AAUP Open Forum

Policy 155.2 (Evaluation of Library Faculty)
Policy 155.3 (Promotion of Library Faculty)
Policy 155.5 (Corresponding Rank of Library Faculty)

5 March 2008

Dan Sloughter, President of the Furman AAUP chapter, opened the forum, welcoming the two main presenters, Dr. Janis Bandelin, Director of Libraries and Dr. Melinda Menzer, Associate Professor of English and former member of the Library and Policies and Procedures Committees. Dr. Sloughter also welcomed the chair of the Faculty Status Committee (FSC), Dr. Paul Rasmussen, and the chair of the Policies and Procedures Committee (P&P), Dr. Lorraine Dejong, who participated in discussion, but did not deliver an official presentation for the forum.

Dr. Janis Bandelin provided a general overview of the history of the status of librarians at Furman, as well as background information on the processes through which the revised and new policies were generated. Furman librarians have chosen not to pursue tenure status, as only a minority (31%) of cohort institutions offer tenure to librarians, and as librarians feel that possible research and publication requirements for tenure may not be compatible with current workload demands placed on librarians.

Furthermore, currently librarians have no representation on FSC as that committee's membership is limited to tenured professors. Librarians felt that the FSC thus was not the appropriate committee to make judgments about promotion of Librarians; instead, various committees of librarians, in very close and thorough consultation with both FSC and P&P, have developed policies which will govern the procedures of promotion of Librarians, will ensure clarity regarding the faculty status of librarians, and will protect the academic freedom of librarians. In the spring of 2008, library faculty will hopefully receive contracts which will extend various protections to librarians; the passing of these policies will also ensure that librarians will have an opportunity to be promoted. Because of the absence of policies in this regard, the last promotion of a librarian at Furman dates back to 2003.

Dr. Menzer began her remarks by pointing out that the status of librarians ought to be of central concern to teaching faculty: librarians are recognized as faculty by the constitution, and the academic freedom of librarians is essential to the pursuit of the institution's mission. Dr. Menzer reiterated that librarians have deliberated about the proposed policies on promotion and status, and have decided not to pursue tenure for library faculty. Dr. Menzer expressed confidence that library faculty's academic freedom is adequately protected by current policies; in particular policies 100.0 (Faculty Security), 100.1 (Administration-Faculty Relationships), and 137.8 (Individual Rights and Resposibilities), which should be referenced in contracts issued to Library Faculty, will guarantee adequate protection.

Dr. Menzer argued that the proposed policies outline a transparent process for the promotion of Library Faculty.

After these opening remarks, Dan Slougther opened the floor for questions.

Dr. Bill Rogers raised a question regarding the referencing of policies in the contracts for the Librarians: since some of these policies themselves make further reference to other policies in the P&P manual, a simple referencing of said policies in the contracts may actually create confusion. For example, Policy 100.0 guarantees Faculty the right to due process which may involve the FSC (198.2), yet Library Faculty's process of promotion as outlined in the proposed policy suggests a process that does not involve FSC.

Provost Kazee responded that his office is working on the wording of the contracts, which will mirror the wording of contracts for teaching faculty, yet not include references to tenure and FSC. As far as references to other policies is concerned, Kazee's office is trying to reference applicable protections from these policies in the contract, while making clear that references to other teaching faculty specific processes are not applicable to library faculty. Provost Kazee indicated that he would gladly work with both FSC and P&P to make sure that the wording in the library faculty contracts adequately reflect this.

Dean Beckford asked for clarification of the term "faculty" in "Library Faculty," and whether the usage of this term may have other unintended consequences. Dr. Dejong responded that the Faculty constitution does extend membership in the faculty to professional librarians; Professor Gabbert argued that the proposed policies, by using the term "Library Faculty," were consonant with the constitution, and thus were not changing the status of librarians, but rather were acknowledging the librarians' status as spelled out in the constitution.

Provost Kazee pointed out that with the passage of the proposed policies and issuance of contracts Library Faculty would be clearly eligible for benefits such as salary continuance after death and paternity/maternity leave, whereas at present the eligibility of Library Faculty for these benefits is somewhat ambiguous.

Dr. Rasmussen, following up on Dean Beckford's question, suggested that some differentiation between Library Faculty and Teaching Faculty would be necessary. Rasmussen pointed out that Policy 152.2 (Evaluation of Faculty), for example, could be read presently to apply to both Teaching and Library Faculty. Dr. Rasmussen suggested that there will be many cases of ambiguity throughout the Policies and Procedures Manual. Dr. John Shelley suggested that introducing a strong distinction between Teaching and Library Faculty would be obverse to the intention of the policy revisions, as these revisions intend to bring Library Faculty's status and protections of that status closer to that of Teaching Faculty.

After a brief discussion on specific issues related to benefits for Library faculty, and some further comments by various faculty on differentiating between various types of faculty, discussion moved to issues related to professional activities of library faculty.

Dean Beckford asked about past support provided by the University for professional activities of Library faculty. Dr. Bandelin praised the University for strong support in the past, and Steve Richardson provided a number of specific examples. Provost Kazee pointed out that the one major difference in this regard between teaching and library faculty is the eligibility for sabbaticals: since sabbaticals currently are closely tied to tenure, library faculty are ineligible for sabbaticals.

Dr. Jean Horney raised questions about the library faculty's decision not to pursue the tenure option. Dr. Horney raised the question whether the proposed policies on promotion were consistent with library faculty's claims that the tenure route would be to burdensome on library faculty. Dr. Horney argued that since tenure and promotion are closely related in the Furman teaching faculty system, one could reasonably argue that if a library faculty candidate is able to meet the criteria outlined for promotion in the proposed policies, the same candidate also would be able to meet similar criteria for tenure. Dr. Horney challenged earlier comments that including Library Faculty in FSC's procedures for assessing tenure and promotion applications would place too much burden on FSC, as FSC is already adjudicating a wide variety of applications from rather disparate and dissimilar disciplines. Dr. Horney acknowledged that the research and publications expectations toward candidates for tenure at Furman had risen in the past, but observed that the rise in expectations had gone hand in hand with more administrative support for research, such as reducing teaching loads. Dr. Horney argued that similar processes could be set in motion for Library Faculty. Additionally, Dr. Horney pointed out that the national AAUP office suggests that teaching faculty be considered for tenure.

Debbie Lee Landi pointed out that up until the mid-eighties Furman Library Faculty were elibible for tenure. Jenny Colvin raised the question whether the consideration for tenure should be separated from the considerations about promotion, which at present is a more pressing concern among Library Faculty. Discussion continued on the relationship between tenure and promotion, and how both promotion and tenure are viewed and understood within the wider university context. Dr. Horney encouraged library faculty to consider the possibility of tenure in the future, and suggested that library faculty would want to consult closely with FSC to ensure that library faculty concerns are adequately reflected in Furman policies and procedures. Dr. John Shelly pointed out that tenure is an institutional good, and expressed his concern that library faculty may be benefiting from that institutional good without fully acknowledging its value. Cris Ferguson acknowledged the importance of tenure for the overall institution, but expressed hesitance to pursue the tenure option in light of experiences she had at a previous institution. In order to make tenure meaningful for library faculty, she argued, one would need to define tenure expectations specifically for library faculty. Dr. Rasmussen argued that the proposed policies on status and promotion, while not including tenure, still provide adequate protection for library faculty at present, and he suggested that it may be possible to move to tenure for library faculty in a very gradual process. At present, FSC would not be qualified to adjudicate on tenure and promotion applications from library faculty, as FSC's qualifications are already severely strained when adjudicating between disciplines as disparate as Music and Chemistry. However, Dr. Rasmussen argued, he could envision a gradual process involving changes in the culture of FSC, changes in P&P, as well as changes in the culture among library faculty with strong support from administration after which the question of tenure for library faculty might be revisited. Dr. Rogers observed that it appeared that for the time being, library faculty had made up their minds; it would be impossible for teaching faculty to impose the tenure option upon their colleagues. Dr. Rasmussen pointed out that FSC has fully encouraged library faculty to pursue tenure as an option.

The open forum adjourned shortly before 5:00 pm.

Minutes submitted by Alfons H Teipen, Secretary of AAUP Furman Chapter.

Last modified: Tuesday 07 March 2017 14:01 UTC