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February 15, 2010


C. Proposed revisions of the Handbook of Operating Procedures, Sections 3.18 (D 7825-7835) and 4.03 (D 7825-7835) from the Faculty Grievance Committee.

Chair Elect Neikirk presided in place of Chair Staiger since she, as a representative of the Faculty Grievance Committee, needed to present the proposals regarding changes to grievance procedures. Professor Staiger said the two policy changes dealt with how grievances may occur at the University, HOP 3.18 pertaining to faculty grievances and HOP 4.03 pertaining to graduate students. She further explained that HOP 4.03 relates only to graduate students who are teaching employees—Assistant Instructors (AIs) and Teaching Assistants (TAs)—at the University and not to graduate student research employees. She reported that the two proposals contained numerous small changes to wording that were made to increase the clarity of policies and procedures.

According to Professor Staiger, the Committee of Council of Academic Freedom and Responsibility (CCAFR) had also expressed concern that the wording in Regents’ Rules made it difficult for a faculty member, who is being considered for tenure and promotion, to have a grievance hearing regarding academic freedom issues. She said this ability to have such a hearing was considered “a primary national assumption” that at least allowed a faculty member to request that the president review his or her case on the grounds of academic freedom. As result of a conversation with President Powers, she said an agreement had been reached that one of the changes to HOP 3.18 would make such a gesture possible. In the revision of policy part 1d, she pointed out that the revised wording says CCAFR can provide advice to the president on issues that would arise regarding consideration of faculty for tenure and promotion. She explained that there exists a set of internal guidelines from the offices of the provost and president regarding the process for making promotion and tenure decisions. Because the internal document is not a part of the HOP, she said the Faculty Council would not need to approve it. However, Professor Staiger wanted the faculty to know that the two documents were simultaneously being revised to enable the president to hear concerns regarding academic freedom. She explained that agreement regarding the language in the documents is nearing completion between the president, provost, and members of CCAFR.

The other major change to HOP 3.18 is there will now be the opportunity for the Faculty Grievance Committee to make a statement of opinion regarding grievances involving promotion and tenure to which the president will now officially listen. As a result, the Faculty Grievance Committee may have a say about whether a hearing should occur. In addition, a change was needed in the procedure regarding the termination hearing process. The proposed change is that the termination hearing report would be submitted to the president instead of being directly submitted to the Board of Regents. This change would allow the faculty member to be able to appeal the president’s decision to the Board of Regents. Professor Staiger said a group of experienced hands had worked long and hard to get agreement on the precise wording of these proposed changes. She reported that the working group included President Bill Powers, Provost Steve Leslie, Vice President Patti Ohlendorf, Presidential Deputy Charles Roeckle, and Professors Alan Friedman.

With regard to the graduate student process, HOP 4.03, Professor Staiger said the proposed HOP legislation got held up in the review and resulted in confusion about where it was in the process. Although approval had been secured at one point, which made the document completely uniform with 3.18, she said the paperwork did not go forward through the proper channels as had been thought or somehow got mired at a point in the process. According to Professor Staiger, the changes being proposed for 4.03 were essentially a mirror image of HOP 3.18 where appropriate with only one major exception. She said the difference in the processes is that the provost, rather than the president, would be responsible for making decisions regarding the disciplining of graduate student teaching employees. Professor Staiger reported that the Faculty Grievance Committee had approved the changes to both sections of the HOP, and the motion was therefore on the floor since it had come from a standing committee. It was clarified that motions from committees do not require a second, Chair Elect Neikirk would oversee the discussion, and Professor Staiger would be available to answer questions. When Chair Elect Neikirk asked if there were any comments or discussion, Professor Linda Golden (marketing and chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee) thanked all of the individuals who had worked so diligently to enact these changes. Professor Golden expressed her gratitude to Professor Staiger for her willingness to present the proposals since she had “been a part of that entire history.”

When Professor Bill Beckner (mathematics) asked if a copy of the wording on the graduate student process were available to read, both Chair Elect Neikirk and Chair Staiger said the document had been posted on the Faculty Council web site. Chair Elect Neikirk said the document could be accessed quickly via the clickable link on the meeting agenda. Professor Beckner said he presumed the document was identical to what had been presented, and Chair Staiger said that was certainly the intent. Since there was no further discussion, Chair Elect Neikirk called for a separate vote on each of the proposals starting first with HOP 3.18 regarding the faculty grievance procedure. The proposed changes to HOP 3.18 were unanimously approved by voice vote. Chair Neikirk then called for the vote on the proposed changes to HOP 4.03 regarding grievances against graduate student AIs and TAs, and the motion received unanimous approval by voice vote.

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