The University Record, January 18, 1993

Assembly moves ahead with plans to evaluate administrators

By Mary Jo Frank

Senate Assembly members are moving ahead with two plans to evaluate high ranking University administrators.

Two resolutions—one calling for periodic reviews of executive offices every five to seven years and the other for annual evaluations of deans and Executive Officers—were approved at the Assembly’s December meeting. The individual evaluations would be similar to faculty evaluations done each term by students.

Senate Assembly adopted a proposal presented by its Task Force on Evaluation of Administrators at the November meeting that calls for evaluation of offices headed by Executive Officers by special ad hoc committees of no more than five or six faculty.

The reviews would be part of a long-term effort to improve relations between the administration and faculty and to strengthen the governance of the University, according to the task force.

The Assembly also is proceeding with a plan proposed by Louis G. D’Alecy, professor of physiology, to have a faculty committee design and establish an instrument for the annual evaluation, by the faculty, of all administrative personnel at the rank of dean and above.

In approving D’Alecy’s resolution, the Assembly also reaffirmed a March 16 Assembly resolution calling for faculty evaluation of administrators and publication of an annual evaluation of the academic status of the University and its faculty.

D’Alecy said that the Task Force on the Evaluation of Administrators failed to address the concerns voiced in the March resolution.

D’Alecy’s December resolution calls for:

—design and implementation of an appropriate evaluation instrument put in place as soon as possible;

—use of the instrument to evaluate deans and Executive Officers and to contribute to the timely information flow from the faculty to the administrators on academic issues of vital interest to the faculty;

—entrusting implementation of the resolution to the Academic Affairs Committee;

—reporting of the details of the proposed instrument and evaluation procedures by the Academic Affairs Committee to the Assembly prior to its April meeting.

“What we’re talking about here is bringing back to the faculty its proper responsibility of evaluating the function and administrators of this University,” D’Alecy said.

“I think that as a group we have let this responsibility slip from our hands and it is time to take it back.”

Among the faculty opposed to parts of the D’Alecy resolution were Roy Penchansky and Elaine K. Didier.

The Task Force on Evaluation of Administrators has given sound recommendations on the most effective way to evaluate executive offices so faculty can have an effect on how well the offices function, said Penchansky, professor of health services management and policy.

Penchansky said he also believes that the review process for evaluating deans has improved during the last two or three years and that faculty are being asked to participate.

“We should postpone action to see how the dean review and executive office review processes are working before we put into place a procedure which I don’t think is appropriate because most of us don’t have the experience or exposure to do the evaluations,” Penchansky said.

When students evaluate courses, they have experienced the work of the faculty member, noted Didier, director of information resources and librarian and lecturer in business administration in the School of Business Administration. “I don’t think we should be evaluating deans with whom we have not had contact,” she added.

Any faculty questionnaire would be weighted based on knowledge of the faculty member about the administrator’s work, D’Alecy said, with specificity built into the evaluation instrument.

“It’s bringing the problem home to you, the faculty. You are the faculty and you’ll have to do the evaluations of those who have the most immediate impact on your life,” D’Alecy added.

George J. Brewer, professor of human genetics, described D’Alecy’s approach to evaluation as “quick and rather painless,” with a mechanism to allow faculty to rate themselves in terms of how much information they have about an administrator.

“It shouldn’t be viewed as administrative bashing; it’s administrative helping,” Brewer said. “A lot of us feel if we can get information back about problems in a timely fashion that this is going to help the administrator himself or herself understand what the problems are.”

Senate Assembly Chair Ejner J. Jensen said it is possible that individual evaluations as proposed by D’Alecy could produce results that would produce pain and an “assessment that was wrong-headed, that was provided by people who are not informed about all of the functions of that office.”

Noting that “there are details that need to be worked out in both cases,” chemistry Prof. Henry C. Griffin said “the instruments haven’t been designed in either case, the procedures haven’t been designed and the timelines aren’t clear.” He suggested the Academic Affairs Committee be asked to propose the necessary evaluation instruments for both evaluation systems and that the Assembly then decide whether they are suitable.