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Faculty Responds To Survey

Heights Editor

Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

This fall, the Boston College chapter of the American Association of University Professors (BCAAUP) conducted its second faculty survey to discern what the concerns of the faculty are with regard to their involvement in University affairs. Members of the BCAAUP began discussing the results at their meeting, on Feb. 27.

The AAUP is a national advocacy organization whose “purpose is to advance academic freedom and shared governance, to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education, and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good,” according to its website.

The BC chapter began in January of 2010, and currently has over 120 members. Among its chief concerns are the lack of a faculty senate and the fact that the faculty handbook is not overseen or written by faculty members, which Susan Michalczyk, BCAAUP president, said is rare at similar colleges and universities.

“It came about in response to the recognition of faculty that we need a voice,” she said.

The survey, which received 285 responses, yielded some interesting information, Michalczyk said.

“What our faculty survey demonstrates overall is that there is a lack of respect for what faculty think,” she said. “Some are parts of committees and some do speak, but it’s a very small number.”

“I have seen the BCAAUP faculty survey, and was pleased that 285 faculty took the time to participate in it,” said Patricia DeLeeuw, vice provost for faculties, in an interview. “I was struck by a number of its findings, especially the desire among those who responded for more opportunities for collaboration across disciplines.”

At the school level, 53 percent of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with their role in decision making, and at the Univeristy-wide level, 63 percent said they were dissatisfied. Currently, faculty committees are generally advisory in nature.

“Several faculty noted that faculty participation on University committees is more for appearance sake than providing an authentic influence over policy decisions,” the survey report said.

Michalczyk echoed this sentiment. “Advisory committees can only work if advice is ever taken,” she said.

Creating a faculty senate would provide a way for a larger number of faculty members to actually be involved in decision-making.

“I do believe there’s hope,” Michalczyk said. “Faculty are committed and want to be involved in these aspects of University life and policy.”

In May 2010, the BCAAUP wrote a letter to the provost asking for an election of senate members, but Cutberto Garza, provost and dean of faculties, said that such a body should first be approved by the Board of Trustees.

“We made the decision that rather than engaging in talks that could be frustrating on both sides, it made the most sense to build our chapter and work for an effective faculty voice,” Michalczyk said. “Our relationship with the administration is cordial. We want to strengthen, not break down, and work together, not divide.” That fall, the BCAAUP administered its first survey.

“According to the Boston College Statutes, the establishment of a faculty senate must be approved by the University’s Board of Trustees,” DeLeeuw said. “We have suggested to the BCAAUP chapter that they write a proposal for a senate that could be presented at a meeting of the Board of Trustees.”

The survey also found that less than half of faculty were familiar with the University By-Laws and Statues, and 85 percent of respondents agreed that a committee of elected faculty should explain and evaluate all changes proposed to the Faculty Handbook. According to the report, “The BCAAUP should advocate that 1) the Faculty Handbook should primarily be written by the faculty–not largely by the Provost’s office, and 2) that there be a majority faculty presence on a committee that reviews/maintains/updates the Faculty Handbook.”

Among respondents, 57 percent said they felt morale has been declining in recent years. Michalczyk said that this has to do with the discrepancies between tenured and non-tenured faculty.

“Another big concern is the issue of non-tenured faculty, and how do non-tenured faculty participate in the University if they live under fear that their contract will be removed,” she said.

Michalczyk said that the number of classes part-time faculty can teach was decreased to two, which puts more of a burden on tenured faculty to teach more and larger classes.

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