New set of faculty rules to take effect this semester

After a months of anticipation, USF faculty can count on adopting a new set of personnel rules this semester. Faculty members have been left without a set of rules they felt comfortable with since the faculty union’s collective bargaining agreement expired Jan. 6.

But by October, faculty members will have a set of rules that they can agree on, once the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee in the state Legislature approves it.

The rules will pass as rewritten by the Faculty Senate after the administration implemented emergency temporary rules for faculty.

R.B. Friedlander, who was assistant general counsel for USF at the time, said the new rules should be in place Oct. 8 if everything goes according to schedule. However, if a new faculty union collective bargaining agreement is adopted, that contract takes precedence to the rules.

The Faculty Senate eventually formed a workgroup to rewrite the rules to be sure they covered all staff employees and included a better definition of academic freedom. The Board of Trustees approved the rule changes June 12.

One of the most important changes was setting a clear definition of academic freedom.

“We have a much better definition of academic freedom than we’ve ever had before,” said Elizabeth Bird, president of the Faculty Senate. “It allows faculty to speak as citizens without (penalties).”

Bird said it was necessary to rewrite the rules made by administration to ensure important details such as this were accurate.

“The way the emergency rules were put into place, they had us all lumped together,” Bird said.

With that in mind, Bird said it was up to the Senate to make sure that the rules for faculty stayed separate from staff employees.

“It was a good process on the whole because it brought the faculty and administration together,” Bird said. “It was a very time-consuming experience and we moved on it very fast because we wanted to get it done.”

Bird said she is relieved the hardship between faculty and administration has come to an end concerning the temporary rules.

“It started off very negatively. The reason we formed the committee is because everyone was so appalled,” Bird said. “It was a positive thing and a sign of things to come that we will be developing more cooperation and a new relationship with administration.”