January 10, 2017
Topic: Campus News
The University of Michigan faculty's Senate Assembly will be asked to consider a resolution stating that any reduction to an individual faculty member's base academic salary constitutes a demotion, thus entitling that person to university due process provisions.
The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs on Monday endorsed the resolution, which had been put forward by the Academic Affairs Advisory Committee.
Board of Regents' Bylaw Section 5.09 outlines due process procedures for the dismissal or demotion of faculty members, but does not specifically define demotion.
John Lehman, AAAC chair and a SACUA member, said a tenured professor had notified the AAAC that the professor's base academic salary was being reduced by 10 percent. He added the Provost's Office has said similar actions have occurred in a handful of cases.
The concern is that since salary decreases are not viewed as demotions by the administration, faculty members are not entitled to due process provisions under the Regents' Bylaws. The bylaws for cases of dismissal or demotion outline several procedures, including investigations and hearings.
"The AAAC position on this is not that it's impossible to reduce a faculty member's salary, but you have to follow due process," Lehman said. "That's the essence of it all. It's not to say these are sacrosanct, it's just to make sure you don't do it in a capricious manner where there is … an imbalance of power between the administrator who signs the action and the faculty member."
SACUA members disagreed over a proposal to add wording to the resolution that would also treat involuntary increases in teaching workload as a demotion. Some members said increasing a professor's teaching load could be implemented as a disciplinary or punitive measure.
"I think people should not be forced to teach more than is the norm in their schools or departments just as they should not be forced to take a salary cut without recourse," SACUA member Silke-Maria Weineck said.
A motion asking the Senate Assembly to consider a resolution that included the language about teaching workloads did not pass.
If the Senate Assembly approves the resolution, it will not affect the Regents' Bylaws, but Lehman said it would give faculty members experiencing such treatment "a standing to argue from."
The resolution will be presented at the next Senate Assembly meeting Jan. 23.