In its meeting Thursday, the MU Faculty Council spoke positively on a proposal to better represent nontenure track faculty in the council.
The proposal would amend the University of Missouri — Columbia Faculty Bylaws to allow nontenure track faculty to vote on the faculty council’s membership and be elected themselves. The resolution would require a minimum of four tenured or tenure-track representatives on the council and a minimum of four nontenure-track representatives, as well. Faculty council would increase in size from 25-30 representatives to 30-35 under the proposal and have slightly more during the gradual transition.
“It would be particularly beneficial, from our office’s side, for faculty council to be more representative of the full body of faculty,” T. Chris Riley-Tillman, associate provost for institutional effectiveness, said. Unbalanced representation necessitates cumbersome processes, he said, in hearing from all full-time faculty.
Faculty Affairs Chair Dennis Crouch, who introduced the proposal, clarified that while there’s a process separate from the normal elections for nontenure track faculty to join the council, they don’t have equal representation.
“It is far and away time for more nontenure track representation on faculty council,” Bill Horner, a nontenure track council member said.
Crouch said it would also place a cap on the total number of faculty council representatives from each school or academic unit. The School of Medicine, he said, is the only school that would exceed the eight-representative cap because of its high number of nontenure track faculty.
Fiscal Affairs Chair Pete Wilden, who is also a faculty member in the School of Medicine, said the medical school had already discussed that cap and supported the increased representation nonetheless.
A vote is expected at the council’s next meeting. If approved, the proposal will then need to be approved by a full-faculty vote and then by the Board of Curators. The board would need to approve the proposal by March for it to go into effect for the next Faculty Council election cycle.
Choi’s censure, retiree emails revisitedThe council approved a statement, with a 30-3 vote, thanking University of Missouri President Mun Choi for his written apology in response to their censure earlier this fall.
The council initially censured Choi for his failure to read the written recommendations of the Campus Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee during the 2019–20 academic year. In response to the censure, Choi wrote an apology for his failure to read the written recommendations and for comments he directed at council member Johannes Strobel.
Strobel then wrote a statement asking that the censure be rescinded, but the council voted to keep the censure. The statement the council approved thanks Choi for his commitment to read Campus Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee letters in the future and states a continued commitment to working with his office going forward.
The council also discussed a resolution that would allow the MU Retirees Association to sponsor retiree email accounts going forward.
Beth Chancellor, UM vice president of information technology and MU chief information officer, recently unveiled a change in policy which would deactivate “.edu” email accounts when faculty members retire. Emeritus professors would automatically retain their emails. The policy would require that faculty members facing deactivation seek approval from their respective deans every three years to retain their accounts.
MURA proposed that they be able to sponsor retirees, Crouch explained, because the turnover rate of deans is such that they may not have met the MU retirees who are requesting email access.
The council also discussed a proposal relating to the use of student evaluations in promotion and tenure dossiers.
Crouch said that under a recent proposal, anyone up for promotion must provide all statements and comments from students within the course evaluations. The resolution they discussed would put a disclaimer about the biased nature of anonymous student evaluations on each document in which they appear.
There is no correlation between student evaluation and effectiveness of teaching, it states, though student evaluations are influenced by race, gender, national origin, perceived attractiveness, accents and expected grades. The proposal also notes members of the committee have seen racist, sexist or otherwise offensive comments in their student evaluations.
The council also discussed a resolution which would charge the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) to draft universal learning outcomes that each school can apply to their IDE courses or plans of study. The outcomes must be specific, consistent and measurable.
All schools have implemented or are implementing inclusion, diversity and equity coursework, but the resolution states the need to ensure consistent and measurable outcomes across campus.
The council also heard from Brian Weimer, interim MUPD policy chief, on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted policing, among other things. And they discussed the gray areas of legal protection for public university employees’ free speech with Christine E. Wells, Enoch H. Crowder Professor of Law at MU.