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much praised on campus, because it links existing annual review processes and professional development. If a professor’s performance is unsatisfactory for three consecutive years, she enters a probationary period of up to three years, during which time she’s expected to revitalize her teaching, research, and service. If, after three years, she still receives unsatisfactory evaluations, then dismissal procedures begin. One virtue of the A&M plan, according to Steve Oberhelman, speaker of the Faculty Senate, is that evaluations are done by peers. Another positive aspect is that individual departments specify their own criteria for assessing faculty performance. The U.T. System’s response, while it began later, was perhaps quickest of all on the draw. Chancellor Cunningham released a draft proposal in late September, intending to present it to the U.T. regents in November. In Cunningham’s own judgment, he moved with all deliberate speed. “We considered prompt action on a posttenure review policy to be consistent with our leadership role [in higher education policy],” Cunningham told the Observer. “We also considered it very important that faculty members, students; and others have extensive input into the development of guidelines and policies in this area. In addition, by taking the initiative on this issue, the U.T. System was in a good position to provide valuable advice and counsel to lawmakers.” But at least some of those most directly affected thought that the System was moving far too fast. “For something this complex and with such great consequences, this didn’t get much consideration, either by the U.T. System or in the Legislature,” said Alan Cline, chairman of U.T.’s Faculty Advisory Council and professor of computer science. “A gas station in Austin would get more study.” Other faculty critics complained that the rush would compromise academic freedom, and that not only were the “standards” for faculty performance being imposed from above, but they were slippery and potentially exploitable, too. In the administration proposal, it wasn’t even clear who would serve as evaluatorsadministrators or faculty peersand appeal procedures were also ill-defined. Moreover, professors complained that staffing the additional review committees made necessary by the new policy would take time away from their teaching and researchthe very activities on which they would be evaluated. One consequence of the haste, Cline adds, is that U.T. has no way of knowing how its new post-tenure review policy will affect the university’s ability to attract distinguished faculty members who may well wish to go elsewhere rather than subject themselves to additional performance reviews, including the threat of dismissal. Cunningham appeared unconcerned. He told the Observer, “Our guidelines are fair, clearly stated, and workable without being a burden on the time of faculty or administrators. We believe policies such as ours will prove attractive to prospective as well as current faculty members.” The haste also meant that little attention was given to serious faculty input. Despite resolutions from Faculty Senates on six campuses asking the regents to postpone consideration of the proposal, details of the evaluative process were quickly hashed out by committees at the system and component level. A final draft was reviewed by the Faculty Advisory Council on November 7, and presented to the regents on November 14. According to the Daily Texan, the regents solemnly approved the proposalafter a press release had already been distributed announcing their decision. They listened politely to faculty testimony they had already rendered moot. Addressing the regents, Cunningham said, “I firmly believe that the vast majority of our faculty members are hard-working and conscientious individuals. I believe that they will want to excel in their reviews. As a result, many of them may focus special attention on their professional activities. The effect of the intensive fiveyear review process will be of substantial benefit to both the faculty member and the institution.” Thus, when the legislative session opened on January 1, U.T. had its post-tenure review policy already in place. And the legislative joke was on the facultyas Ratliff’s post-tenure review bill proceeded on its way \(later taken up by Teel Bivins of Amarillo, when became apparent that the legislatively-mandated policy was going to be somewhat less punitivethat is, better for the facultythan the policy U.T.’s Board of Regents had already approved. For example, under the new law, facNOT ONLY WERE THE “STANDARDS” ulty threatened with terFOR FACULTY PERFORMANCE BEING mination are entitled to IMPOSED FROM ABOVE, BUT THEY a written report, and seWERE SLIPPERY AND POTENTIALLY rious annual reviews alEXPLOITABLE, TOO. ready in place are con sidered sufficient for purposes of post-tenure review. The university’s policy omits both such protections. The language of SB 149, as finally adopted, is relatively tame. The bill requires that each university governing board “adopt rules and procedures providing for a periodic performance evaluation process…conducted no more often than once every year, but no less often than once every six years.” In adopting such rules, “advice and comment from the faculty on the performance evaluation…shall be given the utmost consideration by the governing board,” a provision which nods at preserving the faculty’s role in institutional governance. The bill also contains provisions protecting “commonly recognized academic due process rights,” as well as the right to seek nonbinding dispute resolution. Faculty membersparticularly those who had lobbied directly on the billwere relieved that it wasn’t worse, and cautiously optimistic. “I don’t think it’s going to weaken tenure in this state,” said Texas Faculty Association head Charles Zucker. “But then it’s hard to make predictions….If there’s another swing to the right in the Lege, we wouldn’t have a chance to stop a more draconian bill. There’s nothing to stop the Texas Legislature from doing away with tenure in the future, just by passing a bill. After all, Texas is the Wild West of employee rights.” “We’re actually pleased,” said Ruth Flower, Director of Government Relations at the AAUP, “when we think about what the bill could have contained.” Perhaps to calm fears over the policy’s effectively punitive direction, the legislation stipulates that “the [evaluation] process be directed toward the professional development of the faculty member.” The bill doesn’t define “professional development,” nor does it require universities to budget funds for such development. It does, however, define “gross neglect of duty” \(Ratliff’s initial draft refear that post-tenure evaluations are, in fact, primarily aimed at find 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 26, 1997