Regarding Anonymous Questions

Comment from FA Vice President Dr. Gordon Rakita regarding the anonymous questions:

There are faculty members and administrators at UNF that will attest to my support for the tradition of the anonymous question here at UNF. Our Past President John Delaney and I have debated their merit multiple times. I do not believe I have convinced him of my position; I know he has not convinced me of his.

In the face of administration intransigence or poor judgment – as a recourse to administrative inaction or the administration ignoring legitimate faculty grievance – the anonymous question has its place. However, of late, I fear too many faculty resort to the anonymous question to vilify administration – and I fear that some do so precisely because they know that they can remain anonymous.

If they have sought answer or recompense from multiple venues and the anonymous question is still the last place to plead their case – then I bid them welcome to it. However, if their intention is not to seek resolution, if they have not sought explanation or mutual understanding through other means – then I ask them to consider carefully. I especially appeal to that full, tenured faculty – if your grievance is valid you will find support for your position.

Further, for untenured colleagues, I offer this suggestion – select a trusted member of the Union or the Faculty Association and raise your issue with them confidentially. We who have agreed to serve here are to do just that. We can offer counsel, we can advocate for your point of view, and we can protect your identity if you fear reprisal. Allow us to do our join and act as your representative. Our voice as your representative is stronger if you place your trust in us. And to my administrative colleagues – I urge you to take the anonymous questions seriously. My experience has been that the number of questions and the level of thinly veiled antipathy within that are a fairly reasonable proxy for the ire of the faculty. It is a foolish leader who ignores the opinions and voices of those they lead. I appreciate your indulgence.

Email to COAS Faculty Members

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Pamela S. Chally, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

On September 23, Dean Rainbolt sent an urgent e-mail to all COAS faculty saying:

“As some of you may have heard from your chair, the University has asked all units across campus to temporarily reallocate resources to support student scholarships. ”

and after asking for suggestions states:

“I will make the decisions regarding which funds will provide the temporary reallocation.”

Did the university in fact, ask colleges to make such a reallocation? As an underpaid, under supported COAS faculty member, I do not see how we can continue to serve our students with fewer and fewer resources. Does the administration not recognize this?

Response from the Floor by Provost Chally

Provost Chally stated that colleges look at their budgets to identify monies that could be used for student scholarships. Provost Chally stated that Academic Affairs would not ask departments to cut critical funds.

Data Analytics Recent Announcement

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: David Fenner, Faculty Association President

The recent announcement of an internal search for a Vice President of Data Analytics made me look up the definition of Analytics on the web. It says that it is “the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. It relies on the simultaneous application of statistics, computer programming and operations research to quantify performance”. In that definition, the word statistics comes first because statisticians are professionally trained to interpret and communicate data.  The previous administration had enlisted statistics professors to help precisely because the data analytics people came short in that. This year BOG Performance Metrics indicate that effort paid off with 10 points increase in the score over the year before. Why doesn’t the position announcement underscore the importance of a PhD statistician?

President Szymanski’s response copied from his report. 

The Vice President for Analytics search is ongoing. Finalists will be interviewed during the second week of October. The President addressed an anonymous question about whether or not candidates could or should have a PhD in statistics. The President stated that while that was one acceptable degree, there were finalists with other backgrounds as well.

Electronic P&T Dossier Software

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: John Delaney, President University of North Florida & Earle Traynham, Provost Academic Affairs

Given the budget issues discussed in President Delaney’s message from the President on February 29th, is the administration/UNF Faculty Association still considering the electronic P&T dossier software, which has an estimated recurring cost of $25,000 per year?

Response from Earle Traynham, Provost & Vice President for the Academic Affairs:

Dear Chairs,

We will not be able to purchase and implement any electronic P&T software for this next cycle. Earlier in the year, I was hopeful that it might be possible to select, purchase and implement an electronic dossier system for this fall. However, it has not worked out. First, the ITN process took longer than expected. The task force did an excellent job of reviewing and evaluating the available alternatives, and has recently made their recommendation. They also negotiated a “Best Final Offer” from the vendor. However, there is not adequate time to ask everyone one who plans to go up for promotion and/or tenure this fall to adopt the e-dossier software, even if we had it today. Given the tight budget situation facing the university for this next year, it is also unclear if we should make this investment at this time. For these reasons, it is best to continue with our traditional dossier process relying on binders.

We are continuing to investigate the possibility of purchasing the electronic P&T software, with the hope of implementing it in the future. I would appreciate it if you would inform anyone in your department who might be preparing their dossier for P&T to proceed with the traditional process.

Thanks for your help with this.

Earle

Academic Affairs Administration

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: John Delaney, President University of North Florida

The current Academic Affairs administration has been particularly non-consultative and lacking in transparency. A graduate dean was appointed without faculty consultation. An undergraduate dean was appointed without faculty consultation. A formula for reallocation of faculty lines – justifying the removal of 18 lines from Arts and Sciences – was created and implemented without faculty consultation and without transparency. A formula for compression and inversion raises was implemented without any explanation; even if the formula was created by the union, the faculty at large had a right to know – from AA — what the formula was before it was implemented and mass confusion and frustration ensued. There are strong rumors that UNF may create a College of Honors and a College of Nursing – and that both of these new units are borne on potential gifts to the university — yet no faculty consultation and no transparency about these major academic changes have been forthcoming. Question: how long will we have to endure this trend?

Response from John Delaney, UNF President:

Dear President Klostermeyer,
Before I begin my answer to the anonymous question asked at the last Faculty Association meeting, I would pose a question to the author of the letter: Have you made an appointment to sit with the Provost to explain all of your concerns? Have you expressed your concerns to a chair or dean asking them to convey these concerns to Academic Affairs?

In an email with another faculty colleague, I equated the idea of shared governance to due process: the more important the issue, the more process that is due. For example, contesting a parking ticket involves minimal due process, facing incarceration for life, or even death, triggers a far higher degree of due process. For trivial things, I doubt most faculty care to be consulted. On the other hand, for the search for a provost, the faculty makes up the majority of the search committee.

But for matters in between, sometimes we don’t appropriately engage—we need to collectively work on that. Earl’s and my door are wide open to make sure that faculty is comfortable with their level of involvement.

In a meeting with the chairs some years ago, several people brought up a recurring IT problem that had gone on for some time. I asked the chairs who they had told about the problem so I could see where things broke down. There was a pause, and the chairs looked at each other. Then Bill Slaughter looked at me and said with a laugh: “We mostly just bitch about it amongst ourselves!”

I ask the original question above for this reason: several years ago I failed to widely engage faculty in a discussion of mandatory freshman housing. I, wrongly, considered it a clerical decision that would not interest or concern faculty. Of late, I have begun meeting with the Faculty Affairs and Executive Committees of the Faculty Association. The idea is to talk about issues and hear where more engagement is necessary. But the conversation should go both ways. I often say that if I don’t know about a problem, I can’t fix it.

Historically, I try to have availability to faculty via “Coffees with the Presidents” with the Union, or department or college visits. In addition to my door being open, I respond to every email. As best as I know, the Provost follows the same practice.

I imagine that the questioner may desire to remain anonymous so as to not risk any fear of retaliation. For a non-tenured faculty member, this is completely understandable. In saying that I often joke with a Faculty Association President that I have such little power to retaliate against a faculty member beyond perhaps moving their office, but even that I could not do! Even the tenure process has a level of protection in it as the applicant moves through the stages. As a former President of the Faculty Association once told me, the anonymous question gives the faculty power to balance against the Administration. That is fair enough, though I still wince at the tone of the occasional snarky personal attacks some questioners use. Of course, the vast majority of the questions are fair and constructive.

During the search for a provost, the search committee formulated a question that was essentially: What is the correct balance between confidentiality and transparency and how does an administrator navigate through those sometimes blurry lines.

Had I been asked this question in an interview, one example I might have offered is the necessity to maintain confidentiality when a university is negotiating with a major donor. Until all the figures are locked down and agreed upon, it would be imprudent for any college administrator to talk about the gift publicly. Having said this, I would also state that when all of the details are lined up, the administrator(s) involved in soliciting the gift have an obligation to ensure that the faculty and campus community knows about the gift and are given a realistic time period to review any and all changes to the university, most especially if they involve changes in the curriculum or the structure of the institution. Despite any agreement with a donor, all such changes would need to be vetted using all standing university policies and practices, including approval of the Faculty Association.

For a gift that involves curricular or structural changes within the purview of the Faculty Association, acceptance of the gift is contingent on faculty approval.

Turning to information about the recent raises negotiated with the union, the process of developing the formula and the formula itself are covered under open records and public meeting laws. All faculty members who were concerned about the formula were invited to all of the meetings on the development of the formula. In fact, a few faculty members asked to see copies of the formula prior to issuing the raises and were freely given copies. The process was open and completely transparent. The Union, which represents the faculty directly, did a good job of updating faculty frequently via a set of all-faculty emails as to the status of the discussions, and in inviting people to the sessions. Any individual or collective group had access to the entire process and could have asked for copies of any related documents at any point in time. Not trying to throw the Union under the bus, but I am wondering why the finger of guilt is being pointed at AA and not elsewhere? Without knowing more facts, I will refrain from speculating.

There are an infinite number of ways to run a model to distribute raises. Historically the Board of Trustees would like to see all funding go toward merit pay. In any event, the final agreement is a result of months of compromises with the Union representing faculty.

In a recent email chain with a faculty member who I consider a friend, the faculty member criticized the distribution model. I asked him if he had a better idea, and where was he during this process?

The author of the anonymous letter points to two administrative positions that she or he feels were made without faculty consultation. One of these was essentially a reassignment of duties, something that frankly happens all the time.

As Len Roberson’s role with distance learning expanded, AA moved the position and responsibilities of graduate dean from Len and reassigned this role and these responsibilities to John Kantner.

The decision to move the graduate dean’s responsibilities to John Kantner without a search is not without precedence. UNF’s first graduate dean was a sitting associate vice president in Academic Affairs who was asked to add the position of graduate dean to his portfolio. That action was taken for the same reason Earle used in making the decision to reassign the responsibilities to John Kantner – to avoid adding one more administrator for budgetary reasons. The combining of these duties is consistent with patterns seen across the country where graduate deans hold other administrative positions in Academic Affairs. This same shuffle of responsibilities occurred with UNF’s second graduate dean. Tom Serwatka was asked to assume Jim Collom’s role as director of Sponsored Research upon Jim’s retirement. Tom held both positions for a two year period.

UNF has had five graduate deans. Including John Kantner, two have assumed this role as part of their load as an assistant or associate vice president. A third graduate dean assumed the leadership in sponsored research while serving as graduate dean.

Three of our five graduate deans were selected through what we consider a “formalized” search process. Two assumed the role of graduate dean as a means keeping administrative costs down.

While the position of undergraduate dean did not follow a formalized search committee, it certainly did involve faculty consultation. A campus wide notice was sent out announcing the opening for the undergraduate dean’s position and four faculty members applied. Each of the candidates was interviewed by faculty members in each of the units that would report to the undergraduate dean. The candidates were also interviewed by the college deans with whom the successful candidate would be working closely. My assumption is that the deans likewise received input from within their respective colleges. Earle used this input to inform his decision in selecting Dan Moon. Albeit without using a formal search committee, Earle received input from faculty and others through a search process.

This issue was raised to me in a recent meeting with the Faculty Affairs Committees. Several active faculty members said that they were unaware of these steps listed above. For that, we have to take responsibility for not communicating more widely.

The final example described in the anonymous letter focused on the proposed formula for reallocating faculty lines. The formula was developed as a way of better understanding which colleges had more and which colleges had fewer faculty lines when compared to enrollment figures. After AA came up with the first draft, it was introduced to the Deans Council. In Deans Council there were spirited debates over how the formula failed to account for several variables. Based on these discussions, the formula was modified to incorporate many of the suggested variables, making it somewhat more complicated. After these changes were made, the formula was presented to the Faculty Association’s Budget Committee. Jay Coleman also made himself available to any faculty group that wanted to discuss the model.

When the model was first presented and throughout the entire process of laying out the model, it was made clear that it was not a formula to be used for final decision making. Instead the formula was one data point to be considered in the overall reallocation process.

While I don’t fully buy into the model myself and I regret the unnecessary impact on COAS faculty morale, I am certain that there were opportunities for colleges to give their input. Regrettably the story of the model morphed as it was translated from one person to the next, in much the same way as the message gets distorted in the proverbial telephone game. I suspect that any plan we develop for reallocation of faculty lines will be heralded by the colleges who gain faculty lines and quickly dismissed as flawed by those colleges who will have to give up lines. I am certainly not surprised by these reactions having been on both losing and winning sides in similar situations. In fact, I have the same reaction to the Board of Governors metric formula. But in that case, there are real and direct monetary consequences as opposed to creating one of many tools used to assess line allocation.

Let me close by answering the stated question: “How long will we have to endure this trend?” I don’t believe we have the trend the author of the question sees. However if there is such a trend, when the next decision pops up I would suggest that the person who asked this question makes an appointment with the Provost, or me, to openly and without prejudice ask questions about the decision. That course of action will go a lot further then the anonymous question in strengthening the open dialogue we all seek.

For our part, we continue to look for ways to open dialogue and to seek input for decisions. If anyone has suggestions about techniques or ways to open things up more, please let me know. I do believe that frequent meetings with both the Faculty Association Executive and Faculty Affairs Committees is one such way. A personal open door policy, frequent and consistent meeting with the chairs and deans (pretty uncommon at other universities) should also help.
John

 

Sabbatical at UNF

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Jay Coleman, Associate Provost

I would like to see a breakdowns by college/unit for those awarded half-year, full pay sabbaticals. Although I have been at UNF for many years, I have never taken a sabbatical, and have been turned down for the half-year, full pay sabbatical (many faculty cannot afford the full year, half-pay sabbatical). I would also like to know if there will be an increase in the number of half-year, full pay sabbaticals as the number of faculty has increased steadily. Obviously, the odds have been skewed against the faculty with so few sabbaticals and so many more faculty competing for them than in years past.

Response from Associate Provost, Jay Coleman, Academic Affairs:

Chip,

In response to the first request raised at Faculty Association regarding sabbaticals, please find attached a grid that presents the breakdown by college/department of the number of sabbatical applications vs. the number of sabbatical awards (half-year/full pay) for the 2015-16 year.

In response to the second request, the number of sabbaticals is dictated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (article 24), and is designed to increase as the number of eligible faculty increases:

Each year, the University Administration will make available at least one (1) sabbatical at full-pay for one (1) semester for each forty (40) eligible faculty members, subject to the conditions set forth below. The University Administration may, with the approval of the local UFF Chapter, provide sabbaticals that are equivalent to the one (1) semester, full-pay, sabbaticals.

The number of eligible faculty members is determined by first having our Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) perform a query based on in-unit status and number of years at UNF (6).  We then subtract those faculty members who have received sabbaticals in the previous five years (recipients must have six years of continuous service at UNF to be eligible to apply again). The result is divided by 40 and rounded to the closest integer.

This past year there were 209 eligible faculty, and we awarded five sabbaticals.  In the couple years prior, the number of eligible faculty was 182 and 190, both of which also yielded five awarded sabbaticals using the process above.

With best regards,

Jay Coleman​

 

2015-16 Sabbatical Applications

College

Department

Number of Years

 at UNF

Year of Previous Sabbatical

Awarded

 
CCEC Computing

16

2008

COAS Art and Design

7

N/A

COAS History

7

N/A

COAS Philosophy & Religious Studies

14

2009

CCB Marketing &Logistics

11

N/A

Not Awarded

 
BCH Public Health

14.2

N/A

BCH Public Health

15

N/A

CCB Accounting & Finance

12

N/A

COAS Sociology & Anthropology

20

2006

COAS Chemistry

5

N/A

COAS Communication

7

N/A

COAS Communication

9

N/A

COAS Mathematics & Statistics

16

N/A

COAS Physics

17.5

2005

Director Title Usage

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: Thomas Serwatka, Vice President & Chief of Staff to the President

A question was asked on February 6th regarding the over-administration of UNF. Dr. Serwatka responded on March 13th that the title of “director” had been used too freely. He indicated that the UNF HR department and Institutional Research department needed to make a change so that administration is accurately counted. As a follow-up to this, 1) Has this process been started in an effort to resolve the misperception that Dr. Serwatka identifies? 2) Should the Budget Advisory Committee be involved in this process?

 

Response from Vice President & Chief of Staff to the President, Dr. Thomas Serwatka:

October 22, 2014

Dear President Klostermeyer,

Based on our correspondence, I understand that you received a question about what progress we had made in readjusting the use of the title director, differentiating those directors whose role is 75% or more administrative from those directors who are direct service providers, and whether faculty could help in resolving this issue.

I am happy to report that, with the help of Human Resources, we have resolved the different interpretations of director, separating directors who hold administrative positions and those who hold direct service provider positions.

In examining the responsibilities of the 229 employees who were classified as directors or assistant directors under an administrative code, we were able to determine that 110 should be classified as program directors or under other non-administrative titles.  These changes in classification have been made and are reflected in the latest files we have submitted to the Board of Governors staff.

If any faculty committee is interested in greater detail on our review process, we will be happy to meet with them.

Respectfully,

Tom

Intellectual property rights

Questioner: Faculty Enhancement Committee

Posted to: John Delaney, UNF President &  Earl Traynham, Interim Provost

“Could someone in the administration clarify intellectual property rights as related to course development – online, hybrid, and face-to-face – online instruction, and creative content?   Also, with regard to intellectual property rights for 9-month faculty?  Also, address the relationship between those who teach during the summer and those who do not?”

Response from Earl Traynham, Interim Provost:

“I think really a forum is the best way to deal with this particular topic, because it is a complex issue.  There is collective bargaining language already that addresses this issue, maybe in a too-simplistic way.  And it’s kind of a hot-button issue.  My own personal opinion is that it is an issue in which there’s probably more smoke than fire – that it’s really not as much of an issue, crucially, as sometimes we’re making it.  So I think that that might be the best way to deal with this.  You can be sure that it is an issue that’s going to be addressed in the upcoming bargaining, to try to reach some clarification about intellectual property rights.  But probably a forum would be a very good way to deal with that.”

Drawing administrative stipends

Questioner: Anonymous

Posted to: John Delaney, UNF President or Earle Traynham, Interim Provost & Vice President Academic Affairs

Are academic administrators who are on 12-month contracts and drawing administrative stipends expected to work full-time hours? Has telecommuting now become acceptable for academic administrators? Are academic administrators allowed to take days off during the week for research, which is not part of their contractual work-load? When academic administrators take time, should they be taking vacation or sick-leave? Should they be taking vacation time when they go to conferences or lead compensated study-abroad trips which are not part of their contractual work-load? Are you concerned about the culture that is created when such administrators only appear on campus only 15 to 20 hours a week?

In Regarding of Academic Administrators from Interim Provost, Earle Traynham:

All full time employees, including academic administrators, are expected to work sufficient hours to qualify as full-time employees, and to satisfactorily accomplish their assigned duties and responsibilities. Regarding academic administrators, the precise arrangements for accomplishing their full-time responsibilities can vary from one administrator to another, and may be influenced by the expectations and requirements of the position. It is possible that some portion of an academic administrator’s responsibilities may be handled by means of telecommuting, while other responsibilities will require his/her physical presence to be most effective. Since the university schedules classes from early in the morning until late at night, and on weekends, many academic administrators may have irregular hours. To repeat, each academic administrator is responsible for getting her/his job done satisfactorily and working full-time hours. Academic administrators a re in most cases required to  allocate a portion of their time to scholarship, and this assignment should be reflected in their assigned activity and annual evaluation. In the fulfillment of this assignment, an academic administrator may find it beneficial to work outside the office on occasion. Since this scholarly work is a part of the assigned activity, it is not necessary or appropriate to take annual or sick leave. Similarly, when academic administrators travel on university-related business, including conferences and study abroad trips, for which they have an approved Travel Authorization, it is generally not appropriate for them to use annual leave.

It is important to keep in mind that academic administrators are accountable, and have supervisors who evaluate the ir performance. Additionally, faculty, through the IDEA survey, have an opportunity to provide feedback on academic administrators such as chairs and deans.  If the questioner believes that one or more academic administrators are not satisfactorily performing their assigned duties, it is, in my opinion, appropriate to express this opinion to the supervisor. Questions, such as the one posed at the April 3, 2014 Faculty Association meeting are difficult to answer in the abstract.