Faculty Senate Town Hall Meeting April 27, 2005 Town Hall with UNT Administrators The following written questions were submitted on cards provided during the Town Hall Meeting or were presented prior to the beginning of the meeting. The first set of questions are those read during the meeting; the second set are those submitted but not read.
Question 1 • How do you get folks to let go of their gripes and grudges and help us all move forward? Too much negative energy just when we need to take big steps in a competitive time for higher ed.
Question 2 • For Provost Johnson: Will UNT continue in the future to conduct tenure and promotion reviews following procedures, documentation and criteria inconsistent with the UNT Policy Manual, as it did in 2003-04 and as it has again in 2004-05?
Question 3 • For Dr. Pohl: In the April 14, 2005 Denton Record Chronicle you stated that you will not extend the appellants contracts. Your reason was “They are appealing it, but the decision was made.” This clearly indicates that you consider the appeal process to be meaningless. Why did you make this remark?
Question 4 • Several faculty members were denied tenure as “they did not meet appropriate criteria” for tenure. Why did the Provost and President not ask the corresponding Deans, Department Chairs to step down from their jobs as they have not only sent forward candidates who are not worthy, but also in fact have been supporting these candidates for six years – telling them in their PAT letters that they are making good progress toward P and T? In other words why were the Administrators not fired for being incompetent as they were partly responsible for ruining the careers of these faculty members. If you fire the faculty – why don’t you fire the administrators who were involved in the process for many years past?
Question 5 • For Provost Johnson or President Pohl: Why should department and college faculty and administrators continue participating in the promotion and tenure review process when the only instance of review that counts, according to repeated statements by Drs. Johnson and Pohl, is the Provost’s evaluation of promotion and tenure candidates’ records?
Question 6 • The junior faculty are concerned that the Provost sometimes ignores departmental guidelines regarding requirements for tenure. For example, if a department requires 8 articles for tenure, the faculty member ought to be able to expect to receive tenure. If the Provost doesn’t follow those guidelines, then how can the faculty member know whether he or she is making progress? I would like to know why the Provost doesn’t always follow departmental guidelines?
Question 7 • The way the academic job market works, most of the faculty members denied tenure were forced to accept jobs elsewhere before the appeals process was completed at UNT. Critics have said that not granting an additional year at UNT so that the appeals process could be completed is not only unethical, but violates the spirit of fair play that is the hallmark of a great university. How do you respond to these critics?
Question 8 There appears to have been a significant erosion of trust and confidence in administrators, their decisions and motivations. This can be attributed to many individual things that have already been identified. What does the Administration plan to do to rebuild trust and regain the confidence of the faculty and staff?
Question 9 • In your opinion, do the faculty have too much power in making personnel decisions at UNT?
Question 10 • The responsibility center management system will put faculty in the customer service business. This will have a negative impact on research productivity. 1. Does this mean research will be less important with regard to faculty evaluation? 2. What will be the university view of academic integrity when the faculty will be pressured to keep classrooms full?
Question 11 • For Dr. Pohl: Was the Provost asked to sign the “University of North Texas Workplace Compliance and Ethics Standards” which is attached as terms to all faculty contracts, and which reads under the heading “use of copyrighted materials”: “Do not download copyrighted materials from the Internet and distribute them without permission.” If not, why?
Question 12 • Question concerning final schedule for fall 2005. Under normal circumstances, faculty hold classes (with last class period being a review for those classes meeting more than once per week) during pre-final week. I expect this to take place 12/3/05 through 12/9. Those class days are important; especially for those of us who teach three hour sections. It is unacceptable (in my mind) to cut out class days to allow for finals to start earlier and then have a break for a bowl game. Yet, for Fall…it clearly appears to me we are waiting to see when the final bowl date is set and this will directly influence this decision. If this cuts out any class days for three hour classes, I believe this is academically unacceptable. Those who criticize athletics having a priority over academics will have justification. I support both academics and athletics, please lets put academics first in this decision. Is there a guarantee we will not lose any class time (those who teach classes meeting once a week) in the final determination of the Fall schedule?
Questions from the floor • Follow-up questions and comments from the floor were accepted, interspersed among the submitted questions. • Questions from the floor were not encoded into this presentation.
Additional submitted questions • Time did not allow for the following questions that were submitted on the cards provided at the door, or those submitted in print at the beginning of the meeting.
Question 1 • This Spring, President Pohl called off classes for Good Friday. This was an unexpected cancellation of classes and other university events. This last minute change of schedule sends a signal that academics is a low priority at UNT. Will this be avoided in the future by either: • Not dismissing classes at the last minute (unless the state mandates it) or • Adding Good Friday as an official holiday?
Question 2 • What role has the faculty had in advancing the 2006-07 academic calendar by one week?
Question 3 • To President Pohl:You have overruled all but one of the decisions of the UTC. Why have the committees if you are so disdainful of them?
Question 4 • Dr. Pohl, Provost Johnson has repeatedly embarrassed the university. Evidently he is not qualified to be our academic leader. Why is he still in office? You have not been reticent to dismiss faculty who have not embarrassed us. Why are you reticent to dismiss an administrator who is obviously adverse to our academic health?
Question 5 • How many of the 22 current candidates under consideration for tenure were granted tenure?
Question 6 • To the Provost:Given UNT’s governing documents do not allow the Provost access to tenure candidates’ supporting material, including copies of published research, what is the justification for evaluating the quality of candidates’ research output at the Provost level?
Question 7 • How can faculty successfully fulfill research agenda with a 3.3 teaching load and laboratory work?How can you make a more equitable teaching load?
Question 8 • To transition successfully to a research-focused institution, the university must provide a supportive infrastructure conducive to research. How do you intent to accomplish this task?
Question 9 • Per the Provost’s office, which departments are over staffed (e.g., too many current faculty) and which departments are under staffed?
Question 10 • It is widely known among top universities that research improves with investment in faculty researchers. Explain how you plan to improve faculty attitude and empowerment as leaders (assuming you need to improve.)
Question 11 • For the Provost: At least some members of the executive committee of the faculty senate received excellence money from the provost, even though they are rated among the lowest performers in their department by the PAC and they were not recommended by either the department chair or the Dean for a raise. In at least one case the individual can’t even get elected by his peers to any of the department’s committees. Yet, you chose to give them a great excellence raise. Do you anticipate continuing this policy? Is being on the faculty senate more valuable to building a research university than doing research?
Question 12 • 1. Would each member of the panel please state one way in which he or she has been an advocate on behalf of the faculty at large? • In what way does each panelist think the faculty could best assist her or him in the job that the panelist does? • What is each panelist willing to do to reach out to the faculty at large?
Question 13 • As we hit peak oil production in the world, what is UNT’s plan to help transition the region from a petroleum based economy?
Question 14 • Dr. Pohl, What do you see as faculty morale? If you see it as lower than desirable, how do you plan to improve it?
Question 15 • Why do you think it is that you faculty that sit on tenure committees in departments and colleges made so many bad decisions this year?
Question 16 • If the P and T process has both objective and subjective components and we the Department representatives who have for years been evaluating faculty for P and T – mostly senior professors – it seems to me, have been in fact clueless about what it takes to make tenure (as we have no idea about the subjective side of making tenure and only the Provost seems to know this), why would we ever want to assemble a PAT committee and write letters to faculty every year indicating that they are making good progress towards P and T. It seems to me that all P and T candidates instead should send their files every year directly to Provost and let him tell them if they are doing fine or not (abolish the P and T committee from now onwards). Basically – we – P and T committee members can not ever tell a candidate in the annual evaluation that they are making satisfactory process (if the subjective element is controlled by one man and he seems only answerable to God and his conscience). The objective part (quantifiable) can be addressed easily. Why would any faculty ever come to work here if they have no way of knowing if they are making good progress towards tenure and one man after six years can simply say you ain’t got it?
Question 17 • Does President Pohl intend to honor the Faculty Senate’s request to extend the contracts of faculty that have appealed their tenure decision?
Question 18 • Our institutional image has been seriously damaged by the President and Provost of the University. What can be done to repair our reputation in Texas, our region, and the nation?
Question 19 • For the President: The negative press regarding UNT’s ignoring faculty governance has lead to • Some of our best young untenured faculty leaving, • Potential faculty members refusing to apply to UNT, • Potential dean candidates not being willing to apply for the open dean’s positions, and • Previous donors withdrawing their support. The reputation of the university may take ten years to recover from the events of this year. What is your plan for restoring the reputation of UNT?
Question 20 • President Pohl-Historically, our courts have ruled that “Justice delayed is justice denied.” I find this axiom of the courts to be analogous to your delaying a decision on the faculty who are appealing their denial of tenure. Your response?
Question 21 • I am concerned that too many folks are devoting their time and energy to complaints and internal negativity. I know we need to listen to all sides, but we need to move forward and spend our energies in creative and productive ways, if we are to succeed as a university. How can we re-direct our energy to positive ends?
Question 22 • In regards to the volume of work in the legal department why not delegate signatory authority to more than just one or two people?
Question 23 • When will UNT’s commitment to being “green” encompass a meaningful and administratively coherent sustainability policy? Thank you.
Question 24 • What is the plan to address the library’s projected budgetary shortfall for next year?
Question 25 • Would you please allow multiple signature authorities on a single grant account? Not doing so discourages interdisciplinary research, which is in opposition to the new academic plan. EIS can be made to allow this!
Question 26 • What is the status of the new COBA building?
Question 27 • What is the probability of continuing the efforts to raise faculty and librarian salary levels?
Question 28 • For President Pohl:At UNT, the ratio of students to tenured or tenure-track faculty is 43. At other public universities in Texas this figure is much lower (for example, it is 28 at Texas Tech). It is true that our ratio is about the same as it was in the 1980’s when we considered ourselves a teaching-oriented regional university. Now that UNT is in the 21st century, do you see this faculty shortage as a hindrance to UNT’s maturity as a research university? If so, what specific steps is the administration taking to address it?
Question 29 • The student enrollment in the graduate program is expected to increase next fall and currently we have several faculty positions that are vacant. The question is will the faculty shortage we see now be filled and/or do you expect the shortage of faculty to increase? Why?
Question 30 • How/when can we give partial credit to students that volunteer at UNT blood drive?
Panelists’ Responses to Unread Questions • At 4:40 p.m. on Friday, April 29, the previous 30 questions (those not read during the Senate Town Hall Meeting) were sent to the panelists. • A request was made that all panelists submit their responses no later than Friday, May 6. Those responses will be posted at this Website late Friday afternoon (May 6) or early Monday morning, May 9.