From MPCTA President Gail Fail:
Our answer at this time, is, ”According to half the union exec, it looks like a pretty good policy except for the one objection Hazel has made. Maybe the union exec needs more convincing, or maybe the committee that wrote the policy would consider making a change so that they add a teacher from the affected program to the discontinuance committee.”
We are anxiously awaiting the opinion of the Senate.
Comments from Hazel Ross
I feel very strongly that the Ad Hoc Committee should include representation from the program under review – definitely faculty from that area, plus possibly their Division Chair and Dean. Who else would know all the ins and outs of the program, the reasons things are done the way they are, etc.? This is such a serious decision to make, that it boggles my mind that program faculty would be excluded from participating in all the committee’s deliberations.
In the “Response to Senate Question #2” as to why program faculty are not included on the Ad Hoc Committee, the response included these words:
“When the draft policy was shared with the MPCTA Executive Committee, the response back was that, “this was a good way to do this and that the committee was clever to come up with it.”
I certainly didn’t make that statement, and I don’t recall that the Executive Committee voted that that was the appropriate response.
I have four reasons for including representation from the program on the committee:
The inherent assumption seems to be that the program faculty are at fault. What if the program faculty want the review because they are understaffed or under equipped and this review seems to them to be the only way that they can get better staffing and/or equipment? In that case, they would need to be part of the committee.
The Ad Hoc Committee needs to have someone intimately familiar with the program to help them make the right decision. Putting in some language about “collaborating” with the program area faculty and the Dean doesn’t do the job. A program representative needs to be “in the room” to provide data and balance to the discussion. Who knows what politics might be going on in regards to the program? The comparison of the work of the ad hoc committee to that of an accreditation team is unapt – accreditation teams are not affected by the internal politics of the institution. Remember that the only way faculty can be fired without any due process is if their entire program is discontinued (as what happened with engineering a long time ago).
Having a student from the program produces an unbalanced situation. Having both a student and a faculty member present is important to being objective and fair.
Whatever the decision of the committee, it will be important to have “buy in” from the program faculty. This won’t be easy to get if a solution is imposed upon them rather than being one which they participated in recommending.
Sure, there could be occasions where having program faculty on the committee is uncomfortable. However, the job of the committee is to make the best assessment of the situation after addressing all the facts and hearing all the opinions. Being comfortable is not part of their job description! Also, if there were a problem with the program faculty, then it is possible that, just by being present as a member while the review is taking place, the faculty might see how they themselves could improve.
Anyway, I think MPCTA should not approve this policy unless program faculty are represented on the Ad Hoc Committee.
P.S. Another thing to ponder – as proposed, the Ad Hoc Committee consists of 4 faculty, 1 student and one administrator (a dean). This puts faculty in the awkward and difficult position of taking the lion’s share of responsibility for any decision to discontinue a program, with the resultant loss of faculty jobs. My suggestion would be to have 3 faculty members, one of whom should be from the program in question, 1 student, and 2 administrators, one of whom should be from the program’s area. Also, one of the administrators should be a VP, because this is such an important decision to make. I wouldn’t be specific about who the faculty from outside the program’s area should be – the choice would depend on the program and the situation in question.
From Stephanie Tetter:
I am not clear how there can be a thorough, rational analysis of a program without serious input from those who know the program best. I certainly would neither be able to nor want to be on a committee to look at discontinuing a program without the presence of someone from that department who could provide information I would probably not otherwise be able to get.
There needs to be at LEAST one faculty person from the department in question, IMHO.
Bottom line: I vote with Hazel.
From Gail Fail:
My own vote is to agree with Hazel. The program folks really need to be included on the committee. The group will not be intimidated by them, but will be forced to listen to their concerns.
I had originally thought the other way, but further reflection has swayed me toward Hazel’s view.
I think this is NOT something that can be rushed. Let’s do it right the first time, even if it is not done till next term.