Promotion and Tenure Procedures

Categories: Bargaining Updates 2014, Promotions, Tenure, Transparency

While the parties have agreed on many issues there are a number of issues still in dispute. On some of these issues the parties are likely to engage in further discussion that might lead to resolution, others will have to be decided by an Arbitrator. Please note that any items agreed to at the bargaining table will not be implemented until the interest arbitration is complete. This is the fifteenth in a series of blog posts to discuss both the matters that have been agreed to and those that are still in dispute, and the seventh dealing with matters still in dispute.

We have a number of specific issues pertaining to promotion and tenure procedures, some of which are technical and not contentious, but two are quite substantive, and we have not yet been able to reach agreement on any changes to the current language. This has been disappointing.

The first has to do with the use of anonymous student comments. We have had complaints from faculty members that some students use anonymous comments to make hateful and occasionally racist and sexist comments about faculty members. In our view, student comments should only be seen by the faculty member, because students have no accountability when they write unsigned comments. Moreover, allowing scurrilous comments to be seen by other faculty members in a tenure and promotion process without the permission of the member amounts to University-sanctioned bullying. We proposed that anonymous comments obtained through the student evaluations of teaching may only be added to promotion and tenure files with the permission of the candidate. The University not only disagreed with our perspective, but provided no defence for why unsigned comments should be given any weight in a review.

Our second concern has to do with the election of members to the Dean’s Advisory Committee. We have heard from a number of members that Deans are not actually holding elections for these committees, or when they hold elections, not all eligible members are given a chance to be nominated and/or to vote. Looking at the Collective Agreement, it’s clear why Deans and our members are confused about the process. There is no language in the Agreement that covers calls for nominations, length of term, etc. We proposed some simple procedures that represent best practices at other universities. The University was surprisingly resistant to our fairly logical proposal. It’s worrisome that the University resisted transparent election procedures. Good governance is always transparent.