The University of Oklahoma (Norman campus)

Regular session - January 12, 1998 - 3:30 p.m. - Jacobson Faculty Hall 102

office: Jacobson Faculty Hall 206 phone: 325-6789 FAX: 325-6782

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The Faculty Senate was called to order by Professor Connie Dillon, Chair.

PRESENT: Badhwar, Beasley, Benson, Dillon, Durica, Edwards, Egle, Elisens, Emery, Friedrich, Fung, Gabert, Gilje, Greene, Gupta, Harper, Hillyer, Hobbs, Holmes, Konopak, Laird, Lancaster, Livesey, Murphy, Norwood, Okediji, Pailes, Palmer, Rasmussen, Ratliff, Reynolds, Scherman, Schwarzkopf, Shaughnessy, Sipes, Stoltenberg, VanGundy, Wahl, Warner, Watts

Provost's office representative: Mergler

PSA representatives: Elder, Pyle

ABSENT: Albert, Blank, Butler, Eliason, Engel, Gronlund, Joyce, Patten, Patterson, Robertson, St.John, Thulasiraman, Vieux




Personnel Director search 1

Committee A workshop 1

Academic Misconduct Code 2

Post-tenure review 2



The Senate Journal for the regular session of December 8, 1997, was approved.


The Senate Executive Committee will meet with the four candidates for the Personnel Director position this month. The committee will discuss health benefits with the candidates. Interview information is available from the Faculty Senate office.

A Committee A workshop will be held Thursday, February 5, at 3:00 p.m. on faculty evaluations, with a specific focus on giving effective feedback to faculty. Any faculty member who is interested in this topic is welcome to attend. Further information will be distributed to departments later.


Revisions in the academic misconduct policy proposed by the provost's office were distributed at the meeting and will be discussed at the next meeting. The policy incorporates some changes proposed by the Executive Committee. Prof. Dillon summarized the main revisions: creation of time lines for notification and hearings, grade penalty appeal, and community service and limited notation penalties.


The proposed Post-Tenure Review policy as amended by the Senate at its November and December meetings was mailed to the general faculty December 11. For background information, please see 12/97 Faculty Senate Journal, page 3. The final document, which is identical to the December 11 version, is attached as Appendix I.

Prof. Dillon reported on the status of Post-Tenure Review in our peer group. Last week, she talked with almost all of the faculty senate chairs in the Big 12. All 12 institutions have annual faculty evaluations. All but Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Baylor have adopted Post-Tenure Review policies in the past two years (several are waiting for regent action). The Iowa State senate currently is debating theirs. Kansas State's policy is called a "chronic low achiever's policy." Colorado, which has had Post-Tenure Review for 20 years, toughened its policy last year at the request of the faculty. Missouri has no immediate plans to adopt a Post-Tenure Review policy. Kansas responded to a mandate from its board. Texas institutions responded to a state senate bill mandating Post-Tenure Review for all public institutions. The debate at these institutions has been very similar to ours. Institutions that adopted Post-Tenure Review did so to avoid interference by their boards or legislature. The Nebraska, Texas Tech, Texas and Iowa State policies have been added to our web site. Few institutions have our committee A structure and rely instead on the chair or dean for oversight of the Post-Tenure Review process. Issues that vary from campus to campus are blanket versus targeted review and time lines for initiating professional development plans. Most use the language, "failure to meet expectations," rather than a numerical value for initiating a professional development plan. Prof. Dillon remarked that we all are trying to protect the institution of tenure. She went on record as supporting passage of the proposal, saying the decision is not whether to have Post-Tenure Review but whether faculty will control Post-Tenure Review. "Our best chance to include the safeguards we think are important is now. We will not be in a position of strength if this fails and it comes back to us as a mandate. Simply put, we do not have the advantage in a game of 'chicken' with the regents."

Prof. Norwood complained that the Big 12 was used as a comparison when it is a football conference with a number of institutions vastly inferior to OU. He said he would hope we could identify with higher level institutions. Furthermore, another month had gone by without any additional information about the legislature. He said he would vote against this proposal because the 25 faculty he had talked to were opposed for the reason that it would endanger faculty rights. He suggested that state representative Sullivan and any other legislators who have similar views be invited here to present their views and hear how stringent our tenure policy is. We should not strangle faculty with more busy work, which gets in the way of teaching and research.

Prof. Holmes said he was going to vote for Post-Tenure Review, not because he is afraid of a hammer dropping on his head, but because it is the right thing to do. This system is not one that will impede academic freedom in any way. It will increase administrative burden, but if we are to act as collegial members, we take on that responsibility. He said he did not mind giving up time to give people who need remediation the opportunity to enhance their skills. Legislative and regent action may be very real. Nevertheless, this is the right thing to do.

Prof. Gilje announced that he supported this proposal. Pointing out that the senate had debated this issue at three or four meetings, he encouraged the group to vote up or down on it today. The Faculty Senate had the opportunity to help mold this policy and the administration showed a willingness to work with us. This policy offers us the opportunity to help faculty who are not performing up to standards.

Prof. Wahl moved that the policy go to the faculty for a general faculty vote. Prof. Benson said he thought a general faculty vote would be a mistake. The senate should take responsibility. We had an open forum available to the general faculty. It is clear many faculty have not read all of the proposal. It is a case where his colleagues believe he should do his job, which is to vote for what is best for the faculty. One of the safeguards is this proposal will be reviewed in five years or sooner. If it is wrong, it can be modified before anyone goes up for a serious review. During that time, anyone who thinks the Faculty Senate did the wrong thing can be elected to the Faculty Senate. Whether this will mean more work or have any benefit for him individually should not be the basis for the vote. Prof. Hillyer commented that she did not think this should go to a vote of the faculty. The faculty she had talked to said, "We've elected you; it's your job." Senators are familiar with this in a way the general faculty are not. Our responsibility is to research it, debate it, and figure out what is best. Prof. Norwood contended that this showed a contempt for democracy. Faculty are overwhelmingly opposed to the proposal. It is legitimate to ask if this will add to the work load. Our central mission is research and teaching, not endless hours of paper work in order to isolate one or two individuals who do not meet the minimal requirement. These individuals are already penalized by not getting salary increases. This proposal will increase the bureaucratic stranglehold on the educational process and serve no purpose. Rarely does any faculty member ask him about the business of the Faculty Senate. He asked whether the senators had received an indication of majority support among the faculty they represent. Prof. Gilje said he objected to Prof. Norwood's comment about contempt for democracy. As an elected body, the senate represents the faculty. Prof. Stoltenberg's motion to close debate on the motion was approved on a voice vote. Prof. Wahl's motion to take Post-Tenure Review to a general faculty vote failed on a voice vote.

Prof. Fung observed that tenure is necessary as a means for preserving academic freedom, but faculty should not be so much above the rest of society. If someone does not do his job satisfactorily, then we need to correct that. The Sunday Oklahoman reported that a faculty advisory board and a student advisory board to the state regents recommended periodic evaluations of faculty who have received tenure to make sure faculty are meeting their responsibilities. This is good for the faculty, because we want to do our best. If we do the job well, then there is no need to have such a review. The Faculty Senate is voting on whether to recommend the policy to the regents. Only the regents have the power to decide whether such a policy will be implemented. He cited a case in which the regents overruled the faculty and provost on a suspension case. If we do not recommend a reasonable policy, and the regents impose a worse policy, then we are in a much worse position. He reported that his colleagues did not like certain provisions, but there was no overwhelming opposition.

Prof. Ratliff said he had noted at a previous meeting that this was a watered down policy and would affect very few people. He commented that he would like to discuss how this could improve the university. Prof. Sipes said he believes in the concept of Post-Tenure Review, but a survey of the Architecture faculty revealed very little support, mainly because most think it is watered down. Is this the best that we can offer? For those reasons, he would vote against it.

Prof. Rick Tepker (Law), former Faculty Senate chair, noted that he was responsible for getting this started last year. The suggestion that there has been some action out of panic is not so. It is true that we have seen some trends, as evidenced by Chronicle articles and AAUP policy, but the goal was to be proactive. The policy was based on a few principles. It is not weak. It is better than what we have now. It says we have to have standards developed and evaluated by the unit and communicated. There is a striking similarity between this and the AAUP guidelines. It is a good straightforward statement of what tenure is and should be. The suggestion that it will undermine faculty is not so. This policy says faculty should participate as a collective entity in the basic decisions of the university.

Prof. Susan Vehik (Anthropology), one of the faculty representatives to the task force, commented that when the task force started working on this policy, it tried to build a fair, equitable policy. It is not impossible, but it is difficult to "get" anyone with this policy. She does not think it is weak; it is fair.

Prof. Holmes' motion to close the debate was approved on a voice vote. The amended Post-Tenure Review policy was approved 24 to 11 with 2 abstentions (see Appendix I). Prof. Wahl said he appreciated the time the group took to debate the issue and the leadership of the senate chair, because he believed the measure was improved by that debate. He appreciated the chance to speak to his faculty twice, and his colleagues appreciated that too.


The meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m. The next regular session of the Senate will be held at 3:30p.m. on Monday, February 9, 1998, in Jacobson Faculty Hall 102.


Trent Gabert, Secretary


Sonya Fallgatter, Administrative Coordinator