Procedures for Appointment, Reappointment, Tenure and Promotion

Categories: Appeals, Appointment & Reappointment, Bargaining Updates 2014, Promotions, Tenure

On Friday, January 30, 2015 the parties signed a Memorandum of Agreement that itemizes the proposals on which agreement has been reached, the proposals the parties have mutually agreed to withdraw, and those “matters still in dispute” that the parties may submit to arbitration. Please note that any items agreed to at the bargaining table will not be implemented until the interest arbitration is complete. This is the third in a series of blog posts to discuss both the matters that have been agreed to and those that are still in dispute.

Article 5 in Part 4 of the Collective Agreement, concerning procedures for appointment, reappointment, tenure and promotion, requires that all departmental recommendations are to be made by standing committees of eligible members. However the members eligible to serve on these standing committees, and the procedures used, depend on which type of recommendation is being made. In particular, in the case of initial appointments the committee comprises those of a rank “equal to or higher than the rank at which the appointment is to be made” (Article 5.04(b)(i)). This seemed unnecessarily complicated to us and we heard from members that many departments were informally consulting all tenure-stream members on initial appointments. We proposed (UBCFA proposal # 17) to amend the Collective Agreement to ensure all tenure stream faculty are consulted in initial appointments. The parties have agreed to amend Article 5.04(b)(i) so that in the case of initial appointments the committee will now comprise all tenured and tenure-track members of the department. This reflects our view that initial appointments should be collegially determined.

Article 9 in the Collective Agreement concerns periodic review for promotion. Members are entitled to periodic reviews and if they choose can require that their file go through the entire process of departmental recommendation, decanal recommendation, SAC recommendation, Presidential decision and, if necessary, appeal of the decision. A negative recommendation at any stage cannot prevent the file from going through to the President. On the other hand a non-periodic review may be stopped by the Head (9.01(d)) or the Dean (5.11(a)). We had two issues. First, the agreement says that a review that proceeds past the stage of the Head requesting external letters of reference shall be deemed to be a periodic review for the purposes of timing the next review (9.01(g)). That seemed unfair to us. We believed that if the Head or the Dean stops the review, either before or after requesting external references, it should not affect the timing of the next periodic review, since a review of the candidate was not, in any meaningful way, carried out. Second, Article 13.01 can be read to mean that if a non-periodic review goes all the way to the President, and he or she makes a negative decision, the member cannot appeal. This too seemed unfair to us. Our proposal #19 addressed both these issues. UBC has agreed to changes so that if a no periodic review is stopped by the Head or the Dean it will not be considered a periodic review for the purposes of timing and that if it goes all the way to the President and he or she makes a negative decision, the decision can be appealed.

Finally, we have an issue with the so-called “terminal year”. Following a decision not to grant a tenured appointment on the expiry of the tenure clock the member is given a one year terminal appointment (2.03(g)). This affords the member the time to wind down their labs and deal with their graduate students if necessary, and to search for employment elsewhere. It also provides time for the Association to grieve the decision. Very occasionally the grievance is still unresolved at the end of the terminal year and it had been the practice in the past to extend the terminal year until the grievance was resolved. In 2012 the University informed us that they no longer intended to extend the terminal year in these circumstances.

The problem with the University suggesting this approach is that winning an appeal against a tenure denial is cold comfort to someone who has had to leave the university and relocate. The Association proposed to amend the Agreement so that when a member is denied tenure, and the grievance is not resolved within the terminal year, the member’s appointment is extended (UBCFA proposal #20). The university would not agree to amend the Collective Agreement in this way, but they did agree that, for the term of the renewal Collective Agreement, where the President’s decision not to grant tenure is grieved, and the grievance process extends beyond the terminal year, the member’s appointment will be extended at least until the end of the academic term in which the settlement occurs, or the arbitration decision is rendered, if dates for the arbitration have been confirmed by the selected arbitrator prior to the end of the terminal year and UBCFA is moving the grievance efficiently towards resolution. This is not ideal, but we accepted it and dropped our proposal to incorporate such language in the Collective Agreement.