Faculty Senate Minutes: Special Session

February 28, 2007

 

Officers attending: Nick Reeder, President; Jackie Myers, Vice President; James Brooks, Secretary

 

Senators attending: Jennifer Barr, Moez Ben-Azzouz, Mark Echtner, Luis Gonzalez, Eric Kraus, Cindy Schoonover

 

Senators not attending: Derek Allen, Mohamed Ali, James Houdeshell, Amanda Romero, Thomas Singer, Charles C. Williams

 

Others attending: Shari Rethman, Dona Fletcher

 

Nick called the special meeting to order at 3:04 pm in Rm. 7342.

 

1. Approval of Minutes

           

As a special session dedicated to a discussion of the Retrenchment Draft, minutes were not presented for approval.

I.      2. Retrenchment Draft

Nick proposed that the Retrenchment Draft be discussed paragraph by paragraph. Attendees                             agreed, and the discussion ensued. Minor changes to the wording and formatting on the first two pages were suggested, and revisions were made.  An extended discussion about whether to define “academic freedom” in the document resulted in the suggestion that the AAUP definition of academic freedom be referenced.  The complete text, with revisions included, of the first two pages of the Retrenchment Draft follow:

 

Faculty Retrenchment Policy 2.9.8

 

1. Introduction

 

It is the policy of Sinclair Community College to provide fair treatment to all its employees.  Furthermore, the College realizes it is essential to pursue a careful, yet creative, forward-thinking policy with regard to curriculum design, hiring, and financial management and that such a policy would anticipate future trends and facilitate, by all reasonable means, needed adjustments to prevent the need for any retrenchment or reduction in force procedure to be enacted.  Nevertheless, if such adjustments fail to alleviate conditions that require a reduction in force of full-time, tenure track faculty, this retrenchment procedure will go into effect.

 

Curtailment and/or elimination of courses, programs, and faculty positions may be prompted by the following circumstances:

 

1) as a result of normal academic evolution related to expanding knowledge, developing of new technology, changing student and community needs, or other circumstances;

 

2) as a consequence of a bona fide institutional financial exigency.

 

The Faculty Retrenchment Policy will address each of the above scenarios. 

 

The first, normal academic evolution, might be thought of as institutional development.  The goals of this development stage are to promote faculty, staff, and organizational transformation and to enhance institutional productivity.  The objectives are to encourage educational innovation and institutional growth as well as cost effectiveness and to exercise quality control over the specialization and diversification of the faculty, staff, and organizational resources of the institution.  The faculty recognizes that legitimate academic criteria for modifying or eliminating courses and programs are as valid when budgets are ample as when budgets are tight.

 

Changing educational needs require an academic response that may include the development of new courses and programs as well as the modification or elimination of existing curricula.  Processes for this evolution, whether it be called reorganization or realignment, exist in the form of administrative and faculty committees.  However, as an added safeguard, this Retrenchment Policy will allow for the ultimate check and balance between Faculty Senate and the Administration when the College is faced with eliminating courses, programs, and personnel.

 

The second, institutional retrenchment due to financial exigency, casts a far broader net and is a more complex issue, and faculty understand that in this circumstance, the process of faculty retrenchment would occur in the context of a college-wide reduction-in-force effort.  The two major goals of institutional retrenchment are, first, to maintain institutional integrity and, second, to protect administrative, faculty, and staff positions.  The objectives are to ensure participation of all parties affected relative to financial exigency and to ensure fairness and equity in the decision-making process relative to curtailment of programs and/or termination of personnel, whether staff, administrators, or faculty.  Throughout, the requirements of collegial decision-making and problem-solving should be regarded as opportunities for dialogue and compromise between equal partners—faculty, staff, and administration—in the governance process.

 

As a note of caution, the declaration of financial exigency must affect the College as a whole and must not be used as an excuse to terminate an individual, course, program, department, or division, nor should it be used as a pretext for the wholesale abrogation of tenure.  While there is an implicit obligation on the part of the College to demonstrate that termination under these circumstances is bona fide, the effort to seek a way out of any academic or financial quagmire must be a joint one combining the honest and sincere efforts of both faculty and administration.

 

Further, the importance of the principle of tenure to the excellence of the College must be emphasized.  For the College, tenure entails careful evaluation and high standards of faculty; for the faculty, tenure ensures academic freedom (see Faculty Handbook Section 2.1.4) as well as the security necessary to attract the best to the profession.  The reallocation of resources must not abrogate the principles of tenure or academic freedom which are essential to the stability, integrity, and excellence of the College.

 

To summarize, “retrenchment” or "reduction in force" is the process to be applied when faculty positions must be eliminated. Natural attrition, voluntary early retirement, and an early retirement incentive/buyout program are the preferred methods for reducing the number of faculty. Where these methods are not sufficient, retrenchment may become necessary.  Any reduction in force requires good faith action by the faculty, administration, and staff. This document describes procedures to be followed when the elimination of faculty positions becomes necessary for academic reasons or for financial reasons.

 

2. Retrenchment for Academic Reasons: Conditions and Procedures

 

Conditions

 

Program discontinuance or contraction for academic reasons may lead to termination of faculty.  Academic reasons include, but are not limited to, significant changes in enrollment patterns and in academic goals as established by the President and/or his/her designee.  These changes shall not include cyclical or temporary variations in enrollment but, rather, shall reflect long-range judgments that the educational mission of the College as a whole will be enhanced by the discontinuance or contraction.

 

Procedures

The development and implementation of procedures for effective and continuing evaluation of existing and proposed programs are the responsibility of the Senior Vice President/Provost and Operations Council. 

3. Announcements

   Next meeting: March 7, Rm. 7342, 2:30 pm.

The meeting adjourned at 4:00 pm.

Submitted by James Brooks

Approved by Senate:  March 7, 2007