The University Record, March 28, 1994

Faculty moving forward with evaluation of deans

By Mary Jo Frank

More than 1,550 evaluation forms were mailed last week to faculty members in five schools and colleges who are being asked by Senate Assembly to evaluate their deans.

Professors, associate and assistant professors, research scientists, associate and assistant research scientists, and some librarians in the School of Business Administration, College of Engineering, LS&A, School of Music and the College of Pharmacy are being asked to fill out the evaluation forms and return them to the Faculty Senate office, 4080 Fleming Administration Building, by April 15.

At its March 21 meeting the Senate Assembly reaffirmed its February decision to proceed with plans to evaluate deans despite objections by some Assembly representatives from the schools and colleges that are scheduled for the first evaluations.

Several deans communicated to the Assembly through its chair Henry C. Griffin that they thought the Assembly’s standard evaluation instrument was not suitable for their school or college, and that their units would be conducting their own evaluations.

School of Music Dean Paul C. Boylan wrote that the elected members of the School’s Executive Committee met March 3 to consider the issue of evaluating the dean. “The elected members of the Executive Committee determined that they would not use the SACUA [Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs] questionnaire for executive evaluation, but rather, would devise their own evaluation instruments. They will also determine the content, distribution, evaluation and use of such a questionnaire.”

College of Pharmacy Dean Ara G. Paul said that his College’s Executive Committee reaffirmed at a Feb. 18 meeting the faculty’s desire to evaluate the dean periodically. In September the faculty approved motions supporting the concept of periodic formal evaluation of the dean every two to three years. The faculty also said the evaluation instrument and questions should be developed by College of Pharmacy faculty members and that distribution of the results of the evaluation should be limited to the dean and provost and elected members of the College’s Executive Committee.

“We believe that Senate Assembly has made a good faith effort to develop an appropriate instrument,” Paul wrote. “However, in its present form we believe it is not suitable either for general use in all schools and colleges on campus, and specifically for use in the College of Pharmacy. We will use the instrument provided as a working model and will provide our faculty with a draft of an evaluation instrument for their review and comment. When this has been done, we will be prepared to move ahead with the evaluation process on an appropriate schedule with the College,” Paul added.

College of Engineering Dean Peter M. Banks wrote that the College has had extended discussions about the Senate Assembly’s desire to institute a procedure for evaluation of deans.

“On Wednesday, March 16, 1994, I was requested by the College Executive Committee, acting on behalf of the College Faculty, to communicate to you their unwillingness to support the SACUA and Senate Assembly plan to evaluate the dean of engineering. They believe that such an evaluation lies within the province of the faculty of this College alone.”

Banks said the Executive Committee has asked the “College administration to develop a general College survey instrument which can provide the means for effecting positive change throughout the College.”

Writing on behalf of LS&A’s Executive Committee, Peter A. Railton, professor of philosophy, said the Executive Committee felt that, in principle, it could be useful to have a credible mechanism for surveying faculty views about the most important issues facing the College and about the effectiveness of the College administration in performing its various roles.

“At the same time, the Committee felt that the sample questionnaire we received from Senate Assembly was unlikely to provide such a mechanism. For example, a number of the questions on the questionnaire seem to us not well-adapted to LS&A, and there appears to be no mechanism for attempting to secure a representative sample of responses,” Railton wrote.

“We would urge strongly against deploying this questionnaire at this time, and invite you to join us,” he added.

The way was clear to proceed with the evaluations when the Assembly tabled a motion by George D. Cameron, professor of business law, to allow individual schools and colleges to substitute their own surveys in place of the Assembly questionnaires.

Citing the numerous times the Senate Assembly has voted on evaluation of deans, Louis G. D’Alecy, professor of physiology, who introduced the original resolution calling for evaluation of deans, said, “I am bewildered that it has made its way back to the Assembly on the concerns of some deans. We want faculty evaluation of deans, not deans’ assessments.”

Social work Prof. Charles D. Garvin, who chairs SACUA’s Academic Affairs Committee, told the Record that evaluation results will be given to faculty members and the dean of each unit. A subcommittee of the Academic Affairs Committee will look at the evaluations to determine the response rate but results will not be reported publicly.