Machen proposes reorganizing UF tenure board
Published: Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 7:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 7:17 p.m.
For five years running, the board that reviews promotion and tenure nominations at the University of Florida has been handling more than 200 cases a year.
Tenure cases through the years
The following is the number of tenure and promotion cases reviewed by UF's Academic Personnel Board going back several years.
Those cases have to be reviewed and recommendations turned in to the provost by January each year, putting a lot of pressure on the six faculty members appointed to UF's Academic Personnel Board to advise the president and provost on who should be promoted and granted tenure.
“We have a pretty strict schedule,” said Paul Mueller, a geology professor appointed by the Faculty Senate to the personnel board. “It takes a lot of time.”
UF President Bernie Machen and faculty have been discussing ways to reorganize the board to make it more efficient and fair, and on Thursday, Machen presented a proposal to the Faculty Senate to start discussing with their colleagues throughout the university.
“This dialogue begins today,” Machen said, moving the ball into the Faculty Senate's court to take to their constituents for a full airing. The goal is to have changes in place by next fall — the start of the 2014 academic year.
The proposal Machen outlined would increase the number of people appointed to the personnel board from the current six members to 10-12 members. The members would be split into two panels — one of tenured faculty to review tenure-eligible personnel, and a panel of non-tenure faculty to review extension agent and non-tenure eligible applicants.
Under such a reorganization, the tenure panel would have 158 applicants to review and the non-tenure panel would have 80 to review.
The board advises the university president on promotion and tenure nominations, serving as a fact-finding body.
They don't make yes or no decisions, Mueller said, but give in-depth assessments of the candidates' strengths and weaknesses, and ask for more information if needed, all of which adds to the time it takes to review each applicant or nomination.
The president appoints six members, three of whom are elected by the Faculty Senate. All members currently must have the rank of full professor.
The Health Center and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences each have a member representing them. The remaining positions are supposed to represent Education and the other colleges. The associate provost for academic affairs serves as secretary.
The objective of the reorganization is two-fold, Mueller said. One is to make people more willing to serve on the board by making the workload more reasonable. The other is to make it organized in a way that like people would review their peers.
“The goal is to make it as fair and efficient as possible,” Mueller said.
It also would give a chance for people outside the discipline of a candidate's college to look at their application.
“It works pretty well now,” Mueller said, “but it would be … easier to make rational decisions if more people were there with a wider variety of experiences.”