UI Faculty Senate discusses revisions to UI operations manual policies

The University of Iowa Faculty Senate discussed proposed revisions to two UI operations manual policies that can affect what faculty tracks and faculty dispute procedures look like.


Gabby Drees

University of Iowa faculty convene virtually for a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Gabby Drees/The Daily Iowan)

Kate Perez, News Reporter

The University of Iowa Faculty Senate discussed proposed changes for two UI Operations Manual policies, III.10 Faculty Tracks and III.29 Faculty Dispute Procedures, at its Tuesday meeting.

Doris Witt, chair of the Faculty Policies and Compensation Committee said that III.10 defines the different faculty tracks, as well as governs key elements of how these tracks function.

III.10 defines:

  • Tenure track
  • Clinical track
  • Research track
  • Instructional track
  • Fixed time appointments

III.10 governs:

  • How ranks are determined
  • What promotion procedures for tenure track are
  • What the post tenure review procedures are

“Faculty Tracks has been cobbled together over decades and combines some subsections which are very detailed, and then others are far more streamlined, especially the most recently added portions geared toward instruction track faculty,” Witt said.

The committee definitely sees changes that need to be made in III.10, Witt said.

“Even given the layers of additions and revisions, III.10 really doesn’t adequately respond to our current reality, a world where the percentage of tenure track lines has been decreasing and that of clinical track and instructional track lines has been increasing relative to the whole,” Witt said.

The broad revisions that are being proposed, Witt said, would offer a two-tiered, hierarchical model for defining faculty tracks.

“The tenure track would constitute the upper tier. It’s got much greater detail in the description of the track, its attendant requirements, processes and is offered for other tracks,” Witt said. “The clinical track, research track, and instructional track group together as a lower tier under the label contract faculty.”

Substantial language around the history and purpose of tenure, and the university’s commitment to tenure, has been removed in the proposed changes, Witt said. A requirement during the tenure process that the candidate must first be found qualified as a teacher before research and service can be considered has also been removed.

Overall, the policy has been dramatically streamlined as it was reduced from 44 pages to 18 in the current working version, Witt said.

“In the current version, some notations are included indicating that some of the excise language will be relocated to various websites, but we’re not clear,” Witt said. “Does that mean it is or is not still in the ops manual?”

The meeting also addressed policy III.29. Witt said policy III.29 handles faculty dispute procedures for tenure track, clinical track, and arguably research track faculty. These include not only grievances brought on by the faculty against the university, but also vice versa.

“If the university perceives that faculty have violated policies, are not doing our jobs in various ways, they can bring claims against us and they are disputed using these procedures,” Witt said.

The broad proposed revisions for policy III.29 also includes a two-tier, hierarchical model for defining faculty dispute procedures.

“The tenure track faculty gets more robust procedures that include greater access to peer review,” Witt said.  “The contract faculty are provided with a lot less protections that rely far more heavily on a cursory administrative review.”

The new framing would also appear to preclude the possibility that a member of faculty could directly appeal the denial of tenure promotions on the grounds of discriminatory treatment, Witt added.

Overall, Witt said the FPCC feels that the revised policy as a whole would risk undermining the university’s commitment to DEI-related goals, and they do not consider the process that has been followed for redrafting to be acceptable.

“The rationale presented to accompany the proposed changes didn’t acknowledge the extent and significance of the changes proposed for tenure track faculty,” Witt said. “We’d like more time to engage in consultation with these faculty to determine what we’re comfortable with about the changes which we wish to contest.”

In general, the FPCC would like to see III.10 and III.29 revised in a fashion that demonstrates greater appreciation for the invaluable contributions of the so-called contract faculty to the workings of the university, Witt said.

“We’d like that to be shown by greater specificity and track definitions, expectations, and processes to ensure uniformity within the tracks across the Colleges, and see changes that provide greater employment stability and protections for academic freedom for faculty on these lines,” Witt said.

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