Faculty Senate reviews campus procedures

When it comes to decisions in tenure and reporting to authority, the definition of faculty is the deciding factor. Except the definition is not consistent among USF’s regional campuses.

The Faculty Senate met Wednesday to discuss operating procedures between USF’s regional campuses to attempt to answer the question: How should faculty be defined?

Recently, Inter-campus Operations Procedures, which governs relations between USF’s Tampa campus and regional campuses in Lakeland and Sarasota, has struggled to find an answer to this question.

Steve Permuth, representing the College of Education, said in some cases administration recognizes faculty members at all colleges as one body, while other times they are declared as four separate faculties.

“There has seemed to be great confusion around the faculty at USF,” Permuth said. “The administration sometimes acknowledges one large faculty, but other times seeing four separate ones. The only thing I can say is, do we have one chief academic officer or four? If we have one provost, I think we need to acknowledge one faculty.”

Permuth said the division of faculty creates problems in promotion and granting tenure to faculty at regional campuses due to minimal representation on the main campus in Tampa.

Permuth said these and other issues were raised by a committee designated in August to investigate the Inter-Campus Operating Procedures.

Another issue was raised by Mary Cuadrado of the Sarasota campus, who said the chain of command between campuses differs.

“Often times, a question of ‘Who is my boss?’ is raised by faculty members at the regional campuses,” Cuadrado said. “We need a clearer definition of lines of authority (between Tampa and regional campuses).”

The committee recommended several changes to be made to the procedures. One was that the faculty is recognized as one body, at least until the other campuses gain campus accreditation. Other revisions included the Senate-approving representatives be involved in the drafting of new documents on the issue and strengthening of the principle of shared governance by increasing the Senate’s participation in inter-campus relations.

The Senate also voted to create a Council on Educational Policy and Issues, a body concerned with all matters affecting the quality of education at USF. A brief debate broke out when some senators pointed out the committee would only have the power to recommend actions. However, the argument was settled when Senate President Elizabeth Bird pointed out that all Senate committees have the same limited power. The new committee, Bird said, will aim to strengthen USF’s academic quality and environment.

The Senate will further discuss the Inter-Campus Operating Procedures recommendations at its next meeting scheduled for Nov. 26. The proposed letter was approved by the Senate, with final revisions to be made before an official vote.