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Updated 5:00 PM October 25, 2005
 

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Faculty Perspectives
Second round of faculty evaluation of administrators begins Nov. 1

Starting Nov. 1 and continuing through Nov. 15, members of the University Senate will be able to log on to http://aec.umich.edu and evaluate their academic administrators, including department chairs and deans, the provost, and the University president. This is the second round of a process instituted by vote of the faculty and conducted for the first time during Fall Term 2004.

This year, in addition to rating administrators on various performance criteria, faculty will be able to register their attitudes about academic policy. The evaluation process includes a set of general administration questions related to extending the tenure probationary period; a new conflict of commitment policy; the life sciences initiative; preferences in undergraduate admissions; and other issues of interest to the faculty. This year, moreover, each administrator has been invited to submit an optional statement of his or her goals and accomplishments.

The evaluation Web site is secure and the evaluations are anonymous. The site was designed, and its dedicated server maintained, by a faculty governance group, Administration Evaluation Committee (AEC), established by the Senate Assembly. Uniqnames are separated from evaluation forms at the moment of submission. Questionnaires are reshuffled anonymously into random order with new time stamps to de-correlate them from Web server logs. Further information about security and protection of privacy is posted on the AEC site.

The faculty Senate consists of more than 3,000 members on the Ann Arbor campus alone. Last year the participation rate was 28 percent. The strongest and most consistent message registered against administrators at all levels was they generally fail to consult adequately with faculty before making important decisions. Faculty also expressed low confidence in the leadership of many, but not all, deans. Department chairs generally fared better than deans, but many, likewise, were faulted for inadequate consultation. A detailed report on the inaugural evaluation round in fall 2004 can be found on the site.

The AEC has received requests from other universities seeking to emulate the on-line model system pioneered at U-M. There appears to be keen interest among faculties across the country for ways to share governance with increasingly isolationist and corporate-minded university administrations. U-M is becoming a leader in faculty evaluation of its academic administrators, and has produced a model that is portable to colleagues elsewhere.

We encourage every Senate member to participate in the evaluation process this year, and also to offer suggestions for improvement of this process through the feedback link located on the AEC page. Results of this year's evaluations should be posted by Dec. 1.

The Faculty Perspectives page is an outlet for faculty expression provided by the Senate Assembly. The opinions expressed in Faculty Perspectives are the views of individual faculty members and do not represent the official position of U-M nor the faculty governance system. Prospective contributors are invited to contact the Faculty Perspectives Page Committee at faculty.perspectives.page@umich.edu. Submissions are accepted in electronic form and are subject to review by the committee. Essay lengths are restricted to one full printed page in The University Record, or about 1,500 words.

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