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New resolution debates and potential policy changes

Campus Senate discusses non-tenure track faculty review process

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The Campus Senate debated a new resolution last Friday. Resolution 46-16, proposed by legal studies professor Deborah Anthony, called for a more finite review process for non-tenure track faculty.

At the center of the debate was the Computer Science Department, which employs about 25 percent of the university’s non-tenure-track faculty, according to Interim Provost James Ermatinger.

According to Elham Sahebkarkhorasni, an assistant professor of computer science, the proposed change might put undue pressure on the department.

“We are already trying to keep our heads above water to deal with enrollment and a lot of our faculty is teaching double overload and triple overload, so this is going to be a significant overhead for out department,” Sahebkarkhorasni said.

The senator also noted that while the department doesn’t always perform formal employee reviews, they often conduct informal reviews. “We should leave it up to the department to decide what to do,” she said.Anthony and Ermatinger, however, were adamant about the necessity of the resolution. Anthony reminded the senate that “in some cases, there’s no departmental review at all.”

Ermatinger said, “The only other review [of non-tenure track faculty] would be done by the dean; and I would be quite frank in saying that I am not comfortable deciding whether or not an instructor has achieved the record to be reappointed.

“So if you are okay with me going in and reviewing and simply arbitrarily … saying that professor ‘x’ does not meet my expectations … then fine,” he continued. “I am not. I think the department should have a review. It’s only ethically and morally right by the faculty member who was an instructor to get a review by their people.”

Lucinda Caughey of the Computer Science Department attended the meeting as an audience member and spoke on behalf of other professors in the department. According to Caughey, the professors in the department “are unanimous” in not wanting the resolution to progress.

“The existing section three criteria for non-tenure track faculty clearly states that we have specific criteria at the time of our contract that we will be evaluated on,” she said.

Caughey went on to quote emails sent by other computer science professors, explaining their positions against the resolution.

Mark Buxton, an associate professor of accountancy, requested a survey of the impacted faculty, in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the general opinions rather than “anecdotal” evidence only.

Anthony said, “We did do an extensive and very thorough survey of non-tenure track faculty. … The majority of respondents felt like [the current review process] is not enough, and they would appreciate more substantive, documented feedback as a part of that process.”  

The survey results were not originally provided, and Senate Chair Ranjan Karri requested that Anthony submit the information later.

Kathy Novak, associate professor of communication, moved to postpone any further debate on the resolution until the next meeting. The motion passed, drawing a temporary end to the debate.

An old resolution, 46-15, was passed after its second reading. The resolution was first proposed on March 24 and aimed to formalize the procedures around graduate certificate programs.

After the resolutions were addressed, the senate heard executive reports. Ermatinger’s report included an address from Joe Barnes, the chief privacy and security officer from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Barnes and UIUC has been working with UIS ITS since November to “supplement” the UIS security practices and suggest some changes.

“The policy that’s up there right now is a good policy,” he said. “It’s just a little bit dated, but it’s generic enough that it doesn’t really put a direction to where we need to move into.”

The policy changes address three different areas to security: infrastructure, external threats, and business and risks. From there, eight different functional areas exist. These changes are based off a government framework.

The suggested changes were submitted to the senate for review, as Barnes hopes to get their blessing.

The next Campus Senate meeting will take place on April 21 at 10 a.m. in PAC G.

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Award winning, student run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield..
New resolution debates and potential policy changes