ARPT (Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure) Issues, Fall 2010

Dear UFCT Member:

Please find attached the ARPT packet that was distributed at the September 10th: ‘ARPT Forum.’ Fifty-two members attended representing sixteen of some twenty-one Pratt department/area(s). It was a great success!  [The packet is posted underthe category ” ARPT Criteria and Documents,” at right].

For those who could not attend though, we discussed the tenets and provisions comprising Article XVI [CBA]: Appointment, Reappointments, Promotions and Tenure (which is reproduced in the attachment). I like to describe XVI as the “heart” of the Contract. In other words, without our collective due diligence in implementing recognized ARPT processes we the faculty will not necessarily be recommended for, or conferred, any such faculty action, be it: reappointment, promotion (change in academic rank), change of status from visiting to adjunct, CCE (tenure for adjuncts) or tenure for our full-time faculty.

Collective due diligence entails two principle fronts: (1) faculty involvement at the ground level in each department/area, and (2) the UFCT’s enforcement of the Contract w/respect to administrative procedures; seeing that all administrative tiers: Chair, Dean and the Provost are complying w/section 16.3 of XVI.

To reiterate, all autonomous departmental/area faculty PRCs (peer review committees) “shall develop standards of eligibility, fitness and evaluation; which shall include teaching effectiveness and professional competence and may include non-teaching responsibilities, Institute service and public service [16.2].” These standards should be clear, robust and transparent and tailored to the departmental faculty’s values w/respect to teaching and professional development: artist-to-artist, scholar-to-scholar, historian-to-historian…

Moreover, note the last sentence of 16.2: “The faculty in each Department and/or Area and in the Library shall set up such procedures as they deem appropriate to effectuate the foregoing.” It is this clause that gives the faculty — as a whole — in each respective department/area a “say” in how the faculty should proceed; who should be elected or serve on the PRC, the composition of the PRC, etc.

The UFCT encourages all faculty members to be as inclusive as is possible, to hold regular elections, to keep your colleagues informed and to continue fostering a greater dialogue amongst your peers about the ARPT process, irrespective of your faculty peers status. We are aware of the learning curve here; but I assure you, nothing constructive is gained when the process remains mysterious or when your faculty colleagues “don’t know…[?]”

In addition to a “template” or format for what developed standards might look like, and an example of one department’s “best practices” with regard to faculty procedures (again, elections…), you’ll find some examples of recommendation and non-recommendation letters in the packet attachment, as we discussed the challenges in writing said letters; how critical if a non-recommendation, how praise worthy if recommended? There are invariable subtleties here that you all will need to parse for yourselves. That said, there is wide agreement that said letters — in both cases — be as informative as it reasonable. Bottom-line, a non-recommendation letter is NOT a negative evaluation, and should thus be framed as such. We encourage the faculty to be as constructive as possible and reasonable.

Lastly, the UFCT discussed w/forum attendees a “bouquet” of fourteen grievances that were filed in spring, all ARPT related. These grievances were “mediated” in late June, and we are now reviewing which ones will go to arbitration. The grievances were primarily based on the Administration’s proclivity [at all levels: Chair, Dean, Provost…] to ignore the clear ARPT procedures expressed in 16.3; for instance, not granting the faculty applicant an “opportunity to append and affix” his/her own comments. Exercising your contractual right to append and affix at any ARPT administrative tier is crucial, as it “objectifies” the record as well as keeps the application on track. The absence of due process exponentially increases the potential for administrative “arbitrariness” and “capriciousness.” Strict adherence to 16.3 effectively counters any administrative attempt to prejudice a faculty action application.

In conclusion, departmental standards — as the faculty has developed them — are getting stronger-and-stronger. This is a great development as ‘clarity’ equals strength and vagueness equals weakness. We should flaunt our good works! As such, we urge all respective PRCs to send copies of your departmental standards [and faculty procedures] to: (1) your department Chair, (2) your school Dean, and (3) the institute Provost.

Moreover, would you please forward me and Suzanne Verderber (UFCT VP: sverderb@pratt.edu); preferably as word document or pdf, etc., your department’s current ARPT standards as well. It is very helpful to the UFCT to have these standards on file as it is the first thing we will reference if considering a grievance on behalf of a faculty applicant. Moreover, there was uniform agreement amongst the fifty-two forum attendees that these standards be available on the UFCT’s website: www.pratt-union.org, for your reference as well.

Best to all as we enter the 2010-2011 faculty action cycle. I’m sure it will be an interesting ride; but be assured, we have your back as we are in this together!

In Solidarity,

Kye