FAC Minutes 04-12-18

College of Natural Science

Faculty Advisory Council

Meeting Minutes

April 12, 2018

Present: S. Beceiro Novo, B. Coughlin, S. Levental, D. Liu, D. Long, B. McCarthy, K. Olson, N. Ostrom, F. Peterson, C. Sisk, F. Telewski, M. TerAvest, K. Walker, and K. Yu

Approval of Minutes. The minutes from the March 15 meeting was approved as written.

University Committee on Faculty Affairs Report

No report.

NatSci Student Advisory Council Report

No report.

University Council/Faculty Senate Committee Report

No report.

Update from Chairs & Directors Meeting

C. Sisk provided updates from the March Chairs and Directors meeting.

  • Academic Human Resources and the Academic Advancement Network would like chairs and directors to include fixed term faculty and academic specialists in unit decision/policy making where appropriate. Bylaws in various units vary widely about who has voting rights and what they can vote on.
  • All units are being encouraged to have conversations about community norms/values and expectations and to put them in writing for the unit. The college isn’t going to tell units what they should be doing. Chairs and directors discussed considering the expectations when conducting annual evaluations and during retention/promotion process.
  • Annual performance evaluations should not be based on a ½-hour conversation and progress report. A 360 evaluation, where others the person works with are asked for feedback, is encouraged. The issue of outspoken faculty being treated unfairly is something to be considered.

Old Business

Dean Search Update

No report.

Vote to Forward Alternative SIRS Draft to the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education

It was explained that questions became yes/no to discourage use of the data for anything other than helping the instructor improve. Discussion and changes to the document took place. A motion was passed (with one abstention) to send the revised document to Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Sekhar Chivukula. A final copy will be send to FAC members.

New Business

Awards Procedure

A draft of the Award Review and Selection Process was circulated so FAC members could check assigned review categories and make adjustments. It will be distributed electronically with additional instructions soon. It was stressed that all members review nominations for the Outstanding Faculty Award and the Teacher-Scholar Award. Nominations are due on Monday, April 16--members will be able to start reviewing nomination packets sometime that week!

Task Force

A Town Hall meeting with students will be taking place April 24. It is the first approach to getting climate survey questions. Town Halls for faculty and graduate students will be held after finals week. A climate survey will be sent to all college affiliates in the fall.

Possible Changes to the RPT Committee Selection Process

The current selection/election process for getting members on the RPT Committee may not be serving the college as well as it could be in terms of diversity (gender, discipline, etc.). Data from 2009 through 2018 was distributed and is attached to these minutes, which displayed the percentage of males and females who have served on the committee. Also distributed was data showing the percentage of males and females who went up for reappointment and/or promotion during that time frame and the current numbers of tenure system faculty by department. Takeaways are:

  • The percentage of women (11%) who have served appears to be an underrepresentation of women on the RPT committee, as currently women make up 25% of the population of NatSci tenure system faculty (by rank: 17% full professor, 35% associate professor, 35% assistant professor; see TTS 2018 Gender file).
  • Attrition of women faculty between associate and full professor level (from 35% to 17%) does not appear to be because women have been promoted to full at a lower rate than men (see RPT Faculty 2008-2018 file). Attrition is something to be reviewed later. It would be necessary to look at hiring to see that it wasn’t as equal as it is now. These are small sample sizes – most people get promoted.
  • Each district elects a member every other year. Three members elected at-large every other year. It is possible for two members to be from the same department. Some units who have never been represented. There is a possibility for a department to be disadvantaged because there is no one to report back to the department about what they have learned, how the meetings go, etc. It may be that there is not a problem being disadvantaged regarding being promoted.
  • This is an advisory committee. Who they are advising is best served by diverse comments.

Members were asked to consider whether there might be mechanisms that might help increase committee diversity. Discussion took place regarding the following ideas floated by chairs and directors.

  • Create a larger committee with some members elected and some appointed – nine. Six elected with the same process currently in place with three additional members appointed to fill gaps in gender and/or discipline.
  • Include associate professors in reappointment and promotion with tenure recommendations. Associate professors would not stay for meetings where promotions to full professor are taking place.
  • Require each department to have a representative. It could be a large group where members could divide and conquer.

Dean Sisk has asked chairs and directors to talk to unit FACs and faculty at-large regarding possible changes to the election procedures or committee membership. If the college does want to make changes, it will involve a change to the bylaws. The status quo is always an option.

There was also discussion about whether the RPT Committee member must leave the room when the committee is reviewing the packet of a person from their department. Discussion took place about the member being a silent observer to provide context (no vote). The disadvantage is that there may not be a gender balance.

FAC members were asked to raise these issues at department meetings. The topics will be placed on the May 10 agenda for further discussion after units have had a chance for discussion. It may be that creating a subcommittee for the revision of bylaws is necessary. 

Number of External Letters Required for Promotion

NatSci currently requires eight letters of recommendation for promotion cases. The university requires a minimum of four (range four-six). Eight feels burdensome to a lot of chairs. The consensus of chairs and directors is to change the NatSci policy to minimum of six. They believe it’s in the best interest of the candidate to have six. The college office will send out the policy with tracked changes for FAC review.

Next Meeting: May 10, 2018