Dear Vice Provost Broughton,
Many thanks for your detailed response (18 March) to the concerns raised by our letter (15 October) to the Academic Senate’s Faculty Welfare Committee concerning the delay in processing merit and promotion cases.
We welcome the measures you are taking to streamline and smooth the flow of cases for academic advancement throughout the year while maintaining the essential principles of shared governance and peerreview. We are pleased that next academic year APBears will be used to pinpoint the length and precise stage of delays. We are also conscious that all levels of the review process tend to imagine the cause of delay lies elsewhere! Clearly it is unsatisfactory that with 80% of cases submitted beyond their deadline only 20% of cases have their reviews closed on schedule that academic year. We note that the introduction of APBears has done little to improve timely submission (20-23% from AY2009/10 to AY 2011/2) and that it can prove a time-consuming and difficult interface for some faculty to navigate. We wonder how many cases are sent back to Departments as incomplete by APO and how long that process of initial review takes.
If the source of delays prove to be with faculty and departments we would urge you to investigate whether they are clustered in particular areas and if so why. It is our impression that smaller departments often lack sufficient staff support to allow the timely processing of cases by Chairs. Your response is silent on the issue of staff support for the process of academic review at all levels and a census, tracked back where possible, would seem a useful addition to future discussions.
We assume that efforts to smooth the flow of cases across the academic year are frustrated by retention cases. Presumably retention cases take priority over regular merit and promotion advancements and therefore can help to delay them. Our concern here – recognizing the complexity of the issue – is that the regular review process based on merit not be held to ransom by the unpredictable, time consuming and market-driven task of retaining ‘stars’.
We thank you for your continuing engagement with these problems which remain of paramount concern to our members.
Louise Fortmann and Christine Rosen
Chair and Vice Chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association
For the Board of the Berkeley Faculty Association
Calvin Moore, Chair of the Berkeley Senate Faculty Welfare Committee
Christina Maslach, Chair of the Berkeley Faculty Senate
Elizabeth Deakin, Vice Chair of the Berkeley Faculty Senate
Shannon Jackson, Chair of Budget and Interdepartmental Relations