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Faculty Senate Chair J.W. Harrington: “Someone needs to draw up a draft of something that could be discussed and approved as an interpretation from this body.”

The report of the Senate Executive Committee meeting of the Aprikyan affair  appeared in today’s Daily and is copied below.

I was not there, but it appears that the highest committee of the faculty has clearly stated that the administration was wrong.

The question is what next.  Professor Harrington’s comment, at least as quoted, seems to sidestep the critical question:

IF Drs. Wise and Emmert violated the Code, what action can the faculty take to enforce it?

With all the respect I have for the Senate, and gratitude for those faculty willing to work for the Senate,, changing the wording of the Code, is not going to solve this problem of governance.

The Soviet Union had a wonderful constitution.  Stalin, however, insured that the document was worthless by making sure that the Soviet parliament and judiciary had no power.

Our situation is all too similar.  The Senate itself has NO resources, no funds of its own, no attorneys who work for the faculty. Indeed in the Nike affair, Dr. Wise, like an offical of the Soviet rime, claimed that as Provost she was not subject to the faculty review of ethics required of all other Medical School faculty.

Can the Senate appear in Superior Court as an amicus curiae supporting Andrew Aprikyan’s claim that he never received due process?

If the Senate does not do that and the action by Emmert and Wise is allowed to stand, what validity is there in the Faculty Code?

Report From UW Daily, report by William  Dow.  (other pieces by Mr. Dow can be found here.)  The Daily article follows below:

The recommendations relate to the UW’s adjudication process, which gives UW faculty being disciplined the opportunity to challenge what they have been accused of by presenting their case to a panel comprised of faculty members.

Some faculty have recently become worried that UW administration has mitigated the importance of the process by ignoring the panel’s findings and making their own judgment, particularly in the academic misconduct case involving assistant research professor Andrew Aprikyan last year. In Aprikyan’s case, former President Mark Emmert ruled an adjudication panel’s finding “arbitrary and capricious” and made his own decision to terminate the professor.

The SEC has been waiting on the recommendations, submitted to the SEC by the Faculty Senate Advisory Committee on Faculty Code and Regulations, since it designated the matter to the committee last month. The recommendations were composed by associate professor of English Míceál Vaughan on behalf of the committee and suggest that all discipline matters, regardless of whether they come from a dean or from the provost, be referred to a faculty adjudication board, provided the faculty member does not agree with the method of discipline.

Vaughan’s recommendation said that “Any ‘disciplinary or punitive actions’ proposed by a dean that involves ‘dismissal, reduction of salary, or suspension for more than one quarter’ specifically requires the matter be sent to the Provost for processing under Chapter 28.” That chapter of the Faculty Code, which the document also recommends applying to lesser disciplinary actions, requires that an adjudication panel review the decision if the faculty member disagrees with the form of discipline.

Rich Christie, SEC member and associate professor of electrical engineering, disagrees with Vaughan’s interpretation of the Faculty Code. Christie argued that deans of colleges should be allowed to punish to a certain degree without being subject to the adjudication process should the faculty member in question disagree with the dean’s decision.

“I don’t see a specific authorization for the dean to impose punishment or discipline below those limits, but I infer there must be that opportunity from the fact that the limits are in the code,” Christie said at yesterday’s meeting. “Otherwise it would say explicitly, ‘All punishment or discipline must be referred to adjudication.’”

The limit to the deans’ power, according to Christie’s interpretation of the code, would be a suspension lasting less than a quarter. If the faculty member were to be dismissed, or have his or her salary altered for longer than a quarter, the matter would automatically be sent to the provost and would be subject to the adjudication process if necessary, as it currently works.

Vaughan noted that he didn’t see a direct conflict between the University Handbook and the Faculty Code, but wrote in his report that the SEC should “require a thorough reconsideration of both these sections,” which is what the committee will be doing.

Many SEC members agreed with associate professor of anthropology Janelle Taylor’s suggestion that the UW inform faculty members of their rights when confronting the complex issue.

“So much hinges on the whether or not a faculty member objects; effectively it looks like if you don’t know your rights and therefore don’t demand them, you lose them,” Taylor said to the group. “Which suggests to me … we also have an obligation to inform the faculty to the best of our ability what their rights are … so they do have them.”

In the meantime, the committee will take into account both Vaughan’s recommendation and the portions of the UW Handbook in question as they look further into the issue, which Faculty Senate Chair J.W. Harrington describes as the next step in the process.

“Someone needs to draw up a draft of something that could be discussed and approved as an interpretation from this body.”

Reach News Editor William Dow at news@dailyuw.com.


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