Faculty Senate Addresses Dual-Track Tenure and Student Evaluations

Posted: October 17, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

At its October meeting, the Faculty Senate voted unanimously to oppose a proposal before the Board of Visitors to permit probationary faculty members to choose between a tenure track stressing quality of teaching versus one stressing excellence in research. Also, the senate approved a series of motions relating to the use of the student evaluation form administered at the conclusion of courses.

Senators supported a resolution approved by the School of Law faculty opposing a “dual-track” tenure system as unnecessary. The resolution expressed support for the current policy as stated in the Faculty Handbook: “Genuine excellence must be exhibited in the areas of teaching or scholarship and high competence must be exhibited in both.”

Citing disparity among academic units as to how they use results of the Student Rating of Instruction (SRI) tool, John Miller, chair of the Task Force on Teacher/Course Evaluation, said, “The task force felt that having local control was important, but along with that there should be local responsibility.”

The motions passed urged academic units to undertake the evaluation of both teaching and courses as a major responsibility by requiring the SRI be administered in all classes, and by using the tool as one of many other indicators to evaluate faculty effectiveness. Issues recommended for further study included reviewing the SRI for deficiencies and revising it to allow questions particular to the academic unit; improving statistical analyses and explanations of the data; and reviewing the current practice of providing student comments only to the instructor.

A motion urging mid-semester student evaluations passed but received a mixed response, with some senators expressing doubt that resources would be available to implement it.

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