The Nov. 16 Colorado Mesa University Faculty Senate (FS) meeting picked up where the Nov. 2 meeting left off: discussing the proposed changes to the tenure and promotion (T&P) handbook. Three of the original six proposals that had been tabled absorbed the focus of the meeting. After further debate, two of the proposals passed, one did not.
“Some of our colleagues have done a little bit of work on this, and I have a […] revision of it that maybe we can use as a starting point for today’s discussion,” FS President Joshua Butler said. At the previous meeting, contention over proposals had centered around wording and led to the items being tabled for further revision.
Proposal three recommended changes to the mentoring process and was the first to be discussed. The issue had been tabled over wording and a concern about legal compliance over sharing annual evaluations of junior faculty to evaluators without their permission.
Revised wording to the proposal allowed for small departments to invite outside faculty to participate in the mentoring process and made the clarification that mentees have a choice in sharing their evaluations with mentors. Additionally, the word “promotion” was removed and the proposal focused entirely on tenure.
“I like that you changed it so the mentee can choose to share,” Tom Walla, representing biological sciences, said. He still felt there were problems with the proposal though. The contention centered around comments from department heads.
“The issue here is once it goes through your boss, it becomes private,” Walla said. “As a mentor I don’t see that information unless they choose to share it, and if I ask for it, I might seem overly aggressive.”
Walla felt the evaluations were necessary for mentors to properly do their job. Without knowing how mentees had performed, he didn’t think mentors would have enough to go off of.
“Right now, I’m being asked to evaluate based on one lecture. I walk in, I evaluate, I walk out and that’s it,” Walla said.
Discussion centered around removing department head comments or providing a summary of the evaluation. In spite of Walla’s concerns, the proposal passed.
Proposal five, focusing on the pre-tenure and promotion process, had been tabled at the Nov. 2 meeting because of issues some senators had taken about the process being required. Those concerns were still present at the Nov. 16 meeting.
“My department was for this if it was suggested, not required,” Kinesiology Representative Elizabeth Sharp said.
“My department was against the formal process. The process now was working […] it was pretty unanimous,” Center for Teacher Education Representative Lisa Friel-Redifer said.
She said another issue that came up was liability if faculty were provided false confidence, since the feedback was only from peers.
Echoing Sharp’s concerns about requiring the process, Friel-Redifer asked, “What happens if they don’t do it? What are the consequences?”
“At other universities, you didn’t keep your job,” Sharp said.
“If it’s going to go, it should be a senate committee rather than a full committee,” Friel-Redifer said.
The proposal was amended to stop the process at the the senate level and the proposal passed with only two votes against.
The final tabled issue was proposal six, regarding the rating process. Discussion was shorter for the issue and centered around wording. Sharp suggested a change in wording about meeting expectations.
“The language is problematic in both ways,” Social and Behavioral Sciences Representative Sarah Swedberg said.
When voted on as written, proposal six failed to pass.
Trustee Chad Middleton moved to dissolve the Ad Hoc Pre-Tenure Review Committee effective immediately. He said the committee was not performing as expected and had received criticism on campus. Middleton also pointed out that dissolving the committee would increase the sense of urgency that these proposals need to be addressed by the handbook committee.
Eight senators voted in favor of dissolving the committee, four voted against and four abstained. The senate had to consult their rules to understand if the motion passed, but without majority of the voting parties in agreement, Middleton’s motion failed.
The accepted proposed changes to the T&P handbook will now go on to review from the handbook committee for further evaluation.