University policies that guide the dismissal of tenured faculty should be revised to streamline the review process but should not include proposed measures to suspend pay for certain accused faculty.
That was the message delivered Thursday by faculty members who attended the first of four town hall events being hosted by a working group tasked with reviewing university tenure rules.
The nine-member group is developing recommendations for two Regents’ Bylaws — 5.09, which describes procedures in cases of dismissal, demotion or terminal appointment, and 5.10, which covers severance pay.
The group’s initial recommendations include establishing a “single, timely and unambiguous” tenure dismissal track that does not include an expedited process for faculty members involved in “manifestly egregious misconduct.” The group had been asked to explore whether egregious situations should be handled differently.
An additional recommendation is to create a new faculty-led process to determine whether to suspend an accused faculty member’s pay while the accused person moves through the 5.09 process.
That process should have to meet a high bar, said working group chair Sharon Glotzer, the John Werner Cahn Distinguished University Professor of Engineering and Stuart W. Churchill Collegiate Professor of Chemical Engineering.
“The cases in which the affected faculty member is suspended from duties by the president are rare,” said Glotzer, who also is a professor of chemical engineering, materials science and engineering, macromolecular science and engineering, and physics. “Pay suspensions should be more rare.”
The group estimated that only one or two cases over the past 15 years would have met that bar if it was in place.
While faculty members at the town hall agreed there was a need to shorten the 5.09 process, many criticized the recommendation to add a separate process for determining pay suspension, calling it unnecessary and biased against the faculty member.
“You’re now asking the accused faculty member to do two separate trials simultaneously,” said Sally Oey, professor of astronomy. “It’s just not a good use of resources.”
The working group conducted two town halls Jan. 23 and will also host events from 10-11:15 a.m. Jan. 24 at UM-Dearborn’s Kochoff Hall, and from noon-1:15 p.m. Jan. 27 at the UM-Flint Kiva.
Faculty members will have another opportunity to learn about the recommendations and offer feedback during a Faculty Senate town hall from 3-4 p.m. Feb. 3 in Forum Hall in Palmer Commons.
In addition to the scheduled events, the group will launch an online survey for faculty members on the three campuses to provide feedback on possible bylaws changes the working group is discussing.