Showing posts from 2021

Shared Governance Part Three: Current Use of SRIs by UVU Administrators

Letter of Faculty Concern Regarding Current Use of Student Evaluations by UVU Administrators September 24, 2021 Despite claims that UVU’s administration employs a “holistic” approach to evaluating teaching effectiveness, recently, numerous faculty complaints have been made about upper administration’s emphasis on using Student Ratings of Instructor (SRIs) as a primary means of judging faculty competence. Recommendations from Retention, Tenure, and Promotion (RTP) committees, chairs, and peers have taken a backseat to students’ comfort with and enjoyment of a particular class. The university’s overreliance on student evaluations in determining faculty effectiveness undermines the goals of having a diverse faculty, the ability of faculty to teach difficult and challenging subjects, and the ability of students to learn. It is especially troubling that these practices have become even more pronounced during the past year, a year when faculty were assured that the special difficulties of te

Shared Governance, Part Two: All’s well that ends well?

  On the evening of October 28, UVU’s Board of Trustees, following President Astrid Tuminez’ recommendation, awarded tenure to Professor […], reversing decisions by both parties made in March of this year. President Tuminez stated that she was modifying her decision after reviewing comments by the Faculty Senate Re-evaluation Committee and letters of support, and after revisiting her notes on the portfolio.   This is how shared governance is supposed to work. By policy, the President could have upheld her earlier decision despite the committee’s recommendation. That she chose not to do so demonstrates a level of respect for faculty expertise that was not evident in earlier stages of the process.   The Provost’s initial statement of denial gave a single reason for the decision:    Dr. […] demonstrates unresolved failure to give students timely feedback in courses, first noted by his RTP committee during his midterm review, currently by the levels of review in his tenure portfolio, and c

Shared Governance: Part One of a Series on Tenure Denial Based on SRIs

Testimony for an Appeal of a Denial of Tenure Scott Abbott Professor of Integrated Studies, Philosophy and Humanities                I’m pleased to testify today before a Faculty Senate Appeals Committee. Your generosity and expertise is important in this particular case and for our university at large. I thank you for your serviced. I was asked to testify for three reasons.    In 2018 this member of the faculty served as a disciplinary advisor for a thesis written by a student in the Integrated Studies program.  She was not an especially thoughtful student, but was willing to follow directions and worked hard to meet expectations. Advising such a student requires a mentor who is both supportive and demanding. “There were,” I wrote, in a letter included in the tenure portfolio, “several drafts to each of which [they] responded quickly and helpfully.” I witnessed this exchange over the course of months and through numerous drafts. The student would not have finished the thesis without [

Student Success Initiatives vs. Academic Freedom to Teach Rigorous Courses

A recent AAUP report that has relevance to our own work at UVU: and an Inside Higher Ed piece on the report: Just days before Bork was terminated, he says, he drafted an email to the state’s Higher Learning Commission, complaining about Aurora’s new Gateway to Success initiative. The goal of the program was to increase pass rates in these gatekeeper courses but, Bork said, in reality, he’d been asked to cut 20 percent of his introductory philosophy course content; require fewer writing assignments, with a new maximum of eight pages per semester; offer small-group activities every other class session; and make works by women and minority thinkers about 30 percent of the course. Bork said he was told to keep teaching this way until 80 percent of all student demographic groups were passing the course, which in his view violate