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January 20, 2000


The University Senate will be involved with a number of matters in the coming months. My goal here is to acquaint the University community with some of them. The order of subjects in no way is intended to indicate their relative importance.

At my urging the Senate bylaws and procedures committee is preparing, and soon will place before the appropriate Senate structures, a Senate bylaws amendment to permit the removal of Senate officers. The bylaws document does not now contain such a provision. My experience in reviewing and drafting governance documents led me to propose such a bylaws provision. Unlike some recent bylaws changes, the amendment is a substantive change and requires a vote by the Senate membership for adoption.

The Senate tenure and academic freedom committee has expressed approval of a proposal by Arthur Levine, senior vice chancellor/dean, School of Medicine, to extend to 10 years the period for making tenure decisions for School of Medicine clinical faculty. This is not a new idea. Thomas Detre, Dr. Levine's predecessor as senior vice chancellor, on several occasions urged that such an extension of time for School of Medicine tenure decisions be made. As this proposed tenure change undergoes review, one may want to consider: 1. Should the traditional time period for faculty in the tenure stream in other schools of the health sciences, and other than School of Medicine clinical faculty, also be considered for possible extension now, and 2. Should the tenure time period in the Provost's area also be evaluated? In short, is seven years realistic under present circumstances, particularly since there are numerous temporary transfers from the tenure stream being granted to provide additional time for tenure candidates to build the necessary performance record?

Other tenure-related thoughts come to mind. Most of the School of Medicine faculty and, as I understand it, most faculty in the other health sciences schools, are not, when hired, placed in the tenure stream. One may question whether there is a tenure stream or track in some schools. About half the Graduate School of Public Health faculty with tenure did not achieve tenure through the traditional seven-year period culminating in a tenure decision, and I believe the same is true in most of the other health sciences schools. Most faculty in GSPH, for example, are not tenured and never entered the tenure stream. Note that the recent incentive plan to encourage tenured faculty to retire was, in part, to provide the opportunity to hire non-tenure stream faculty to replace retiring tenured faculty. One increasingly wonders about the potential effects on academic freedom, economic security and protection from arbitrary administrative actions, at an institution where fewer and fewer faculty are granted tenure.

The Take a Board Member to Class program has been proceeding at an active pace. On Jan. 7, board members who had not yet chosen to participate were sent a letter inviting them to join the program. I want to encourage faculty who have not yet joined the program to make themselves available for a class session or other academic experience with board members. Reports I have received indicate the board members who have participated so far appear to be very pleased with the opportunity the program affords for interaction with faculty.

The next plenary session of the Senate will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 22. The chancellor will present his vision for the University's future. Two faculty members will offer responses to the chancellor's remarks. One is Jim Holland, professor of psychology, who has been on the faculty for many years and is a past-president of the University Senate. The other is Jeanette Trauth, an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Public Health. Professor Trauth is representative of the younger, energetic faculty who will be most affected by the chancellor's view of the future, and responsible for the quality of the University's performance in the years to come. I encourage you to now make a note of the date and to plan to attend.

There is much interest in the presentation to be made by Provost James Maher at the Jan. 25 Faculty Assembly meeting. He is to discuss, and to respond to questions concerning, the content of the draft of the University's Information Technology Strategic Plan.

Senate committees now are reviewing the draft of the plan. Faculty members who want to review the draft should contact the Senate office, 624-6505. Faculty members who, after reviewing the draft, have any comments, should put them in writing and send them to the Senate office, 1234 Cathedral of Learning. As everyone surely recognizes, financial resources will be needed to implement the final plan and the allocation of costs among the University centrally, the various University units, and individual faculty members is a key issue.

Finally, the chancellor and I have established an ad hoc committee of administrators and Senate committee chairpersons to look into the status and roles of liaison persons selected by the chancellor, who serve as resource persons to the standing committees. An incident last fall led to the decision to take a look at this subject.

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