Horowitz Responds to DFA Letter
March 18, 2006 email (standard text is the original DFA letter, blue Arial text is Prof. Barbara Horwitz’s response).
I apologize for the lateness of my reply to your inquiry of Jan. 28th. As indicated in my responses to each of your questions below, I do not interpret the revised languages in APM 210/240/245A as altering the criteria for merit or promotion.
Prof. Barbara Horwitz
Vice-Provost, Academic Personnel
University of California at Davis
One Shields Ave.
Davis, CA 95616
Dear Vice-Provost Horwitz:
We write on behalf of the Davis Faculty Association to inquire about three revised regulations to the Academic Personnel Manual — 210-1-D, 240, and 245 Appendix A. The revisions reflect the University’s commitment to diversity, which we applaud. We do have questions about their implementation, especially implementation that affects the merit review and promotion of faculty.
First, we would like to know whether there are new requirements for the Chair’s letter on behalf of a member of the Chair’s department, and if so, what those requirements are.
Reply: These are not new requirements. Rather, they represent an mechanism to ensure that when faculty do engage in these efforts, which support the campus strategic plan, these efforts will be recognized in the department letter — as would other efforts consistent with the campus strategic plan.
Secondly, we have read some statements which indicate that research considered relevant to diversity — an example we have seen cited is research on “diets that are more predominant in certain ethnic groups” — will be considered a contribution to the advancement of diversity, and so a “plus in a borderline merit.” Is that accurate? We would like to know whether implementation of these revised regulations will alter current criteria for assessing research.
Reply: The implementation of the new language will not alter current criteria for assessing research. In the case you mention above, a department letter would want to explain the significance of the research in the same manner that the impact of any research project is reviewed. If, for instance, the research on diets that are more predominant in certain ethnic groups, has a health implication for these ethnic groups, that would be significant to know, but the quality of the research itself would be assessed using the same criteria that would be used for research on other topics. The fact that there is a focus on diets that predominate in certain ethnic groups would not tip a borderline merit. The intention of the language in APM 210-D is to be more specific about activities that support the commitment to diversity, not to give those activities more weight than efforts that do not specifically support the commitment to diversity.
Thirdly, we have a similar question, based again on some statements we have read, about how the implementation of the revised regulations affects assessments of teaching. We have read that “teaching models designed to help underrepresented students learn the topic better (e.g., allowing students to go at their own pace, re-do and re-learn material, etc.)” and “attending training about how to include more diversity issues in class” will be considered a contribution to diversity and so a “plus in a borderline merit.” Is that an accurate statement of the way the revised regulations will be implemented? Will the revised regulations alter assessments of teaching, and if so, how?
Reply: The examples you give are examples of efforts to deal with diversity, but they will be evaluated as we currently evaluate teaching and service — i.e., with respect to quality, effectiveness, and impact.
Fourthly, we wonder how implementation of the revised regulations will affect assessment of university and public service. Will service relevant to diversity be assessed differently under these regulations than it has been until now?
Reply: Previously, some department letters were explicit about teaching or service that was relevant to diversity and some were not. The new language would provide the department with a chance to acknowledge and notice those contributions that are relevant to diversity. Again, they would not count more than other signficant contributions.
Finally, we have read statements suggesting that, over time, contributions to diversity will be expected, and we request your guidance on this matter.
Reply: The campus strategic plan outlines the importance of increasing our diversity with respect to faculty, staff, and students. The new language of APM 210 also outlines the responsibility of the dean and of the department chair to maintain an affirmative action program that is consistent with University affirmative action policies. In fact, Deans and department chairs are evaluated on this responsibility. However, there is no language in the APM 210 or in any guidelines to committees reviewing faculty that include the expectation that every faculty member will be an active contributor to diversity; and I am not aware of any discussion indicating that, over time, such contributions will be expected of everyone.
I hope the above answers your questions — if not, let me know.
Thank you for your attention.
Chair, Davis Faculty Association
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