The University Senate of Michigan Technological University
The senate and the administration have failed to reach agreement on revision of the university’s charter policies for five years while the key document that defined the charter process is now 18 years old. Points of conflict became complicated by the faculty’s creation of the AAUP collective bargaining unit and the administrative response to that action. The Senate advanced two proposed updates to the policy, 11-06 and 22-08. Both of these were rejected by the administration.
This document updates the existing policies (16-92 and amendments and related policies) with most proposed revisions sought by the faculty. The controversial issues were identified through a series of discussions and correspondence with administrators and various units. The Academic Policy discussed the issues during 2009-2010 and proposed this compromise during the Spring of 2010. The University Senate deliberated and decided to hold this proposal until units could consider these revisions side-by-side with a parallel proposal that would establish university-wide policy covering searching for, hiring, and evaluating unit chairs and school deans.
Key points of contention and proposed resolution:
1. Search for, selection of, and review of Chairs: This proposal calls for units to remove these provisions from their charters. The University Senate proposes to establish new policy to govern the process of evaluating and searching/selecting new chairs. In the past, the senate wanted to allow units to establish charters so those units could make binding recommendations to the administration regarding the selection and retention of department chairs and deans. No matter the faculty preference, the administration hire deans, directors, and chairs, which they believe serve “at the pleasure of the president.” In shared governance, however, units have the power to recommend preferred candidates or individuals under review, or rank the individual as acceptable/unacceptable. If members of a unit are unhappy with the president’s decision, that department, unit, or individual can rely upon the university’s grievance policy, which is also defined by the Senate.
2. Time until approval: The Provost agreed that charters deserve prompt response from the administration but the 60 day deadline set forth in 22-08 was deemed unreasonable. The Senate agreed that the regular period of 90 days as defined in the senate constitution was a good compromise.
3. Policy for creating new charters and sending reps to the senate: This document establishes this procedure.
4. This Policy includes more specific instruction on defining governance within the unit, requiring the charter to define the rights and responsibilities of faculty, professional staff, non-tenure track persons, and others in the unit.
5. Conflicts with university-wide policy: While there was much concern on this issue, everyone actually understood that nothing in a unit charter could be in conflict with university-wide policy or senate policy. This makes that explicit again.
6. Updating the charters: This provides for SHARED responsibility in maintaining charters. It is unrealistic of the faculty to expect that an administrative assistant will catch every conflict with evolving policy. At the same time, the administration cannot reasonably expect the units to monitor policy changes that marginally relate to our day-to-day activities. Shared governance means that we must all make best-faith efforts to keep the policies up to date. When discovered to be in conflict, everyone must agree to fix charter-related conflict in a timely manner.
7. Grievance regarding charters The University’s grievance procedures are currently detailed in Senate Procedures 704-1-1.
Since 1994, each department, school, research, or academic unit at Michigan Technological University has been required to maintain a written charter. The charters were originally created by Senate proposal 16-92 and then subsequently modified by a series of proposals clarifying specific issues, including policies on the evaluation of teaching 12-03, procedures regarding sabbatical leaves 09-05, for recommending Emeritus/Emerita status 20-02, and defining university grievance processes 23-00.
In order to restore the normal process of updating existing documents and provide for the creation of new charters, this proposal replaces proposal 16-92 so that charter policy better reflects best current practices and meets concerns identified in the proposals listed above, specifically point 6 regarding university wide procedures for the selection and evaluation of Chairs and Deans. This document therefore supersedes and replaces 16-92.
Units are encouraged to simply cut-and-paste existing charter language into their new charter proposal and operating manual as appropriate. This should ensure rapid approval.
Redefining Departmental Governance
Being necessary for the conduct of shared governance, every department, school, library, and other research or academic units (hereafter all called “university units” or “unit”) will establish and maintain a written charter. The charter should address issues that cannot constructively be defined in a university-wide manner, specifically including required policies and practices defined below (originally 16-92).
A unit’s charter cannot conflict with University or Senate policies and in cases where this occurs the higher-level governing document has priority and the lower-level document must be brought into compliance. Any language found not to be in agreement will immediately be considered invalid, but this will have no effect on the rest of the charter’s language.
A new unit may approve a new charter with a simple majority vote of the academic constituency of that unit. The unit may send representatives to serve as voting members of the University Senate as soon as it begins operating under a provisional charter. Those representatives should be selected by a simple majority of the voting members in the unit, as defined in section I.1.a below. These representatives serve while the new unit charter is under review by the administration.
When a new unit creates its first charter or an established unit revises their current charter, the document is registered with the University Senate and advanced, without further discussion or debate, to the administration as a senate proposal. The administration has three months to provide written response to the proposal (as defined in Senate Constitution, Article III, E.4-6). If after that time the charter proposal is neither vetoed nor approved by the president, the proposal is considered approved and goes into effect.
Required Charter Contents to be Stated in the Following Numerical Order:
1. a. A procedure for changing and approving the charter, including a definition of the voting members of a unit and the procedure for changing eligibility.
b. Procedures and responsibilities for updating the charter and keeping it in compliance with University-wide and Senate policies. Units should propose conflict resolutions in a timely manner once one has been identified
2. A clear definition of the duties and responsibilities of the Department Chair or Director.
3. Procedures for recommending promotion, tenure, and reappointment among their members. Specific areas that must be addressed in the charter are found in Appendix I. (Tenure, Promotion and Reappointment Procedures):Section 1. (Responsibilities of Each Academic Unit) of the Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty Handbook which implement the Board of Trustees (BOT) Policy on Academic Tenure and Promotion as decreed in the BOT’s Bylaws and Policies, Chapter 6.4 Academic Tenure and Promotion.
4. A definition of the role of professional staff and other non-tenure/tenure-track members in unit governance.
5. A procedure for obtaining advice from the unit faculty regarding recommendations for sabbatical leaves (Senate Proposal 09-05)
6. A procedure for recommending Emeritus/Emerita status to the President for presentation to the Board of Trustees. This procedure shall include approval by department/school faculty and an appeal system and may be initiated by the retiree or his/her department/school (Senate Proposal 20-02).
7. A procedure for departmental/school grievance (Senate Proposal 23-00).
8. Units may include other
policies or practices if they feel that they warrant being included in their charter.
Adopted as Amended by
Senate: 29 September 1993
Approved by President: 15 February 1994
Approved by Board of Control: 18 March 1994
Introduced to Senate: 10 November
Revised and reintroduced: 23 November 2010
Senate Returned to Committee: 08 December 2010
Revised and reintroduced to Senate: 19 January 2011
Slight editing (in red ) done at Senate meeting: 19 January 2011
Adopted by Senate: 02 February 2011
Amended by Administration (in green): 11 March 2011
Amendments Adopted by Senate with Friendly Amendment (in purple): 23 March 2011
Senate Amendment Approved by Administration: 31 March 2011
September 2015: Name changed from Board of Control to Board of Trustees