Academic senate to vote on uniform pay, hiring process resolutions

By Andrew Nowak

The Urbana-Champaign Academic Senate will discuss two proposed resolutions at a regular meeting Monday, regarding the University’s hiring process and uniform pay for specialized faculty.

The Senate Executive Committee originally proposed to create an ad-hoc committee to oversee and prevent issues within the hiring process. This comes after the rejection of Steven Salaita’s appointment to the American Indian Studies program. The resolution aims to enforce current University statutes regarding the hiring process.

The resolution also cites the Provost Communication No. 9, which states “the provost makes final decision, with advice from the Campus Committee on Promotion and Tenure and the Dean of Graduate College.” 

Rather than create a new process to be followed when a provost or a chancellor finds a reason not to proceed with a tenure-track hire that was already approved by a department head, the academic senate’s resolution states that Provost Communication No. 9, along with University statutes in place, should be followed and any changes should be debated by the full body of senators. 

“(The resolution’s) stance is that a big committee is not needed and should not happen because those procedures have already been created,” Kay Emmert, English lecturer and sponsor of the proposed resolution, said. “They are under the purview of this committee for promotion and tenure, and so to create an ad hoc committee would essentially suggest that there could be other procedures that do not work with the departments and that do not work off of a collaboration between administrative needs and the department’s judgment of what is an academic scholar for that department.”

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Additionally, a separate resolution regarding uniform pay for specialized faculty will also be discussed by the academic senate. In the spring, promotions were promised by Barbara Wilson, current Harry E. Preble Dean of LAS, during her capacity as Executive Vice Provost.

A massmail was also sent by Provost Ilesanmi Adesida announcing the new pay floor. 

However, the promised pay raises have gone unfilled, said Kristina Riedel, director and language coordinator of Sub-Saharan African languages and senior lecturer. The proposed resolution calls on University administration to honor the promises made last spring. 

“When this academic year started, I was actually promoted,” Riedel said. “And I got a letter from my department saying that nobody can be promoted because of the union.”

Riedel brought the issue before the academic senate because that is where the unfulfilled promotional raises were originally promised. She is a member of the non-tenure track faculty union, CFA. 

Sara Benson, lecturer in law and sponsor of the resolution, expressed her frustration that it took a resolution to get the University’s attention. She received an email on Sept. 19 stating the issue was resolved.

“What happened is that the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Academic Policies wrote back to everyone that was party to the Resolution 15.01 and said that they did a review of all campus promotional raises,” Benson said. “The review revealed that there were three promotions of specialized faculty members for whom raises were not processed, and that they had taken steps to correct the administrative error.

Emmert said that the issue was about more than a few administrative errors.

“What this (resolution) is dealing with, it is a little complicated because it is connected to the non-tenure track union that had just recently got certified,” Emmert said.

The University’s human resources website, under Faculty Unionization Resources, states how “being part of a collective bargaining unit (would) impact the status quo policies and procedures set out in Provost Communication No. 25,” which describes non-tenured positions at the University.

“The University is required to maintain the status quo regarding wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment, subject to collective bargaining,” the website states. “Colleges and departments will continue operations in progress during the period of negotiations.”

Emmert said confusion involving raises stems from the ambiguity requiring that the University maintain the status quo during bargaining.

“So there is a difference in opinion of what the status quo means,” Emmert said. “According to the union, it means if there was a structure that was announced or in place before certification, then that should go forward like normal. According to the University, the status quo is everyone’s pay stays the same during bargaining.”

The meeting will take place Monday at 3:10 p.m. in the Illini Union Room A.

Andrew can be reached at [email protected]