Senate discusses conduct policy at special meeting

Laura Kennedy

ISU Faculty Senate members discussed the criteria for a new faculty conduct policy at a special meeting Tuesday.

Jack Girton, Faculty Senate appeals committee member, said task force members have been working extensively on the policy for the past four years.

“The fundamental goal is to come up with one procedure, have peer review included and provide clear due process rules,” said Girton, associate professor of zoology and genetics.

The policy also includes issues of academic freedom, professional responsibilities, faculty misconduct and harassment, he said.

Girton said many Faculty Senate members may think this is a simple policy to revise, but “we live in a society with significant legal complexity.”

In the current faculty dismissal procedure, once a complaint is filed to dismiss a faculty member, it is passed on to a three-faculty member committee to evaluate the situation and then on to a larger group, he said.

Responsibility has been put on the faculty to see if this policy is correct for Iowa State, Girton said, and all Faculty Senate members need to make an effort to construct the best policy.

“We have it in our power to improve it, and we have it in our power to destroy it,” he said. “I believe that the current policy [the task force created] represents a small but important step toward protecting academic freedom and improving our institution.”

Virginia Allen, associate professor of English, said she wants to see a policy that includes conflict-of-interest situations. She said this includes family relationships between faculty members and students.

“The actions that I am asking [Faculty Senate members] to take is to vote `no’ on the policy in front of you until it is made into one continuous document incorporating both the grievance and the appeals procedure,” she said.

Carl Mize, associate professor of forestry, suggested the use of an ombudsman used in conduct issues or cases instead of the provost.

“I do not trust the administration to be a neutral party,” he said. “The faculty have been unfairly treated.”

James Hutter, associate professor of political science, said he doesn’t think Faculty Senate is ready to adopt the policy, and they need more time for discussion.

“This is a major piece of legislation,” he said.

Members of the Faculty Senate will continue to discuss the conduct policy next fall.