Can You Count on Due Process?
With union representation, yes.
Binding arbiration on appealed grievances is required by
law in Illinois public education employee union contracts
See following the article:
- AAUP letter to Goldman
- Goldman’s response to AAUP
- Breakdown of Parties
Faculty dispute draws national attention
Sunday, March 29, 2009
SIUC Daily Egyptian
by Brian Feldt
Less than a month after the Faculty Senate criticized Chancellor Sam Goldman’s handling of a faculty dispute, a national organization for professors’ rights could be on the verge of censuring the university for what it views as a lack of academic due process.
The American Association for University Professors wrote Goldman a letter, dated March 18, to request additional information regarding a dispute between Jill Adams, an associate professor in the School of Law, and her boss, Dean Peter Alexander.
“We learned of Jill Adams’ case and she had sent us the documents, and it appeared to us that the actions taken to place her on probation were not consistent of basic principles of tenure and due process,” said Robert Kreiser, associate secretary for the Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure and Governance with the AAUP.
According to the letter, Alexander placed Adams on disciplinary probation and sought to revoke her tenure for two academic years for “not meet(ing) the expectations of the School of Law.”
Adams appealed the decision to the Judicial Review Board, a 12-person committee that reviews faculty complaints against other faculty and administrators. The board unanimously sided with Adams.
Adams said she preferred not to comment while the case is still under consideration.
The board found Alexander had “egregiously misapplied” the university’s Disciplinary Action and Termination for Cause Policy, and said his “use of de facto Post-Tenure Review … would set a precedent endangering tenure at (SIUC).”
Goldman ignored the board’s unanimous decision, and the two have been at odds since. Kreiser said it is uncommon for an administration to disregard a strong recommendation similar to the board’s.
Mary Lamb, a professor of English and chairwoman of the JRB panel that reviewed the case, said the board contacted Goldman March 3 to clarify how much weight he should give their recommendations.
Goldman’s response, which came more than a month later via e-mail, said he could essentially make his own decision regardless of what the JRB recommends.
“It is our sense, and my opinion through our meetings we have had with Chancellor Goldman, that his attitude toward the JRB is full of contempt,” Lamb said. “He has utter contempt of shared governance.”
The argument has essentially come down to whether the university extensively reviews faculty members after they achieve tenure, which the university’s policy prohibits, SIU President Glenn Poshard said.
Faculty members who complete extensive research can receive tenure after six years, meaning that they cannot be fired unless there is significant just cause, according to university policy.
Goldman said Adams’ case is being used to thrust the post-tenure review issue to the forefront.
“It is a single personnel issue that has gone from one issue and been turned into a post-tenure review issue, which has never been a thought that (the university) has considered or planned,” said Goldman, who said he could not speak on specifics on the case for confidentiality reasons.
Kreiser said the AAUP deals with roughly 1,000 similar cases per year. Of those, he said, about 75 to 100 warrant writing letters to the institution. He said about four or five of those lead to censuring.
According to the group’s Web site, censure results from the group’s findings that conditions for academic freedom and tenure are unsatisfactory at a university.
Lamb said a censure from the AAUP would hold serious implications for the university’s visit from the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation next year. The AAUP lists 47 censured schools.
“Suffice to say, if we didn’t think this was a serious case, we wouldn’t have written to the administration at all,” Kreiser said. “We were especially struck that the (JRB) reached very strong and unanimous findings, and it was troubling that the administration ignored or set aside those findings.”
Poshard said the Office of the President has taken steps to amend the situation. He said a committee — headed by John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute — will have 30 days to present a resolution that would allow Adams’ appeal to continue to the SIU Board of Trustees, or side with Goldman’s decision and end it outright.
According to university policy, Poshard has the ability to reject or confirm Goldman’s decisions within 30 days, but said the case is too complicated to determine alone.
“If you don’t allow (the appeal) to go forward, you cut it off right there, and it may not be the fairest thing to do,” Poshard said. “I had read the case on different occasions and thought there were still a lot of unanswered questions. And it seems to me that both sides (are not able) to find a meeting ground.”
The committee will also look at the university’s Disciplinary Action and Termination for Cause Policy on a long-term scale, Poshard said, and will seek a member of the AAUP to consult the committee.
The committee, he said, has no timetable for the policy review.
1. Letter to Chancellor Goldman
post the AAUP lettter to Dr. Goldman
2. Chancellor Goldman’s Response
This correspondence is in response to the JRB’s March 3, 2009 request sent to me by Dr. Farzad Pourboghrat, requesting a written response to the attached statement entitled “Clarification of the Grievance Procedure for Faculty (GPF) Regarding the Obligation of the Chancellor to Accept JRB Panel Recommendations.”
Below are my responses to the individual clarification statements presented:
GPF, Article VIII. D.16
1. “The chancellor shall make a decision based on the JRB’s report, supporting documents, and in cases where the chancellor chooses to review the testimony, the tape recording of the hearing.”
I agree that this statement means that the Chancellor will consider the report of the JRB and the materials and testimony that the JRB reviewed in making its recommendation.
2. “Unless both parties are present, the chancellor shall not entertain any new information. The chancellor shall refrain from consulting with either party to the grievance prior to making a decision on the JRB’s recommendation.”
I agree that this statement means that no other information shall be considered unless both parties are present. The policy does not state that counsel for both parties also have to be present, or that both parties must have counsel.
3. “A decision by a 5-member JRB panel …”
I agree that this statement refers to the majority decision of the JRB panel, and not a super-majority or unanimous decision of the panel.
4. “… shall replace the decision of the administrator that is being appealed.”
I agree that this statement means that the JRB recommendation shall be substituted for the decision of the administrator who is being appealed, as if it came directly from the respondent/administrator, who is oftentimes the Provost.
5. “The chancellor or appropriate administrator shall treat the JRB panel decision in the same manner as s/he treats similar decisions of the administrator.”
I agree that this statement means that the Chancellor shall treat a JRB recommendation, which replaces the decision of the administrator that is being appealed, in the same way s/he treats similar decisions of that administrator. I also agree that the term “similar decisions of the administrator” refers to the decisions the administrator makes on similar types of matters that concern the JRB. However, I do not agree with the examples stated in the remaining portion of your clarification statement. Each promotion and tenure case and each grievance are to be evaluated on their own merits, and not simply rubber stamped by the Chancellor. Therefore, although the Chancellor might in a number of cases agree with the Provost’s decision or recommendation, it does not follow that the Chancellor will agree in all cases, just as the Chancellor will likely not agree with the JRB in all cases.
GPF, Article IV. B
In the event that the chancellor overturns the recommendations of the JRB panel, he/she shall submit a complete report to the JRB and the principal parties to the grievance citing evidence and/or procedural grounds upon which the decision was based.
I do not agree that the above statement should be interpreted to mean that the Chancellor can only disagree with the JRB panel’s recommendation in the case of serious or substantial procedural errors or unless factual findings are clearly erroneous. The language states that if the Chancellor does choose to overturn a JRB panel recommendation he or she will submit a complete written report which cites the evidence and/or procedural grounds upon which his or her decision was based. This statement does not suggest or require that the Chancellor delegate his or her decision-making authority and responsibility to the JRB. The Chancellor’s authority derives from his or her delegated authority from the Board of Trustees, through the President, and the Chancellor cannot waive that authority.