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April 24, 2006

Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure


2005-2006 Annual Report
The Senate Bylaws provide for a standing Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (AFT), whose investigative duties include possible infringement of academic freedom, and allegations of violations of the role of faculty in governance as specified in the University Statutes and unit bylaws. 

As appropriate, the Committee shall conduct hearings, and shall submit recommendations and reports to the Chancellor and the Senate.  The following is a summary of issues considered by the Committee during the 2005-2006 academic year.

Promotion and Tenure Questionnaires.  Annually since 1981, AFT has received for examination the Pro≠motions and Tenure (P&T) Questionnaires from the Office of the Provost.  Recently, the Provostís Office asked the Committee to consider if academic units needed to continue to submit their P&T procedures each year.  A recent AFT recommended that a complete database (including each campus academic unit) of P&T procedures be assembled and posted on a website administered by the Provostís Office.  Once this is established, units only need to update their procedures when changes have been made to these procedures.

Inquiries.  The Committee received a couple of faculty inquiries during this academic year. The first involved problems of faculty governance in a small department. The appropriate administrators have resolved to address those problems, and AFT will revisit the situation next year. AFT addressed the second inquiry in part with the following two points communicated to the appropriate administrators:

1) Each semester, instructors must be offered the opportunity to sign, or to delegate someone to sign, a separate form for the release of each set of ICES scores.

2)  ICES scores will indicate a problem with the delivery of instruction, and they can be quite useful in a promotion case when combined with peer evaluation of instruction and the course documents. On the other hand, it is not always possible to convince students, especially beginning students, to want what they need in a course. A required release of ICES scores alone for publication on the internet can bring pressure on instructors to modify or omit parts of the course syllabus and is therefore a violation of their academic freedom.

Faculty should be aware that the AFT Committee is available for informal consulting at any time.

Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure
Peter Loeb, Chair
Karen Ferneding
Harry Hilton
John Kindt
Billy Joe Mills
Josh Rohrscheib
Lynne Rudasill
H. Fred Troutt
John Yu