Senate challenged to link tenure with success

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Jeff Hunt, department chair of fine arts, discusses the class evaluation survey students should take at the end of the semester at the faculty senate meeting Oct. 20 in visual arts. Hunt said that two of his students had tested the survey and found the questions to ask as if the teacher seems to like teaching. Deandra Gonzalez

Faculty Senate discussed unhappiness with win-win agreements for teachers with low productive grade rates.

Kimberly Caballero

Chancellor Bruce Leslie has challenged faculty senates to justify a reinstatement of tenure, Faculty Senate members learned Dec. 8 at the last meeting of the semester.

Senators were given a Dec. 8 memo from the chancellor explaining that consideration of tenure is part of an overall plan to improve faculty evaluation and development to improve student success.

The memo was in response to a Nov. 17 memo from the Super Senate.

“… a persuasive argument for reinstating tenure must show how tenure will, in fact, further enhance student success,” Leslie wrote.

Members of the Faculty Senate expressed concern over the discontinuation of tenure for new faculty, which was discontinued after the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees failed to develop a tenure policy six years ago. Under the current practice, faculty are hired for year-to-year contracts with no tenure-track available.

Currently, the majority of faculty at the Alamo Colleges have tenure.

“There are more that do than don’t have tenure,” said Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic success, in an interview Dec. 18.

In a Dec. 15 interview, Faculty Senate President Julie Engel said, “For the people who were already in the process of getting tenure or they already had it when they made this decision, those folks all got to continue on and reach tenure. But everyone’s gone through now so there is nobody teaching … who is still working toward tenure.”

According to the American Association of University Professors, “Free inquiry, free expression, and open dissent are critical for student learning and the advancement of knowledge. Therefore, it is important to have systems in place in order to protect academic freedom. Tenure serves that purpose.”

While no direct plan of action to prove the benefits of tenure reinstatement was discussed, Engel said, “We should also be consciously thinking about collecting information about the benefits of tenure.”

Math Professor Gerald Busald said it is hard to attract faculty because the college cannot offer tenure.

“It is more difficult to hire really good people because we don’t have tenure,” he said.

Jeff Hunt, fine arts chair, said the district administration might be unlikely to reinstate tenure if productive grade rates and graduation rates have improved since tenure was discontinued.

Other initiatives have been put in place, such as requiring teachers to have a win-win improvement plan if they do not have 70 percent of students receive passing grades of A, B or C.

 “In their minds, us having tenure did not bring out student success,” Hunt said. “In their perception, we were not doing a very good job.”

Faculty disagree with win-win agreements for productive grade rates below 70 percent as a plan to increase student success.

Busald said it is unfair across disciplines and creates a negative environment.

“It is not even different for different disciplines, which is not very academic,” Busald said. “It ought to be said that you are creating a negative environment.”

Faculty would like the PGR percentage to depend on the discipline.

“PGR at 70 percent is really unrealistic,” Hunt said.

“Let’s propose that there be a differential scale,” Engel said.

Faculty Senate is in the process of proposing an amendment for 70 percent win-win to be shared with the college administration to reach a resolution.

In an interview Dec. 15, Hunt said tenure helps attract excellent teachers and future faculty members.

“That is what attracted a lot of us to San Antonio College. I don’t think that tenure is something any faculty member that I’m aware of takes for granted, or takes lightly,” he said.


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