At Monday’s University of Wisconsin Faculty Senate meeting, senators reached agreement on revisions to the UW post-tenure review policy.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank explained changes to the graduation assistant compensation policy and why the implementation has been delayed.
Decision on post-tenure review policy
After months of review, the senate approved the long-debated tenure review policy.
Revisiting last month’s proposed post-tenure review policy, Kinesiology Professor Dorothy Farrar-Edwards laid out the benefits of the policy and said it’s aimed to structure and standardize the review process so faculty are more involved.
Under the current proposal, faculty have a role in the selection process of reviewers as they can file a protest of the review as well as request and receive resources for career redirection and support following a review.
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Sociology Professor Chad Goldberg, who had “grave concerns” when reading the previous draft, said he was happy to see the improvements made to the proposal and it was actually better than the policy the senate adopted in 1993.
Political science Professor Howard Schweber seconded Goldberg’s commending the committee and left the senate with a reminder of the faculty’s important role in this process.
“It is in our interest and responsibility to ensure that through post-tenure [review], just as pre-tenure and pre-Ph.D., we, the academics, maintain the standards of our own profession,” Schweber said.
With zero opposition, the committee passed the review policy.
The Board of Regents Education Committee will be next to review the policy in February, followed by the full Board of Regents in March.
Graduate student compensation
In the past three years, teaching assistant programs have received a 7 percent increase, with 5 percent being provided two years ago and the additional 2 percent added last year. As part of the current policy, the university is adding another 2 percent increase to TA programs, but Blank said administrators are slowing down the drafting process to receive more feedback from graduate students and faculty members.
“We are very committed to paying competitive wages for graduate students, even in difficult budget times,” Blank said. “We know we are underpaying our graduate students, and we are trying to move them up closer to equity.”
Noah Feinstein, Department of Curriculum and Instruction director of graduate studies, said he’s become increasingly concerned with the possible implications of the plan.
Though it is designed with the “best of intentions,” he said it seems the plan was designed with incomplete knowledge of the financial uncertainty graduate students can face.
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Echoing the reservations of his colleagues, Goldberg said he was “deeply concerned” upon learning the Teaching Assistants’ Association wasn’t involved with initial policy deliberations. He said he was previously told by TAA co-presidents they were notified the compensation “train had already left the station,” which furthered his concerns.
Seeking clarity, Goldberg asked Blank whether or not the current plan is open to revision by the TAA, who he said were originally excluded from prior conversations.
“We do have to make changes,” Blank said. “We are really trying to listen and figure out where there are going to be problems on campus with this policy as currently proposed and what we need to do to make it more effective across the entire campus.”
Blank added the university is open to holding more conversations and UW needs to explicitly lay out graduate students’ compensation plans up front as opposed to having them live with uncertainty of their wages.
Dean of the Graduate School William Karpus agreed and said there’s flexibility to the plan, but that the university doesn’t want to hurt graduate students and the research programs competitiveness.
Karpus said he’s planned a mitigation session for graduate students and intends to have more communication sessions in early spring.