There might well be no aspect of collegial governance that matters more to faculty members than our ability to participate as experts in the appointing, reappointing, tenuring, and promoting (henceforth, ARPT processes) of our colleagues. The Faculty Association has tendered four proposals that are directly concerned with ARPT processes.
Our first such proposal offers a simple remedy for a problem with the language associated with appointment at or promotion into our senior ranks. The problem is the use of the word “sustained” in the descriptions of the work necessary to become a professor of teaching, an associate professor, or a professor. Here’s an example of one of these sentences in the description of the rank of professor at Article 3.09 of Part 4: “They must have shown high quality in teaching and sustained and productive scholarly activity, have attained distinction in their discipline, and have participated significantly in academic and professional affairs.”
The problem is this: if a member has had any significant disruptions in their publishing career, especially any disruption that is not easily explained, the language of “sustained” becomes a permanent problem. We cannot alter the past, and regardless of a member’s current and future productivity, they can be legitimately concerned that they will never meet this standard. This is detrimental to their career and to their best functioning as faculty members. The Faculty Association believes that what ought to be evaluated at tenure and promotion, especially to professor and professor of teaching, is the total body of work, its quality and impact, rather than the velocity or the regularity of the production of that work. (Immanuel Kant did not publish a word from 1770 to 1781 and could by UBC’s language be permanently prevented from becoming a professor at UBC.) This is not merely a theoretical concern—we have highly skilled colleagues whose cases have been delayed or denied based on this language, and many more who never put themselves forward for promotion because of this language. Our contract language should not prevent those with sufficient bodies of work from being promoted; this language works against academic excellence. This is also an equity/diversity and inclusion concern for the FA, as equity-deserving members can easily have additional factors creating disruptions in their patterns of productivity.
Our second proposal on ARPT processes concerns “optional reviews” for promotion and tenure, as laid out in Article 9 of Part 4. Here the problem we are trying to solve is an over-concentration of power in the hands of the Head and the Dean, who are currently granted unilateral power to withdraw optional reviews from further consideration should they so decide. The FA’s view is that if the departmental standing committee or the dean’s advisory committee has met and offered its views on a given case, then that file should only be withdrawn if the relevant committee concurs with the judgment of the Head or Dean. This provision allows the process to remain a genuinely collegial process. Similarly, we are asking that candidates whose files are pulled be given reasons in writing for this decision. (By the way, the repeated phrase in Article 9 that the Head’s and Dean’s decision is not subject to appeal under Article 13 of Part 4 should not confuse you. Article 13 of Part 4 concerns decisions of the President and, thankfully, your Head or Dean is not also President, so of course Article 13 does not apply. But a negative decision of a Head or Dean in an optional review can absolutely be grieved under the grievance procedures in Article 13 of Part 1).
Our third proposal seeks to enhance the language of “consistency” of ARPT processes in non-departmentalized faculties in Section 5.09 of Part 4. The default ARPT process as outlined in the Collective Agreement presumes that the Faculty has departments and heads. This is not the case for all of UBC’s Faculties. Where there are no departments, we are seeking to mirror the ARPT processes as closely as possible to the processes of departmentalized faculties. It is a matter of fairness that the organization of a member’s Faculty should not materially affect the processes by which that member is promoted or tenured, by, for example, increasing, decreasing, or reordering the levels of review or by assigning tasks appropriately done by a Head to a Dean or Associate Dean.
Our final ARPT proposal seeks to make clear that, in accordance with well-established labour relations principles, the ARPT procedures laid out in the CA that refer to “faculty members” are indeed for FA members only. Others who have chosen to step outside the FA to take administrative roles (Associate Deans, for instance), should not be included in provisions that pertain to “faculty members.” It is contrary to collegial governance for administrators to seek a seat at a collegial table as ARPT processes unfold. Our academic administrators would do well to concentrate on their own jobs and not arrogate to themselves the doing of ours.