The University of North Florida administration and its faculty union have come to an agreement on how to implement performance reviews for tenured faculty.
Last month, the UNF board of trustees voted on a review policy to comply with a state law requiring post-tenure review.
The United Faculty of Florida union at UNF opposes post-tenure review, but they say the protections they’ve negotiated are the best they could have hoped for under the law.
To Professor Mark Halley, who is the vice president of UNF’s faculty union, the fight over post-tenure review on campus is a fight over academic freedom.
“I think it was designed to chill free speech,” Halley said.
After a weeks-long standoff, the university’s administration and faculty union have agreed on how post-tenure review will be implemented. The union accepted the university’s proposal last week.
“I was surprised, pleasantly surprised,” Halley said. “Because of the procedures we’ve negotiated, I don’t think anyone could say that the post-tenure review at UNF would lead to a purge or targeting of faculty.”
He said they’ve negotiated for safeguards that will protect tenured professors by allowing them to be graded by defined guidelines rather than against their peers, and by protecting them from being placed on a performance improvement plan or fired if they are consistently meeting expectations.
“We have never intended to use post-tenure review to ‘target’ or ‘purge’ faculty, and these procedures make that clear,” UNF President Moez Limayem said in an email to faculty members last week.
The union was disappointed that these provisions weren’t included in the post-tenure review policy passed by the board of trustees last month. After the vote, some faculty members walked out in protest. One person was heard saying, “Good luck hiring people…they’re not going to come.”
But when it came to implementing the new policy, the administration offered provisions the union had been seeking.
“Our faculty really made their voices heard throughout this entire process,” Halley said. “Faculty spoke at the board of trustees meeting. Faculty signed that petition with more than 1,500 signatures. Faculty talked to administrators who shared their concerns about post-tenure review. So I think between all of these things, we made the case very clear that the time was for the Board of Trustees team to really meet with us and negotiate in good faith for protections for our faculty.”
Although both sides have agreed to the new procedures for post-tenure review, it still needs to go through a final review before being signed.
A spokesperson for the university said UNF expects the post-tenure review policy and procedures to be signed soon but declined to further comment.