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.

In Memoriam: Dr. Elizabeth Tam, A True Community Advocate

Hawai‘i has lost a true heroine and champion. The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly ‘ohana was sad to learn that former UHPA board member, Dr. Elizabeth Tam, 68, who retired as chair of the University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine this past July, passed away on Friday, Oct. 8.

Dr. Tam, who was board certified in both internal medicine and pulmonary medicine, was a tireless advocate for the entire community. She is most known for her ability to translate clinical research into bedside patient care and practical public health policies and practices.

She was instrumental in helping to pass Act 304 in 1999, which resulted in the Tobacco Settlement Special Fund. This fund has supported community educational initiatives, such as the Hawai‘i Tobacco Quitline, to prevent smoking and to help those who want to stop. Dr. Tam is also known for her research on vog and its impact on respiratory health.

Dr. Tam never lost sight of her roots. After working in Boston and California, she wanted to return to Hawai‘i where she was raised. She lived in public housing as a child and became an ardent champion of changing systems to address social determinants of health.

Dr. Tam had been with JABSOM for 28 years. When her husband, Dr. Mark Grattan, whom she met in medical school. was named head of Straub Medical Center’s heart surgery practice, she returned to the islands. She joined the Department of Medicine as an Associate Professor in March 1993, and was promoted to Professor in 1999. In August 2005, she was appointed Interim Chair of the department. Four months later, she was appointed Chair of the department and was granted tenure in 2011.

Dr. Tam’s contributions on the UHPA board of directors were always valuable. She served on the board from September 2003 to August 2006, and was a member of the legislative and political action committee. She also served as a faculty representative for several years.  Mahalo nui, Liz for making us all better faculty advocates.

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.

Get Your Home Buying Benefits From HomeStreet Bank

Our UHPA member benefits partner HomeStreet Bank has a message for UHPA members that may save you a considerable amount of money if you are buying a home:

UHPA Member Home Buying Benefits

As a member you are eligible for exclusive home buying benefits ONLY through Affinity Lending at HomeStreet Bank. You now have access to pre-negotiated discounts on the loan amount and on Realtor commissions as well as access to thousands of dollars in down payment assistance. To learn more about your home buying benefits access the member-only page via the button below.

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.

UH Blindsides Us Again

We Heard You Loud and Clear

We recognize and acknowledge all those who took the time to send an email expressing your frustration, concerns, and heightened anxieties about the University of Hawai‘i’s vaccination mandate intended to go into effect in the spring 2022 semester. We realize many of you found the news upsetting and we share your frustration and confusion over what was issued by the UH administration yesterday.

Based on what was posted on the UH website, the UH System Office of Human Resources notified all employees about the mandate and noted: “The three unions representing UH employees were also consulted.”

No, We Weren’t Formally Consulted

For the record, the UH administration never formally consulted UHPA on this matter. We received a letter from the UH Office of Human Resources about the vaccination mandate on October 5, 2021 and immediately requested a consultation meeting with the UH administration as soon as possible. While we agree vaccinations are an effective tool against the spread of COVID-19, we do not agree with the manner in which the mandate was issued, determined, and decreed. To date, we have not yet heard back from the UH administration on possible consultation meeting dates but look forward to engaging in meaningful discussion and dialogue over this significant and sensitive issue.

But This Does Imply Consultation Will Be Required

We do however acknowledge and accept the UH Office of Human Resources noting that the subject matter is under consultation with the unions in their announcement which is a recognition of the UH administration’s desire to formally consult with UHPA and to respect the collective bargaining rights of the faculty under Chapter 89, HRS – irrespective of Governor Ige’s Emergency Proclamation.  We look forward to this formal consultation process with the UH administration and will keep you apprised of our discussions.

We’re Publicly on the Record

Here is a link to an interviews in the media:

Mahalo for your patience as we work through this issue on behalf of our members.

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.

Time Running Out To Cast Your ERS Trustee Ballot

Have you cast your ballot for the next ERS Trustee?  The 10/22 deadline is fast-approaching and if you haven’t voted, we urge you all to cast your ballots for our very own Lynne Wilkens who has been endorsed by the HGEA, UPW, the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association, and of course UHPA.

Cast Your Ballot Before the Oct 22, 2021 

If you need a replacement ballot or have any questions, please email Rebecca Gleason at

ERSBallot@kmhllp.com or call (808) 543-3310.

Get Your Free McDonald’s Breakfast Sandwich This Week Only

UHPA received the following from authorized representatives of McDonalds and are passing it on unedited to our members:

FREE McDonald’s Breakfast Sandwich Meals for Educators: Oct. 11 – 15 

McDonald’s of Hawaii is thanking all educators and faculty statewide for their hard work and commitment to our students during these challenging times. From Monday, Oct. 11 to Friday, Oct. 15, McDonald’s is offering a FREE Breakfast Sandwich Meal (choice of an Egg McMuffin®, Bacon Egg & Cheese Biscuit or Sausage Biscuit) with Hash Browns and choice of a medium hot or cold beverage. 

Simply present any identification that shows you are UH faculty (e.g. UH ID, business card, etc) during breakfast hours at any McDonald’s in Hawaii. One free meal per educator. No purchase necessary. Available only at the drive-thru and takeout. 

Dates: Oct. 11 – 15, 2021  

Times: Breakfast hours (varies by restaurant most end at 10:30 a.m.)    

Locations: All 73 McDonald’s on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island and Kauai  

For more free food and great deals all year-round, download the McDonald’s app on your smartphone or tablet and sign-up for the new MyMcDonald’s Rewards program.