Dear faculty colleagues,
This afternoon the Faculty Senate passed a resolution (appended below) that called for the search for a new provost to begin not earlier than Sept. 7, after the Fall semester has begun. This decision was not reached lightly, but was the culmination of more than three weeks’ deliberation. In my communications with you I try to be brief, because I know you value your time as much as I do mine. In this case, though, please permit me to go a bit more in-depth.
As you are aware from e-mails sent by Susan Moeller and by Pres. Martin, the administration had asked the AAUP for an MOU to allow the search process for a new provost to occur over the Spring and Summer semesters. The executive boards of the AAUP and Faculty Senate met to discuss how to respond to this request. At the heart of the decision were two compelling but competing goals: the desire to name a new provost as soon as possible, and the need to provide adequate and meaningful faculty input into the search process.
The Master Agreement between the administration and the AAUP indicates that faculty members shall not be required to provide service during the Spring and Summer semesters. The Contract also stipulates that the Faculty Senate is the only mechanism by which faculty input may be provided, so as to fulfill the goal of Shared Governance. (Faculty members are, of course, free to serve on any committees, but unless the Senate appoints them, such service does not constitute formal input.) The Faculty Senate by-laws (which are signed by representatives of the Senate, AAUP and the administration) stipulate that the Senate provides input on the hiring of all academic administrators at the level of dean and above.
While some searches involving faculty have occurred over past summers, these were either brief continuations of long ongoing searches (such as for provost in May 2009) or for positions that did not greatly and directly affect faculty (such as the search for a CIO three summers ago). Together the AAUP and Senate executive boards determined that we could not support a search process of such importance that occurred over the entire summer, and that such a search would directly contravene the Contract.
Yesterday the administration asked for a different MOU. This would have stipulated a search process that created a 12-member search committee (involving one faculty member appointed by the Senate and one by the AAUP) that met during the Spring and Summer, but which would not call for candidate campus visitations until the Fall semester.
Today’s Senate meeting was attended by 28 of the 32 department representatives. There was robust discussion of the attached resolution and of the pros and cons of agreeing to a Spring/Summer search or of postponing that search until fall. Pres. Martin argued forcefully and thoughtfully on behalf of a summer search. In the end, though, the Senate was not convinced that the desire to name a provost as soon as possible overcame the need to provide full, and timely faculty input, as specified in the Contract.
The resolution passed with a vote of 22 in favor, 3 against, and 2 abstentions.
If you have any questions concerning this action, please do not hesitate to contact me or your Faculty Senate representative (a full list can be found at: http://www.emich.edu/facultysenate/members.html ).