Summary of Faculty Responses to DFA Memo about the UC Davis Committee on Privilege and Tenure
Background: Last November, the Davis Faculty Association put out an e-mail Bulletin which informed the faculty that a Yolo County Superior Court Judge had ruled that in its handling of a faculty member’s grievance case the Investigative Subcommittee of the Divisional Committee on Privilege and Tenure (P&T) had contravened the Bylaws which govern their actions, and he consequently ordered the campus to hold a P&T Grievance Hearing within 90 days. The DFA memo invited faculty members who had dealt with P&T to evaluate the performance of that committee in the context of their own particular cases. We received more than a dozen (anonymous) responses that we are herewith summarizing for the faculty at large. We plan to send a comprehensive compilation of the responses to the Chair of the Davis Division, members of the current P&T Committee, and the Vice Provost–Faculty Relations.
“Personnel” Problems Comments Positive: Generally speaking, respondents who had gone to P&T with “personnel” problems were satisfied with their reception by the Committee and with the outcomes. Comments included: (1) “I thought P&T did a good job though they were slow…an outrageous judgment (by) CAP was overturned by P&T. I was well treated and have no complaints.” (2) A faculty member who felt “repeatedly abused by the personnel processes at UCD” presented his/her case to an ISC member who was “outraged by my mistreatment…. The full P&T sent a strongly supportive recommendation to the Provost.” (3) “My dealings with P&T in recent years (have been) rewarding and excellent.” (4) “In…a promotions issue I found the committee’s work timely, appropriate, informative and ultimately supportive of my position as a faculty member with regard to….an incorrect reading of the policy manual. The administrator in question was unresponsive…until informed by the P&T committee that his position was incorrect.”
Other Grievances Critical of P&T: On the other hand, nearly all of the respondents who had taken other kinds of grievances to P&T were highly critical of the Committee’s performance. Comments included: (1) “I filed a case with P&T (a few) years ago. P&T found that a prima facie case had been established, however the end result was no action. This emboldened the department leadership (ed: to continue the mistreatment). Given the previous lack of action in spite of having established a firm case, I am reluctant to revisit P&T. I am currently seeking a new position elsewhere.” (2) In the recent past “…I have been party to three separate grievances filed with the committee. One case has advanced to the investigative stage. To my knowledge no action has been taken on the other two. It has been my experience that far from protecting faculty rights, P&T has served to seriously erode them. Faculty often appeal to this committee after exhausting attempts to resolve their grievances through (ed: Administrative channels). The extensive delays and lack of action…serves only to deplete already diminished stamina…..For many this results in giving up…for myself it leads to a search for employment elsewhere.” (3) “Based on (what) I have witnessed over the years I do not think that P&T is coming anywhere close to doing an appropriate job of safeguarding faculty rights. The experiences have been universally frustrating and almost devoid of anything positive. I now see P&T as a significant part of the problem for faculty members whose rights have been violated.”
In her Annual Report to the Representative Assembly which appears in the Call to the Meeting of June 2, 2000, Faculty Privilege Adviser Martha West discussed having met with several members from one department who complained about unfair treatment by the department chair and faculty members aligned with the department chair. She subsequently wrote: “This is the second year that I have commented on the difficulty of dealing with possible abuse of power by department chairs….We do not have many (dysfunctional) departments on our campus, but the few we do seem to be well-known, with administrators and faculty members aware for several years of the problems that exist in (them). If the campus is addressing these long-term problems, the faculty members involved are unaware of any such efforts.”
Given this report, it should be no surprise to have had a respondent to the DFA report that in the year 2001 a group of 11 faculty members had requested and (apparently with some reluctance) gotten a mass meeting with P&T (which reportedly the Committee Chair did not attend.) The author then writes: “However, since then six months have passed and we have no indication that they have even started the process.” The letter began with: “I believe that P&T is a sham which is internally corrupt and which has deteriorated into nonexistence.” and concluded: “In summary it would be better to abolish P&T and not to fool the faculty with an illusion that there are faculty rights and academic freedom on the UCD campus.”
DFA Board Comments:
We would like to thank those faculty members who took the time to respond to the survey and share their experiences.
We believe that the Committee on Privilege and Tenure should be commended for the success expressed in the survey in the highly important and very difficult task of resolving the personnel disputes that come before the Committee.
We believe that the Committee on Privilege and Tenure and the faculty as a whole should give serious thought to the results of the survey concerning the Committee’s work in non- personnel cases. Although the high level of dissatisfaction expressed in the survey cannot and should not be taken as a full assessment of the Committee’s work in the non-personnel area because of the nature of the survey, we believe that the dissatisfaction expressed should lead to a careful study of this part of the Committee’s work to determine if it is possible to achieve better results.
We welcome any and all comments about this very important topic.
The Davis Faculty Association Board
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