Faculty senators approve involuntary leave policy
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 03:05
Faculty senators approved a policy at a Monday meeting that grants protection to professors involuntarily placed on emergency leave of absence with pay, a measure considered inadequate by some members.
The policy, which applies to those considered “likely to engage in behavior that presents an imminent danger of harm to self or others,” passed with 37 votes in favor and 12 against. It was created earlier in the year after two faculty members were dismissed for non-disciplinary offenses in the past couple of years, and administrators realized there was no official policy.
Faculty Senate President Jeff Jordan, a philosophy professor, said the policy’s main goal is to provide faculty with detailed information about their suspension prior to being placed on leave.
“National [American Association of University Professors] standards suggests that faculty should be given a prior hearing before a non-emergency suspension,” Jordan said. “That doesn’t exist right now.”
The proposal was introduced by Jordan with support from of the rules committee and the committee on faculty welfare and privileges.
Evelyn Hayes, chairwoman of the committee on faculty welfare and privileges, said committee members held many discussions analyzing the new policy, seeking input from the university’s General Counsel and a consultation with representatives from AAUP.
“The policy is indeed designed to provide protection for faculty,” Hayes said.
Jordan said the policy will protect faculty members by mandating a hearing about the suspension prior its implementation. Faculty members called into question will have the right to file a grievance, and the Faculty Senate and a representative from AAUP will be notified of the faculty member’s suspension.
The new policy also creates a seven-day maximum for suspension with the possibility of extension. Members of the university’s committee on faculty welfare and privileges also reserve the right to hold a hearing prior to any non-emergency suspension of faculty under the policy.
Education professor Jan Blits, who previously chaired the committee on faculty welfare and privileges, criticized how the policy treats the faculty member in question. He said it does not grant the faculty member the right to consult the evidence against them, including witness testimony, if they dispute their suspension.
“The idea that the faculty member can go to [the committee] with a complaint to stop an unfair leave is an illusion,” he said.
Blits said the two faculty members who received an involuntary suspension were denied access to the evidence against them. She said the new policy does not address this.
Faculty Senate members approved a schedule change which will add two additional 75-minute class periods to be held twice each week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning in fall 2013.
The new course scheduling guidelines were designed because of limited availability of classrooms between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to a recommendation by the Faculty Senate’s scheduling and calendar review ad hoc committee.
Ad hoc committee members have been working for more than a year to determine faculty and students’ scheduling preferences through a survey distributed in fall 2011 and through Faculty Senate meeting discussions. More than 73 percent of faculty preferred a change to the current schedule, according to survey results presented at a meeting last spring.