University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Senate

Academic Calendars CommitteesFaculty Policy Guide Honorary Degree Awards SEC Meeting Schedule Senate Agendas & Minutes Senate Meeting Schedule Senate Meeting Videos Senate Members Senator Guide

February 21, 2000

A reconvened meeting of the Urbana-Champaign Senate was called to order at 3:10 p.m., in Foellinger Auditorium, with Chancellor Michael Aiken presiding.

Senator Robert Rich (LAW), Chair of Senate Council, announced that floor privileges were approved at the February 14 Senate meeting for the following individuals, to speak to SP.97.06, Amendments to the Statutes, Article IX - Tina Gunsalus, Associate Provost; Debbie Lee, PAC Chair; Vera Mainz, PAC Liaison to USSP; and Jenny Barrett, Senior Research Programmer in Psychology

Rich reminded senators that today's meeting would begin with Heading VII: SP.97.06, Amendments to the Statutes (First Reading). Since the item under Heading VIII was dispensed with last week, we will then move directly to Heading IX - Reports of the Proceedings of Other Meetings.

Rich announced that the following senators have agreed to serve as tellers: Steve Seitz (LAS), James Ward (EDUC), Harry Hilton (ENGR), and Thomas Conry (ENGR).

02/21/00-01 Chancellor Aiken presented for information/first reading SP.97.06*, Amendments to the Statutes, Article IX: Proposed New Sections 11, 12, 13, and 14 (Re: Definition of Cause; Progressive Response; Sanctions; Dismissal for Cause; respectively). Senator Robert Fossum (LAS), Chair of the Senate Committee on University Statutes and Senate Procedures (USSP), stated this proposed statutory change would allow for progressive discipline and/or dismissal for cause of academic staff. This item will be presented for Second Reading and vote in tandem with SP.00.06, Multi-Year Contracts for Full-Time Non-Tenured Academic Staff, at the March 20, 2000, Senate meeting.

Jenny Barrett, Senior Research Programmer in Psychology, delivered the following prepared remarks:

As some of you may know, currently non-teaching A Ps on recurring funds are issued one-year contracts. If our contract is not renewed, we usually receive a notice of nonreappointment (a terminal contract), and can continue working for the University until the contract runs out. Even though most of us don't expect this to happen to us, many Academic Professionals have mentioned that having this notice is one of the few perks that A Ps receive, especially since many of us know that we are underpaid. This is something to keep in mind since the University will be competing for qualified employees in areas such as Information Technology. With the proposed change, if an employee is dismissed for cause, the existing contract is abrogated and the dismissal is effective immediately.

One of the problems that A Ps face is that it is not uncommon for one's contract to be terminated without explanation. If defining cause for dismissal means that no employee on recurring funds can be dismissed without cause, this is a step forward. I also want to emphasize that I fully understand that there are times when it is necessary to dismiss an employee for some egregious behavior. Having said this, I would like to point out three specific problems with this document.

First, many A Ps reacted to this definition of cause with alarm.

"Cause" is defined "as one or more acts or omissions, which, singly or in the aggregate, are sufficient to interfere with the orderly and efficient operation of any part of the University. This may include off-duty behavior or extramural conduct if it is found that such behavior clearly and convincingly demonstrates that the staff member can no longer be relied upon to perform university duties and functions."

Some questions that I have are:

What do you mean by "extramural and off-duty"? What were you trying to include? Is it possible to include participation in a demonstration at Swanlund? Can this be interpreted as an act that interferes with the University's orderly and efficient operation? If an A P is arrested on her vacation day for participating in a sit-in, is it possible for the supervisor to consider this action cause for sanction or dismissal? What about criticism of University policy? Can sanctions be directed at anyone who might be organizing to change university policies or practices? Presumably, we are concerned with making sure people do their assigned jobs properly and not with dictating all sorts of behavior beyond the workplace.

Also, many Academic Professionals do not have job descriptions. Without one, does an employee always know when he is committing an act of omission? We operate on the basis of whatever it takes to do the job, but what if our interpretation differs from that of our supervisor?

Second, Section 12, line 25 says that "Any step may be repeated, omitted, or taken out of sequence. This line should be removed and steps 1. Counseling and/or Verbal Warning and 2. Written warning and/or reprimand, should be required before Step 3 (sanctions) or Step 4 (dismissal) occurs. The employee should be able to give a written response to each written warning; otherwise, an unjustified warning or reprimand may be used as evidence to build a case against the employee. If there are situations that necessitate dismissal without the other steps, they should be spelled out clearly.

No matter how carefully we define cause, since its practice depends on its interpretation, we need a truly progressive response with the capability of appeal at each level.

Third, the A P who has been served a written notice of proposed dismissal has 10 working days to request a hearing. Even a student who is sanctioned is given 15 days to appeal.

Any set of Statutes depends on its interpretation. While the current administration might act in an objective manner, we can't assume that always will happen. Unlike faculty, A Ps do not have tenure or job security. Even a multi-year contract doesn't mean much if there is no due process. The only way to safeguard that Academic Professionals are treated fairly is to have objective, third-party arbitration and independent representation.

Vera V. Mainz, PAC Liaison to USSP, delivered the following prepared remarks:

Good afternoon. I am speaking on behalf of Debbie Lee, the current Chair of the Professional Advisory Committee. My name is Vera Mainz. I represent LAS on the Professional Advisory Committee, and also serve as PAC Liaison to USSP, the Senate committee that drafted the amendment under discussion.

The Professional Advisory Committee (PAC) is comprised of academic professionals and was established by the Statutes. We are advisory to the Chancellor and elected to service on the committee by our peers. In addition, we serve on the University Professional Personnel Advisory Committee (UPPAC), which is similar in nature to PAC and is advisory to the President.

The dismissal for cause/sanctions short of dismissal policy is not a new concept. It was initially a campus initiative. In 1986, a campus committee was charged to develop, with PAC, recommendations for a policy for dismissal for due cause of academic professionals. However, in 1987, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs decided this would have to be a University-wide policy, not just a UIUC administrative policy.

During 1987-1991, the University committee met and drafted the policy that was approved by UPPAC in 1991. Time passed. In 1996, UPPAC brought the policy out of the mothballs and drafted a slightly different version. The 1996 policy was very similar to the 1991 policy except that some of the examples for dismissal for due cause were different. However, the President decided that he could not support the policy at that time so no further action was taken.

The faculty sanctions short of dismissal amendment was developed during 1996-97 and was approved by the UIUC Senate in April 1997. Originally, USSP included academic professionals and other academic staff in that document but the Senate amended it so only tenured or tenure-track faculty were included. As PAC Liaison to USSP, I was actively involved in drafting that amendment.

This brings us to today. The sanctions short of dismissal/dismissal for cause policy has been revived in part because of the proposed amendment to allow for multi-year contracts. PAC has reviewed these policies, and as liaison to USSP, I have again been actively involved in discussions of the proposed policy. PAC made some suggested changes which have been incorporated. We've worked with the Provost's office in disseminating information to our constituents. PAC supports the proposed policy and believes it will help strengthen academic professional rights.

Please note that while most of the discussion this afternoon has mentioned only how academic professionals would be affected under this amendment, the amendment would affect all academic staff other than tenured or tenure-track professors. While academic professionals comprise the largest percentage of this group, other academic staff such as lecturers and instructors would also be covered. Thank you.

Senator Al Kagan (LIBR) suggested that item (1) under d. "Cause for sanctions" (line 54-55) should be removed because "Professional Misconduct" is so vague that it carries the potential for administrative abuse. Referring to the same lines, Senator Peter Loeb (LAS) was troubled by the phrase "but is not limited to the following:" immediately after "Cause for sanctions include", believing that it renders the balance of the paragraph meaningless. Senator Ron Peters (ILIR) cited this policy as containing important protections for academic professionals.

The Chancellor presented the following meeting reports:

02/21/00-02 SC.00.09*, BOT, November 17, 1999, W. Seitz
02/21/00-03 HE.00.03*, FAC/IBHE, November 5, 1999, T. Weech
02/21/00-04 HE.00.04*, FAC/IBHE, December 10, 1999, T. Weech
02/21/00-05 UC.00.04*, USC, January 19, 2000, G. Belford

Senator Rich moved to add an item of New Business to the agenda; the item was the consideration of Nominations for Honorary Degrees (HD.00.01). The motion was approved by voice vote. Rich moved for the Senate to convene in Executive Session for purposes of considering HD.00.01; the motion was approved by voice vote.

The Senate considered Nominations for Honorary Degrees.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:45 p.m.

Robert C. Damrau, Senate Clerk
*Filed with the Senate Clerk and incorporated by reference in these Minutes.