Regents to take up Faculty Senate’s resolution on tenure

by Brian Bakst

The Board of Regents will take its first look at the Faculty Senate’s proposed tenure code changes during the regents’ monthly meetings Thursday and Friday.
The tenure debate, which was intense during the senate’s meeting Thursday, is expected to carry over into the regents’ review of the issue.
Regents will also begin considering the 1998-99 biennial budget request and review a code of conduct that would govern University employees and others who use University resources.
Discussions about the tenure code surfaced last fall after regents expressed a desire to make post-tenure reviews, layoffs and other exceptions to the code easier.
The Legislature also tied an $8.6 million appropriation for the Academic Health Center to changes in the code.
The Faculty Senate approved an amendment to the tenure code Thursday that would permit peer review committees to suggest salary reductions or terminations.
These suggestions would come only after a series of reviews that would identify faculty performing below department expectations.
Tenure Subcommittee member Fred Morrison said the peer review proposal approved by the senate was the most efficient method for review.
“There really are two options,” he said. “One to review everyone every five to 10 years; the other is to focus on people that are problem cases.”
The tenure debate is expected to carry over into the regents’ review of the issue.
Final action on the tenure issue is expected this fall.
The Board of Regents will also hear a presentation by University President Nils Hasselmo and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Kvavik about strategies for the biennial budget process.
The budget report up for consideration states that the biennial request must include elements such as “strong, clear and concise descriptions or measures of outcome in order to justify new investments.” The budget request is due by October at Gov. Arne Carlson’s office.
Regents will also review a code of conduct policy for faculty, staff and other individuals employed by the University or using University facilities.
The conduct code, which would be the first of its kind, outlines responsibilities in the areas of fairness, professional conduct, authorship and data collection. The policy also states that researchers must not accept money or gifts on behalf of the University.
The University was declared last August an “exceptional institution” by the National Institutes of Health. Being an “exceptional institution” means the University receives special monitoring from the NIH, said Vice President for Research Mark Brenner. This monitoring was implemented because of concern for how the University spends the millions of dollars it receives from the NIH annually.
Results of an independent audit conducted at the request of the institutes were released in February.
Auditors proposed changes in the way the University handles its grant money and cited the need for an updated handbook detailing the policies and procedures necessary for compliance with sponsored projects.
Brenner said the decision to create a code of conduct was influenced more by the NIH’s decision to name the University an “exceptional institution” than feedback from the independent audit.