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Proposal 2-17

The University Senate of Michigan Technological University

Proposal 2-17 
(Voting Units: Full Senate)

“Proposed Revisions to Senate Procedures 506.1.1, Evaluation Procedures for Department Chairs and School Deans”

PDF version of Proposal 2-17


The University Administration proposes that Senate Procedures 506.1.1, EVALUATION PROCEDURES FOR DEPARTMENT CHAIRS AND SCHOOL DEANS,” be changed so that Section VIII (Unit Constituency Input) and Section X (Survey Report) do not allow for the sharing of verbatim comments with the unit constituency or the individual being reviewed. Instead, it is proposed that only summaries of comments are shared with the unit constituency and the individual being reviewed. The verbatim comments would be viewed by the supervisor of the individual being reviewed (college dean for department chairs and provost for school deans). 

The rationale for this change is as follows. The unit’s constituency, through their comments, is making a recommendation to the chair’s or school dean’s supervisor regarding reappointment. Both positive and negative comments will be useful to that supervisor when they are deciding whether or not to reappoint the person being reviewed. Unfortunately, in many cases it is possible to determine the identity of an individual making a specific comment based on either the content or phrasing of a comment. In order to protect, to the maximum extent possible, the privacy of individuals who provide negative feedback (which, if given, is important for a supervisor to consider as part of the review process), it is most preferable to have the unit’s review committee summarize all comments before they are shared with the individual being reviewed or the unit’s constituency as a whole. This proposal is intended to reduce the likelihood that any specific comments can be attributed to a specific member of the unit’s constituency. 

This proposal is also intended to protect the rights of those that vote with the minority in a unit in which the majority vote to share verbatim comments. The voting minority faculty in the unit may have voted against sharing verbatim comments because they are uncomfortable having their own comments shared widely among their colleagues and/or the individual being reviewed. We recognize that the comments of all faculty, not just those who vote in the majority are important during the review of chairs and school deans. We wish to protect the confidentiality of all those who participate in the review process and do everything possible to promote frank and forthright communication between faculty and those that will ultimately make a recommendation to the president regarding the reappointment of a chair or school dean.

We propose that only the members of the review committee and the supervisor of the person being reviewed be provided with verbatim comments and that the review committee provide summary statements of comments to the unit constituency and to the individual being reviewed. Because the supervisor of the person being reviewed will be able to view the verbatim comments, this approach provides a mechanism to help to ensure that the review committee summarized comments in an acceptable way. It also provides to that supervisor the information needed for engaging in meaningful efforts to work toward improvement with the reviewed employee. 

Proposed Revisions to Senate Procedures 506.1.1 


Senate Procedures 506.1.1

I.  Introduction

This is the common procedure for the evaluation of the department chairs and the school deans. The school deans report to the provost and department chairs report to the college dean. Throughout this document the following terminology is used.

Department chair/school dean and college dean/provost: pairing of the department chair with the college dean and the school dean with the provost

Academic unit or just unit: a department or a school

Review committee: unit review committee

II.  Frequency of Review

The term of appointment for a department chair/school dean is three years. A reappointment review will take place in the third year of each term of appointment, and will be initiated within the first seven weeks of the fall semester. The evaluation process may also be initiated by the college dean/provost or by the entire unit constituency (by a simple majority vote) at any time earlier, but not more than once per calendar year. Evaluations may be initiated by faculty during the first year only by a two-thirds majority vote.

At any point in the evaluation process, the department chair/school dean may decide not to seek reappointment. In this case, the review process ends and all material related to the review process will be destroyed by the review committee.

III.  Constituency and Unit Review Committee

The unit charter shall specify the unit constituency and who is eligible to participate in the evaluation process and vote, as well as the structure and selection of the committee for the review of their department chair/school dean. The unit charter shall define if the survey and ballot will be done for the entire  unit constituency as a whole, or separately for faculty and staff. The committee will not include the current department chair/school dean or any faculty or staff member who has a conflict of interest regarding the current department chair/school dean’s review. The college dean/provost will resolve any conflict of interest situation if it is raised with respect to any individual's eligibility to serve as a member of the review committee.

The committee also includes a member from outside the unit appointed by the college dean/provost. This external committee member only functions as an observer who ensures the integrity of the review process. The external member also acts as a liaison to the college dean/provost.

The review committee is charged with following senate procedures 506.1.1 (this procedure) and 507.1.1 to conduct and complete an evaluation of the department chair/ school dean. The voting process shall follow the unit charter and senate procedures. In case of inconsistency, the intent of the senate procedure takes precedence.

The entire university community recognizes the effort that service on a review committee requires. It is important that everyone involved with the process be vigilant in maintaining collegiality and professionalism. It is also important that the confidential nature of the process be respected in order to protect the unit constituency, the review committee, and the individual under review. The review of a chair or dean is an important task, and the strength and integrity of the institution depends upon it being conducted in a way that encourages continual improvement of the university as a whole.

Any question related to the implementation or interpretation of this procedure should be directed to the college dean/provost through the chair of the committee.

IV.  Review Process Initiation

The college dean/provost will ask the department chair/school dean to establish the committee as per the unit charter; the committee should be established within two weeks of the dean’s/provost’s request. The college dean/provost will appoint a member from outside the unit to serve on the committee. The college dean/provost will also ask the department chair/school dean to write her/his self-evaluation report (Section V. Department Chair/School Dean's Self-Evaluation) and provide it to the college dean/provost within two weeks.

V.  Department Chair/School Dean's Self-Evaluation

The department chair/school dean should prepare a written document evaluating his/her performance for the period of evaluation. This document should include but need not be limited to:

    1. addressing each of the charges given at the time of his/her appointment
    2. achieving of the unit’s goals for the period of review
    3. budgeting and its management
    4. growth and quality of academic programs
    5. future needs and directions of the unit
    6. any issue that the department chair/school dean thinks is controversial in the unit and the effort he/she made to address the controversy
    7. The department chair/school dean is encouraged to provide comparative quantitative data in this report where relevant.

VI.  First Meeting of the Unit Review Committee

The college dean/provost shall call the first meeting of the committee and review its charge, the procedures it should operate under, and the deadlines it should meet. A suggested timetable for the review committee’s activities is provided as Appendix A. The college dean/provost will give the following documents to the review committee.

    1. redacted copy of the letter of appointment describing the charge given to the department chair/school dean
    2. electronic copy of the self-evaluation report of the department chair/school dean
    3. results of the previous evaluation if the department chair/school dean is seeking another term
    4. a set of survey questions that is common to all units in the university. The review committee shall elect its chair, establish its structure and inform the college dean/provost and the entire unit constituency of this structure as well as the purpose and membership of the review committee. The distribution of this report will be followed by a meeting of the unit constituency. The purpose of this meeting will be for the department chair/school dean to respond to questions and provide clarification about the report.
    5. The department chair/school dean will provide her/his self-evaluation to the review committee. This self- evaluation will be forwarded, in an electronic form, by the review committee to the entire unit constituency.
    6. The review committee shall decide if additional material is needed (for example, comparative data from institutional analysis) and seek to procure such material.

VII.  Survey Instrument

The survey instrument will have the following components.

  1.  a set of questions provided by the college dean/provost in an electronic file
  2.  a set of questions that the review committee chooses.

    The survey instrument should address (but not be limited to) the following, in order to assist the dean/provost in responding to the specific questions required by the senate.
    1. guidance and management of the quality and growth of the academic programs within the unit
    2. guidance and support of research activities within the unit
    3. practice of sound financial management within the unit
    4. management and guidance of personnel within the unit, including professional growth and retention
    5. definition of goals within the unit and progress of the unit toward these established goals
    Additional survey questions that have been used in the past by various units can be a useful guide and are found here:

    If the unit charter requires the tabulation of survey results and the conduct of the ballot to be done separately for the faculty and staff in the unit constituency, then two instruments are required. These two instruments may be different depending on separate decisions of the faculty or staff (VIII. Unit Constituency Input).
  3. up to two questions that the department chair/school dean may provide if he/she so chooses

VIII.  Unit Constituency Input

The department chair/school dean’s self-evaluation report, the redacted letter of appointment describing the charge, and the survey instrument should be made available electronically to the entire unit constituency. This should be followed by a meeting of the unit constituency without the department chair/school dean. At the meeting the past evaluation results may also be shown. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss, change, and approve the survey instrument.

If required by the unit charter that survey results and ballots be tabulated separately for faculty and staff, then faculty and staff in the unit constituency will meet separately to discuss their respective survey instruments.

In all cases, the survey results, including comments, must be treated with confidentiality in mind, and viewed and discussed only by and with people authorized in this procedure.

IX.  Conduct of Survey

Senate Procedures 507.1.1 pertain to the conduct of the survey. Senate Procedures 507.1.1 govern the conduct of the survey. It is the responsibility of the chair and the external member of the review committee to maintain security of these files and the information that they contain.

X.  Survey Report

The review committee will prepare a survey report that includes:

    1. tabulated results of the survey
    2. the summarized survey comments in a form that relays their substance but protects the confidentiality of the submitting constituency member.
    3. summary statements of the major accomplishments over the period of evaluation and areas for improvement of the department chair/school dean.

XI.  Department Chair/School Dean's Response

The review committee will give the department chair/school dean the survey report (Section X. Survey Report). The review committee will provide the department chair/school dean the option of responding to the report before it is presented to the unit constituency. The department chair/school dean has five working days to provide a written response to the report of the review committee.

The survey report will be augmented with the department chair/school dean’s response (if a response is supplied); these two documents along with the chair’s/dean’s self- evaluation report will from here on be called the “unit evaluation report”.

If the college dean/provost informs the review committee that the department chair/school dean has decided not to seek reappointment then all review material will be destroyed by the review committee. The college dean/provost will dissolve the review committee. The college dean/provost will inform the unit constituency about the department chair/school dean's decision at the time of dissolution of the review committee.

XII.  Presentation of Unit Evaluation Report

The review committee will arrange a closed meeting at which they will circulate the unit evaluation report. Copies of the unit evaluation report will not be taken outside the meeting room. All the circulated copies of the unit evaluation report will be destroyed after the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is the presentation of the unit evaluation report, and not for additional discussion of the department chair/school dean's performance.

For the period of review, the review committee will ensure two copies of the unit evaluation report are available for viewing by the unit constituency at two secure sites where no copies can be made, as unauthorized copying compromise the integrity of the process. One site will be situated in the unit.

XIII.  Balloting

The final ballot goes to the constituency identified in the unit charter; the Senate Administrative Assistant (SAA), on request from the chair of the review committee, conducts the actual online process for balloting through the procedure outlined in 507.1.1.

(Name of department chair/school dean) should be reappointed and continue as the department chair/school dean of the unit.

Yes____________                                   No____________                       Abstain____________

Introduced to Senate:  05 October 2016
Substituted this proposal with Proposal 3-17:  19 October 2016