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"Failure to Recommend" and Faculty Action Denials

Updated: Mar 6


Over the next few weeks Chairs of departments will be submitting recommendations to their Deans and Deans to the Provost as to whether they support faculty candidates that applied for changes in Status and Rank. For those faculty as well as the union, this is an important time to start to consider whether those recommendations are fair or, if not, do they require union intervention? To help faculty with these challenges, we offer some basic guidelines.


  • The PRC, Chairs, Deans and even the Provost cannot “deny” a change in status or rank. That authority is invested in the Board of Trustees. However, they do offer their recommendations. Typically a chair and dean’s recommendations follow the PRC recommendations but not always. Because promotions can only be “denied” by the Board of Trustees, the union can only grieve Board of Trustee decisions.


  • The most relevant line in the CBA with respect to failure to recommend and/or denials based on them is in Article 16.11. Any determination which is arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory shall be subject to the grievance procedure.


  • This means is that if other individuals in similar circumstances are not denied promotions or there is an unpredictable quality to the decision, there can be a basis for filing a grievance. Standards must be clearly laid out in advance. Expectations must be consistent and reasonable. If one’s application is not recommended by your chairperson or any other administrator and such recommendations can potentially become the basis of a denial, always contact the union to determine whether there might be an Article 16.11 violation. Defending the contract in these situations defends not only individual faculty members but the entire bargaining unit. 


  • Another relevant section of the CBA is Article 16.4 which gives faculty the right to append and affix comments to promotion recommendations at the Chair, Dean and Provost letter stage. This is a very important right and failure to allow this can be the basis for a grievance. In the case of failure to recommend, affixed comments are vital. Every decision to "fail to recommend" should contain a faculty response. The union is always available to faculty to provide support. 


  • There are a few common reasons used when administrators do not recommend a candidate and some of them can potentially become violations of Article 16.11.


  • Not enough service: At Pratt, we often use the term “service” to mean administrative work. Occasionally a Chair or Dean fails to recommend a visitor for a change in status because they have not done "enough" service. However this is often a result of a very narrow reading of the term "service." Developing new courses is service. Introducing one’s research or practice into a department is service. Advising students is service. Attending department meetings is service. In the current CBA, there is no expectation of service for Visitors thus it is inappropriate to hold lack of administrative work against them. The union’s position on this is clear: No faculty member should ever be expected to do uncompensated or under-compensated administrative work in order to achieve basic job security and access to healthcare. In the case of such failures to recommend, several questions are key: Are there opportunities for compensated administrative work in the department? Is the compensation reasonable? Are service positions going to the same faculty members over and over again? Are the precise expectations for service clearly laid out? These questions are vital in determining whether there have been violations of the CBA.


  • Not enough courses available to teach: Sometimes chairs argue this in cases where they fail to recommend status changes in part time faculty–either from visitor to adjunct or adjunct to adjunct with CCE. While the CBA does offer the administration the right to consider “enrollment trends, distribution and budgetary considerations” (16.4) in its decisions, such logic can often involve a misinterpretation of the CBA. The minimum workload for adjuncts is a single course. If a visitor is reappointed over and over again to teach, that says that there is a need for that faculty member to teach that course. In the case of CCEs, because the CBA allows for CCE faculty to request to teach a 75% load, administrators sometimes argue that there is no programmatic need in an adjunct’s area of specialization. However, the CBA does not require that those courses be in an adjunct’s area of specialization. If there is historical evidence that an adjunct is qualified to teach other courses in a department and there is clearly a need for those courses, a denial on such grounds can be a violation of 16.11. 


  • PRC failure to recommend: The CBA recognizes the importance of faculty input on promotions (Article 16.2). The Peer Review Committees on appointment, reappointment, promotion and tenure 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. Our peers are in the best position to create these standards because they are experts in fields of study. However, some PRC recommendations which become the basis for denials can lead to violations of 16.11. The union is committed to working with PRC’s to ensure that standards of eligibility are transparent, consistent and reasonable. 


For both part time and full time faculty, promotion and status change requirements should be transparent, reasonable and consistent. Expectations of service should not be a cudgel to squeeze uncompensated or under-compensated labor out of part time faculty or excessive labor out of full time faculty. There is a path for promotion, increased benefits, and job security at Pratt--from Visitor to Adjunct to CCE status--from Assistant to Associate to Professor with Tenure. Every qualified faculty member should be supported in that path by their departments and schools. If they are not, it is a failure of the department and school just as much as that of the faculty member. In the occasional cases where the school or department fails to uphold its end of the bargain, the union commits to stepping in.


All teaching faculty at Pratt are entitled to union protection. However, joining the union adds to our power to fight on behalf of faculty. To join, click on this link or ask for an electronic enrollment form at UFCT1460@gmail.com.


In Solidarity


The Grievance Committee 



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