March 20, 2003 | Homewood Campus
[Minutes approved at 12.02.03 meeting.]
The meeting was called to order at 3:30 pm by HFA Chair, Professor George Fisher.
Ed Scheinerman announced a plan to post HFA minutes to the web. The proposal is to post the minutes in preliminary form and then to inform faculty (by email) when they have been posted. For a period of approximately two weeks, faculty will be able to submit comments and corrections. Minor corrections will be incorporated, and if no significant changes are required, the minutes will be considered approved after the waiting period. Otherwise, if significant issues are raised, discussion and approval of the minutes will be held at the following HFA meeting agenda. There was general consensus for this plan.
Presentation by the Tenure Policy Review Committee
Deans Busch-Vishniac and Weiss thanked the committee and gave us a brief overview of the committee's charge and process. The goal of the committee was to examine a possible change to our tenure policy so that associate professors would have tenure.
The discussion was led by Professors William Connolly and William Sharpe. Professor Sharpe reviewed the process the committee followed (various open meetings with faculty, meetings with departments chairs, meetings with the provost and president) culminating in the report being issued in December 2002. Professor Connolly noted that many members of the committee were initially inclined to stay with our current tenure policy. However, as the discussions and deliberations ensued, all members of the committee reached the conclusion that we should grant tenure at the associate professor level. There was some disagreement about the precise implementation of this change, and the committee's report presents two models. In the first model, promotion and tenure would occur in the faculty's sixth year (as at most other universities). This model includes an option to petition for a delay to the seventh year. This exception is proposed to handle variations between disciplines. The second model sets the seventh year as the time for promotion and tenure; this model does not contain any clause for exceptions. The second model was considered to be sufficiently close to the norm at other universities, but is better suited for a small research university. It allows more time to evaluate junior faculty and does not contain the potentially unwieldy extension exception.
Connolly continued to present the rationale for tenuring at the associate professor level. First, he noted that it help us with recruiting assistant professors, retaining current associate professors, and recruiting associate professors at other institutions. The current system suppresses the willingness for associate professors to embark on creative, but possibly risky projects. Second, the proposed change will help build department excellence: many departments build from the junior ranks and the proposed change will reduce the likelihood of losing junior faculty to outside recruiting. Third, the proposed change will help us in recruiting women and minority faculty; these faculty are more difficult to recruit and retain, and our current system exacerbates this problem. The change will encourage faculty from underrepresented groups to stay at Hopkins. Fourth, the proposed change will enable and encourage faculty to become more engaged in the broader university community. Junior faculty are generally discouraged from becoming involved in campus life and are encouraged to focus on their scholarship. Earlier tenure will enable faculty to become engaged sooner. Fifth, the new system will be fairer and kinder to those who do not achieve tenure. Sixth, the change will protect the integrity of the (full) professor rank. Under the current system, premature promotion to full professor is often necessary to counter tenure offers from other institutions. The new system will allow promotion to full professor at the appropriate time. However, we do risk the emergence of "long-term" associate professors. Connolly noted that the change in tenure policy is far from a panacea, but will be helpful for a variety of issues.
Jerry Cooper asked if members of the committee were assigned roles, in particular as advocates to maintain the current system. The answer was that no "advocates" were assigned, but the committee was carefully constructed to be broadly representative. Many on the committee initially favored maintaining the old system, but came to the conclusion that change was needed. There is a section in the report about the advantages of the current system.
Karl Alexander asked why the two proposed variations both fall a bit short of the "industry standard." The answer was that the committee considered the relatively small size of Hopkins and the emphasis on high quality research. The committee noted that research in some disciplines requires a long startup period, and we want a system that will allow faculty to succeed.
Dick Katz asked if the standard for promotion will be the same under the two variations, and whether seven years will be the norm for promotion, or an outside limit. The response is that the extra year will provide more confidence in the tenure decision and does not represent a higher standard (than 6 years). Early promotion will still be possible, but it is conceivable that 7 years will become the norm. Professor Katz said that the "six plus exception" plan could have the benefit of making Hopkins more competitive than peers. Connolly noted that there are concerns about how to implement the exception and the fairness of the policy.
Ed Lattman noted that there are differing cultures across disciplines. He prefers promotion in the sixth year with the seventh year reserved for those who need the extra time.
Joel Grossman expressed concern about implementation details such as: Does the policy account for prior service at other institutions? Does the policy have provisions for leaves (e.g., family leave)? Will there be an eighth "grace" year for those not promoted? Will there be limits on the number of times a person can be put up for promotion? The response was that the committee did not consider these issues, except to endorse the grace year. The details need to be worked out, but this was not the mission of the committee. The charge was to see if we want to change.
George Fisher asked the committee to elaborate on the role of the proposed change in building the Hopkins community. The response was that junior faculty are "in limbo" for many years during which time the institution is not fully committed to the junior faculty, so it is difficult for the junior faculty to feel fully committed to the institution. Junior faculty are concentrating on their research. By decreasing the length of time that the junior faculty are in limbo, we enable them to become involved in university life sooner. Fisher added that it is important to develop institutional loyalty, and this loyalty will reduce the temptation for younger faculty to leave.
Ed Lattman noted that untenured faculty at Hopkins can feel devalued compared to their peers at other institutions. To make our students feel valued, it is important to make faculty feel valued.
Karl Alexander remarked that the two variations are quite similar. Connolly agreed that the differences are not large, but there are nuances. He imagines that the ultimate plan will evolve from these starting points.
Bruce Barnett expressed concern that the policy gives permanent employment regardless of performance, and that there is no retirement age.
Jerry Cooper noted that there will be a high standard for tenure, but not as high as the current standard. After the change, the standard for promotion to full professor will be even higher. Bill Connolly replied that the new standard for full professor will be where we want it set, and will not suffer erosion due to market forces.
Provost Knapp remarked that promotion to full professor is likely to be later in a faculty member's career.
Jerry Cooper expressed concern that a tension will develop between associate professors and full professors.
Darrell Strobel asked if the committee considered a two-tier system for associate professors: some with and some without tenure. The response was that such a "flex" system was considered but not embraced by the committee.
Presentation by Provost Steven Knapp on State Funding
Provost Knapp spoke about the implications of the state budgetary crisis for the university. He indicated that support for capital projects (e.g., the new chemistry building) does not appear to be at risk at this time. The concern is centered on Sellinger aid to MICUA [Maryland Independent College and University Association] institutions. Some cuts to this aid have already taken place, but the proposals currently in Annapolis would have a dramatic effect on the university. The university has argued its case not that it should be spared cuts, but that the cuts should not be disproportionately large. There is hope that any serious cuts will be short term and removed once the fiscal crisis is past. In worst case, cuts to the Krieger School would be around $2.7M and cuts to the Whiting School would be around $1.7M. Knapp further noted that Sellinger money is unrestricted and can be used in any way the divisions choose.
President Brody reported that he has spent a great deal of time on this issue in Annapolis. All of the logical arguments have been made. Now is the time for "pressure politics" and he encouraged the faculty to send faxes, letters, and emails to our representatives. He anticipates that the state budgetary problems will continue to grow worse unless revenue is enhanced, e.g., by a 1% increase in sales tax. Brody also noted that we must support all of higher education, and that we should not view UMCP as a competitor.
Darrell Strobel asked if the recent purchase of the Mount Washington property might have had negative repercussions. The response was that it did not.
There was no open discussion and the meeting adjourned at 4:40 pm.
[Minutes recorded by Ed Scheinerman, firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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