Faculty Council achieves unity on severance policy

By Staff

After years of on-and-off discussion and a flurry of activity this year, Faculty Council has solidified a motion on severance pay in cases of dismissal for cause.

The recommended language passed in a unanimous vote the council at its Oct. 27 meeting at 1800 Grant St. comes more than a month ahead of a deadline that had been set last spring by the Board of Regents’ Laws and Policies Committee.

The motion made its way to the council after being passed 10-1 by the Educational Policy and University Standards (EPUS) committee, and 14-2 in a joint meeting of EPUS and Personnel committees. Those votes followed a series of presentations that Faculty Council Chair Mark Malone led for campus assemblies in recent months.

Though the motion originally was set to return to the regents’ Laws and Policies Committee, early favorable reaction from some regents led to the matter being added to the agenda for the full board, which meets next week in Boulder.

“This looks like this should be acceptable by the regents,” Malone said at last week’s meeting. “All the feedback we have received is that this is a better document. I think it’s a much better document than the one we had six months ago.”

In April, the motion was brought before the regents’ Laws and Policies Committee at a time when some faculty representatives felt not enough input had been gathered at the campus assembly level. Because of the dispute, the Faculty Council representatives were asked to return later with a motion that had undisputed approval from its ranks.

The main changes to the existing policy on dismissal of faculty for cause include the addition of “gross or repeated” preceding the term “neglect of duties,” and the striking of “insubordination” and “moral turpitude,” which many faculty have said is hard to define.

A last portion added to the policy states: “The Board of Regents may vote to deny one year of severance pay in cases of dismissal for cause. In so doing, the Board shall consider any recommendations from the Faculty Senate Committee on Privilege and Tenure.”

After the unanimous vote, Kathleen Bollard, vice president for academic affairs, congratulated the council on the process. “It’s eye-opening for university administration and the regents to see how much work faculty will put into something that’s so important to all of us,” she said.

Said Malone, “I really appreciate the work of everybody. This hasn’t been an easy process but it has been a good one.”

The item is tentatively scheduled to be voted on by the Board of Regents sometime after 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, during the meeting at 4001 Discover Drive on CU-Boulder’s East Campus.

In other business at last week’s meeting of the Faculty Council and Faculty Senate:

- President Bruce Benson spoke and answered questions, including one about teaching loads. He praised faculty for taking on increased teaching duties in response to budget challenges. When Council Member Melinda Piket-May said that faculty members are not necessarily being given proper consideration for such increased teaching during evaluations, Benson replied, “Then we need to fix that.”

- Tom Riis, co-chair of the council’s GLBTI Committee, said the group is considering launching an annual symposium similar to the one sponsored by the Women’s Committee. It might take place as soon as April 2012, most likely on the Auraria Campus.

- Jerry Peterson, chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, reported on the October meeting of faculty governance leaders from throughout the Pac-12 conference. They formed a new organization, the Coalition of Pac-12 Faculties, which plans to meet twice a year. The next meeting is scheduled for April in Seattle.