Unraveling UHM’s Debacle on Specialists

Unraveling UHM’s Debacle On Specialists

Demystifying The Process

Over the past week, there has been a lot of discussion, confusion, and questioning as to the purpose, intent, and meaning as to why the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa (UHM) Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Excellence (OVPAE) sent out an email request to the UHM Administration to document a “guesstimate” on percentages in the work faculty Specialist perform under five distinct categories of: 1) % Student Support including Advising; 2) % Academic Support to Departments, Curriculum; 3) % Research and Research Support; 4) % Classroom Instruction as Instructor on Record; and 5) % Other.  The email gave the perception that the SCR 201 Task Force that UHPA was part of was still operational and that they were the genesis behind this request for information from Specialist faculty.

Since then, there has been a lot of speculation, suspicion, perception, and twitchy feelings about this on-going review process by a non-existent Task Force.  Thus, clarification and a full explanation is needed.

SCR 201 Task Force Has Concluded

There seems to be a speculation and connection that this current UH Faculty Classification Review is being driven and/or directed by the Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 201 that was adopted by the Legislature during the 2021 Legislative Session.  As noted in SCR 201, the task force was requested to submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2022.  On Friday, January 28, 2022, the SCR 201 Task Force submitted its report to the Legislature which can be found here.  Though the Senate Committee on Higher Education (HRE), through its Chair Senator Donna Mercado Kim, initially claimed that they were unaware of the report, and therefore, were supportive of the recommendations of the Tenure PIG, which was the basis for SB 3269.  SB 3269 was supported by former Board of Regent (BOR) Jan Sullivan and former BOR Chair Ben Kudo.  Regardless of whether the Senate agreed or disagreed with the SCR 201 Task Force Findings and recommendations, the report was submitted and the SCR 201 Task Force was dissolved.

Board Of Regents Moved Forward

Based on the SCR 201 Task Force Report, the Board of Regents at the February 17, 2022 meeting passed a motion on what they wanted to see as the next steps.  This includes but was not limited to, establishing a four-member steering committee that includes the Executive Director of UHPA and the President of the University to address the recommendations noted in the SCR 201 report; actively engage in determining whether the effective resolution of each task will necessitate changes to various policies, agreements, or campus guidelines; and agree to co-manage the consultative process for each change as necessary.  The steering committee was requested to meet on a weekly basis to ensure that work progresses in a timely manner.

Steering Committee Established

The BOR Chair Randolph Moore established the Steering Committee and set forth the charge and deliverables to the Steering Committee based on the BORʻs motion in which the BOR set its expectations and desired outcomes.  The Steering Committeeʻs charge and deliverables based on the BOR mandate are:

  1. Develop written processes for addressing the few instances when the productivity of a tenured faculty member has declined and s/he is unable to perform faculty duties satisfactorily, including following a periodic review and professional development plan.
  2. Clearly define “faculty” and develop (a process involving the administration, the faculty, and the University of Hawai‘i Professional Assembly) 
    • Classification system for the faculty more aligned with its benchmark institutions. 
    • Determine criteria for reclassifying positions currently classified Specialist (S) to a tenurable general faculty position, a non-tenurable faculty position, a non-instructional faculty position, or a non-faculty staff position. 
    • Examine each Specialist (S) position and determine once the position becomes vacant how it should be classified. 
    • Develop a process whereunder an incumbent in a Researcher (R) or Specialist (S) position could apply to have that position reclassified while the incumbent is still in it.
  3. Develop policy relating to job security and periodic evaluation for Specialist (S) positions that upon becoming vacant are reclassified as non-instructional faculty.
  4. Develop guidelines for general faculty “buy-out” of teaching assignments with extramural or other sources of funding in a manner that is consistent with the new work assignment template for faculty.

The Steering Committee (SC) believed that the research, data, and work done by the SCR 201 Task Force would be helpful to review and analyze to ensure that the committee wouldnʻt replicate or perform tasks already performed, as well as, to be used as a foundation for determining what further research and data needed to be obtained before the Steering Committee engaged in their work.  

Therefore, the Steering Committee began by identifying and determining what the different faculty-composed working groups that would be required to be developed to meet the four (4) areas as outlined in the report adopted by the BOR.  It was determined that Charge 2. above would require more than one working group to accomplish the work efficiently and effectively.  

Thereafter, the Steering Committee began reviewing what information, data, metrics, etc. would be or might be needed by any of the considered working groups.  The Steering Committee discussed the information that had been received by both the BORʻs Permitted Interaction Group and the SCR 201 Task Force in determining what information, data, and metrics might be useful and whether further fact gathering was necessary if such material was determined by the Steering Committee to be incomplete.

After further review and analysis, the Steering Committee realized that for items 2. b. and c., as listed above, the data was incomplete.  The SCR 201 Task Force noted at its October 22, 2021 meeting that “Faculty specialists remain a challenging category because of the range of different job descriptions included in the category. During this meeting the TF also discussed what kinds of faculty positions are actually in policy and where they can be hired. And the history of why some of the classifications were created was considered in the context of relevant HLRB decisions. It may be useful to do additional investigation into how specialists are divided by type of work assigned. It was noted that generally there appear to be four categories into which the percentage of workload for specialists fall: classroom, research, student support, and academic support. To acquire data on Specialists, supervisors will have to be surveyed because there is no consistency across this category. There are non-instructional CC faculty as well and so identifying their job descriptions will also be relevant.”  While the UH Community Colleges, UH Hilo, and UH West Oahu performed their due diligence in gathering this information from their respective campus supervisors when the initial request was made by the SCR 201 Task Force last year, UH Manoa unfortunately did not.  

The Steering Committee determined that when such working groups are established such information would be beneficial to these committee members as generalized data, information, and metrics to start their review and evaluation process.  Therefore, Debora Halbert (Vice President for Academic Planning and Policy) under the direction of President David Lassner sent another request to the UHM Campus to provide the information that was requested previously for the SCR 201 Task Force for the Steering Committeeʻs review and information.

Misdirected And Misguided Message From OVPAE

Unfortunately, this is where all the confusion began.  If the process was followed and adhered to pursuant to the Presidentʻs first directive to the UHM administration under the initial SCR 201 Task Force request this debacle and perplexity wouldʻve been avoided and the resulting anxiety and confusion – non-existent.  UHPA can only make its assumption that President Lassnerʻs second request for information to the UHM campus was taken as a message that this needs to be addressed and resolved ASAP since it was the second request by the President.  Unfortunately, it was treated and handled without regard to how the process should be driven and the impact it would have on Specialist faculty at UHM.  Moreover, rather than requiring faculty supervisors to complete the survey as intended, the message sent on Thursday, April 14, 2022, was unclear about the directive that the Steering Committee planned.  Therefore, it was conveyed incorrectly that Specialist faculty rather than their supervisors were required to individually complete the survey within a quick turnaround time being the close of business, Tuesday, April 19, 2022.  Adding to more confusion and anxiety was the message that Researchers, Librarians, and Extension Agents werenʻt being requested to provide such information at this time without further information and context.

While we are not surprised by the recent events that have transpired, we are disappointed since this is not the first time UHPAʻs name and reputation has incorrectly been put forth as the justification and means for managementʻs actions.  While we cannot control, dictate, or direct how information is provided by the UH Administration to the campuses, we do believe that in some instances and cases UHPA is justified in providing the clarification and relevant and pertinent information to our faculty so that they understand the intent and purpose of managementʻs actions.

Clear And Unambiguous Facts

The information that had been requested by the SCR 201 Task Force on the survey of Specialist and Community College Non-Instructional Faculty work assignments has not been used, referenced, or noted in the report to either the Legislature or the BOR.

The SCR 201 Task Force is now dissolved.  No further action by this task force has been taken since it completed its report to the Legislature.

The information the UHM Administration was seeking was originally a request from the SCR 201 Task Force.  However, the information is now being requested by the Steering Committee as general data and information gathering for the sole purpose of providing this information to working groups that the Steering Committee will develop that will be composed of faculty members in the Specialist classification.

Matters dealing with the review of teaching equivalencies, buy-outs, 5-year review, faculty productivity, and faculty classification are all part of this new charge to the Steering Committee who will then formulate various working groups composed with faculty members to begin this process of review and analysis.  

Moving Forward

The recent debacle and confusion has brought awareness that UHPA cannot rely on the communication, information, and management of the Steering Committeeʻs work and UHPAʻs involvement on the Steering Committee.  UHPA recognizes and appreciates the numerous emails, phone calls, and messages we have received from the membership expressing its concerns and confusion over this matter.  UHPA respects and welcomes faculty to address any and all concerns directly with UHPA in that we can be apprised of matters and situations that we are unaware of, and in that we can respond, take action, and address accordingly.  Moreover, we do acknowledge that these matters are dear and close to faculty interests and that we cannot rely on either the BOR or the UH Administration to convey accurate and complete reports on this BOR agenda and directive.  Therefore, UHPA is committed to provide the membership with its own organizational updates on this subject matter as this process moves forward.

UHPA wants to reinforce that our goal, intent, and purpose is to manage and control the process through providing meaningful input through open dialogue and communication in that the collective bargaining rights and processes are followed; that the classification process, review, and evaluations are followed; and to ensure that matters are determined and decided with objectivity, consistency and equity.

In Solidarity And Unity

Rate My Administrator Summary Report Published

UHPA members can now download the “2021 UHPA Rate My Administrator Surveys” PDF. Nearly 700 faculty members participated system-wide across all campuses.  The summary report contains:

  • Highest and lowest scoring statements
  • Average score for each statement
  • Average scores by campus
  • Both overall satisfaction by average by campus
  • Likely to recommend
  • Profile of respondents

The results of this survey will be shared with the UH Administration over the week of 1/17/22. We intend to annually repeat this process and publish trends over time.

UHPA’s long-term goal is to use these trendlines on faculty feedback to identify where administrative performance has been demonstrated as well as where it requires attention and improvement.

For UHPA Members only:

Not a member yet? Join now via this instant membership online form.. Are you already a member but can’t access the content? Click here to troubleshoot or just call our office.

New UH Telework Policy Published

UHPA & UH Reach Agreement 

UH and the UHPA Negotiations Team have reached an agreement on a new Telework Policy that will go into effect on January 3, 2022 and runs through June 30, 2023.  The existing COVID-19 Voluntary Telework Policy will be expiring on December 31, 2021.  

Similar to What We Have Today

The new Telework Policy will essentially maintain the current requirements and exemptions for Faculty from: 1) exemption from the submission of work plans; 2) the completion of Online Leave Entry depending on job; and 3) the completion of WFH/Telework Form depending on job.  Please follow this link to UH Office of Human Resources  for details.  If you are currently teleworking under the COVID-19 Voluntary Telework Policy you will need to submit a new request pursuant to this policy if you are intending to telework from January 3, 2022.

A Viable Option to Minimize Risk

The new Telework Policy is intended to provide the UH with a viable alternative work option that they may utilize to improve program effectiveness and employee productivity, as well as, improve morale; reduce traffic congestion; and to effectively continue operations in times of an emergency and/or natural disasters.  While we all recognize that we are still in the COVID-19 pandemic, telework also provides a viable alternative work option for employees to maintain social distance between themselves and others in hopes of minimizing the risks of exposure to infections or illness.

The Opportunity For Faculty To Participate In Telework Is Still A Management Prerogative

However, the policy encourages the campuses to approve any telework request where: 1) job functions are suitable to be performed remotely; 2) the employee can be and demonstrates they are as functional and productive as when they are in the workplace and records are kept to document this; and 3) telework is consistent with the Universityʻs strategic direction and vision.

Faculty interested in participating in telework should consult their Department Chair or respective Dean, Director or Supervisor.

UH Publishes Tenure Task Force Website

SCR 201 Tenure Task Force Meeting Notes Published

In response to a common element in the tenure PIG testimony of many faculty at the last Board of Regents meeting, UH has now published a SCR 201 Tenure Task Force website.  Of particular interest are the published notes of 3 meetings (at the time of this post).    

We Are in that Task Force

You can expect UHPA to keep you apprised of important developments, especially since you’ll note that two of the task force members are UHPA executives. That said, we urge all concerned faculty to review published meeting notes and reach out to the designated UH contact on the page. Of course you can always contact UHPA with any concerns.

Tenure PIG Quick-Reference Guide

Background

University of Hawaii Board of Regents Immediate Past Chair Ben Kudo established a Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) on February 18, 2021 and charged it with looking into three specific areas of tenure:

  1. Overview, history and purpose of tenure;
  2. Evolution, current views and developments on tenure (outside of the University of Hawai‘i); and
  3. The current process, criteria, and decision making on tenure at UH.

Former UH BOR Jan Sullivan was assigned to serve as the Tenure PIG Chair.

Outcome

The PIG did not carry out its assigned scope of work. The Tenure PIG instead based their discussions on the misconception that tenure provides absolute job security or lifelong employment and that the UH administration has virtually no ability to take action when warranted. The PIG’s recommendations were based on this erroneous understanding and therefore the proposed amendments attempt to dismantle tenure.    

UHPA’s Position

UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern, who served as a member of the Tenure PIG, issued a dissenting letter on the PIG’s recommendations to the UH Board of Regents. Fern, numerous faculty members, and UH administrators testified in strong opposition to the Tenure PIG recommendations at the UH Board of Regents meeting held on Oct. 21, 2021. More than 600 pages of written testimony were submitted to the Board of the Regents.

Key Tenure Issues Raised in Testimony

Tenure safeguards academic freedom

The purpose of tenure is to safeguard a faculty member’s right to academic freedom which is essential to those who teach and conduct research in higher education institutions.  Tenure provides the essential conditions and optimal environment for faculty to educate students, to pursue research and innovation, and to draw upon evidence-based conclusions that are free from undue political interference or corporate pressure.

Ongoing tenure is based on faculty performance

All other peer institutions who grant tenure can terminate a faculty member for cause, substandard performance, or for extraordinary circumstances like fiscal exigency or program discontinuation. The UH is no different. These managerial rights to terminate faculty under those conditions mentioned above are clearly outlined and defined in the UHPA/BOR Unit 7 Agreement.

A solution for a non-existent problem

The PIG’s proposed recommendations offer “solutions” for a problem that does not exist. UH Administration and UHPA have also worked collaboratively with a common goal to ensure that students remained the focus. Dismantling tenure and proposing to overhaul the tenure system is a drastic way to fix any perceived problem.

Faculty classifications are misleading

The PIG especially attacked the practice of providing tenure for “non-instructional” faculty. All faculty are involved in the instruction of students, including those who are teaching in a classroom setting. There was an outpouring of testimonies that provided examples of faculty who teach students in different ways. They should not be not be treated differently.

Five-year reviews subject to management scrutiny

The PIG’s recommends the current system of five-year reviews of tenured faculty be extended beyond a faculty member’s peers and include UH administration, who would have the latitude to decide whether a faculty receives tenure based on market conditions. This capriciousness undermines the academic freedom and the purpose of tenure and makes the UH subject to commercial forces.

Impact on quality standards

The PIG’s recommendations adversely impact the UH’s ability to attract and retain faculty. This ultimately will impact the quality of the UH as a R-1 research institution, and this will affect the ability to secure extramural research funding and maintain and grow student enrollment.

Next Steps:

Fortunately, the testimonies gave the Board of Regents pause and the Tenure PIG’s recommendations were not implemented. However, the Board of Regents voted to defer these recommendations to an ad hoc committee for review. UHPA and faculty must continue to monitor the status of these recommendations.

To defend their recommendations, the PIG leaders publicly mentioned the intention of the amendments was to encourage dialogue with faculty. Faculty had not been consulted for the PIG recommendations and have accepted this as an invitation for further discussion.

Additional Reading

These related articles (listed in descending chronological order) are published on the UHPA website under the Academic category:

Faculty Taking Charge of UH’s Future

Mahalo to all of the faculty who took the time and effort to share their concerns and perspectives regarding the findings and recommendations of the Tenure Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) at the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents meeting held last Thursday, Oct. 21st.  

Don’t Mess with Tenure

There were 634 pages of lengthy and meaningful testimony and those testifying virtually overwhelmingly opposed the Tenure PIG recommendations. This sent a very strong and powerful message and point to the BOR: Faculty need to be actively engaged in building and strengthening the University of Hawai‘i as a land grant R-1 research institution. The ill-advised dismantling of UHʻs existing tenure system, as recommended by the Tenure PIG, would be ruinous and destructive, and start the downfall of the quality of Hawai‘i’s public higher education system.

The passion of the faculty behind the testimonies, both written and oral, came through loud and clear. It was clear the Tenure PIG was an epic failure. It strayed from its intended purpose and charge and obviously did not include faculty input in its recommendations.

Support from UH Administrators

Faculty concerned about upholding the quality of the UH inspired several UH administrators. Typically, administrators are at odds with the faculty, but on this Tenure PIG issue, they fully supported the viewpoints of the faculty and stepped forward to also voice their concerns during the Board of Regents meeting and in the media.

A Major Victory

The faculty efforts paid off. Faculty set the tone for the meeting, single handedly stopped the recommendations of the Tenure PIG in their tracks, and prevented them from being implemented. This was no small feat and will go down in history as a major victory by the faculty.

Not Out of the Woods Yet

But we cannot celebrate just yet. The policy recommendations in the Tenure PIG remain intact and although implementation has been averted for now, the Board of Regents voted to defer these recommendations to an ad hoc committee of the whole for review. We have come very far and cannot afford to let our guard down. But from the unabashed display of boldness by the faculty last week, we know that faculty are being taken seriously and are a force to be reckoned with.

It’s Time to Take a Stand

We Stand on the Shoulders of Those Before Us

If you are currently a tenured faculty or a tenured track faculty in instruction, research, extension, specialist, librarian, or other faculty classifications, then you are a direct beneficiary to those retired and more than likely deceased UH faculty who have over the decades fought tirelessly and vigorously to protect and ensure your faculty rights under tenure, academic freedom, collective bargaining, and many other terms and conditions of employment.  These former UH faculty members, who even before the Stateʻs recognition and adoption over collective bargaining rights for public employees in 1970, recognized the value of UHʻs unique classification system and the importance and significance of upholding tenure in order for the UH to continue to grow and prosper into the great research and instructional institution we have today.

The Current Battle is Nothing New

Attacks over UHʻs faculty classification system and faculty tenure by the ever evolving and changing Board of Regents (BOR) is not new nor will it ever cease.  Moreover, significant and detrimental attacks occur after numerous decades have passed when those who were involved, and who can recall and remember, are no longer here with us.  Recorded history will reflect that in 1967 the BOR hired an external consultant (i.e. Public Administration Service or PAS) to review UHʻs faculty classification plan and recommended abolishing the research and specialist classification and to reclassify them as either an APT or faculty but removing the distinction of researcher and/or specialist.  Faculty rose in opposition and testified against the recommendations.  The BOR did not adopt the recommendations and the research and specialist classifications remained intact and remained as faculty.  One of the reasons why the BOR held off on taking action was the impact of individuals in these positions in regards to their loss of tenure and the impact of conversion to the APT classification.

The Benefits You Enjoy Today Were Won By Those Who Came Before You

The previous generation of faculty recognized and appreciated the importance of protecting faculty rights over tenure, academic freedom, collective bargaining, and other terms and conditions of employment, not only for the institution itself but also to help the UH flourish and excel in the areas of research, instruction, and extension.  They put in the time, effort, work, and made the sacrifices necessary to ensure that the institution would continue to grow, thrive, and advance for the next generation and the generations to come by organizing and opposing the forces that threatened the cornerstones of academic institutions.

If It Can Happen To Them, It Can Happen To You

Unfortunately, on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, the University of Georgia Regents approved changes to itʻs boardʻs post tenure review policy against the objections of its faculty and its union, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), as reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, which faculty and the AAUP criticized as a hobbling of tenure.  The current threats to tenure across the nation, including public higher education institutions, will continue to be constant and relentless.  It will require more advocacy, engagement, and solidarity of faculty and UHPA with not only the Board of Regents, but also the UH Administration. 

Now it’s Your Turn To Carry The Torch Forward

Today, a significant threat and challenge has again reared itʻs ugly head .  Faculty are again faced with dealing with BOR recommendations that will definitely change and significantly impact all faculty in a very harmful and negative manner, as well as, negatively impact the institution they serve.  

It’s Time to Take Action NOW

The BOR is scheduled to hear, discuss, and possibly take action on the Tenure PIGʻs report and recommendations at its next meeting scheduled for this Thursday, October 21, 2021 (insert link here).  Faculty across all ten UH campuses are calling upon each other to organize and take action by submitting written testimony as well as providing oral testimony over the Tenure PIGʻs report and recommendations.  It is time that the BOR hears the voices of faculty across the institution. 

Every generation faces their own unique personal and professional challenges.  One thing is also certain: you have an individual choice and decision to voice your opposition to these recommendations or to remain silent.  As the saying goes, no vote – no grumble.  Your future as a faculty member and the future of other UH faculty will be up for decision.  This is your moment, now, to take action and that means submitting testimony, preferably oral but at least written.  

Submit Your Testimony Now

All written testimony on agenda items received after posting of a meeting’s agenda and up to 24 hours in advance of the meeting will be distributed to the board. Late testimony on agenda items will be distributed to the board within 24 hours of receipt. Written testimony may be submitted via the board’s website at this link, US mail, email to bor.testimony@hawaii.edu, or facsimile at (808) 956-5156. All written testimony submitted are public documents. Therefore, any testimony that is submitted for use in the public meeting process is public information and will be posted on the board’s website.

Those wishing to provide oral testimony for a virtual meeting must register in advance via this  registration link Given constraints with the online format of our meetings, individuals wishing to orally testify must register no later than the registration closing time as noted on the agenda. It is highly recommended that written testimony be submitted in addition to registering to provide oral testimony. Oral testimony will be limited to three (3) minutes per testifier.  You will be provided a (1) minute warning bell to wrap up your testimony.

Individuals providing oral testimony at a virtual meeting will need to connect through the Zoom application. When signing up, please note that the name used upon registration may be included in the meeting minutes. After completing the registration form, registrants will receive an email confirmation with the necessary meeting information and connection instructions.

On the meeting day, individuals registered to provide oral testimony will be placed in a viewing room upon connection to the scheduled meeting. When called upon to begin their testimony, oral testifiers will be unmuted and have the ability to turn their video on. Microphones will be muted and video will be disabled upon conclusion of providing testimony.

For further assistance regarding testimony, please contact the board office at bor.testimony@hawaii.edu or (808) 956-8213.

For disability accommodations, contact the board office at (808) 956-8213 or bor@hawaii.edu. Advance notice requested five (5) days in advance of the meeting.

Time to Imu the PIG

Missed the mark

It goes without saying further that since the Tenure PIGʻs report and recommendations were released on September 16, 2021, it did not gain any traction, support, or defense worthy of any consideration and action by the BOR in the eyes of faculty and UHPA.  Although the stated intent was to review: (1) the history and purpose of tenure; (2) the evolution of and current views and developments on tenure; and (3) the current criteria and decision making process for tenure, it seems the Tenure PIG was unjustly aiming at harming faculty as their primary target.  

Although former BOR Chair Ben Kudo declared at the February 18, 2021 meeting that the Tenure PIG would be comprised of all major stakeholders including faculty and administrators involved in research and tenure, the Tenure PIG reneged on its promise and lost a tremendous opportunity in fulfilling its original purpose and intent.  The composition of the Tenure PIG as noted in the Report of the Permitted Interaction Group on Tenure dated September 10, 2021 is absent of any faculty and short on full representation of UH administrators with years of knowledge and experience in research and tenure.    

Noted is current BOR Chair Randy Moore who also went on record at the same meeting that he “was encouraged that the Task Group will contain a wide spectrum of members with diverse backgrounds that will allow various perspectives to be brought forward” and “that having rational discussions through the Task Group will allow the board to gain a better understanding of tenure.”

The question to the Regents is whether or not the Board gained a “better understanding of tenure.” It seems impossible to “gain a complete understanding of the concept of tenure” by reading the Report and Resolution offered by the Tenure PIG, let alone be  ready and prepared to make radical and future decisions on this issue?  If so, we are anxiously awaiting to hear from the BOR.

Just a Sham

With due respect, the Tenure PIG was doomed the minute former Regent Chair Kudo failed to uphold his promise and commitment that experienced faculty and administrators involved in research and tenure, who are considered as major stakeholders, must be part of the Tenure PIG.  Rather than seeking dialogue and discussions that are open, honest, informative, and thoughtful to seek common ground in achieving worthwhile goals, the Tenure PIG turned to what is more comfortable – working in a silo to construct a predetermined narrative and agenda.  If there is still honor in oneʻs words, then the BOR should examine its actions, statements, and commitments in determining whether the Tenure PIG fulfilled its due diligence in its report and recommended resolution.  The impact of such radical proposals and decisions will be felt in the years and generations to come.

Call to Unity

The challenge to tenure will always be present and will continue as long as faculty cherish and protect their rights to academic freedom in that they can continue to advance and transmit knowledge; to pursue research and innovation; and draw upon evidence-based conclusions free from corporate or political pressure.

The untimely and without basis Resolution offered by the Tenure PIG will cause a revolution if adopted by the BOR.  The work of the Tenure PIG, in its current form, is not worthy of any action or consideration by the BOR.  Change is inevitable.  However, meaningful change is one that is embraced, supported, and adopted by everyone, especially those who will be impacted by the change.  In this regard, we turn to the preamble of Chapter 89, HRS, or Hawaiiʻs collective bargaining law wherein it states:

“The legislature finds that joint decision-making is the modern way of administering government.  Where public employees have been granted the right to share in the decision-making process affecting wages and working conditions, they have become more responsive and better able to exchange ideas and information on operations with their administrators.  Accordingly, government is made more effective.  The legislature further finds that the enactment of positive legislation establishing guidelines for public employment relations is the best way to harness and direct the energies of public employees eager to have a voice in determining their conditions of work; to provide a rational method for dealing with disputes and work stoppages; and to maintain a favorable political and social environment.”

The Tenure PIG initially was on this path, but clearly deviated beyond not only the ranch but the reservation.  The respectful and honorable action for the BOR to take is to defer any action on the Tenure PIGʻs report and resolution and begin the process again with fulfilling its original purpose and intent.  Itʻs TIME TO IMU THE PIG.

UHPA calls upon all Unit 7 faculty who not only cherish but want to safeguard their rights to academic freedom to let your voices and actions be heard loud and clear by testifying at the upcoming October 21, 2021 BOR meeting.  It’s time that BOR hears the voices of faculty. 

How to submit BOR testimony

All written testimony on agenda items received after posting of a meeting’s agenda and up to 24 hours in advance of the meeting will be distributed to the board. Late testimony on agenda items will be distributed to the board within 24 hours of receipt. Written testimony may be submitted via the board’s website, US mail, email at bor.testimony@hawaii.edu, or facsimile at (808) 956-5156. All written testimony submitted are public documents. Therefore, any testimony that is submitted for use in the public meeting process is public information and will be posted on the board’s website.

Those wishing to provide oral testimony for a virtual meeting must register in advance via the registration link on the meeting agenda. Given constraints with the online format of our meetings, individuals wishing to orally testify must register no later than the registration closing time as noted on the agenda. It is highly recommended that written testimony be submitted in addition to registering to provide oral testimony. Oral testimony will be limited to three (3) minutes per testifier.

Individuals providing oral testimony at a virtual meeting will need to connect through the Zoom application. When signing up, please note that the name used upon registration may be included in the meeting minutes. After completing the registration form, registrants will receive an email confirmation with the necessary meeting information and connection instructions.

On the meeting day, individuals registered to provide oral testimony will be placed in a viewing room upon connection to the scheduled meeting. When called upon to begin their testimony, oral testifiers will be unmuted and have the ability to turn their video on. Microphones will be muted and video will be disabled upon conclusion of providing testimony.

For further assistance regarding testimony, please contact the board office at bor.testimony@hawaii.edu or (808) 956-8213.

For disability accommodations, contact the board office at (808) 956-8213 or bor@hawaii.edu. Advance notice requested five (5) days in advance of the meeting.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) or Wild Pig

On Friday, September 10, 2021, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents posted their agenda and meeting materials for the September 16, 2021 meeting.  Included on the agenda was the report of the Tenure PIG.  Based on the February 18, 2021 BOR meeting, the Tenure PIGʻs purpose and scope was to review and investigate the issue of tenure in areas including the history and purpose of tenure at IHEs, particularly regarding the University of Hawai‘i (UH); the evolution of, and current views and developments on, tenure at institutions outside of UH; and the current process, criteria, and decision making on tenure at UH.  We question Tenure PIG Chair Ben Kudo whether the report submitted by the Tenure PIG meets the purpose and scope of its original intention.  Nevertheless, the following is UHPAʻs critique of the proposed changes to UH Regents Policy RP 9.201.

Symbolic or Sinister?

The Tenure PIGʻs findings and recommended changes to RP 9.201 Personnel Status is to align tenure with the mission and priorities of the University by ensuring that tenure is awarded to positions that will fulfill enrollment requirements and strategic growth priorities.  Based on this criteria the Tenure PIG recommended amending Section III. Policy, Paragraph B. Faculty Promotion and Tenure by adding the following criteria on awarding tenure:

2.   Before recruitment for tenure-track position occurs, and before award of tenure, the administration shall ensure that: (1) the position fulfills current enrollment requirements and strategic growth priorities for the university and the State: (2) there are no qualified faculty in other units that are available and that could meet the needs of the hiring unit; (3) the balance of tenure-track and other faculty is appropriate given enrollment, mission, and accreditation standards; and (4) the unit is successful and relevant in contributing to the institutional mission and goals.

3.  The administration shall ensure that tenure criteria are clear and that they prioritize the necessity for faculty to be adaptable in meeting the changing needs of students and the university, including changes in the delivery of higher education that may occur over time.

Based on initial review, some of the amendments appear to be a silent message to the UH administration demanding a reduction of tenure leading positions at the UH.  For the past several decades, the UH administration has been aimlessly reducing the amount of tenure leading positions under the guise of budgetary shortfalls and cuts due to the Stateʻs fiscal constraints.  Records reflect that tenure positions at UH are down over 25% from their peak.  Ironically, Executive/Managerial at UH has grown substantially over the same period of time.  

Thus, itʻs interesting for the Tenure PIG to note in its Resolution that “WHEREAS, the Task Group also acknowledges the fact that in recent years, the University has been steadily reducing the number of tenured faculty, and that tenure is still critical to attract, retain, and support University faculty;”  On one hand, the Tenure PIG acknowledges the importance and value of providing faculty with tenure, but on the other hand it recommends placing additional restrictions with vague and ambiguous criteria in order to grant tenure.  It reads illogical since they are not synonymous and harmonious with each other.  Reading between the lines interprets such changes as a directive to reduce tenure faculty.  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university

Which Tail is Wagging the Dog?

One of the criteria for awarding tenure is to base the position on whether it fulfills the strategic growth priorities for the university and the State.  Without any further details and explanation on what are the defined and approved strategic growth priorities, this statement is read solely as downsizing the number of tenured faculty to adapt to restraints and resources in a time of financial crisis which has been occurring over the past several decades.  We question: Which priorities have precedent?  The universityʻs or the State?  Who determines these strategic growth priorities for UH?  What happened to UHʻs autonomy and what priorities does UH have autonomy over?  What are the current priorities for the university and the State?  Do these priorities work collaborative together or do they conflict?  How often will these priorities change and are they defined by short and long term goals?  Bottom line.  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university.

Authoritarian Policy?

The second caveat is that before recruitment for tenure-track positions occurs and before the awarding of tenure, the administration shall ensure that there are no qualified faculty in other units that are available and that could meet the needs of the hiring unit.  Based on the vagueness of the language and the ambiguity that shines, is the Tenure PIG recommending that employees submit and be compelled to involuntary reassignments, transfers, demotions, relocations, etc. between units, departments, colleges, and campuses?  While Faculty support voluntary recruitment and promotion from within, the unclear purpose, intent, and application of this language is deeply concerning.  If there isn’t a clear understanding and recognition that such a policy would be subject to mandatory bargaining, that would be astonishing and unbelievable as well.  The skinny down 2 ½ page Report of the Permitted Interaction Group on Tenure that proposed the change doesnʻt provide any substance and/or clarification on its intent, purpose, and application.  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university.     

Recalibrating the Scale?

The third caveat is that before recruitment for tenure-track positions occurs and before the awarding of tenure, the administration shall ensure the balance of tenure-track and other faculty is appropriate given enrollment, mission, and accreditation standards.  While one can assume that consideration over enrollment, mission, and accreditation standards has and is already being done, the question here is what is meant and defined by the new stipulation of “balance”?  There is no clarification, definition, or meaning behind what balance of tenure-track and other faculty mean.  Does it mean that tenure positions shall be equally distributed among the different faculty classifications?  Or does “other faculty” mean non-tenure track faculty and a directive to reduce the amount of tenured faculty to equal non-tenure track faculty?  If so, would that practice meet the enrollment, mission, and accreditation standards of the UH?  Moreover, the importance and significance of accreditation is rightly acknowledged here because what impact, if any, positive or negative, will this have on UHʻs accreditations?  Interestingly, the Tenure PIG did acknowledge in their Resolution that tenure is still critical to attract, retain, and support University faculty.  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university.     

Sleight of hand?

The fourth caveat is that before recruitment for tenure-track positions occurs and before the awarding of tenure, the administration shall ensure that the unit is successful and relevant in contributing to the institutional mission and goals.  On face value, it sounds reasonable and practical since it has and is still occurring.  Thus, the question becomes is there more to this mandate that meets the eye?  Again, the skinny down 2 ½ page Report of the Permitted Interaction Group on Tenure that proposed the change doesnʻt provide any substance and/or clarification on its intent, purpose, and application.  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university.        

Unconscious or Insulting?

The other significant amendment is that the administration shall ensure that tenure criteria are clear and that they prioritize the necessity for faculty to be adaptable in meeting the changing needs of students and the university, including changes in the delivery of higher education that may occur over time.  

What facts and evidence was revealed during the Tenure PIGʻs investigation that one could make the determination that faculty as they currently exist (hired and developed under current criteria) are not “adaptable” especially “including changes in the delivery of higher education that may occur over time.”  Do we not realize that we are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Have we all forgotten about how the UH administration ordered the immediate pivoting from in-person to on-line instruction that blindsided faculty given such short notice of the mandate, and how the majority of faculty only had one-week (i.e. Spring Break) to prepare, to implement a 180 degree change in pedagogy?  A practice that still remains largely in effect today as our communities and our State deals with the impact of COVID-19 variants.

If the situation that faculty are currently facing is not considered “adaptable” or “changing the delivery of higher education that may occur over time,” then what is being expected and meant by this new requirement from the Tenure PIG?  What is meant by being “adaptable?”  By whom will the changing needs of students and the university be declared in the future?  We have many questions and concerns over using this measurement to determine the tenuring needs of the university.        

Discord & Dysfunctional

Clearly, the proposed amendments overall do not really provide a clear and understandable solution to align tenure with the mission and priorities of the University to ensure tenure is awarded to positions that will fulfill enrollment requirements and strategic growth priorities as its stated objectives.  What is even more concerning is that many of the recommended changes, directives, processes, and outcomes regarding tenure are already established and outlined in existing BOR policy, namely RP 9.206 Faculty and Staff Renewal and Vitality Plans.  This BOR policy has been in effect and in existence for over the past 40 years in which all UH Administrators are required to follow and uphold.  Hence, the awarding of tenure has always been aligned with the mission and priorities of the University, including consideration for enrollment requirements and strategic growth priorities.

It’s interesting that former BOR Chair Kudo who was the Chair of the Tenure PIG and who has served as Regent since 2012, did not identify nor suggest any review, analysis, impact, changes, amendments to RP 9.206 or even its abolishment in this review.  This glaring omission of due diligence and neglect is compounded by the vagueness and cloudiness of the skinny 2 ½ page Report of the Permitted Interaction Group on Tenure which was to explain its findings and recommendations.  As a lawyer by profession, one would expect and demand more of former Chair Ben Kudo who has been a regent for almost a decade.

Message in a Bottle?

We question the entire findings and recommendations of the Tenure PIG.  We believe that there is insufficient information and clarification to provide any meaningful insight, knowledge, and understanding of what are the intentions and purpose for these changes to RPs 9.201, 9.202, and 9.213.  On its face it may seem benign to the layperson, but to faculty these changes are not only concerning – it’s threatening, belittling, and disrespectful all wrapped up in one.  The question we have here is who is the primary receiver of this message – the faculty or the UH administration.  If it’s the former, then why in this fashion and why disrupt the faculty by involving faculty in this matter.  However, if it’s the prior, you have definitely got facultyʻs attention and interest.  Be advised that faculty will be at the October 21, 2021 meeting ready and prepared to address their concerns.   

Lipstick Won’t Help This Tenure PIG Mess

Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) or Wild Pig

On Friday, September 10, 2021, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents posted their agenda and meeting materials for the September 16, 2021 meeting.  Included on the agenda was the report of the Tenure PIG.  Based on the February 18, 2021 BOR meeting, the Tenure PIGʻs purpose and scope was to review and investigate the issue of tenure in areas including the history and purpose of tenure at IHEs, particularly regarding the University of Hawai‘i (UH); the evolution of, and current views and developments on, tenure at institutions outside of UH; and the current process, criteria, and decision making on tenure at UH.  We question Tenure PIG Chair Ben Kudo whether the report submitted by the Tenure PIG meets the purpose and scope of its original intention.  Nevertheless, the following is UHPAʻs critique of the proposed changes to UH Regents Policy RP 9.202.

Donʻt Forget What We Stand For

The University of Hawaii was founded in 1907 under the Morrill Act of 1862 and 1890 which allows States to set aside federal lands to create colleges to benefit the agricultural and mechanical arts.  These acts allowed for the creation of institutions of higher education focused on agricultural and mechanical arts without excluding other scientific and classical studies.  Today, land grant universities across the nation offer many other academic fields of study in addition to those of their required foundational focus on agriculture and mechanical arts.  While land grant university systems continue to evolve through federal legislation, the primary focus remains the same, which is the three-fold mission of its breadth, reach, and excellence in teaching, research, and extension.  The University of Hawaii is one of the one hundred and twelve (112) land grant institutions across the nation. Instructional, research, and extension agent faculty all fulfill, meet, and contribute to the University of Hawaii fulfilling the original legislative intent, mission, and vision of the Morrill Act.  

In addition, the 1969 Legislatureʻs transfer of the trade and technical schools from the Department of Education to the University of Hawaii Community College System ensured its continuation to fulfill the needs of Hawaiiʻs business and industry community.  Today, there are seven (7) community college campuses across the State in which community college Faculty provide essential services and support to its students such as instruction, continuing education and training, academic support, and counseling.  

We cannot and should not lose focus on the very foundation of why the University of Hawaiiʻs was originally created, how it has evolved, and what it stands for.

Wholesale Revamping the Faculty Classification System

The Tenure PIGʻs findings and recommended changes to RP 9.202 Classification Plans and Compensation Schedules is to simply reduce the type and number of tenure classification schemes to Tenured and Tenure Track Faculty, Librarians, Support Faculty and Extension Agents, Renewable Term Faculty, and Non-Compensated Faculty.  According to the Tenure PIGʻs report, they believe these changes might improve, modernize, and simplify the tenure classification system without further details, criteria, objectives, goals, and even explanation as to how it will improve and modernize for the benefit of the University.  Simplification in and of itself does not necessarily mean improving and modernizing.  Furthermore, it makes the erroneous assumption that what Faculty do and perform on a daily basis is basically simple.  As the saying goes, “If it were only that simple….”

Faculty are not interchangeable

Faculty are subject matter experts in their field of specialization and study which should be evident that each Faculty member brings to the table unique knowledge, skills, and expertise.  In addition, the business and operational needs and demands of Faculty at the community college versus the four year campus are distinctly different and unique.  Moreover, the Faculty at UH Manoa have different demands, expectations, and experience from the Faculty at UH-West Oahu and UH Hilo.  Because Faculty are all uniquely different, the UH has classified them according to their field of specialization and study and has developed a unique classification system for the faculty at UH Manoa, the faculty at UH-Hilo and UH-West Oahu, and for the faculty at the Community Colleges.  A simple glance at these classifications will reflect that there are different and diverse in the minimum qualifications and duties and responsibilities.  Thus, whether you change the classification schemes from “I”, “J”, “M”, “C”, and “R” to “F” for Tenured and Tenure Track Faculty you will still need to develop a “sub-classification” schemes to outline and define the minimum qualifications and duties and responsibilities for the faculty position.  This is essential for any organization since it plays an important role and factor in defining the hierarchy and salary structures of the organization.  It systematically groups the workforce effectively as per their duties, responsibilities, skills, and experience, thereby ensuring proper uniformity to the structure of the organization.  As the saying goes “You canʻt make a zebra by painting stripes on a horse.”

Making Faculty Universal

We question the reasoning and rationale behind the Tenure PIGʻs findings and recommended changes to RP 9.202 Classification Plans and Compensation Schedules.  The 2 ½ page report is invisible on any clarification and/or details over the intent and desired outcomes for changing the faculty classification plans other than to reduce the type and number of faculty classifications.  Is it the recommendation that all faculty at the UH be universal and equal among its peers?  Will the community college faculty be now expected to be equal and in alignment with the 4 year campus faculty in regards to minimum qualifications, duties and responsibilities, teaching equivalencies, compensation, etc.?  Is the intent to change all community college campuses into 4 year campusʻ like UH-West Oahu and UH-Hilo?  

Impacting Support Faculty and Extension Agents

The Tenure PIGʻs findings and recommended changes to RP 9.202 Classification Plans and Compensation Schedules advocates that Support Faculty and Extension Agents who are not engaged in direct instruction shall not be eligible for tenure but may be eligible for employment security characteristic of other public employees.  However, what those employment security characteristics are not described or defined, neither is defining how frequent or infrequent direction instruction must be performed to be determined as tenure or ineligible for tenure.

Nevertheless, we further question the Tenure PIGʻs recommendation and rationale on limiting tenure for Extension Agents when land grant universities are predicated on teaching, research, and extension especially in areas of agriculture and mechanical arts.  We question if there was any examination of whether there was a problem with granting tenure to Extension Agents and the impact both negative and positive that will become of the recommendations.  This matter should be examined if it wasnʻt as we should all be concerned about the impact this recommendation will have on the Universityʻs ability to fulfill its Extension promise.  Bottom line is that we have many questions surrounding all of the Tenure PIGʻs recommendations and rationale.

Are We Top Heavy?

History will show that all great and successful universities are led by their faculty who view intellectual production and pedagogy as their primary mission for higher education and not profit margins and/or the doing more with less mantra.  Unfortunately, over the past decade we have witnessed and experienced a growth and additional layers of administrators while our faculty positions and ranks have been diminishing under the premises of budgetary cuts.  Data and statistics reflect that just during 2016-2019 executive/managerial (E/M) positions at the UH increased 27%.  Woefully, during the period 2014-2021 UH faculty positions were decreased by 19%.  Adding further to the problem is these newly minted administrators have no academic background or experience and are mainly career managers who either downplay or disregard the importance of teaching, research, and service.  Sad to say but todayʻs modern universities are led by boards of corporate-minded regents and administrators who are profit-driven and entirely disconnected from faculty and the fundamental mission of why universities exist.