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NFA statement on administrative faculty policies being heard by the Board of Regents

14 Sep 2015 4:30 PM | Deleted user

Nevada Faculty Alliance

Statement on the Proposal to Reduce the Notice of Dismissal of

Administrative Faculty


Glenn C. Miller, President, UNR Nevada Faculty Alliance, for the

Nevada Chapter of the Faculty Alliance


The NSHE Regent Agenda lists a discussion item regarding the reduction of notice for dismissal ofadministrative faculty from up to a year to 30 to 45 days.   The Nevada Faculty Alliance strongly opposes this change in policy for the following reasons.


1.  Administrative faculty are critical to the functioning of each unit of the NSHE and need to have the ability to make decisions and recommendations that are thoughtful and independent, even if they do not always agree with the respective central administration.   Administrative faculty are highly trained professionals and the decision on whether they should be terminated should have a high barrier.  Most go through national searches, and can be dismissed early following their hiring, or even later if severe issues arise, similar to academic faculty.   But, reducing their job security based on the whim of an upper administrator is entirely wrong.   These people have functions that are critically important in many functions of the university, from protecting students from harm, or ensuring that we are in compliance with local, state and federal laws.    We should not have them looking around to determine if they are going to do something that is not supported by the upper administration, and have a threat of being dismissed within 30-45 days.


2.   What is the problem that is being solved by this new dismissal policy?   This has worked well for many years, although we know that the administration of several (if not all) of the NSHE units would have liked to have this policy in place during the difficult recession times.   But, we survived those very difficult times, and there is no reason to change the policy at this time.    For the remainingadministrative faculty on state-funded positions who make decisions that are critical to the operation of the university, we need to maintain a high barrier for their dismissal.   30-45 days is not a high barrier.


3.   Hiring highly qualified people in these positions will be increasingly difficult if they are subject to the whims of the upper administrations.   While a president, provost or dean may be in their positions for a long time, they change on a regular basis, and a highly qualified person may be reluctant to come to UNR if they know they can be dismissed on a whim in 30-45 days for no reason if a new supervisor is hired.   The best people will come to the best institutions of higher education when they know they will have time to find a new position of the current position is untenable.  If there is not security in a position, then they simply are unlikely to come to units of the NSHE.


4.  This policy change will increase the ability of the central administration of each unit to increase what faculty perceive as a top-down management style.   If administrative faculty need to look over their shoulder each time to determine if their decisions are supported by the upper administration, they are unlikely to make difficult decisions that are correct, but controversial.   At UNR when the funding formulas were changed and now depend on student tuition, many administrative faculty were converted from a 1 year dismissal policy to 30-45 day.  We have seen administrative faculty dismissed following that conversion.  Two examples- one was the very able legal staff who helped faculty secure patents for intellectual property.   They went form 1 year dismissals to 30 day dismissal contracts, although they were generously give 60 day dismissals.    One administrative faculty member who had worked for 25 years in the seismology department came up against a new administration, and she was dismissed with the simple statement that the funds supporting her position were being redirected.   She had never been criticized for her scientific ability or her work ethic, but had a strong personality.   She was dismissed under the 30 day policy. 


The regents simply should not change the policy for new administrative faculty.   It is contrary to the notion that a unit of Nevada’s higher education system has independent minds working for teaching, research and service to one that has a top down management with narrow vision that one view of the world is how higher education will be delivered.    Diversity of opinion is a critical component of higher education and we all need to protect this core vision.

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