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Members discuss University hiring of minorities, women

Madeline Buckley | Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Faculty Senate is in the process of presenting the administration with recommendations about possible changes in the review of faculty members and the University’s progress in the hiring and retention women and minority faculty, said chair Thomas Gresik, an economics professor.

These two issues have been the main focus of the Senate this year, he said.

Regarding the matter of faculty review and promotion, Gresik said there have been some proposed changes in the process of faculty review, and the Senate has been asked to look into the issue, specifically regarding the appeals process.

“The appeals process for people who get negative decisions hasn’t worked very well, so there are efforts to streamline that,” he said. “The Senate is supportive of those efforts.”

Research, teaching and service to the University through committees are among the criteria for faculty promotion, Gresik said. Faculty members are reviewed on three levels, first by their department, then by the dean of their college, and finally by the University, he said.

“One of the proposals has to do with giving the faculty member under review some feedback on the process and we are supportive of that,” Gresik said.

Gresik said the issue was put on the table when the Academic Articles, the official rules of the University, were evaluated by the Board of Trustees. This happens by policy every 10 years, he said.

“In the process of evaluating the procedures for promotion, the committee at the University level that was going through it felt it was important to see if we could improve the process,” Gresik said. “There are aspects which most people would agree aren’t working as well as they should.”

The Senate is currently formulating their response to this issue, but it is supportive of changes in the process, especially for faculty members who want their negative decision appealed, he said.

University President Fr. John Jenkins initiated the Faculty Senate’s effort to study faculty diversity, Gresik said.

“Last spring there were two University committees that issued reports on the progress the University is making in hiring and retaining both women and minority faculty,” he said. “Fr. Jenkins has asked us for our comments on that.”

The Senate has not come to a conclusion on the matter yet, Gresik said.

He said he thought the issue of faculty diversity was not brought up in response to a particular problem or complaint.

“This was a request by Fr. Jenkins to evaluate how well the University has been doing,” Gresik said. “There wasn’t a particular issue. Any good institution is going to be evaluating its progress to find out what efforts have been working well and what efforts aren’t working.”

Next semester, the Senate will continue its work on the current issues, and will possibly address a concern brought to them by student government, Gresik said.

“There has been a resolution that has come out of the student government having to do with absences for interviews,” he said. “The current University regulations say there are only three reasons for an official excused absence, and they don’t include absences for job interviews or medical school or law school interviews.”

Gresik said there has been a vague request from student government that faculty work with the students on this issue, but the vagueness has caused disagreement in the Senate on how to approach the matter.

“We will be studying that to see if the student government has asked us to support that resolution,” he said.