Approved by the: Faculty Senate - December 4, 2008
Administration - See comment*
Board of Regents - no action required

*The President supports the underlying principle of this policy statement, and is asking Vice President for Human Resources Carol Carrier to consider ways to incorporate the principle in the current comprehensive review process of administrative policies.

Statement on University Responsibility to Researchers

MOTION:

That the Faculty Senate adopt the following statement:

The Faculty Senate and the President affirm their mutual understanding that, in cases of unpreventable major adversity affecting faculty members, whether due to accident, the weather, building collapse, or any other external cause, the relevant administrations will immediately do all in their power to enable faculty members affected to resume their professional activities as soon as possible; and will ensure that they will not be held responsible for professional performance to the extent that their professional activities are disrupted through no fault of their own.

COMMENT:

The Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (AF&T) heard reports about the impact of the collapse of the 35W bridge on research being conducted in a building near the site of the bridge. Our general concern was the potential impact on review of individuals for promotion, tenure, and merit in the case when research facilities are disrupted because of natural disaster or other causes beyond the control of the faculty member. After several discussions, including a discussion with Vice President for Research Tim Mulcahy, we concluded that a general statement, to be embraced by the President as well as the Faculty Senate, would establish expectations without binding anyone to particular solutions. The range of possible problems precludes the adoption of a more specific policy, so AF&T recommends this general statement.

This version reflects a change suggested at the October 4 Senate meeting: the "administration" responsible for responding should include the colleges and departments as well as central administration, and AF&T agrees.

TOM CLAYTON, CHAIR
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND TENURE COMMITTEE


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