NMU Board of Trustees

Faculty Work Subcommittee

September 29, 2011


Members Present:

Dr. H. Sook Wilkinson

Mr. Jon LaSalle (acting Chair)

Dr. L. Garnet Lewis

Dr. Les Wong


Guests:  Ms. Cathy Dehlin, University Counsel


Mr. LaSalle called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m.


Mr. LaSalle asked Dr. Ron Sundell to provide additional information regarding curricular flexibility as a follow-up to the September 12, 2011 subcommittee meeting.


Dr. Sundell said that over time, requirements are added to the curriculum that can cause bottlenecks for students.  He suggested that all department heads and faculty review their programs/majors to determine what requirements are necessary and to decide if electives would be a workable solution.  Dr. Sundell also shared his perspective regarding course scheduling and student advising.


Legal Perspective:


Ms. Cathy Dehlin, University Counsel, provided the subcommittee members with an overview of the issues through a legal perspective.  She used an inverted pyramid to demonstrate the levels in the process:

·         Academic Customs and Usage:  University Counsel rarely is involved

·         Policies, Practice and Procedures:  things we have developed, over time, to guide our day-to-day operations

·         Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) and Department Bylaws:  management retains the rights on issues not covered by the CBA

·         State Laws, Regulations and Statutes (FOIA/PERA):  regulatory agencies (MERC)

·         Michigan State Constitution:  authority of the Board of Trustees

·         Federal Law:  typically does not affect the academic arena.

·         United States Constitution:  relates to faculty rights (1st Amendment) and procedural due process (14th Amendment)


Issues and problems are typically resolved if they are handled correctly through our internal processes and procedures. 


Ms. Dehlin also discussed academic freedom and how the legal perspective differs from the academic perspective.   The legal perspective looks at the legal rights and responsibilities of the teaching profession and the way to reconcile issues via collective bargaining agreements. 


Ms. Dehlin provided an overview of the bylaw review and promotion and tenure processes.  She said conflict may arise when there are differing interpretations of the collective bargaining agreement and department bylaws.  She recommended that faculty and administrators improve the evaluation process to help identify weaknesses early in the process.  


Ms. Dehlin discussed the responsibilities of Trustees related to the tenure and promotion policy as outlined in the AAUP collective bargaining, the Michigan State Constitution and the Board of Trustees Bylaws.  She highlighted several articles in the AAUP contract outlining the Board’s responsibility in the approval process. She also suggested that the Board may want to consider inviting the Chair of the Faculty Review Committee to attend a future meeting.


After a lengthy discussion, Mr. LaSalle said most testimony before the subcommittee to date agrees that bylaws are being improved and there is a substantive vetting process in place for promotion and tenure.  There is also some agreement on where the problems are: the Michigan economy and lack of monies coming to the institution. 


Mr. LaSalle thanked Ms. Cathy Dehlin for her presentation and Dr. Ron Sundell for his comments.


The meeting adjourned at 10:57 a.m.