Tenure policy changes await approval

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DePaul’s Faculty CounÎ_cil will vote on proposed changes to the tenure and appeals chapter of the faculty handbook this WednesÎ_day, after about a year of writing and developing the revisions.

An up-down majority vote will decide if the enÎ_tirety of Chapter 3 — and all the amendments added in the process — will either advance to a full faculty vote or be discarded. Following a successful full faculty vote, the chapter is up to President Rev. Dennis H. HoltschÎ_neider, C.M.’s approval. If it is approved, the Faculty Handbook Revision Task Force (FHRTF) will conÎ_tinue revising the handbook, and after revisions are comÎ_plete the entire handbook will be again put up for a faculty vote and HoltschÎ_neider’s approval.

Major changes include a standing appeals board to replace the current “ad-hoc” board; giving the final tenure decision to the provost and the appeals decision to the president, when previously the president oversaw both; and making the University Board of Promotion and Tenure’s (UBPT) written reÎ_port on the tenure candidate available to the candidate before it goes to the provost.

Jacqueline Taylor, dean of the College of Communication and a co-chair on the FHRTF, said work on the changes started last year and that the committee “really got to work” in December. However, Taylor said some of the changes have been in the works for “seven or eight years” under different administrators.

“It’s a political process in the sense that there are probably no two people with a stake in this that would agree 100 percent on what would be the best decision on each of these points,” said Taylor.

DePaul English professor Craig Sirles said there has been eight hours of discussion at faculty council meetings regarding Chapter 3.

“There’s some people who are quite satisfied with the new version, and others that are not satisfied at all,” said Sirles.

However, Sirles said he supports the new chapter and expects it to pass the vote. Though Sirles said he thought there were a few “bad ideas” in the new version, the totality of the changes in the revisions is better than the previous handbook.

“Don’t let perfection get in the way of good … You’ll never have a perfect handbook,” said Sirles.

Taylor said FHRTF studied 30 other faculty handbooks from comparable institutions.

“The process that we have in place now, and the one that we will have in place if we’re successful in getting these changes approved, is a very faculty-friendly process,” said Taylor.

DePaul economics professor Tom Mondschean, a member of Faculty Council said Wednesday’s vote “doesn’t mean anything, really” because no changes will be implemented until the entire handbook is voted on.

“I think it’s likely to be approved, and I think it’s a significant improvement over what we had… mainly, it provides much better clarity,” said Mondschean. “I think the task force has done a really great job.”

The biggest change that affects students is an amendment which “eliminates the student presence at (promotion and tenure) review committees and standardizes the collection of data at the college level, in response to complaints from the UBPT about the unevenness of data collection,” according to an Oct. 24 special handbook meeting’s notes.

Taylor said a strong majority of faculty council and the task force thought the student process has been uneven.

“There hasn’t been a systematically process for what data would be collected, or who would guide the data collection, or anything else… There’s usually a student [representative] who’s doing this report, but how good a job they’re doing and how much guidance they’re getting in how to collect the data has varied wildly,” said Taylor.

However, Taylor said Holtschneider was “very adamant” that whatever change we made with student involvement had to have SGA’s approval.

“Students do have significant input in evaluation for teaching at DePaul, because we do mandatory course evaluation in every class and those are scrutinized by review committees,” said Taylor.

SGA had no comment on the amendment or proposed changes.

Taylor said the next revisions will likely focus on categories of faculty and grievance reports.

“Not only does faculty council have to approve changes to the handbook, but so does the president,” said Taylor, “We still hope that we will finish the whole handbook by the end of the academic year, but that’s such an ambitious goal and there are so many stakeholders… It’s one of those really intricate documents where one thing here can echo out in other places in the document.”

Gregory Marks, Dean of DePaul Law will take Taylor’s position on the task force in March, after Taylor departs DePaul to become provost of The College of New Jersey.

The article features contributions from Colleen Connolly.