Senate starts debate on faculty responsibilities

Substantial changes to the policies and guidelines for faculty position responsibility statements (PRS) were introduced at the April 21 Faculty Senate meeting. The changes were developed in response to recommendations in a February 2015 task force report.

Prior to any discussion, senators approved a motion to move any vote on the proposed changes to next fall.

"We're not requesting that we postpone discussion of this item until fall, just that we put off the vote until we have the opportunity to have a meaningful discussion with our constituents," said Steve Freeman, University Professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering.

The faculty PRS is a general job description, developed individually and changed throughout a faculty member's career as duties evolve. The PRS is used for faculty evaluations, including annual performance reviews and advancement reviews, such as promotion and tenure.

The proposed Faculty Handbook changes include:

  • Expanded areas of responsibility, from four to seven categories
  • Percentages that show proportion of effort in each category
  • Mediation processes available to all faculty
  • Formal PRS review dates
  • PRS development procedures
  • Information needed in a PRS
  • Annotated templates to accompany letters of intent

"The benefits of having a PRS have become more apparent over the years," said Veronica Dark, task force chair. "Now it is an important tool in all faculty evaluations. Given that, we thought faculty need to be educated about the PRS and be more involved in writing the PRS."

Student-athlete academic progress

Faculty athletics representative Tim Day gave senators his annual overview of student-athlete academic progress. He said the overall GPA of student-athletes was slightly lower than the general student body over the last two semesters, including a 0.04 point deficit (2.95 vs. 2.99) last fall.

All Cyclone athletics teams exceeded the NCAA's required academic progress rate (APR), which measures retention and eligibility of student-athletes. Four women's teams -- cross country, golf, indoor and outdoor track and field -- posted perfect scores.

"This year, Iowa State athletics turned in the best-ever APR report since the beginning of APR reporting in 2007," Day said.

Other business

Senators defeated a proposed change in the nonrenewal notification time for non-tenure eligible faculty contracts. The change would have shortened the notice from 12 months to six months for lecturers and clinicians with three or more years of service. The intent was to curb blanket annual nonrenewal notifications for faculty who will receive contract renewals within that same year.

Senators approved a proposed health coach undergraduate certificate. It is a 23-credit, interdisciplinary program that includes three departments: food science and human nutrition, kinesiology and psychology. The certificate must next be approved by the senior vice president and provost, but does not require approval by the state Board of Regents.