Faculty senate to be revising policy on post-tenure review

Kaleb Warnock

The faculty senate will be voting on changes to Iowa State’s current policy on post-tenure review. Faculty senate commissioned a task force to examine it because the policy is more than 10 years old and considered to be largely ineffective.

“It was time to review and improve it. I think the review will certainly help improve the review process,” said Steven Freeman, faculty senate president-elect.

Contrary to what many students believe, tenure is not an absolute guarantee of continued employment and absolute academic freedom. Every seven years, full- and part-time faculty members are up for evaluation in order to “result in recommendations for enhancing performance and provide a plan for future development,” according to Sec 3.5.3 of the Faculty Handbook.

The post-tenure review policy was instated in 1999 at the request of the Board of Regents and is loosely modeled after the University of Iowa’s policy. However, Iowa State’s policy is intended to be more peer-based and allows individual departments and faculty members to review their own colleagues.

The current policy states that faculty “should address quality of the faculty member’s performance in the areas of teaching, research/creative activities, extension/professional practice and institutional service,” and will result in recommendations for changing and improving a faculty member’s performance, rather than clearing out sub-par instructors.

“The post-tenure review policy itself will not lead to dismissal,” Freeman said. “The post-tenure review process is really a peer-review process to help members improve.”

The section does not explicitly state that a poor evaluation could be grounds for dismissal, but it does cite the section of the handbook that outlines the procedure and causes for dismissal of professors. Freeman also said that refusal to comply with the recommendations of the review could be a conduct violation, which can be grounds for removal from post.

The task force has determined that the current policy does not provide for an effective process for evaluation. Therefore, it has not been sufficiently implemented at Iowa State and is relatively ineffective.

The task force concluded their report with recommendations that a new policy reduces the cycle to every five years, considers inter-departmental review boards, links salary increases to reviews and uses them to enforce individual faculty members’ personal responsibility statements. They hoped to have an amendment to the policy passed that would provide a defined process for review.

Faculty senate also commissioned a new task force to be in charge of amending the old policy, but it will not conform completely to the recommendations of the post-tenure review task force. The new task force will be presenting its revision at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the faculty senate meeting in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.

Other schools like the University of Kansas, University of Iowa and University of Nebraska have similarly vague policies. Iowa is currently working on revising their policy for post-tenure review, but has postponed consideration of the amendment.