) may be preferred to formal program discontinuation. However, AAUP standards do not allow programs to be reduced in size by seniority (or to be defined ad hoc at any size) on the grounds of educational quality.
- We recommend removing the last two sentences of section II.I that include "seniority" in the process.
All our recommendations are consistent with statute and, by protecting tenure, they protect academic freedom in the UW System, and thus in turn address the specific charge of the Tenure Task Force.