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Professional Affairs Committee

Professional Affairs Committee

April 19, 2006

The Professional Affairs Committee met eleven times during the year, beginning on September 14 and concluding on April 12. Additionally, a subcommittee formed of four members to study concerns related to Sabbatical Leave policy met September 30th. The Committee worked on these issues:

1. Student Evaluation of Instruction Policy: In response to the Survey of Faculty conducted during 2004-05 by this Committee, the Senate passed on May 4, 2005 (the first meeting of the year) Bill 05-A-04, “Revision of Student Evaluation of Instruction Policy,” and sent it to President Dobbins for consideration. President Dobbins returned the bill unsigned to the Senate and attached a one-page document, “Message of President Dobbins Vetoing Faculty Senate Bill 05-A-04,” in which he reiterated his support of the use of a nationally normalized student ratings of instruction instrument for purposes of comparing teaching effectiveness at Southeast with that of other institutions.

The Committee devoted considerable time at almost every subsequent meeting to the discussion of possible responses to the president's veto. Provost Stephens attended the November 30th meeting to listen to concerns expressed by the Committee about the president's veto and to voice her observations about uses and misuses of IDEA data by both administrators and faculty members. The Committee voted in February to undertake a systematic approach to notifying various constituencies about potential misuses of student-evaluation data with regard to the promotion and tenure processes. In April the Committee dispatched letters to remind individuals and committees that requiring faculty to submit student evaluation of instruction data in promotion and/or tenure dossiers violates the Policy on Student Evaluation of Instruction.

2. Suggested Guidelines for Effective Use of Student Evaluation of Instruction: The Committee introduced to the Senate on April 5, Resolution 05-XX, “Proper Use of Student Evaluation of Teaching in Promotion, Tenure, and Merit Decisions.” The bill sought Senate endorsement of the document, “Suggested Guidelines for Effective Use of Student Evaluation of Instruction,” which was authored by an ad-hoc committee consisting of the chairs of this Committee, the Faculty Senate, the UPSL as well as the Director of CSTL and a member of the Teaching Associates. The motion failed.

3. Sabbatical Leave Policy: The Committee resumed discussion of requests from the University Promotion and Sabbatical Leave (UPSL) Committee to consider making adjustments to the Sabbatical Leave policy. A Professional Affairs subcommittee met in September with the former and current chairs of the UPSL Committee. Subsequent discussions with that committee chair and the Provost indicated that some of the concerns about Sabbatical Leave policy had been addressed. The Provost expressed interest in developing summer sabbaticals and this issue has been placed on the agenda for next year.

4. Promotion and Tenure Policy: The Committee resumed discussion of requests from the University Promotion and Sabbatical Leave (UPSL) Committee to consider reorganizing the Promotion and Tenure calendars into date alignment. No action was taken on this matter.

5. Emeritus Faculty: The Committee recommended to the Senate the names of four retiring faculty members eligible for conferral of Emeritus status.

Agenda Items

Conduct a comprehensive review and recommend possible revision of the Promotion and Tenure policies regarding several issues identified by the Committee, including the following:

  • Address concerns submitted by Alan Journet regarding (1) the use of approved departmental criteria in evaluating candidates for promotion and tenure and (2) procedure for candidates for promotion and tenure to document achievements that occur in the time between the submission of dossiers and the announcement of the decision.
  • Continue consideration of the request by the USPL Committee to revise the promotion calendar so as to lengthen the amount of time available to the Committee for reviewing candidates' dossiers.
  • Begin study of the request submitted by Vic Gummersheimer to study the Creditable Teaching Experience requirement for promotion to associate professor.
  • Begin study of a request from Larry Underberg, Chair of the Grievance, to clarify the matter of department chair-attendance at meetings of departmental promotion/tenure committees.